The other day, my wife and son were reading Tomie de Paola’s wonderful children’s book Strega Nona. In the story, Big Anthony comes to work for Strega Nona and overhears her incantation over her magic pasta pot. The result: He learns the spell to get the pot started making pasta… and memorizes the words to turn the pot off. But because he is hiding while doing this, he misses the visual accompaniment to the “stop-the-pasta” spell: blowing three kisses.
In a plot reminiscent of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, he utters the magic words and the pasta-making begins. But the pot produces pasta relentlessly, threatening the whole town, until (spoiler alert!) Strega Nona returns and solves the problem by invoking the correct words and gestures.
What does this have to do with you? Well, online marketing is a lot like a magic pasta pot.
Big Anthony Marketer sees a competitor’s ad running for several weeks, and makes the assumption that the ad is making money. He visits the competitor’s landing page, and checks out their front-end offer. A $39 widget. A $19 e-book. A $3,500 seminar. Whatever.
Big Anthony M. assumes that, based on what he sees, he understands their business model. So he copies it. But somehow the numbers don’t turn out right. He spends $100 on clicks for every $25 he makes in sales. He’s going broke fast.
Big Anthony M.’s mistake, of course, was assuming that what he could perceive by viewing the competitor’s front-end ad and landing page was all there was to that marketing effort. But the three kisses Strega Nona blew were invisible, and so is the value-exchange that takes place between merchant and customer following an initial sale.
Your competitor may be working with a negative return on investment (ROI) on the front end. But he could be making it up with a high-priced upsell… or a series of e-mails promoting affiliate programs… or a robust continuity program.
If you’re serious about emulating your successful competitors, then you must become their customer. Pay for the privilege of watching the whole spell, so you don’t end up drowning in spaghetti.[Ed. Note: You can learn how to master Google AdWords – the right way – with AdWords for Dummies by AdWords guru and best-selling author Howie Jacobson himself.]