Content Marketing vs. PPC

Content Marketing Vs. Pay Per Click

What is Pay Per Click?  That is spending a portion of your Advertising Budget on a Google AdWords Campaign.  How much does it cost?  If you use it to test keywords, and to see how the market reacts?  You can get by on a PPC Campaign for as little as 20 dollars per day.   This won’t yield any sales, but you might be able to create a Self Liquidating Offer, or determine which keywords work in your area of expertise, or product.  Should you “Go Big” with a PPC Campaign?  Hardly ever is this recommendation useful, since you can wrack up tens of thousands of dollars worth of “clicks”  Google will be very pleased, and you will be broke.  PPC works best professionally managed, and with larger ticket sales like cars, doctors, software, or as an adjunct to other marketing.  More mature brands can value by slowly easing into the PPC space, not jumping in big, and wasting valuable research and dollars.

What is Content Marketing?   This is an “organic approach”  to marketing, and you are hoping that your clients will find you through quality content on your Website, or Blog, or as a guest blogger.  Content Marketing involves more labor, and if you enjoy writing, are disciplined, and are willing to study how search engines work, can be a very rewarding and satisfying way to increase visibility and get new clients.  You’ll need some experience at crafting keyword sentences, headers and paragraphs, you’ll need to know how backlinks work, and you’ll need to take a long ball game approach to marketing.


I get asked this often: “Lon, you are the expert, which should I do?”   First of all, I do NOT call myself an expert.  I leave that to the insecure competitor, and self styled know it all.  I have 17 years on the Internet, and I am STILL not so full of myself as to call myself an expert, guru, or any other lofty title.  I am a guerrilla marketer.  Call me that.   But don’t call me an expert.   The experts from three years ago, who invested thousands in growing their Facebook connections are now being asked to spend thousands more to reach the very people they just paid to get!  On what planet do these “experts” feel so smart that they can rationalize that they’ve all been duped?  No.  Please.  Don’t EVER suggest to anyone that I am an expert.  Most experts I know, are the only ones who believe they really are.   These folks lose credibility every time that Google, Facebook, Twitter, Bing and Yahoo change their algorithm.

As to your question:  “Which should I do?” ,  well, I can chime in with my experienced opinion, and collected anecdotes.

My first point today is that rarely is there an easy one size fits all answer.  I can say that companies who have a large ad budget almost always do both PPC AND content marketing.   And companies with smaller budgets almost NEVER benefit from PPC unless they have a well thought out SLO (Self Liquidating Offer) Campaign in which they upsell the client at some later date.    Is that even a cut and dry general rule or axiom?  No, there are exceptions to this, and you should not say: “Well Content Marketing is cheaper, so I will do that”.  If you are only looking for cheap?   Then you need read no further.   Go back to what you were doing.   Because nothing is free, and you get what you pay for.

I can also say this about PPC:  There are certain products which simply WILL NEVER benefit from a PPC Campaign, no matter what your SEO guy says.  And that is the low ticket sale.  A nail salon with an average ticket of $22  is NOT going to benefit from a $10 AdWord Lead.   In this scenario, the competitor can simply put the nail salon out of business by clicking on their ad, and use up the daily budget.   And the costs of a lead on the Internet has certainly gone up.  In many niches, it can be $8 to $10, even twenty dollars!  Gone are the days of nickle clicks.   You might be stuck in the 1990’s if you think a click is that cheap.   There are ways to make Google work for you if you are a small ticket sale like coffee shop, dry cleaner, or deli.   PPC is only good to determine which adwords people are responding to.  You would want to invest only the amount you can afford to lose.  You would not be converting, you would consider it research.

There are some historical facts you can benefit from here:

*  Only about 25% of us EVER click a Pay Per Click Ad, so that if you are into a PPC Campaign, remember, 75 percent of the world avoids them, and uses “Free” information on the Internet

*  People “Shop” on the Internet, they don’t always buy, and people skim, they don’t read

*  Sociological patterns,  emotional triggers,  creating a sense of urgency, and human connectivity are important in either PPC or Content Marketing

*  Content Marketing should NEVER be outsourced to an overseas firm who has convinced you that price alone is the only factor.  Overseas firms simply cannot write like Americans, and you will ruin your brand

*  PPC campaigns are excellent ways for high ticket items like consulting or expensive ticket sales to generate leads, and should be managed by a professional, rarely if ever does a business owner possess the requisite time and skills to manage the either PPC or Content  for themselves

*  Forget the myth that SEO/Search “doesn’t work” if you have come to that conclusion, did you happen to consider maybe you were wrong, you didn’t execute, or your team was not very good at what they were doing, or more concerned with you writing checks than getting results?

*  It’s better to hire a salesperson who happens to be a great writer, than an SEO “Expert” who thinks he’s a great writer.  A content writer better be a damned good salesman, or you should fire them yesterday.

OK.  So you have read thus far, let’s get to the heart of the matter:  How much should you budget toward PPC and Content Marketing?  I will try to make this simple, please remember, this is just a guideline, not a formula.


Small Business, Local Business, or One Location Operation, Work at Home, or Professional

Budget between 1,000 and $1,500 a month toward Advertising

PPC:  About $250 toward AdWords but only to determine which words work, and to find out what works for the competitor DO NOT RELY on this for leads, consider it research, and you will get a great return on Investment, since your Content Writing will improve with the knowledge you gain

Content Writing:  $1,000 a month toward weekly article writing, finding backlinks to your pages, crafting quality articles with keywords which your competitor uses, and in some cases, even revamping old material, and reworking existing content

Social Media:  About $250 toward “growth” … What do I mean by this?  First of all, find out how many hours before 8 am your Social Media person is spending on growth.  If they say “none” don’t ask for an explanation, don’t wait to hear their opinion.  Just politely get rid of them.  They are nothing but a spammer, and all they do is put out endless posts, and they are certainly not salespeople


Medium Sized Business, Large Ticket Items, Multi Location, Emerging Brands, Growth Stage Start Ups

Budget Between $2,000 and $5,000 per month for every $100,000 in Gross Revenue

PPC:  No More than 20% of Budget.  You don’t want to rely solely upon Paid AdWords Campaign, since this is only a fraction of the market.  You can always expand that budget as it pays for itself.  NEVER put all your monthly budget into AdWords, as you ALWAYS need multiple revenue streams.

Content Marketing:  60 Percent of Marketing, when you get fed up with AdWords, or your hunch doesn’t pay off, you are still in the game.  ALSO, content marketing establishes your credentials, your authorship creates a living Bio for you and your brand.   Each article should be a Call to Action.   If you don’t know what a CTA is each week?  Then fire your content writer folks.  I don’t have time here to fight with an entrenched “expert”.  I know SEO guys who only have one client.  That’s right.  They are milking the few they get with all kinds of reports, and jargon, and nonsense, and they NEVER even have one Call to Action on any page.  Crazy.

Social:  20 Percent of Budget.  DO NOT SPAM your audience with a constant barrage of posts and tweets about your product.  Let’s be clear.  I can teach any idiot to post regular content in about an hour.   And you know what?  That’s just spam.   Social is about engagement, and showing the genuine side of your brand, your personality.   If there is no engagement, then we are turning off the very people we need to spread our message.  AND if we are not devoting time to morning “growth” tactics on Facebook and Twitter?  Fire the SMM (Social Media Manager).   Just get rid of them.


Large National Brands  should be using the same general percentages, except that they need more CTA’s,  more of their staff need to be “authors” of articles, and they need to be flexible with the PPC budget for Seasonal, and regional offerings.  For instance, if a consultant will be in Dallas, L.A., and Detroit this month, the PPC Campaign should be obviously directed toward those markets.   If the Company is spending more than 20 percent on PPC, have they become addicted to that expense, and is their content falling off the search rankings?   What keywords are the competitors using?  What low hanging fruit is the company losing by default?  National brands need fewer analytics, and more salespeople on the SEO team.  Too many big companies are throwing marketing dollars away, because the team is not sales driven, have never held a sales job in their lives, and are way too skilled in convincing  middle managers to write them checks.


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I am as blunt in person as I am in my writing.  I don’t have time to waste on political correctness, delicate dances around the truth, or non results oriented “teases”.   And neither do you!  Your time is valuable.  You want facts that you can use to create sales.   I do too.   I don’t even have time for general questions, or anyone who isn’t serious about profits, sales and conversions.  I take on maybe 1 new client a month.  And I don’t take on anyone who I am not happy with.  Prickly people, whiners, complainers… Who needs them?  I’d love to say my Call to Action is for you to call me.   It’s not.   I don’t have time for anyone who is not determined to rank number 1 on Google, or has to have everything explained or spelled out.   If you want to reach me about creating a world class SEO Campaign, take on your Social Media Account, AND Manage your creative team?  Then you are also probably smart enough to find me, and find a way to contact me.   I hope you enjoyed my article, and I hope you’ve come away with a great idea or two about your marketing.

Remember to Plant and Sow.  God bless you.




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