August 15, 2016

Answer to the Paid Search Question

Here's the question from last week:

August 9 Question:  Your CFO wants you to discontinue your paid search program because she believes that customers will simply leverage natural search instead, saving the company a ton of cash. Your CFO cites a report from Woodside Research suggesting that 70% of clicks will still happen if paid search is discontinued. How do you respond to her request?


As you surmised, there isn't a right/wrong answer to this question.

I want to hear how the interview candidate approaches this question. Does the candidate firmly believe in Paid Search? Does the candidate align with the CFO? Does the candidate have ideas for what to do if the CFO wins the battle? Does the candidate think the CFO is an idiot? How will the candidate use data to prove the CFO right/wrong? How will the candidate use emotion or logic (or both) to sway the CFO? Will the candidate use actual customer data, or will the candidate use vendor/research/trade journal thought leadership to argue with the CFO? Will the candidate recommend testing various strategies with branded and/or non-branded terms. Will the candidate recommend testing various strategies with expensive keywords. Does the interview candidate get crabby? Is the interview candidate confident in the answer? Does the interview candidate have a condescending attitude toward the CFO? What examples can the interview candidate cite from prior experience?

You want to hear a candidate who doesn't just cite the simple tactics that are publicly mentioned. You want a candidate to give you an original answer that makes you think.

The candidate should make you think.

Too often, the candidate starts blathering about obtuse bidding strategies and will throw out terms like "long tail strategy" to completely divert you from the fact that the candidate is not qualified to fill your job. Conversely, candidates will know their stuff inside/out, but will be unable to communicate their brilliance. The interviewer has to work really, really hard to pull the genius out in these circumstances.

What do you want to hear from the candidate?