I’ve read a lot of posts debating between SEO and PPC. Each post goes through pros and cons of each, and they make some pretty good arguments as to why one channel is where you should put your resources over another. But this is a trap.

So What’s the Problem with SEO vs PPC?

Smart marketing has never been about debating between channels. It has always been about determining goals, learning about your target audience, and then finding the best way to reach them.

This really isn’t anything new. The channel vs channel debates have been around for decades. Radio vs TV. Direct mail vs door to door sales.

Many digital marketers have a biased view on the way they look at business problems. When you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. Specialists are great at maximizing the value of the channel they know best. As a business owner, though, it’s your job to look at the bigger picture.

Committing heavily to any one channel is a bit like selling your soul. It might take you a while to make the decision, but when you do it feels like there’s no going back. This is where you’ll get trapped. If you run over a nail and your tire is flat, do you fill your car up with gas? If you have a major toothache, do you put a brace on your knee? If filling your car with gas, or solving physical pain with knee braces are channels you’re totally committed to, you’d be surprised.

As ridiculous as those may seem, business owners committed to specific channels let this happen all the time. If you’ve ever been in a meeting discussing marketing budgets and heard something like “We’ve been working on SEO for months now, so let’s just keep doing that and we’ll see how things go,” then you’ve seen this happen first hand.


So how can you take a a more methodical and careful approach? I’ll let you in on my super simple recipe for success:

Begin with the End in Mind

Get really clear on what it is you want to accomplish. This can’t happen without being really specific. Which is more clear to you?

  • I want to increase online sales
  • I want to increase online sales revenue $10,000 per month by the end of Q2 2016.

Clarity gives you something attainable to work toward. Be sure to set benchmarks along the way to help you measure how well your efforts are working.

Know Your Numbers

This is possibly the most important thing you can do for your marketing efforts. If you don’t know your numbers, you’re setting yourself up for some serious heartache down the road.

  • Determine Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  • Know your margins
  • Know your budget

Once you’ve got all of these numbers, you can get very specific on your target CPA (how much you can spend to be profitable per sale, lead, or other action, based on CLV). Knowing your target CPA and the budget you have to work with can then help you make some serious headway.

Know What’s Available to You

Many, many channels are available to you. Here’s a very brief list:

  • Email
  • Organic search
  • Paid search
  • Social media
  • Paid social
  • Display ads
  • Mobile ads
  • Webinars
  • Confrences & trade shows
  • Direct mail
  • Print ads
  • TV ads
  • Radio ads

Even better than this, there are other resources available to you that you may not be thinking of – employees, friends, family, etc. Make a list of everyone and everything that might be able to help you accomplish your goals. Not all of it will make sense, but if you lay it all out you might start to draw a few connections you never had before.

What I do at this point is look at my budget & target CPA and start going through all of my resources to see if a channel might be a fit. Typically, finding out if a channel is a true fit for you will take a few phone calls. That’s just fine, because a few phone calls are worth figuring out where the best place to put your resources will be.


The Power of “And”

Once I have narrowed down my list of channels to a more manageable size, I look at which of the channels would work well in conjunction with each other. Which channels that could independently produce profitable campaigns could work synergistically to produce extremely profitable campaigns? This is one of the keys smart marketers use to go from good to great.

List out how Channel 1 AND Channel 2 AND Channel 3 can work together within your budget, and now you’ve got the Power of “And” working for you.

Tanner Petroff

Tanner Petroff

Tanner Petroff is a web marketer who has worked on a variety of projects for a number of companies, including Fit Marketing, Sportsman's Warehouse, KSL.com, and Boostability. In my spare time, I enjoy golf, racquetball, rock climbing, and spending time with friends. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.