Marketing Mischief: SEM is Killing your Brand

If you were a fan of Solutionz Think Tank blog, we have renamed it.  Same blog. New name. 

Please give a warm welcome co-author Mk Marsden, my partner in mischief.

This is the
first in a series of Thought Leadership blogs jointly authored by Chicke
Fitzgerald and MK Marsden.  Here, we expose the mischief behind the
marketing darling known as SEM.

No doubt
about it.  Search engine marketing is an easy way to drive traffic.
And since
over 43% of all ad spending in 2013 was through search, it must work, right?
According to
PwC and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), US companies spent $18.4 billion in 2013 on
search, up from $16.9 billion in 2012.   
One thing
that is clear is that SEM works REALLY well for Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, ASK
and AOL.
dominates the landscape with 67.4% of searches and Bing/Yahoo (which are
jointly administered from a keyword buying perspective) produce 19.3% and 10% respectively. 
ASK and AOL hold 3.3% of US search market share combined, inconsequential when
you look at the power of the other players.
So, to get
started on using search engine marketing, all you need to do is:
determine how much you want to spend on SEM
divide your budget between the top platforms
choose your keywords
figure out your bid so that you can be in the top three
craft the most amazing ads that are sure to elicit a response, a click

Easy peasy.  

SEM is mathematically predictable. Beautiful,
right?   It appeals to the scientific and analytical part of a
marketer’s brain.  Low risk, right?  Results are immediate,
measurable daily.  What could be better?

But here’s
the MISCHIEF.  SEM does absolutely nothing to generate sustainable
It is actually the polar opposite of brand building. 
And if you don’t do a job of grabbing them and converting them to a sale, your
investment literally goes down the drain.
dirty little secret about search is that it is building the brands of Google,
Bing and Yahoo, but doing precious little for your business.  
Here is
their growth since 1996.  Nice curves?
This is
business mischief at its finest.   The SEM crack dealers have you
hooked.  Admit it, you can’t live without them. 
If you stop
spending on keywords for even one day (or for some of you, even for a few
hours), your business will collapse.  If Google changes their algorithms
and you are relying on SEM for a significant amount of your traffic, pardon the
French, but you are screwed.
engine marketing may be bringing you traffic, but unless you find a way to turn
those clicks into

bookings/purchases, and then turn those customers into ZombieLoyalists,
a term coined by our friend Peter Shankman, you are doing nothing but building
the businesses of the search engine companies. 

We think you
marketing money is better spent building your brand.  
STOP the
mischief.  Refocus.  Build your brand.
Cheers from your mischief makers,
MK and Chicke
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