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Mass media versus direct marketing

Staff Reporter 4 minute read

Want to know how to market directly to people who want your product, and only pay the advertising bill when they show interest? Toby Marshall explains all

TO SOME, it may sound too good to be true, but 21st century advertising technology makes it all possible.

Over the past 100 years, it has become evident in marketing that ‘finding people who want your product’ is much more effective than ‘selling it to a bunch of people who don’t want it’.

Technology has followed suit.

Online advertising allows you to advertise directly to people who show the propensity to buy your product – and you only pay when they make their move. It’s called ‘pay-per-click’ advertising (PPC). Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft ad Center are the three largest PPC operators although we’ll just look at Google AdWords here.



When you search in Google, the results show up directly below the search box.

Have you noticed that the listings that come up on the right hand side or above these ‘free listings’ look different?

These are ‘sponsored links’ – advertisements created with Google AdWords.

The name pretty much describes what AdWords does: people type in words, and the ad linked to those words appears. They are an incredibly effective and inexpensive method for SMEs to market online and to create and control a profitable flow of leads.

This is how it works. AdWords puts your site on the first page of Google results for the words and phrases you know your potential clients will use to find your services. These are your keywords and they would probably include words associated with ‘mortgage’ and ‘broker’ or any specific services you might provide and to which you want to attract people.

You don’t waste a cent on ineffective marketing. You only pay when people click on your ads, and it’s cheap (you only pay between as little as 20 cents and around a dollar when someone clicks on your ad).

The more practice you get, the more effective AdWords is. You can track exactly which ads are performing best, which keywords and in which region. Traditional forms of advertising leave you in the dark as you may never know if a traditional ad is effective or not.


Every person reading this article and virtually every knowledge worker goes to Google to start out on research or to answer questions. In particular, it’s where most of us start our process of buying. What’s out there? What does the service or product do? Where can I get it? What does it cost? Is there something cheaper or more effective?

These are all questions we’ll ask Google first.

By using Google AdWords you’ll have a better chance of reaching people who are actually searching using keywords related to your service – and therefore may well be looking to buy from you. You’re reaching your niche market, rather than a diffused audience of ‘everyone’, which is what you might be doing with a paper advertisement.

Let’s look more closely at these alternative ways of advertising:


You pay a dollar or less when someone clicks on your ad. You attract someone who has typed words into Google that match what you sell, and who may well be looking to buy from you.


You pay $1,000 or maybe $10,000 to place an advertisement in a newspaper. Many thousands buy the paper, a few see your smallish ad. Most who see it ignore it since it’s not relevant to them, or because they are not ready to buy yet.

So, if PPC is so revolutionary, why haven’t more people caught on to it? It’s because PPC is revolutionising SME marketing that smaller businesses can now compete with the big guys online.

Why do so many of them say it doesn’t work? That it’s a waste of money? Even a fad? Here’s why: When technology shifts and new industries are created, sharks always gather.

The sharks’ prey (in this case, business owners) are ignorant about the new technology so it’s easy to sell the dream and exaggerate the benefits. It’s easy to lie about the traffic around the ‘magic keywords’ only they know about because all business owners want to believe in the magic bullet.

In any new industry there will always be companies that will take advantage of the uninformed. It’s the way of the world.

But don’t let that deter you. Google AdWords can be tremendously effective. Like anything, however, to be done well it takes a little knowledge, practice and skill.

Mass media versus direct marketing
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