The Little Book on Digital Marketing Chapter 1

Below you can read the first chapter from Volume 1 of The Little Book on Digital Marketing Series. The book will be available soon and I hope it will benefit your company and provide a blueprint for your digital marketing plan.

Chapter 1 Theory

“If the facts don’t fit the theory.
Change the facts.”

― Albert Einstein


From hunting to fishing

I was raised in a small town about two hours from Las Vegas called Golden Valley, Arizona. We were close to the city of Kingman [1], which is where we went to church; I got my first job, and where I started my first business.

I was always inclined toward art as a child and my parents encouraged me to practice my talent until I was good enough to enter competitions and fairs.

When I was sixteen I wanted to try my hand at being an entrepreneur, so I started asking local businesses if I could paint holiday scenes on their windows for about $30.00 each.

I can still remember the thrill of getting my first client. There is something about having a business owner say, “Yes, I will pay you for this service or product you’ve made,” that creates a drive like nothing else can.

Quickly after starting my window painting business, I realized that nobody wanted to clean the paintings off the windows after the holiday was over. Many of the business owners asked me to come back and clean the paint off as well.

As time went on I realized I could make more money by cleaning the windows every month than what I’d make by painting them only once or twice a year.

After only a few months my decoration business turned into a full window cleaning company servicing homes and businesses all around the Kingman area.

I had officially gotten the entrepreneur bug and I really liked it.

Marketing as a Kid

I was seventeen while this was all happening and I didn’t have much experience in running a business or doing marketing. I knew I wanted to work for myself and I had the drive to work hard — but that was about it.

The Internet was still just getting started and there was no such thing as digital marketing at the time. I got all of my clients through referrals from friends or by directly driving to their office and knocking on the door. I didn’t realize it at the time but the best thing I had going for me was my age.

Putting myself in my client’s shoes, if I had a seventeen-year-old knock on my door and tell me he or she had started a business cleaning windows I would hire them on the spot.

Even if I didn’t need my windows cleaned it would be hard to not support a kid who was trying to do something most teenagers wouldn’t consider.

My business grew rapidly and soon I was servicing Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City along with my Kingman route. I had built a solid business by going around and hunting for new clients.

Getting to the Point

I’m giving you this backstory for a purpose. I spent the first five years building a business by knocking on doors for new clients. I had never considered there could be a better and much easier way to do things.

When you hunt you have to go out quietly, sneak up on your prey and attack before they have a chance to run away. Usually, the hunted don’t want to be, and if you catch them the kill or sale comes with a struggle.

On the other hand, when you go fishing, it’s a more relaxed process. You put bait in the water and wait. You can read, nap, or get a tan while your bait does all the work.

When I realized this principle it shifted my ideas about marketing by a hundred and eighty degrees. The rise of the Internet and search engines allowed businesses to stop hunting and start fishing.

If you had told me back then that there was a place in town where everyone was looking for a window cleaner I would have paid whatever I could to get in front of them.

How nice it would have been to be able to present my service to people who were actually looking for it instead of those who weren’t.

Keyword research is the first in a set of tools that can help you begin fishing for customers. When you know what people are looking for and where they’re searching for it, a whole world of possibilities opens up.

Tim Ferris in The Four Hour Work Week [2] describes testing your niche by doing keyword research before you ever start your business. Using AdWords [3], Tim tested multiple titles for his book and saved himself from selecting a bad one by using keyword research to put his ideas in front of people who were already interested in what he had to say.

Similarly, you can use keyword research to test your business idea before investing thousands in dead or undesirable products or services. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to throw out ideas that don’t work until you find one that does.


The Process of Keyword Research

You have to begin with an idea. Don’t worry about whether it’s a good idea; that’s what keyword research is for. Instead just pick an idea that interests you and run with it. Don’t worry yet about making money or how big the idea will be, we are only testing to see if there is interest in the concept.

Once you have the idea you can begin to determine it’s popularity and the level of interest it will generate.

For example, my idea will be guitars. My father played the guitar most of his life and he taught me to play when I was a teenager. I know enough about it to be able to make good decisions about the type of people that play guitar. Having this kind of knowledge up front isn’t a requirement for success, but it does help if you have experience with the idea you want to promote. Otherwise, you will need to educate yourself first before moving ahead.

Now I can’t just say “OK guitars” and have keyword research do the rest.  Instead, I need to have a slightly more specific idea in mind. If you don’t have one feel free to use mine until you get the hang of this process.

I’m going to focus my idea a little more by targeting wholesale guitar strings. Honing further, I am going to target musicians who are looking for a good deal on guitar strings. This should be a specific enough goal to get my research started.

Had I been marketing as a teenager I would have started knocking on random doors looking for guitar players that wanted to buy my guitar strings. Eventually, after knocking on hundreds of doors, I would find a few people that would purchase from me, even if only out of pity (people in Kingman are pretty nice).

There is a much better way to find buyers — by using keyword research. I needed to know what keywords my buyers were using to find their product and then position myself to show up when they searched.

Think of keywords not just as online words typed into search engines but the actual interests of your future buyers. If you know what their interests are you will be able to position yourself to give them what they want.

Choosing the Pond

So I know I want to sell wholesale guitar strings, but I also want to get in front of people who are looking to buy guitar strings, not just everyone whether they play an instrument or not.

Let’s pretend for a minute that the Internet doesn’t exist but I still want to use the principle of keyword research to get in front of buyers. I don’t want to hunt them down and convince them that they need what I’m selling. Instead, I want them to swim around like a fish, and then bite down on the bait. But instead of a bad outcome, they would just enjoy the treat.

The first thing we need to do is find out where our potential customers are. Ryan Pinkham in his article “Five Ways to See How New Customers are Finding Your Business” [4] says that when you know how people are discovering your company, it gives you a chance to focus your marketing efforts so you can bring more customers through the door.

Taking the guitar strings example, ask yourself where those customers already are? When I look at it that way, the answer becomes so obvious I couldn’t believe I wasted so much time doing cold prospecting. Musicians hang out in music stores, school band rooms, clubs where musicians play or watch other musicians play, hippie parks and the list goes on and on.

Getting in front of your customers isn’t about convincing or selling but instead being in the right place at the right time, also known as fishing. Five hours of sitting in a music store selling my guitar strings would easily beat the same amount of time spent walking door to door hoping to randomly find guitar players.

The difference is that in one scenario the customer comes to me looking and in the other I am hunting them down.

The How of this Chapter

This chapter is about theory and is meant to get your mind in the right state for keyword research. The remaining chapters will focus on specific keyword types and how to find them.

If you don’t quite understand the theory yet, re-read and apply as many scenarios as you can think of to the principle of fishing versus hunting. How to do keyword research can be answered with one question: Where are my customers?

When you know where the customers are that are looking for what you’re selling, you’ll understand the better way to do marketing. You will get more customers in a shorter time with this method and the principle of keyword or interest-based marketing will finally make sense.

Don’t hunt your customers down, fill the watering hole and wait for them to come to you.

Case Study

All Site Structure Rentals [5] is a client of mine who offers large structures for rent to organizations needing space for a short time. They also cater to organizations needing temporary large spaces.

Due to the size of each job, and amount of equipment involved in a typical rental, the cost can rise easily into six-figures.

Since their target audience is extremely specific, we had to find keywords that would target decision makers making purchase decisions, but not get caught up in smaller industry keywords that were similar.

For instance, we couldn’t target “tent rental” because we would get everything from camping to party tent searches.

We also couldn’t target too specifically with a keyword like “20,000 SQ foot tent structure rental” because the search volume (which we’ll go into in the next chapter) was way too low.

We decided to take the approach of finding where our decision makers were and position ourselves in front of them.

Using AdWords and other CPC platforms we were able to enter our audience demographics:


-Convention Centers


-Event Organizers

Once we had the demographics set up for targeting we blanketed basic keywords with targeted ads. So if a purchaser from a high-level organization searched for tent rental our ad would show up with text identifying large portable buildings for rent to companies like theirs.

The result? We went from having about one sale per month to four. This may not sound like a lot but in an industry where each sale is worth a six-figure profit a quadruple result in sales is a major game changer.

What Can We Learn from This

Knowing our audience was the key to success. We were able to look at past purchasers to find out what they had in common, including job titles, authority, buying habits, etc. Once we identified who they were we placed ourselves in front of them; just like the idea of selling guitar strings in music stores instead of door to door.

The results speak volumes. We learned a valuable lesson in targeting, placement, and keyword strategy that would serve our business well over the life of our company.

Things to Ponder

  1. What business idea do you have that can be tied to a keyword? For example:
    Business idea: Tennis training
    Keywords: Milwaukee tennis trainers
  1. Where do your purchasers spend their time? What are their interests?
  1. What are the search habits of your purchasers? What type of keywords would they look for to find what you are selling?
  1. What are your purchasers buying? If they aren’t buying tennis lessons what are they buying that’s related?
  1. Are you willing to change your business model to fit what they’re searching for? Is what they are searching for “evergreen” or a trend that will be gone in a short time?

End of Chapter Challenge

This end of chapter challenge will require you to act out what you’ve learned so far. First, write down your business or business idea. No worries if you don’t have one, just go online and type in “easy business ideas.” This is just a challenge not a commitment to a new business.

Business Idea _____________________________

Next, identify three places where potential customers spend their time. If you go with the tennis lesson idea you could write down the gym, tennis club, or an online tennis blog.

Place 1 ____________________________________

Place 2 ____________________________________

Place 3 ____________________________________

Write down what activity is happening at each location the majority of the time. The gym would probably be working out; the tennis club would probably be playing tennis, etc.

Place 1 Activity ___________________________

Place 2 Activity ___________________________

Place 3 Activity ___________________________

Now identify what keywords would work with each activity. If place number one is the gym where people are working out, then the keywords might be “local tennis gyms,” or, “tennis gym,” and so on. Any keywords that are related to that activity or place will work. Again, we’re trying to target people in the places they will be — or will be searching for.

Don’t worry about whether anyone searches for the keywords you write down. In the next chapter, we will use volume tools to check the validity of the keywords. The important thing is to have a list that focuses on fishing for new clients and sales, not the hunting method.


[1] Kingman Arizona,_Arizona

[2] Tim Ferris, Four Hour Work Week

[3] Adwords

[4] Ryan Pinkham

[5] All Site Structure Rentals

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