Ready…Fire…Aim! Is This Your Approach To Paid Search Marketing?

By jameszol
Published on February 7, 2008


Sometimes a marketer makes a mistake by pulling the trigger before aiming. We have all done it – I know you’re lying if you tell me it hasn’t ever happened to you. :)

Does this cycle happen more often than we would like to admit?

Perform Minimal Research -> Launch A Campaign -> Decide It Isn’t Working -> Try Fixing It With More Research -> Implement New Actionable Findings -> Now It Works…or Not?

The problem is that this approach can REALLY hurt a business if your random shot wipes out your most basic limited resources (time and money.) The opportunity costs could be too big to ignore.

I believe marketers are typically very smart individuals/organizations and I would argue that we know the right way to approach marketing – we simply choose not to do it that way.

I suppose that is why the famous John Wanamaker quote still stands true today – but it is only half true with paid search marketing: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

We have tools and tactics that accurately quantify our expenditures in search marketing. We are in control. Perhaps half of the advertising money that is “wasted” is not wasted but is dedicated to continued innovation and creativity with a client account in the paid search industry. :)

Here is a quick version of what we do to get READY to market a product/service:


Competitive, Customer, Internal, Behavioral, Economic, Demographics, Sociographics, Psychographics, News, Keyword Intent, Keywords, and more. Research would never stop if we didn’t dedicate a set amount of time to the project dependent upon the client’s needs. More information equals better decisions that should translate into better results.


We create a generic customer profile of who we ideally wanted to target using the findings from our research. With the recent blog posts about personas, we decided that we will be adding more to this part of our process by developing multiple personalities and tying them to actual people.

After we feel adequately prepared to AIM, we do the following:


We review the most important findings from our research with the client, customers (if possible), and any other stakeholders.

Some of the key questions we ask at this stage are: Please tell us if this is a good profile of your current customer? Does this fit in with your overall strategy and plan? What would you add? What would you take away? How can you help us understand the needs of your target market? Please give us a lot of feedback.


Based on the feedback we get, we reorganize ourselves and take better aim…of course we usually circle back to the review stage for the “ok” to fire!


Launching everything is really fun but the best part for us is seeing the results. We rarely strike out…but we are always susceptible to making quick changes and adjustments as we move forward. Testing never stops – we are always trying to improve based upon the newest, freshest data coming in.

The biggest key to this process is simply being over prepared to succeed right away. Success the first time makes success the second time even easier!

We found that starting with a very efficient campaign forces us to be better informed and gives us the ability to make great decisions and good decisions help us consistently outperform ourselves every month, quarter, and year. :)


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2 Responses to “Ready…Fire…Aim! Is This Your Approach To Paid Search Marketing?”

  1. Dr. Pete (11 comments.) says:

    I see this in PPC all the time. It’s so easy to get started, especially for small companies, that they just fork over the money and don’t think about performance/ROI until they’re paying hundreds or thousands of dollars per month. Ironically, then those same companies balk at brining in an outside expert because they’re “already paying too much”.

  2. jameszol says:

    Dr. Pete, thanks for stopping by! As always, your comments are awesome. I agree that it’s easy to get started…and that inherently makes it easy to lose money if one doesn’t take the time to learn a few of the tricks of the trade.

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