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The Woot Ads: A Step in the Right Direction

Congrats to Google For Allowing the Woot Ads

It’s a hot topic: The Woot Suicide Ads.  The ads sprung up in midst of the financial crisis (economic meltdown) and there are plenty of people up in arms about it. Why?  Believe it or not, the Woot ads are a step in the right direction, the place where PPC ads need to be headed. Check out the story that’s made it to Sphinn’s Hot Topics: “Google Allows Ads Mocking Suicide

The First Woot Ad Yanked

The Second Woot Ad Yanked

The Second Woot Ad Yanked

I hate to qualify answers, but in light of looking like a complete and utter heartless monster, this is a case where I must.  Do I find the ads distasteful?  Yes.  Do I think it’s a good thing to “joke” about suicide and encourage it?  No.  However, the ad, in itself, is brilliant.  The marketing behind it is brilliant.  And, before you start condemning Google (and Woot), think about what it means for PPC advertisers.

Why The Ads Work and Why Need More Like Them

1) Ads That Are More Like Ads

If you do any amount of searching on search engines, then you’ve read standard PPC ads; for example,

Standard PPC Ads

Standard PPC Ads

Exactly.  The same robotic tone, with the same robotic savings, deals, and calls to action.  It’s not that these ads don’t work; people still click on them. It’s that they aren’t conversational.  There’s nothing that sets them apart, nothing that makes them unique.  They all sound the same, and while the text indicates they offer different deals, they aren’t offering different deals.

The Woot Ads were unique, were conversational, and had a subconscious, subliminal language that was speaking to users on level that the “traditional” PPC ads cannot and never will achieve.  It gave the ad an edge over other ads.  More importantly, it give Woot an edge over other competitors vying for the same marketplace and consumer.  Finally, it was an ad that actually functioned like an “ad”.

2) Allowing Google To Become Big Brother

I’ve been in the search marketing game for a few years now.  And the love/hate relationship with Google is constant among us.  What the Smackdown! blog is doing is empowering Google to limit the creative freedom of advertisers.  When you boil it down, that’s exactly what it comes to.

While the entire theme of this blog is based solely on what Google is doing, and disecting and criticizing it, this post has done completely the opposite.  Here’s what it looks like when you search for “goog” today:

The Woot Ad is Gone

The Woot Ad is Gone

Business is about competitive edge and occupying space within a marketplace.  If all our PPC ads look alike, sound alike, and talk alike, then there’s no advantage.  Accordingly, (follow me on this) you feed into the Google money machine: you allow them to curb creative language that can lead to advantage within the marketplace, which in turn, sets the trap for Google to base ads displayed solely on bidding wars and their phantom AdWords algorithm.  They are going to do this anyway, but now you’ve given Google consent that this is how you want ads to look and sound.

I, for one, applaud Woot for having the courage and the creativity to break the mold.  It was genius.  Like it or not, it was.  And, now that people have made a big enough stink about it, you’ve allowed Google to become hyper-vigilant against anything that doesn’t fit the traditional standard.  I thought Google had finally loosened up the reigns a bit.  My mistake.  It was probably just a bunch of disgruntled employees who watched their friends get laid off because Google Stock fell through the floor.


The New SEOmoz: Redesigned and Rebranded

SEOmoz’s New Look and Feel

Woke up this morning to a new SEOmoz:

SEOmoz's New Look and Feel


I think the SEOmoz team really nailed the design, taking user action into account.  The site is set up to funnel users into the site and have them perform goals, whereas the old design left the user aimless and wandering (so to speak).

SEOmoz Did A Great Job. What Can Small Business Learn From This?

Great job to the SEOmoz team.  Small and medium-sized businesses can take a tip from SEOmoz: every so often, it’s necessary to makeover yourself.  You still have the same values and services, just a new look and feel. It’s a way to spice up the everyday, give your loyal customers something to appreciate, while broadening your reach to a new segment.


RFPs: The Biggest Scam in Business

RFPs and Search Marketing Firms

Killing The Golden Golden Goose

Killing The Golden Golden Goose

If you’ve ever been in the agency or firm world, then you’ve heard of them. RFPs (Request for Proposal). And, chances are, you’ve participated in one, answered one, and, god forbid, crafted one. I consider them to be the “Goose that Laid the Golden Egg” for companies; they keep on giving and giving. Endlessly.

The premise of the RFP:

1) You get an RFP from a prospective client. A business-orientated tome full of hypothetical questions.

2) The business requests you answer a complete litany and barrage of questions as to how you would go about marketing and strategizing for (hypothetically, of course):

a. A particular line of products the company is thinking about launching
b. The company itself (my personal favorite).
c. Analyzing their current marketing strategy, and what your company would do to improve upon it

3) After spending considerable, and exhausting hours, delving in your own company’s products and services, you send it back to the prospective client in the hopes they will choose you to implement the marketing strategy you put together.

Why the RFP Must be Banished

The three points above are overly-simplified. The questions in these RFPs are very specific to the given client requesting it, and ask for data that takes a good bit of research to speak intelligently to. For example (completely fictitious question):

“We are thinking of offering consumers in Region Z our Blue Widget product, previously unavailable to them. What types of demographics are most apt to purchase our product? What type of marketing strategy is needed to make this effort profitable and capture the demographic?”

That’s just ONE question. There are likely to be several questions that go that in-depth. Right there we’re talking numerous hours of research to find out about the primary demographic that would most likely purchase the widget. Add on top of that the hours it’s going to take to craft a specific marketing strategy to sell a blue widget. Ridiculous.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that all of this is FREE OF CHARGE? That’s right, it’s free. It’s for the opportunity to put YOUR OWN PLAN OF ACTION into action. Brilliant. So, let me get this straight: I get to waste dozens and dozens of man-hours and create a hypothetical marketing strategy, all for the opportunity to put my own plan into action? Awesome.

What happens if they decide to go with another RFP from another business? Well, you’re SOL. All that research and data and strategy wasted. Not so. Nothing is stopping the requesting company from integrating your ideas into the RFP they chose. Not a thing. Moreover, the requesting company might choose not to pick anyone at all. They might just withdraw all offers and sit on it.

Right. This company just swindled (yes, that’s what they did), in some cases, $20,000+ of free research and strategy, for nothing but the promise of opportunity.

How To Stop The RFP Madness:

Businesses should simply refuse to participate in the process. Send it back with a big “NO THANKS” stapled to the front of RFP. If more businesses decided to spend the time and man-hours working on actual clients, they’d be more profitable. It might even send the message that the “free lunch” is over. Or secondarily, just bullshit the answers. Have fun with it. Get Socratic with it. Answer their questions with more questions.

If these companies weren’t getting anything valuable from it, then they’d stop sending them. They’d actually have to meet with a company, face to face, and discuss actual issues that need actual resolutions. And, they might actually have to pay to have that research done. Weird.

I, for one, am saying no to the RFP.

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