Lessons from a Bucket of Rocks
Pre-article alert #1: Just a few seats left for AdWords Ball live TeleCourse beginning December 4.
http://AdWordsBall.com for more info.
Pre-article alert #2: No-cost Very Nice Teleseminar this Thursday, Nov 20 at 10am EST
Topic: Choosing keywords and setting up ad groups
Purpose: To force me to create a 1-hour audio to turn into a product
The recording and transcript will NOT be made available – listen live only
No registration required – just show up (details below)
Go ahead and add to your calendar now:
When: Thursday, November 20, 2008, 10-11am EST
Where: (712) 432-0080 | Access Code: 966306#
There’s not much going on in Little Switzerland, NC in early November, unless you like sifting through buckets of rocks.
Luckily, we do. Last weekend, my family escaped to the Blue Ridge mountains and went "Gem Mining" at the Emerald Mines. Before you get visions of my kids sliding down a dusty shaft with only a naphtha lamp and a caged canary for company, let me paint the picture:
- Give $10 – or $20, or $50, all the way up to $1000 – to the guy behind the counter
- Get a bucket full of rocks
- Sit next to a trough of running water and pour your rocks into a sifter
- Compare the rocks to a gem chart and get excited at the possibility of discovering tiny emeralds, rubies, amethysts, and carbuncles in a small mountain of feldspar.
- Take your puny amethyst (or whatever) to the gem shop and pay a lot of money to get it turned into a jewelry-grade stone.
There are so many marketing lessons here, I’ll have to limit myself to three.
1. They have a "Ridiculously Expensive Option"
The $10 price was the low end. The high end – are you sitting? – was $1000 for a 30-gallon drum of rocks, named the Treasure Chest. I asked whether they had ever sold a Treasure Chest, and they had – 9 of them, in fact.
"To school groups?" I persisted, incredulous.
"No, mostly to couples."
I’ve done this calculation so many times, my calculator fingers are sore. But the single gallon is $10/gallon, while the Treasure Chest is $33.33/gallon. And maybe it’s just me, but sifting a ton of rocks looking for treasure is starting to feel an awful lot like doing email at work. Yet the Treasure Chest serves three main purposes:
- It makes everything else look like a good value in comparison
- It makes everyone who doesn’t choose it feel superior
- It has brought in $9000 at a higher profit margin than serving 450 families like mine.
2. Same Inputs, Variable Outputs
Sometimes AdWords traffic feels like a bunch of rocks.
You might take one look at that gallon bucket and go, "No way is this worth $10." You might use AdWords to bring hundreds of visitors to your site, and the vast majority take one look and disappear forever. "No way were they worth $3452.62."
And yet – when you sift through the bucket, you find items of variable value. Keywords that bring more interested visitors. Ads that attract serious leads. Geographic regions that bring you better prospects for less money.
But you never find out unless you spend the time sifting.
And – even more important – the same dull brown stone that looks like nothing to you turns out to be a garnet or sapphire to the well-trained eye of a gemologist. And someone with the ability and tools to cut and polish that brown stone can indeed create a gem of significant value.
The same traffic that appears useless to one website owner is turning into leads and sales and repeat sales and evangelists for another.
Online marketing, like mining, is the art of turning the same inputs into valuable outputs. Whoever wins the hearts of the most qualified visitors, wins.
3. Focus on a niche
Here’s the crazy thing: the mine we visited was for many years the principal source of a mineral called feldspar (no, that’s not a Jewish boxer from the 1930s :). Feldspar composes 94% of the household cleaner Bon Ami. And the Emerald Mine in Little Switzerland was in fact for many years the largest source of feldspar for the Bon Ami company. The place is worth a visit just for the collection of full-page Bon Ami ads from ladies’ magazines.
Our guide told us something remarkable: In their quest for the efficient mining of feldspar, the Bon Ami company treated the other 53 minerals found at the mine (including the aforementioned emeralds, rubies, and carbuncles) as waste. They were literally throwing away rubies in pursuit of kitchen cleanser.
Pretty stupid, no?
Turns out Bon Ami was not so stupid. During the Great Depression, Bon Ami was one of the Golden Sixteen companies on the US stock market that never reduced its dividends.
By focusing on their niche – household cleaning – they were able to ignore "sexier" markets and stay hugely profitable.
(Until they got their clocks cleaned by Ajax and Comet, because Bon Ami stopped innovating – but that’s another issue of the BOPzine.)
This Week’s Product Offerings
1) Look Over My Shoulders – AdWords Success Video tutorials
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2) AdWords Ball TeleCourse – just a few slots left
Small-group telecourse – learn techniques for reducing spend and increasing leads and sales. For website owners using AdWords, and wishing for better results.
Read more: http://AdWordsBall.com
BONUS BOP QUOTES (for reading this far)
A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind.
– Antoine du Saint Exupery
Our way is not soft grass, it’s a mountain path with lots of rocks. But it goes upwards, forward, toward the sun.
– Dr. Ruth Westheimer
A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.
– Chinese Proverb
I poured spot remover on my dog. Now he’s gone.
– Steven Wright