“The fact is, advertising to build brand and recognition and demand is a very long-term proposition, not something you measure with clicks.” – Seth Godin
You’re welcome to prove me wrong but my experience with using Google Adwords for start-up says that Google Adwords is a bad marketing channel for selling products which have low or no brand awareness at all, especially when they fall under high priced, luxury segment. My experience has been that whenever we create Adwords campaign for such brands, the only ad group that drives most of the sales is the one with brand name variations; which means that with Adwords, we are mostly able to drive conversions only from people who search for the brand name in Google, people who already know the brand. And it still works like a charm when you’re selling products of 3rd party well known brand (both luxury and non-luxury).
Off course one of the reason is price: when people pay for the ownership of something, especially when it’s a luxury product, they prefer it to be of a well known and respected brand. And it’s not only about the price because there are plenty of adventurous buyers out there who will take the risk of buying a high priced product from you, even if they have never heard of your brand before. But there are only handful of such buyers out there and there is no way for you to target such adventurous buyers even with the most advanced targeting features in Google Adwords.
But like I said, price is only a short term reason why I feel Adwords is a bad marketing channel for start-up brands. The bigger reason is that start-up brands don’t have a market demand and Google Adwords can only help them cash their existing demand; it doesn’t create it.
Even if you get a last-minute conversion using adwords, it’s not a long-term way to build a brand. Google is no longer your Savior, like it used to be.
I know there is nothing earth shattering about what I am saying here but when I talk to founders of various start-up brands, many of them see Adwords as an attractive channel to drive instant sales. This is not the right approach. When you’re a start-up, your brand is not ready and fit for a paid marketing channel like Adwords. You must wait until you’re first able to build demand for your products.
You might argue that same is true for other marketing channels as well – like Google Organic or Social Media. No it doesn’t applies to them because they’re free channels and do help in creating marketing demand.
Moreover, when a potential customer sees your ad again and again in the right side bar of Google results, he/she knows that you have paid for that placement. On other hand when they repeatedly see your website appearing in Google’s free organic results, during the discovery phase of their buying cycle, they know that you have earned that place and they start trusting your brand for that; it helps in building demand of your brand in the longer run.
Having said that even if you’re a well funded start-up that can afford to spend on paid clicks for creating brand awareness and consequent demand for your products, it’s still a bad strategy. You will go much farther, much higher, and build a much stronger brand if you invest that money in improving your products and customer experience.
So if you’re a start-up brand, our advise to you is to think long term and save the money you want to spend on Google Adwords and first invest that money in product innovation and improving the customer experience. This is what will create demand of your brand in the market and bring you in a position to encash channels like Adwords.
Please note that here we’re talking explicitly about Start-up Online Fashion Brands who’re looking to build a long term & sustainable business. And there are exceptions to this rule. There are times when start-up fashion brands can and should invest in Adwords, for example, when the demand in the market automatically increases during a festive season.