AdWords Lessons from the Bird Snake of Guam

Missed Camp Checkmate Chicago? Camp Checkmate Durham coming up mid-October:

Wanted: Six industrious entrepreneurs just itching to implement everything you KNOW but aren't DOING (more below):

Should you outsource your AdWords management? Zero-cost webinar tomorrow 1pm EDT:

Ah, 2004, how I miss thee!

I was selling an ebook on how to beat Gout (a form of arthritis) through a combination of diet and lifestyle.

My AdWords clicks cost an average of 8 cents, my book netted $15, and my conversion rate was a little over 1%.

Do the math: I earned 7 cents every time someone clicked my ad.

I split tested ads semi-regularly, but without brilliance or true creativity.

I added an opt-in box and some audio to my landing page, and tweaked the headline and some testimonials, but you couldn't really call it "scientific testing."

I was complacent. Life was good, clicks were plentiful, and gout, in my mind, was on the verge of eradication thanks to my excellent book and brilliant marketing.

The Bird Extinctions of Guam

Let's detour from this happy tale of commerce and healing (with its ominous foreshadowing) to discuss the fate of several bird species on the Island of Guam.

Starting in the 1970s, one species after another become extinct, or so endangered that the only mating pairs were in protective custody in American zoos.

Farewell to the bridled white-eye, the Guam broadbill, the rufous-fronted fantail. Adios Guam rail, Micronesian kingfisher, Mariana crow.

The Bird Killer Identified

For a long time scientists had no idea what was killing all the birds. They hunted for viruses, bacteria, pesticides, and found no evidence of harm.

Then they discovered Boiga Irregularis.

Boiga Irregularis (can we just call him Boiga?) is a snake not native to Guam that seems to have arrived on a military supply boat just after World War II.

Boiga is a bird-eating tree snake, hailing from New Guinea and coastal Australia. It doesn't mind chomping on a lizard or rodent if necessary, but prefers eating birds and eggs that it finds in the plentiful trees of Guam.

The thing is, Boiga was the first "real" snake ever to set foot (if that's the word) on the island. The birds of Guam had evolved, structurally and behaviorally, in the absence of snakes.

They had none of the protections, habits, instincts or judgments that would have protected them. Unlike bird species that co-exist with serpent predators, the birds of Guam didn't place their nests in hard-to-reach branches, didn't employ stealth or discretion in making trips to and from their nests to keep the locations secret,
and didn't develop warning calls.

Their perfect snake-free world had made them naive and defenseless once Boiga slithered into their lives.

The Boigas of Gout

By 2006, my gout ebook was also threatened with extinction. Non-native AdWords advertisers had slithered onto the Google search results page:

Big pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer had discovered the Internet and were willing to spend crazy amounts per click to show their drugs at the top of the paid listings.

Marketers of herbal concoctions had perfected the long-form web sales letter and were selling $80/month recurring subscriptions to bottles of pills.

I couldn't compete against either business model. My sales funnel wasn't sharp or effective enough. My product line wasn't deep enough. And I didn't understand my prospect well enough.

For a while, I retreated to the Content Network and found clicks under 15 cents at and other AdSense-driven sites, but by 2007 the only reason I kept advertising was to collect screen shots for AdWords For Dummies.

By 2008, my gout business was extinct.

The Fastest, Fiercest Ecosystem in Business

If you're using AdWords, you should realize that you're playing in the most competitive ecosystem that's ever existed.

Like the Yellow Pages, all your competitors are elbow to elbow, jostling for position and mind share.

Unlike the Yellow Pages, many of your competitors are skilled marketers, testing and learning and improving continually.

If you aren't moving forward, you're retreating so fast we can hear the Doppler effect as we pass you.

Too Busy to Compete?

If you've read Google AdWords For Dummies or been on my mailing list for any length of time, you know the best practices in online marketing.

Things like:

  • Deep market insight
  • Checkmate positioning
  • Testing and measurement
  • Lead capture and followup marketing
  • User-freaking-obvious website design
  • ROI-based conversion tracking from click to sale
  • Multiple lead streams

If you're like most of my students and clients, you KNOW a heck of a lot more than you DO.

You're busy running your business. You devote time to STUDY to stay on the cutting edge, but you often don't ACT on that knowledge.

And it may seem like you're not paying the penalty by coasting like that, but history shows differently.

Overture had a monopoly on Pay Per Click advertising in 2001. AdWords came along, and Overture was history. (Now Yahoo! Search Marketing, they're hoping to be rescued from oblivion by Bing.)

MySpace was the 600 pound gorilla of social networking just a couple of years ago. Facebook did a few things better, and now dominates the space.

Coasting is never a sustainable strategy. Not in evolutionary biology. Not in business. And especially not in online marketing.

What to do?

Imagine carving out a time and space just for implementation of online best practices.

Let's picture it together…

  • Two full days of implementation without interruption or the need to handle details
  • Delicious, wholesome meals provided – no cooking, shopping, ordering, or cleaning required
  • A beautiful setting, including nature, room to spread out and think, and fast online connectivity
  • A small group of fellow entrepreneurs all engaged in the same activity with the same focus and intensity
  • A workshop leader and coach who has led thousands of entrepreneurs through the path you're on

Is that investment of time and money ($3995, by the way) worth it for you?

The big questions you have to answer are:

What are the future costs of present inaction? (How much money am I leaving on the table each month by not taking the time to implement best practices in my online marketing?)

Is there a better option than the Get It Done workshop? (Can I buy, beg, borrow or steal the time, space and expertise I need to get everything done? Will it be easier, cheaper, more efficient?)

Am I available on Thursday, September 30 through Saturday, October 2, 2010?

If you're interested, go here to find out more:

I'm limiting the workshop to six participants. In my experience of giving workshops to groups as small as three and as large as 350, six is the perfect number for the kinds of outcomes we're looking for: individuals doing lots of work, supported by each other and a helpful facilitator.

And since a lot of the value you get comes from the other five participants, you have to apply and be accepted in order to attend.

Read more and find the application form here:

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