Business-like, isn't he?



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    Online aids to building your business

    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2009 First published in Business in Vancouver August 18-24, 2009; issue 1034

    High Tech Office column

    How do you make your business grow?

    That’s perhaps the key question for most organizations. Lots of sales and marketing staff work hard at that question. But many newer or smaller companies don’t have a lot of resources to dedicate to building growth.

    BaseTwo Media is one of those companies. The East Vancouver-based company produces corporate videos. It specializes in promotional, training and instructional video production services and live event videos. Five years old, it counts on its website,, to bring in new business. How, then, does the company help potential clients discover its website?

    According to co-founder Jeff Pelletier, the company started using Google’s AdWords program in June 2006. With company growth of 400% since then, Pelletier estimated that as much as 75% of BaseTwo’s new clients found the company through its Google ads.
    (Full disclosure: my website,, displays ads provided by a companion Google program, AdSense, making Google ads a modest source of income for me.)

    Using AdWords, companies of any size create short, generally text-based ads and choose keywords – search terms related to their business. They set a budget – how much they’re prepared to spend per day and how much they’re prepared to pay each time a viewer clicks on their ad. Ads appear in a list of “sponsored links” above or to the right of the list of search hits. BaseTwo’s ad shows up when I type “video production Vancouver” into Google, for instance.

    But bidding on a search phrase doesn’t guarantee that your ad will show up every time a user enters those words. Google uses a complex formula with factors including how much you’ve bid and the content of your ad to determine how often the ad appears. With no minimum-spending requirement, small businesses can get their ads online – but not necessarily with every search.

    Advertisers can opt to advertise on websites with related content or, as BaseTwo does, for the ads to appear on search pages. Using the pay-per-click model, ad campaigns are scalable. Advertisers can start out with a relatively low monthly ad budget and increase it if it generates revenue.

    Google competitors Yahoo and Microsoft offer similar programs that BaseTwo has used. Pelletier noted, however, that because Google dominates web search, BaseTwo got less payback advertising on these other search services.

    While it’s easy for a business of any size to get started advertising online using AdWords, Pelletier emphasizes that it takes time and effort to do it well. Advertisers can have a variety of ad campaigns running simultaneously and can experiment with campaigns, key phrases and the amounts bid on key words and phrases. Pelletier estimates that he spends an hour a day fine-tuning BaseTwo’s ad campaign and the company’s website.

    Lessons he’s learned: segmenting ad campaigns and targeting key customer groups. And keep experimenting. By sharpening the focus of its ads, BaseTwo has lowered its cost per click. Each of the company’s product lines gets its own ad campaign with its own budget. BaseTwo tests a variety of ad headlines online and then uses the most effective in direct-mail campaigns.

    Pelletier appreciates Google’s set of tools for working with ads on and off-line and for measuring their effectiveness. He added that Google’s toolkit is easier for him to use than the competition’s equivalents. Nevertheless, it took him about a year to become good at managing online ads – and he still has a lot to learn about using image and video in ads, which have a higher return on investment – more effectively.

    Pelletier said that businesses with a predominantly local clientele like BaseTwo can especially benefit from Google local and maps services. In this way, their ads receive a favoured position when an appropriate geographical term shows up in a search. •

Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan
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