December 20, 2010

Paid Search Doesn't Work?

I can't tell you how many times I've heard catalog-based business leaders and catalog consultants utter this sentence:
  • "Paid Search doesn't work."

It's been my experience that Paid Search performance is directly correlated with the mathematical expertise of the in-house staff managing Paid Search, or the mathematical expertise of the vendor chosen to manage Paid Search (or usually, both).

In fact, can't we say that about every one of the micro-channels that we now manage?

Everything works, based on the following conditions.
  • Talent.  The catalog industry seems bent on not acquiring talent, of late.  It's one thing to be frugal and thrifty.  It's quite another thing to not invest in talent.
  • Audience:  An iPad app is not going to work if it is targeted to a 67 year old customer.  A catalog is not going to work if it is targeted to a 27 year old customer.  Contrary to the punditocracy, channels don't work if they are not aligned with the buying habits of the target audience.
  • Commitment:  Here's something that is sorely missing in the catalog industry.  You have to go "all-in", to use a poker analogy.  I've heard "... we tried a blog, it didn't work", I've heard "... we tried paid search, it didn't work", I've heard "... we tried e-mail marketing, it doesn't work."  I've never heard a cataloger say "... we've tried catalogs, they don't work."  Catalogers go "all-in" on catalogs, just spend a day in the corporate office of a catalog brand, and you'll know what I mean.  Every meeting is "all-in" on catalog marketing.  Staffing levels for the catalog are at a 50-1 or 100-1 ratio compared to other channels.  Every channel requires commitment.  Channels don't succeed just because you have "multiple channels".
Back to Paid Search.  Where do you stand on each axis (talent, audience, commitment)?