Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reverse Marketing; Using Google AdWords for B2B Target Marketing

I’ve had this idea for some time now and I feel like it’s time I posted it on my blog so I can at least claim it as an original idea before Google releases it, if they ever do. The concept came to me, like most of the ideas I have, from a frustration or limitation of some other activity or product. In this case the frustration that drove the idea was marketing to other businesses using Google AdWords.

I’ve been a long time Google AdWords customer and began using the advertising method for Leads360 about 4 years ago. While I have increased my keyword list and developed different strategies that have produced incremental performance benefits, I still can’t fully target the businesses I want to reach in an effective manner.

The great thing about Google is that when a potential customer searches a relevant keyword term and click on your paid AdWord, in theory, you get highly targeted and “interested” leads. For the most part this is true, however in the world of marketing, only a small percentage of you potential prospect base is actually looking for what you have to offer. In other words, if you sell widgets and you know there are 1 million people out there that want, need, could benefit from your widgets only a small subset of that group actually knows they need or want it and only that group actually searches for widgets on Google and get’s connected with you. What about the other, let’s call 95% of that pool that doesn’t search for widgets. That’s the age old marketing challenge and why television and radio have been a medium that continues to work, at least for targeting consumers.

In the B2B world TV and radio only work if you have a huge budget, that’s one of the reasons that the internet has exploded as an advertising medium. Still, the internet and search marketing is largely dominated by B2C advertisers. This leads me to my idea.

When I think of the businesses that I’m trying to target, they are actually B2C companies. That is they target consumers for their products; whereas I am B2B and target them. My question became: how do I target the 95% of B2C businesses that are not searching for my keywords on Google. The answer I came up with is that while they may not be searching for my product, they are actually using Google AdWords to promote their own products and services. And because I can research and understand what keywords they are buying, why can’t I “reverse” market to them?

Let me give you a real world example of how Reverse AdWords Marketing could work. One of the industries that we target is Debt Settlement. If you are not familiar with this industry you will be soon or you can read about in on Wikipedia. I estimate there are about 1000 businesses of reasonable size that are in this vertical. Of those thousand, most are doing some form of marketing (you’ve probably heard the radio commercials… “if you have more than $10,000 in credit card debt call debt savers of America…”). A good portion of those companies are advertising on Google using AdWords. It’s a great channel for these companies because they are targeting a growing sector of consumers that are in debt and need help. This trend will have them start at Google searching for terms like “get out of debt” or “eliminate my credit card debt” and so on. My potential debt clients are buying these keywords on Google and seeing a great return from them. What if I could also buy those terms but instead of showing my ad when a consumer searched for them, I would show up in front of the business while they are managing their AdWords account.

It’s pretty simple actually. When you login to AdWords to create an advertisement you must enter the keywords that you want to target. As soon as the debt company, in this example, put in one of the keywords I bought, my highly targeted ad would show up for them. Now I’m targeting the right customer while they are in marketing mode. Its not quite as good as a company searching for my keywords on Google, but it allows me to now target a bigger portion of the 95% that aren’t searching for me. Hooray!

The system works the same. I pay per click and I battle against my competitors or anyone else that wants to advertise to those companies. And, if there was pushback from advertisers not wanting to see ads when they are using the AdWords system Google could offer a small discount on the AdWords they are buying just to show the ads to them, which may just be valuable and less obtrusive than a cold call or spam email.

For Google this could represent a huge incremental and untapped revenue stream. Just my example alone I would spend an additional $5,000 per month on top of the $10,000 per month I already spend on AdWords. I would just move some of my marketing dollars from some other non-targeted method.

There are many hurdles to overcome I’m sure but when I think about it from a marketers perspective it’s a great way to advertise to a very targeted group of businesses and with my entrepreneurial hat on it seems like a pretty great way to make more money and dig deeper into the B2B internet advertising dollars.

Ok Google, run with it if you aren’t already. If you end up getting the idea here, throw me a bone.


Dan said...

Original, clever and effective.

Stoker said...

Interesting thought but I'm not sure it would be so effective in targeting key individuals within businesses. In many cases I imagine the person managing the Google AdWords account within your target company may not be the same person that would respond to your ad. Very small companies aside, it's likely rather an IT or web professional and it would be rare that this person would also make the buying decision for your product or service (in the majority of cases). Good thought tho and I hope Google tackles the challenging of marketing to businesses through adwords soon.