I lost $13,757 on Google AdWords with my first business.


burning through money with Google AdWords


That totally sucked, especially since I was self-funding. Someday I’ll write a post about it so you can learn from my painfully embarrassing mistakes.

I was new to AdWords at the time, so of course I made many technical mistakes. But my biggest mistake was simply not understanding the following:

Google AdWords could never have worked for that business model!

I know that now, and the reasons are crystal clear.  (And I’m glad that business is now ancient history.)

But what about you?  What about your business?

The #1 concern that I hear from new prospects is:

“Should I try Google AdWords?  What if I spend a ton of money just to find out that it doesn’t work?”

I feel you.  But unfortunately there’s just no way to know in advance if AdWords can work for your business.  You have to give it a proper trial and see.  That means at least 2-3 months of advertising with a focused strategy and an adequate budget.

And that feels like an awfully big, scary commitment for some business owners.

That’s why I was delighted recently to see this helpful post from the good folks over at Wordstream:

Should I Use AdWords? Tips for Every Industry/Business Model

Now, I think the author (Margot da Cunha) overstates the case a little bit.  I know that AdWords can’t work for all business models, though it certainly can work for most.  But she does a great job of breaking out top concerns by industry to help you make AdWords work for your business:

  • SaaS
  • B2B
  • Retail
  • Local (brick & mortar)
  • Legal
  • Travel
  • Hospitality
  • Healthcare

If your business falls in one of those categories, take a look at the brief tips that Margot has to offer in her post. She also includes some links for further learning.

AdWords for Specialists Who Provide High Value Services

I build Google AdWords search campaigns for businesses that provide specialty services.  These are businesses for whom a single new client is worth between $10k to $1M.

For these businesses I second Margot’s advice for the B2B, Legal and Healthcare sectors.

But I’ll take it a step further for you.  Here are what I’ve found to be the 3 most critical elements for effectively selling high value services through Google AdWords.

1. You must truly specialize.

Let’s say you run a law firm.  If what makes your law firm “special” is that you can handle all types of legal cases, then I can’t help you.  You’ll be competing with every law firm in existence (or at least every firm in your region).  You’ll spend a fortune on generic ad clicks and likely never recoup the costs.

But does your law firm specialize in employment discrimination cases for Latinos?  Or immigration visas for spouses from restricted countries?  If that’s the case, then we’re going to make a lot of money together with AdWords.

2. You must have at least one meaningful attribute that differentiates you and is hard to copy.

Everything else you offer can be the same. You just need one way to stand out on the search results page from all your competitors.

A free consultation or a 24-hour phone line isn’t it.  You need something that is important to your ideal prospects and that no one could easily copy.  For me, that’s my MIT background and my mentoring of MIT startups in AdWords lead generation.

3. Your online presence must ooze trust and authority.

If you successfully sell high-value services, then you must be an authority at something.  But is this coming across loud and clear to your AdWords visitors online?

Remember that most people who find you through Google Search have never heard of you before. (That’s kind of the point – you want brand new prospects!)  So first they need to figure out that your specialty matches their needs.  Then they need to understand how you’re different.  Then their next question, often subconsciously, is:

“Can I trust you? Are you really worth all this money?”

Can they?  Are you?

Does your online content build trust and authority?  Do you clearly and helpfully answer top-of-mind questions for your ideal prospects?  Does your new client process appear clear and transparent?  Do you show proof of past results?  Do you have tangible testimonials from other happy clients like them?  Do you share relevant credentials, public appearances or media coverage?

Any business can sell a service online.  But only businesses that convey trust and authority can sell high-value services online.

What AdWords Success Can Look Like for Your Business

These 3 elements have nothing to do with the mechanics of AdWords.  But they have everything to do with making the mechanics (and the math) work in your favor.

When you have these elements in place, this is how your AdWords campaign can deliver new clients:

An ideal prospect sees your ad and immediately gets it.  They understand that your unique, specialized service is exactly what they need.

They next visit your landing page, which further positions you as a trustworthy authority.

By the time you finally speak, they already know that they want your service. Now it’s just about closing the deal (a topic for another day).

Sound pretty good?  Much better than dropping $13k in a few months with nothing to show for it?

With a little effort, and perhaps some expert guidance, you can have this type of Google AdWords lead generation success for your high-value service business, too.

Also see 5 more ways to achieve business growth with Google Ads.


Rating: 3.9 / 5. Votes: 7

Be Sociable, Share!

Andrew Percey

Andrew founded Prometheus PPC in 2012 and has helped grow over 100 businesses through Google Ads advertising. He holds two engineering degrees from M.I.T. and has 8 U.S. patents from his years in Silicon Valley. Andrew hosts marketing seminars at M.I.T. for current and future startup founders.


Latest posts by Andrew Percey

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *