How I Would Win the Google Online Marketing Challenge

So a few of you actually have emailed me telling me to get in on the Google Online Marketing Challenge designed for college students. Unfortunately since I’m not in college, I can’t compete in this I don’t think, but I’ll think about it out loud right now and let you guys know how I would win it. To get a quick idea of what it is, I’ll post a quick quote about it from Google :

Student groups will receive US$200 of free online advertising and then work with local businesses to devise effective online marketing campaigns. They will outline a strategy, run their campaign, assess their results and provide the business with recommendations to further develop their online marketing.

How I Would Win

Alright now here would be my strategy in winning this baby. Keep in mind I haven’t thought about this at all, and I’m 100% thinking out loud with you guys here.

So the first thing that popped into my mind was the gym that I used to work out at. It’s a nice gym and used to be pretty crowded when it first opened (I was one of the first members). After about a year or so, less and less people kept their membership, and now it’s not that lively at all. You could tell they were getting desperate because they’d always call me saying I could have 50% off my membership if I renewed, and all these other deals. I’d probably work with these guys in getting their business back up and alive.

The next thing I thought of, was that there’s a vitamin/supplement store right next door, almost connected, to the gym. But they’re two separate places, they don’t work together at all. Before I started promoting the gym, the first thing I’d do is try to set up some deals between these two neighboring places. I’d talk to both places and try to get a partnership formed that could include possible deals like :

  • Spend $50 or more at the vitamin store and get a free gym membership next door.
  • Sign up for a 3-month plan at the gym and get $50 in free supplements/vitamins.
  • Sign up for an aerobics program at the gym (which is free, but you obv have to pay for the gym membership), and get a free bottle of Hoodia or something from the vitamin store.
  • Buy a fat burning product and get a free one-hour session with a personal trainer.

Just things like that in which both parties would benefit from increased business. Now that we have some deals set up, it’s time to advertise them. Because I established a partnership in which both places generate traffic for each other as well as themselves, I just doubled my audience. Instead of advertising to people who are just looking for a gym membership, we can also advertise for those searching for diet pills (which is a much larger market).

Next comes my lucky $200 in Adwords. Not much at all, but I guess we can try and make it work. Since we now have a larger market, there’s a ton of different things we can test. For one, we’ll obviously have geotargeting on, and I’ll be targeting cities within maybe 30 miles of the gym. That may even be pushing it, as there are fitness centers everywhere. I’d make adgroups for the following types of keywords :

  • fitness centers
  • gyms (local gym, gym in _____, etc)
  • weight loss center
  • weight loss (in general)
  • diet pills (as well as Hoodia, etc)
  • supplements

The list goes on and on. I could generate quite a number of keywords from all those topics. Now as far as potential ad copies, I’d write something like :

ABC Gym Buffalo
1 Month Free Membership.
5 Miles From {Hometown}.

ABC Gym Buffalo
1 Month Free Membership.
Free Supplements. Call Today!

Weight Loss Clinic
Find a Weight Loss Clinic
in Buffalo. Free Consultation!

Free Hoodia at Buffalo Gym
Sign Up for 1 Month and
Receive a Free Bottle of Hoodia!

I could write hundreds of different ad copies all day and split test them all. The ad would go to the companies website, and depending on the type of ad, would go to a different page. If someone clicked through the keyword “hoodia”, I would emphasize the free bottle of Hoodia with a 1 month membership. I’d have a contact form as well as the companies phone number. Since we have multiple pages, we can track where the converting traffic is coming from. I know that this company doesn’t advertise on Adwords, so perhaps they could increase business quite a bit by doing so. Once we got customers filling out forms and giving us their phone number, we’d start the second phase of our strategy in actually reeling them in. If the customer is about to turn down the offer, we make a “personal” offer and offer them two bottles of Hoodia, or two months at the gym, etc. From there we can look at revenues and profits, and see if the entire thing is making or losing us money.

I would definitely have to think about it and set it up for a couple weeks, but this is just my thinking right at the moment. So with 20 minutes of thought, that is how I would win the Google Online Marketing Challenge.

How would you win? Tell me either in your own blog post, comments, or through email. I’ll pick my favorite entry and post about it.


  1. December 20, 2007

    This is kind a cool contest… I’ll def. have to put some thought into this today, and I’ll post a blog entry later on. My first thoughts though are:

    It says “local business” does this nescessarily mean brick and mortar business? I mean, why couldn’t it be an internet business from your local area?

    This will be a fun exercise.

    – Tevin

  2. December 20, 2007

    I might put some time into this as well. My post will probably have to deal with real estate, creative real estate ad strategy.

  3. December 20, 2007

    Interesting Strategy! :)

    Good post.

  4. December 20, 2007

    Hey Paul, thanks for your insight into Gomcha!

  5. Garrett
    December 21, 2007

    I would probably promote a bookstore or somethin.

    I’d march my ass offline, and tell every motherfucker I possibly can that they have to help me win my contest that I was selected to be in (by Google ITSELF!)

    Yes…I used to knock doors…so I’m very dangerous that way. :) (People buy the contest…not what your selling).

    I would make sure to leverage every person and have them tell their friends to help me out too.

    Next for the $200 in Adwords ads.

    I would definitely use Geo-Targeting and write some compelling ads. Thats not rocket science.

    I would set up a landing page specifically for sending PPC Traffic there as well as everybody I personally ‘influence.

    I would collect name and email addresses and basically rally up my people to help me win by doing something good for themselves; buying a book or a magazine. Better yet, for their kids. Like Joe Vitales Hypnotic Writing for example.

    Strong offline PR would be my main strategy. Kinda bypassing Adwords a bit…but hey…you asked to ask.

  6. December 21, 2007

    2 words. Guerrilla advertising.

  7. December 21, 2007

    Interesting Strategy! I’ll think something up and get back to you.

  8. Caroline
    December 25, 2007

    I wonder how many GOMCHA participants will take your advice and try a local fitness/health business. Your advice makes perfect sense to me and I don’t see why any of it wouldn’t work to a team’s advantage! Thanks for writing this, Paul, even if it’s only 100% thinking outloud. :D

  9. December 27, 2007

    Great cross-marketing recommendation with the Fitness Gym and the Pills; I think I’m going to try and get into this challenge. I’m going into my last semester of college and I have a web-design course;

    I’ll post back in a few weeks once class starts and see if I can get registered for this contest.

    Thanks again for writing about this otherwise I would have never heard about it.

    Cheers, and happy New Year’s all :)

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