Paper Clip Marketing

pay per click marketingPay-per-click advertising has grown in popularity since it’s introduction in 2002. That seems like an eternity in the fast-paced, ever-changing world of the Internet. For many businesses, bidding for keyword phrases that are relevant to their target markets—and then paying only when their ads are clicked is an important part of their online marketing and advertising strategy.

There are, however, marketing practices that have been around even longer than pay-per-click. I’d like to take a look at one such practice I call paper clip marketing. It’s decidedly old school. It doesn’t depend on the Internet (or even search engines, for that matter), but it works extremely well in that environment. And it’s as simple as its name implies (simple does not mean it doesn’t take some work, however).

Here’s how it works. Regardless of what your sell, imagine for a moment that it’s a paper clip—and that your audience has never seen one. How are you going to entice potential customers to give it a try? We’re going to look at two ways (side-by-side) you could present your paper clip to your audience. In a flourish of creative brilliance, we’ll call these “Method A” and “Method B”.

Method A

Method B

100% Stainless Steel

Helps you organize important papers

Made in the USA

Saves time. No shuffling through piles

Tensile strength of 1.987

Keeps clutter under control

Smooth, stylish curved design

Reusable—saves money

UL-rated #1 in class

Cheaper than therapy

“Wait a minute!” you say. “That’s just the old ‘features versus benefits’ comparison.” And you—being a savvy marketing person—are correct. The concept of emphasizing benefits over features has been around for a long time. But here’s why it matters in the age of online marketing and search engine optimization.

When people search for a product or service online, they rarely start their search with features. People do online searches based on a need or a problem they have, or based on a solution they’re looking for. So if your online content touts your paper clip’s features, you’re not going to show up in their search. If, however, your content focuses on their problem—or how you’re going to solve it—you have a much better chance of being found.

It’s not wrong to talk about your features. And once customers see that you can help them solve their problem, your product’s features may help tip the scales in your favor. But features won’t get you found. Solutions beat specifications every time.

“Pay-per-click” has its place in your marketing strategy. But don’t forget “paper clip” marketing. What do you do to help customers focus on how you’re going to help them?

Inbound Marketing 101