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3 Questions You Must Answer Before Wasting Money on AdWords Before you dive headlong into the AdWords matrix, get crystal clear on why your customers should buy from you.

By Perry Marshall

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Most local business owners know that AdWords can be a profitable source of new customers. And they know that most of their competitors are on AdWords. So they feel an urgency to dive in and get started. And they end up making big mistakes that can cost them thousands and take hours of effort to repair.

Before you jump into the AdWords deep end, consider these questions.

Question #1: What are my goals?

Take a deep breath and reflect on what it is you're trying to accomplish with AdWords. One of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is "begin with the end in mind" and applying that to AdWords will improve your results.

There are a number of common goals business owners have for their AdWords campaign. Here are some examples:

  • Generating leads
  • Getting the phone to ring
  • Getting contact form submissions
  • Scheduling consultations
  • Setting an appointment
  • Branding
  • Collecting keyword data to inform your SEO strategy
  • Testing marketing copy, headlines, offers, and new markets

And your goals will inform nearly every aspect of your account set up: Your ad copy, your landing page copy, your bidding strategy, your keywords selection.

For example, if you're an electrician who is setting up an AdWords campaign with the purpose of promoting your generator installation service after a big storm knocked out power, your keywords will include words like "generator installation" and "Chicago generator" as opposed to sticking with more generic terms like "Chicago electrician" or "electrical contractor".

Get clear on your goals before you dip your toes into the AdWords interface.

Question #2: Is my landing page ready for AdWords traffic?

The first page a potential customer lands on after clicking on your AdWords ad is called the landing page. A landing page is an essential part of your AdWords campaign, and a good one can instantly double your leads from AdWords (without spending a penny more on clicks).

I recently clicked on an ad for a family law attorney. You would think that would lead me to a site about family law, but instead their home page was all about personal injury law. That's not what I was looking for. Plus, it was an old, ugly-looking site that made it hard for me to find any information.

When I finally found the page on the site about family law, it was a two-paragraph little blurb that basically said they're certified by the State Bar in family law (which don't they have to be to even practice in the first place?).

Not having a dedicated, high-converting landing page is a huge mistake. Based on experience, we estimate the typical local business website converts somewhere around 5 percent. On the other hand, a landing page that follows best practices can easily convert at 10 percent to 20 percent.

Even if we assume it just converts on the low end, you would double the amount of leads you get for the same money spent. That means for every $1,000 you spend, instead of getting 10 leads, you're now getting 20. That difference could literally make or break your month or year.

And many business owners have been led to believe that a landing page optimized for organic Google search is appropriate for AdWords traffic as well. Nothing could be further from the truth. Before you stick your nose in the AdWords interface, be sure your landing page is optimized for AdWords traffic.

Question #3: Why should anyone do business with me?

Michael Strickland of Boulder, Colorado, runs a company that ships cars across the country. He enrolled in one of our training courses, a hands-on, first-click-to-first-sale marketing funnel improvement lab. Like many people who take this course, he assumed we were just going to go "ninja" to the nth degree on his Google ads.

Sure, we did that, but on the first live small group session, I asked him, "Michael, what is the reason why I should ship my car with your company instead of every other company out there?"

Michael didn't have a solid, meaty answer. Sure, he ran a good company, and they delivered quality service. But it was a deer-in-the-headlights moment, because he didn't have a definitive answer.

My response was "Michael, you must create a great answer to that question."

So we started building his unique selling proposition (USP) together. Two weeks later, Michael emerged with a powerful new USP and his "Damage Free Guarantee," which you can see on his website today at

That was the tipping point of Michael's business. His sales doubled in six months.

Yes, all his experiments and optimization of Google ads were helpful and necessary. But his landing page and ads didn't light on fire until his USP was solid.

Once he had a terrific answer to "Why should I buy from you?" customers started responding, and the business went supernova.

The business ventures that fail the fastest in the marketplace are the ones that have no USP. The businesses that have their USP crisply and clearly defined acquire customers and grow. And here's the kicker, most entrepreneurs think they have a USP, but all they have is a "me too" statement that does nothing to make them stand out.

Before you dive headlong into the AdWords matrix, get crystal clear on why your customers should buy from you.

Join us for "Is Your Local Ad Rep Screwing You?" on June 21st at 11:00 AM Eastern. AdWords expert Adam Kreitman and I will be lifting the hood on some volunteers' local AdWords campaigns, tuning them up and pointing out the mistakes the so-called "experts" made when setting them up. If you've wondered if you're getting what you're paying for with your local online advertising, tune in and find out.

Perry Marshall

Author, Sales and Traffic Expert, CEO and Founder of Perry S. Marshall & Associates

Perry Marshall is the president of Perry S. Marshall & Associates, a Chicago-based company that consults both online and brick-and-mortar companies on generating sales leads, web traffic and maximizing advertising results. He has written seven books including his most recent, 80/20 Sales and Marketing (Entrepreneur Press, 2013), Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising (Enterpreneur Press, 2014), Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords (Entrepreneur Press, 2014), and Ultimate Guide to Local Business Marketing (Entrepreneur Press, 2016). He blogs at

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