Is PPC Right for Small Business?

Is PPC Right for Small Business?

One of the reasons my creative agency got into the marketing side is because we’ve seen too many small business owners getting terrible advice – mostly on digital marketing.

Take Mary for instance. She was sitting in my office several months back and we were chatting about her marketing activity. She owns a small service-based business and was looking for some guidance on how to generate sales leads.

When I asked her what she had been doing the past year, Mary started to sing the praises of this digital marketing agency that got her on to paid per click (PPC) advertising. “That’s interesting” I said, “many companies have had great success driving traffic through Google Adwords”.

But for those that know me, they know I’m suspicious. So I dug a little deeper and asked her some more questions. As it turned out, in the ten months paying for PPC, Mary had acquired just one small client (directly through this marketing tactic). I then asked her to do the math, you know, the cost of acquisition kind of thing.

I broke the silence a minute later and asked her, “So what will your digital marketing agency say when you cancel the PPC contract?”

Mary was stunned, even angry I’d say. Had she been sold snake oil? Well no, most digital marketing professionals know what they’re doing, so the failure could’ve been a low budget, poor keywords or maybe not reviewing the campaign earlier.

I then asked Mary how many of her existing clients came by referral (word-of-mouth), and she said “Well, all of them actually.” So I suggested that it would make sense to get in front of her referring partners in person, and by using social media like LinkedIn and Twitter. To illustrate my point, I asked her to think about a service she needed recently. Could be a lawn care company, electrician or a photographer. I gambled correctly when she told me she asked a friend for a recommendation – and THEN went online to check them out.

So for a simple marketing plan of just networking (on and off line), Mary didn’t need to hire us, nor any agency for that matter. Although, we did chat about some ideas on how she could stay visible.

The bad advice Mary got was relying solely on digital marketing. And I know it’s a digital world, but a well-rounded marketing professional would do some research on your business, your clients and top prospects, and then develop a plan with ideas to implement it. Could be some PPC, social and content marketing, but it could also be adding off line tactics like direct mail or even some regular in-person networking. It’s all about learning your prospects behaviours and tapping into that.

BTW, Mary is doing great. Four new clients since we chatted.

Greg Carmichael
Greg Carmichael

Greg is the Managing Director of Synergy Design, a creative branding agency in Streetsville (Mississauga), just outside of Toronto. Greg leads a talented team that creates effective marketing collateral for print and online, and he ensures their clients have a great experience working with them. To learn more, visit