How to (un)successfully advertise on the Internet, Part 1

This is Part 1 of  a series by Oban Lambie.  Part II is here.

I’ve done some hard time on the ‘Net.  For years, stretching into decades, I’ve coded sites, run servers, and held the hands of customers both big and small to get my little business to where it is now; a hosting and programming shop in Taos, New Mexico.  I love the work, my staff is great, our customers are loyal and happy, and though we’re not getting rich, it pays the bills.

Now I’m going to try to do three things, none of which I’ve successfully done before:

  1. Launch a new product on the ‘Net.
  2. Find some people that have never heard of me, or my business, and persuade them to buy the product online.
  3. Show you exactly how I do it.

The Promise

I’ll expose everything, pants on the ground style, while I do it  – from the under-the-hood technology, to the how-we-target-Keywords techniques, to the Search Engine Optimization tricks that we’ll employ and finally through a wee bit of email marketing.  I’ll also show you what tools I use to track my successes and failures and detail exactly how much money we make, or lose, in the process.

But first…

The Truth

I’ve never once landed a paying customer by using keyword advertising on the Internet.  Not once.

I’ve advertised using Google Adwords twice and blown about $750 each time competing for clicks.  And I didn’t reel in a single customer.

A few of our customers, maybe ten, came from a smattering of local, and expensive, print advertisements that we’ve run semi-regularly over the last few years.

Though we have gained many customers, and good ones at that, because of some nice search engine rankings, the vast majority of our customers have come via word of mouth.

So here’s a recap my advertising prowess over the last two years:

Print Advertising: Spent approximately $20k which netted around 10 customers who pay about $20 per month.

Internet Advertising: Spent approximately $1.5k which netted exactly zero paying customers.

That’s roughly $21,500 spent for $200 per month of revenue.  If all of these customers stay with us it’ll take a mere 8.75 years to recoup my investment.   I’m clearly an advertising genius.

But Google is making billions per month on Adwords for the hordes of businesses that spend money on keyword advertising.  They can’t all be fools like me.

This fool and is going to try again.

Watch (and feel free to comment.)

Stay tuned for Part 2: The Product and the Keywords.

11 thoughts on “How to (un)successfully advertise on the Internet, Part 1

  1. This is great! I feel like I am reading a 19th century serial story. Can’t wait for Part 2, 3, 4,5. . . .

  2. Product?!? What product? Oboy!

    Seriously, if I knew anyone with any sense, they’d be reading this.

  3. excited to read about your journey into this, and of course, the success story, as it happens! yay! go!

  4. I’m looking forward to reading your posts! Oban has been a vendor to me, across multiple companies, but more importantly a friend and confidant. Good luck to you!


  5. Cool! I will be following your every move. We’ve done a few campaigns with AdWords for one of our clients for a few years and can’t say that any success has been clear. To do it you have to be on it 24/7 or close I think, and who has time for that. Viral marketing seems to always be the most effective.

  6. Cool dude! I can’t wait to read the rest. What’s the product?

  7. Very nice Oban, look forward to the ongoing adventures in marketing — my experiences (for my clients) have all been around the same, with and without SEO experts, or their expertise. It would appear, surprise surprise, that the best way to grow a business is the old fashioned way; over time, and via word-of mouth.

  8. wow- I feel way cool to be included in this adventure into the unknown… what product? Great idea Oban, will look forward to keeping posted.

  9. Hey Oban…your unique approach and painfully honest representation of what’s going on out there is truly refreshing…and amusing! Let’s get on with the second installment…I’m dyin here!
    Best regards,

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