3 Top AdWords Alternatives

Getting all your paid traffic from Google AdWords?

Most business owners who rely on AdWords to drive most of the traffic to their website don’t realize that AdWords ain’t the only game in town.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love AdWords. I’m in it every day and, all things considered, I think it’s the greatest advertising platform around.

But, you shouldn’t be relying on Google for all your paid traffic.

Why? Well, for any one or more of the following reasons…

  1. Relying on a single source of traffic – no matter what it is – is a very dangerous position to be in
  2. AdWords is getting more competitive by the day and click costs can be extremely high
  3. If you don’t play by their rules, Google can and will ban your account
  4. There may very well be other sources of traffic you’re missing out on that can deliver more traffic and/or more sales at a much lower cost per conversion than AdWords.

So, if you’re looking to diversify your traffic sources and/or have maxed out AdWords and still want to drive more paid traffic, here are the first 3 places I’d recommend you turn to…

Bing Ads

This is the most obvious option out there. Bing Ads is basically Bing’s version of AdWords. It serves traffic on both Bing and Yahoo! which, together, account for about 30{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of search engine traffic.

A few years ago I would try to avoid Bing Ads at all costs because it had a clunky interface, a horrible feature set and all sorts of bugs that would drive me crazy.

But they’ve really cleaned up their act in the last few years. It’s still not quite as elegant as AdWords, but it’s much closer.

The good thing for AdWords users is that because Bing knows AdWords rules the paid search marketplace, they’ve made it extremely easy to import your AdWords campaign into Bing Ads. They have a handy import feature that allows you to connect directly to your AdWords account or, the method I prefer, you can export your AdWords campaigns from the AdWords Editor and import that file into Bing.

Either way, you don’t have to recreate the wheel and can have your Bing Ads campaign up in less than 30 minutes.

(Quick Tip – After you import an AdWords campaign into Bing, double check your settings. At the very least I’d recommend lowering your bid prices by at least 10{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} and make sure your geographic targeting settings were imported correctly.)

Bing Ads is not going to drive nearly the amount of traffic that AdWords does but we’ve found, especially for B2B type niches, you’ll find higher conversion rates with Bing.

And click costs are generally much lower on Bing because there’s not as much competition there. In fact, in some highly competitive markets, you may want to start with Bing Ads to try to generate leads at an acceptable ROI before trying to battle it out on the killing fields of AdWords.

Before we move on, one last tip for Bing Ads… only run your campaigns on Bing and Yahoo! and NOT on the ‘search partners’ sites. We’ve found the search partner traffic to be rather poor quality and usually avoid it.

Facebook Ads

Facebook is another platform that’s really upped its paid advertising game lately. In fact, there are situations where the quantity and quality of the paid traffic you can get with Facebook will leave Google in the dust.

In fact, earlier this year we set up an AdWords campaign for a friend of mine who was using Facebook paid advertising to get a few hundred sign ups a month for his offer. We tried Google Search traffic, Google Display Network and even YouTube advertising through AdWords but the traffic was WAY more expensive and we couldn’t even come close to generating the number of sign ups he was getting from Facebook (despite our best efforts!).

There are a few main reasons Facebook paid ads have gotten so much better lately.

First are the News Feed ads. It used to be that your ads on Facebook would only show up on the right side of the screen and were easy for users to ignore. Now, you can show ads right in people’s News Feeds along with updates from their friends, companies they’re following, etc.

It’s much harder for people to ignore the News Feed ads and their clickthrough rates dwarf the clickthrough rates of the ads in the right sidebar.

Second is the introduction of the Power Editor. Among other things, the Power Editor gives you access to data from a few Big Data providers which allows you to target people in ways that were never possible before.

Facebook advertising was always an interesting option because you could target people based on information in their Facebook profiles. So, for example, things like Relationship Status, favorite movies/books/etc., and the Facebook pages they like were all fair game (and still are).

But with Big Data, you can now target people by data about them gathered from offline sources too. So, for example, you can target people who are “cereal buyers”, those who have donated to certain categories of charities, those who take “Casino vacations” and much MUCH more!

This opens a whole new world of demographic targeting options that aren’t available to most advertisers any other way. If you’re trying to reach a specific demographic or people with certain buying behaviors, Facebook paid ads are definitely worth experimenting with.

Retargeting platforms

Yes, Google has remarketing but you can do retargeting campaign on a number of other platforms as well.

Even if you’re not familiar with the term retargeting, you know what it is. If you go to a website looking for shoes, household items, software, etc. and then leave that site and are immediately bombarded with ads for the products you just looked at, that’s retargeting (though not necessarily done well!).

It works by having code on your website that places a cookie on the machine of visitors to your site (Hint: you can place the code in HTML emails or FB pages too). Then, when they leave your site, you can show ads to them for your products/services when they visit other websites that display ads on them.

AdRoll is probably the best known 3rd party retargeting platform around these days, but there are plenty of others including Retargeter, Fetchback, Simpl.fi and more.

Personally, we’ve not had good results with AdRoll. They seem to charge a premium for traffic and there’s not a lot of transparency in your campaigns. Of the 3rd party options out there, right now we’re focusing our efforts around Perfect Audience (which allows you to retarget to users on Facebook and Twitter), though it’s a little too soon to fully endorse them.

If you’re already getting a decent amount of traffic to your website and are NOT using retargeting, you’re missing out. It’s a great way to get people back to your site who’ve already shown an interest in what you offer but weren’t ready to pull the trigger yet. It can also be a great way to market to current clients with upsell and cross sell offers.

Also, retargeting clicks tend to be fairly inexpensive, especially when compared to AdWords Search traffic.


If you’re looking for additional sources of paid traffic, the above would be my top 3. But there are plenty of others out there. Do you have a favorite? If so, please share it in the comment section below.

Boy Did This Talk Hit a Nerve!

I really hit a nerve with this one!

Last month I gave a 15 minute presentation to a group of about 25 entrepreneurs. And the reaction it got was like none I’ve ever gotten from any other speech, seminar or presentation I’ve done.

The talk was to members of Experts4Entrepreneurs (e4e), a group I’m honored to be a part of. Those in the audience were not new to running businesses. They were all seasoned and successful entrepreneurs.

Yet the presentation resonated so much that when I finished:

  • My talk was referenced by others at least a dozen times throughout the rest of our meeting
  • I’ve had multiple people come up to me and say I should start a consulting business around it
  • One of the members included it in a new book he’s writing, and…
  • It led to the creation of a follow up exercise/game that we all took part in at the most recent e4e meeting that was designed to really drive the concept home.

Now, I’m a decent public speaker. But it wasn’t my speaking skills that got the enormous reaction.

It was the topic.

It’s a topic that strikes at the core of the struggles many entrepreneurs face each day. And I believe it’s one of the most important topics that entrepreneurs need to get a handle on if they’re gonna be successful.

This article is a transcript of that talk.

It has nothing directly to do with marketing. But it’s one of the most powerful concepts I’ve learned and it’s had a significant impact on my business and even my personal affairs. My hope is it has a big positive impact on you and your business too…

The Question That Changed My Business And Life

Last summer, I heard a question that changed my life.

It’s about the most powerful question I’ve ever heard/asked myself. It’s changed my approach to business. It’s changed my approach to a number of personal matters. It’s really changed my worldview.

So, what is this question?

Well, I’ll get to it in a minute. Not to be a tease here but it needs some set up so I’ve got another question to ask you first.

Look around you. Do you see them?

I’m sure you do. But do you see them the way I see them?

I’m talking about… The lights. The computer. The windows. The thermostat.

No, I’m not hallucinating. I do see those things for what they actually are.

But I also see them all as systems. Separate, independently operating systems. Each of them producing the result(s) they’re designed and/or programmed to produce.

And all those systems have come together to create the environment you’re in at this moment in time as you’re reading this article.

Now here’s the really important thing to understand about this…

If any one of those systems fails to operate as it’s supposed to, it doesn’t affect the operation of any of the others.

If a light bulb goes out, it may affect your environment by making the room a bit darker, but it doesn’t affect the performance of the computer or the thermostat. Those things will still work just the way they should.

So all you need to do to fix the problem is simply change the light bulb.

Makes sense, yes?

Well, while it’s easier to get this concept when you look at the inanimate objects in the world around you, it’s harder to get that this same concept applies to your business.

But it does.

See, your business is very much a collection of separate, independently operating systems.

The way you get money into the bank has nothing to do with how you hire people has nothing to do with how you bring a new client on board.

So when there are problems in a business, it’s important to realize that it’s not the entire business that’s the problem. It’s specific systems within the business that need to be fixed.

And that brings us to the BIG question that changed the way I look at the world. And the question is this…

When a problem occurs in a business, ask yourself “What system, if created or improved upon, would have prevented this problem from occurring in the first place.”

Playing Whac-a-Mole

It’s a powerful question, yet most entrepreneurs are not used to looking at our businesses that way. We go through our day reacting to the latest problem, issue or “priority”. We jump around putting out fire after fire.

It’s like we’re playing a giant game of Whac-a-Mole.

An issue pops up and we try to slam it back into submission as fast as we can. Then another pops up. Then another.

The problem with Whac-a-Mole is that, over time, the moles pop up faster and faster until, ultimately, you lose.

But when you think in terms of systems, you change the game. Instead of reacting after a mole pops up, you’re reaching down into the hole and yanking those suckers out of there so they never show their ugly little faces again.

Now I’ve heard business people talking about systems for years. Like probably all of you, I read The E-Myth and know all about working on your business, not in your business.

But the systems approach never really resonated with me. I’m an entrepreneur. I like my freedom. I don’t want to feel boxed into a certain way of doing things.

Work The System

That changed last summer when I heard an interview with Sam Carpenter, author of Work The System, and the question “What system, if created or improved upon, would have prevented this problem from occurring in the first place.

And, for the first time, I made the conscious decision to give system building a shot.

The first documented system I built was for a new AdWords campaign I was working on. In this situation, I built a new campaign and then had to replicate it 50 times over the course of a month.

Now building these campaigns was not rocket science. But the first few times I did it, I struggled. I did things in the wrong order, forgot some steps, etc. and it ended up taking a lot more time and effort than necessary. Even though I eventually got the end result I wanted, the process to get there was extremely inefficient.

So I documented the steps in a Word document as I went through them and then used that Word document the next time I went through the process.

An Unexpected Discovery

And I discovered something totally unexpected.

When following the system, I didn’t feel boxed in or that my freedom was being taken away by using a system at all.

In fact, I had quite the opposite feeling!

By following the system, I found my brain didn’t have to focus on remembering the small details of how to set up these campaigns. And that actually was very freeing. It freed my brain up to think about how to do this process even better and more efficiently.

In fact, almost every time I went through the process following the documented system, I found ways to improve it. So, by the time I finished that 50th campaign, I completed it in just a fraction of the time it took me the first few times I did it.

Ever since that experience, I’ve become a BIG believer in the systems mindset and have been changing my business around to use systems as much as possible.

The Business Benefits of Systemizing

As I see it, there are 4 main benefits to systemizing your business.

1. You make your business operate more efficiently (which helps increase profits).

2. It makes your work life MUCH less stressful when you’re not constantly playing Whac-A-Mole.

3. Outsourcing becomes a lot easier. Believe me, I know. It’s tough for us entrepreneurs to give up control of our businesses because we think no one is going to do things the way we would do them and there are things we do that no one else can do.

Well, I’m here to tell you to snap out of that way of thinking!

Yes, there are probably things you do in your business that no one else can do. BUT… if you break those things down into systems and sub-systems, I bet you’ll find there are parts you can outsource.

I know of a copywriter who took a 40 hour process of writing sales copy for clients and turned it into a 4 hour process. He did it by systemizing each part of the process and outsourcing a lot of the research that goes into copywriting projects.

And, as far as no one doing things the way you would do them… if you have the systems in place that document these things, then they will get done the way you want them done every time.

4. This one is the most important of the bunch.

See, I’m in the same boat as a lot of entrepreneurs… without me showing up every day, my business doesn’t exist. So while I love what I do and make a nice living doing it, if and when the time comes to sell my business, it ain’t worth much to someone else.

Having documented systems in place changes that. If a perspective buyer comes along and you can hand them the playbook on how to operate your business, that’s a game changer. Your business is much more attractive and incredibly more valuable to a buyer.

You may have no desire to sell your business right now, but if you’re putting in all the hard work, wouldn’t it be nice to at least have the option to sell it for a pretty penny one day?

A Challenge – How To Get Started

So that’s my case for building systems in your business. If you’re not using them in your business, I strongly recommend you buy a copy of Work The System and get started.

Here’s my challenge to you… build just 1 system.

Take a process that’s wildly inefficient and/or regularly causes problems in your business. Don’t choose one that’s too complicated… you want to find one that you should be able to get a fairly easy win with so you can see the power of systems at work for yourself.

At the very least, you’ll make an inefficient process much more efficient. But once you see the power of systems at work, you may just fully embrace the systems mindset and take your business to a new level of efficiency and profitability. (And you’ll never look at the lights, the computer or the thermostat the same way again!)

A Poem For My Daughter (And All Entrepreneurs)

Homework. Ugh.

It’s been about 20 years since I’ve had to worry about homework. I thought by this point in my life I was free and clear.

But no.

A few weeks ago, my 11 year old’s teacher gave her class a homework assignment… that had to be completed by the parents!

The homework was to read the poem “Mother To Son” by Langston Hughes together, discuss it and then the parents had to write a poem in response.

So that’s what we did.

No word on what kind of grade I got on my poem yet, but I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. And, no big surprise, while it was written for my daughter, it is VERY relevant to entrepreneurs.

In the interest of doing something completely different in this newsletter, I decided to share it with all of you.

First, so you have the context for it, here’s Langston Hughes’ poem, Mother To Son:

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So, boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps.
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

Here’s my response. I’m no Langston Hughes for sure, but hope you enjoy!

The Crystal Stair

I tried to climb a crystal stair once.
And, you know what?
It ain’t that hard. Kinda boring actually.

You know what stairs are better to climb?
The beat up, creaky ones with missing steps, no railing and heaping piles of garbage blocking your path.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. And you’ll want to turn back along the way.

But, if you stick with it.
Oh, if you stick with it,you’ll climb to heights people on the crystal stair can’t even fathom.

Now part of me would love to give you an elevator that goes straight to the top of that crystal stair.
An elevator that protects you.
Keeps you safe.
Guarantees you’ll make it to the top.

But I know that wouldn’t be fair… to you.

It would rob you of seeing for yourself all that you’re truly made of.
Of facing the challenges, problems and setbacks along the way.
And of experiencing the sweet satisfaction of kicking them in the teeth while you keep on moving higher and higher.

The elevator would rob you of seeing for yourself what you’re truly capable of.
And of realizing the massive potential I see every time I look at you.

So let others try to climb the crystal stair.
The truth is they don’t go that high.

You’re better than that.
You’re up for the challenge.
And you’re going to be so much stronger when you reach the top.

I tried to climb a crystal stair.
But I found the people on the crystal stair never accomplish much.
That’s why I only tried to climb it… once.


Without This One Thing, Nobody Buys

Last month we discussed why there are no basements in Oklahoma and the incredible importance of proof in your marketing.

Proof is the missing ingredient on so many websites (and other marketing pieces) that makes the difference between a successful marketing campaign and one that bombs.

Put quite simply… without belief, nobody buys.

If your prospects don’t trust you… if they don’t think your claims are credible… if you come across as being too hypey… they ain’t buying!

I have conversations all the time with clients about the importance of proof. And the conversation always starts out the same way.

I make the suggestions that we need to add more proof to the site, ad, etc.

They respond, “Okay, we’ll add some more testimonials.”

Now, yes, testimonials are a good form of proof. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

If all you’re doing is offering testimonials, it’s not enough. There are a boatload of other ways to add proof to your site. And, this month, we’re going to look at 12 of them.

1. Strong Guarantee

A strong guarantee may be one of the most powerful weapons you can use in your marketing arsenal. And, by strong, I mean one that is a step above what the competition offers.

In more and more industries a money back guarantee is pretty much expected. What we’re talking about here is a guarantee that your competitors don’t have the guts to offer and one that, quite frankly, makes you a little queasy to put out there.

A strong guarantee qualifies as proof because it shows how much you believe in your product/service. In fact, for a new business that doesn’t have much in the way of the other forms of proof listed below, a guarantee may be one of the only forms of proof you’ve got.

2. Demonstration

Copywriting legend Claude Hopkins put it this way…

“No argument in the world can ever compare with one dramatic demonstration.”

Remember the old Timex ads with the slogan “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking”? They tortured their watches to show how much of a beating they could take yet still keep telling time. Those ads took Timex from relative obscurity to the best selling watch around.

Don’t just tell your prospects about the benefits of your products and services… SHOW them.

Sell software? Have a screen capture video that shows exactly what it’s like to use your software.

Have a Membership site? Again, use a screen capture video that gives a behind-the-scenes view of the site so people see exactly what it’s like to be a member.

Are you a Consultant? Offer prospects a video or audio recording that shows what one of your consulting sessions is like.

Service professional? Show how you handle service calls and the checklist your employees go through to make sure the job’s done right.

Sell a product? The infomercial world is built upon demonstrating what it’s like to use their products. You can create your own mini-infomercial that you put on your website and YouTube.

Think of how you can demonstrate what your product or service will actually do for your prospects. It may very well be the best marketing angle you can take.

3. Specifics

We all fall into the generalities trap:

  • “We’ve helped hundreds of customers save money.”
  • “We’re the best at…”
  • “We have a high rate of success in…”
  • “Our quality control process is second to none…”

Those kinds of claims don’t carry much weight. But put some specifics into them and you change the game.

  • “To date, we’ve helped 973 customers save an average of $1,239 a year.”
  • “Over the past 4 years, we’ve been ranked as the #1 widget builder in an independent survey of customers in our industry.”
  • “We’ve had successful outcomes for 98.3{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of the 4234 customers that have come to us in the past 15 months.”
  • “We’ve only had 1 error in the last 13,234 calls we’ve handled (which is 5.6x better than the industry average)…

When you back up your claims with specifics, your claims become more tangible and believable to prospects. And that makes specifics another powerful weapon in your “proof” arsenal. (And, by the way, the more specific your testimonials have in them, the more powerful they are.)

4. Media

Media attention and publicity provides instant credibility to you and your business.

On websites these days, it’s fairly common to see the “Media Wall” which shows off the logos of every TV station, newspaper, magazine, etc. that a company has been featured on/in.

If you get media coverage, be sure to embed and/or link to the interview, press release, story, etc. on your site.

Yes, media coverage can do a great job at giving you a short term spike of traffic and sales.

However, over the long term, featuring past media appearances on your site provides instant proof that your company is doing something interesting/worth talking about. And that can provide the extra credibility prospects need to do business with you as opposed to one of your less media savvy competitors.

5. Specialization

If your kid gets sick and complains that her ear hurts, would you take her to a dermatologist or a pediatrician?

Nope. Not a trick question. You’d obviously pick the pediatrician because they specialize in taking care of sick children.

Specialized training and/or expertise in a specific segment of a market bring added proof and credibility to the table.

So instead of being another accountant, you’re the accountant that specializes in helping chiropractors.

Instead of being another sales coach, you’re the sales coach that helps senior level sales executives at manufacturing companies with $15 million or more in revenue.

You may very well find being a big fish in a smaller pond, combined with the credibility you get by being a specialist, is exactly what you need to take your sales to the next level.

6. Accolades/Awards

Have you and/or your business won any awards? Have you gotten any special recognition for the work you do?

If you have, don’t hide it from your prospects! Shout it from the rooftops (or at least feature it prominently on your website and marketing materials!).

Awards from 3rd party organizations that recognize your excellence for what you do provides a big credibility bump to the claims you make so be sure you highlight them.

7. Admitting Faults

Candor and honesty can go a long way to establishing your credibility.

Point out a potential drawback of your product/service, tell prospects that it may not be for everyone, understate your claims.

This may seem counterintuitive, but it can generate a lot of goodwill and trust with your prospects.

So try admitting some faults and see if it gives you a bump in conversions.

8. Studies/Research

Have there been any research or studies that support the claims you make/back up the benefits of the product/service you offer?

Citing research from well known universities, organizations, etc. can give your product/service a nice credibility bump.

For example, let’s say you sell a new type of eyeglass lens that provides clearer, sharper vision and the technology was developed by some researchers at Harvard University. Mentioning “developed by researchers at Harvard” in your marketing for the lens will give them more credibility in the, well, eyes, of your prospects.

Research from 3rd parties will help prove your case more effectively than you trying to toot your own horn.

9. Noteworthy Clients

This is similar to media appearances, but uses existing clients as proof. If you’ve worked with big, notable, respected companies, you can feature their logos on your website (provided you have their permission of course!) to demonstrate your credibility.

Basically you’re conveying the idea that if these other companies have trusted our products/services, then your prospects should too!

10. Scarcity

Scarcity is one of Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion.

When people perceive the availability of an offer is limited (by time, supply, etc.) it will increase demand.

It also demonstrates proof. When you have (truthful) reasons why you have a limited supply of your product/service, it gives the perception that it’s a popular product/service and it must be good.

11. Social Media Proof

Social Proof is another one of Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion. And social media is a great way to demonstrate social proof for your company online.

Highlighting a large number of followers, retweets, connections, mentions, reviews, etc. you have across various social media sites demonstrates popularity. It shows that other people like what you’re doing and validates your product/service.

There’s safety in numbers and when a prospect sees that they’d be in good company by using your product/service, it can provide them the shortcut/cover they need to make the decision to use you.

12. The Reason Why

You have to give prospects a reason why they should buy from you. Part of that is to give them a reason why to believe the claims you’re making.

Providing that reason why can take a boring, ho-hum kind of claim and give it some teeth that’ll provide the extra proof a prospect needs to pull out their wallet.

So it’s not “we’re having a sale this weekend”, it’s “we’re having a sale this weekend because our supplier sent us 50{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} more widgets than we ordered and we’re trying to get rid of them quickly.”

It’s not that “our widget is better than the competition’s”, it’s “our widget is better than the competition’s because of our patented manufacturing process that makes it 57{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} stronger…”

Give prospects a reason why to believe the claims you make to help prove your case.

Profiting With Proof

Making claims on your site that aren’t backed up by proof can come off as gimmicky, insincere, or worse… all hype but no substance.

As I said at the top… without belief, nobody buys.

You now have 12 ways to provide belief (in addition to testimonials). Pick a few, put them on your site and prosper!

The Surprising Reason There Ain’t No Basements in Oklahoma

Go into a house in Kansas and odds are you’ll find a basement.

But cross the border into Oklahoma – just a few miles away – and not so much. In fact, according to an interview I heard on the radio the other week, just 3{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of houses in Oklahoma have basements.

Now that stat in and of itself isn’t all that interesting. But what IS really interesting is WHY there are so few basements in Oklahoma.

(And, stick with me, because this all leads to something you’ve gotta understand about human nature and marketing!)

Back to Oklahoma first though…

There used to be a good reason for not building basements there. The high water table and clay soil made it difficult to do… back in the 40s or 50s.

But technology, particularly waterproofing technology, has made those issues largely irrelevant for quite some time. Yet the mindset that you can’t build a basement in Oklahoma still persists.

Here’s where things get interesting…

If you know much about Oklahoma, it’s located in the epicenter of “Tornado Alley”, an area of the US known for its frequent and violent twisters.

And, if you know much about tornados, you know that when one’s headed your way, the basement is the safest place to be. Getting to a basement may very well save your life.

Knowing this, the State of Oklahoma is very much in favor of its residents having basements and offers a government subsidy to help people pay for building basements and/or underground storm shelters.

So basically if you live in Oklahoma you can get free money to build something that could potentially save your and your family’s life.

Sounds like something residents would be falling over each other to take advantage of, right?

Well, the basement contractor, Mike, interviewed for the story talked about the huge tornado that hit the city of Moore, OK in 2013 and damaged over 8000 homes and structures. This was a horrific 1.3 mile wide twister with 210 mile per hour winds that killed 25, injured 377 and caused an estimated $2 billion in damages.

After that storm hit, this basement contractor said he got exactly 2 phone calls from people interested in adding a basement to their homes and landed 1 job.

The interviewer asked Mike why more people don’t build basements in Oklahoma. His answer is fascinating and is very relevant to how you market your business.

What Mike said is that there’s a mindset in Oklahoma when it comes to basements that’s very hard to break. Most people in the state have it in their heads that you can’t build basements there and, to paraphrase what Mike says…

If everyone says no, then that must be the way it is. It’s easier to take other people’s word for it then to do the research yourself. It’s’ easier to go with the crowd vs. against the crowd.

And this gets right to the heart of why I wanted to share this with you. Because it gets to the heart of how many people (your prospects included) really make decisions.

These days most people don’t like, or are too busy, to do much research.

Most people put A LOT of credibility into the beliefs, opinions and recommendations of others.

Most people don’t want to make decisions that would put them in the minority.

And that leads us to a topic we’ve talked about here before and one I see becoming a bigger and bigger deal all the time…


I’ve got a good friend, really sharp marketer, who specializes in building websites and doing SEO for attorneys. He recently did an audit of dozens of attorney websites. What he was specifically looking for were the differences between the sites that generate a good flow of calls and leads for the attorney and the ones that don’t.

He looked at dozens of factors and there was one that had a correlation to the number of leads the site generated.


The websites that had more proof were the ones that generated more phone calls. Here’s a partial list of the types of proof these sites have to prove they’re credible and trustworthy:

  • Testimonials/Reviews
  • Case Studies
  • Media Appearances
  • Certifications
  • Association Memberships
  • Badges (ie. BBB and industry specific credentials)
  • Articles published
  • Books written
  • Years Experience

I just submitted an article for the Crazy Egg blog (the article has not been published yet so I can’t link to it here) that provides yet more, well, proof, of why proof is so important.

The premise of the article is this…

Last year for the Crazy Egg blog I used a “Spy Tool” that lets me see who the top AdWords advertisers are for a particular keyword, see what ads they’re running and what landing page they’re sending people to.

I’ve done a series of these posts analyzing advertisers for different keywords, but the first one I did (in March 2013) looked at advertisers for the ultra-competitive word “acne treatment.”

This year, I revisited the keyword “acne treatment” to see how the competitive landscape has changed over the last year.

There were a number of interesting insights that came from doing this, but what was the #1 takeaway?


The advertisers who are continuing to dominate in the market and/or the ones who have moved up the rankings the most since last year have ALL added a lot more proof to their landing pages.

And, a lot of (though not all) of that proof came in the form of social proof where the companies were showcasing the opinions and experiences of their clients (ie. testimonials, often in video form) to make the sale for them.

Which brings us back to how people make decisions.

As Mike, the basement contractor in Oklahoma, has found – most people don’t take the time to do research. They look for shortcuts.

And the most powerful, influential shortcut there is, is social proof.

It’s observing what other people do, listening to what they say and noticing how they behave. And then we use that data to shortcut our own decisions… for better or worse.

Social Proof has always had a huge influence on how humans make decisions.

And as we’re all bombarded with more and more information each day… as consumers become more and more jaded after being screwed by companies that don’t deliver on their promises… as we’ve become so busy and overwhelmed that we seek out shortcuts, cheat sheets, etc. to make our decisions…

Proof has become a bigger and bigger deal to use in advertising.

How good a job do you do at using proof to back up the claims you make on your website and establish your credibility?

Based on every site I’ve seen (this one included!), chances are you could be doing a MUCH better job at it.

It’s well worth the time and effort to add more proof to your website. Don’t be shy about doing this. You don’t want your competitors to “out-proof” you.

Because if they do, you may find new leads for your business becoming rarer than, well, a basement in Oklahoma.

Own a Local Business? Then You MUST See This Screenshot From Google!

Last weekend I was in a rush to take my daughter to an event at a local school I’d never been to before.

So I headed over to the computer, typed the school’s address into Google Maps and was met with a screen and short slide show welcoming me to the NEW Google Maps.

As I started fast-forwarding through the slide show so I could get the directions I needed, one slide leaped out at me and I froze. Not having much time, I took a screenshot of what I say and want to share it with you here.

highest rated biz

Now if you blink, you might miss what the bid deal is here.

See, this slide is about how Google is making it easier for you to make “smarter” choices when you’re looking for local businesses.

The most important piece of this that local business owners should be paying close attention to is this

“… find the highest-rated shops nearby.”

That’s right, the number and quality of the ratings your customers leave about your business on Google may well determine whether they find your business or not.

Online reviews have long been important for local businesses and now seem to be getting even more so.

If you’re struggling to get more reviews for your business, a good friend of mine has developed software that makes it dirt simple.

All you need is a customer’s name and email address and the software does the rest. And does it really well.

One of my clients has been using it for about 6 months. When they started, they had 2 just reviews for their business on Google. Now they’re the most reviewed, highest rated business in their local niche on Google and the other major review sites (and almost all the reviews are 5 star reviews from very happy customers!).

And his results are common. The software’s been around for about a year now and the businesses using it are dominating their local market when it comes to reviews and referrals (and at $49/month, find it an incredible bargain for the results they get)!

Now this software is not for everyone. But if you think it might be a good fit for your business and would like to know about it, send me an email with the subject line “More Local Reviews” and I’ll put you in touch with my friend to see if his software can help your business become the most reviewed business in your town (which, as you can see from the image above, is more important than ever!)

So if you want to become the most reviewed, highest rated business in your niche/area, email me now – adam (at) wordsthatclick (dot) com!

Why Top Online Marketers Are Changing Their Business Model

The times they are a-changin’Bob Dylan

Going behind the scenes this month to bring you some BIG changes taking place in the online marketing world.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking shop with some online marketing friends – guys who are world class (a term I don’t throw around lightly) in PPC and SEO. And all of us are changing the way we approach our businesses and online marketing.

I want to share some of what we’re changing (and why) with you cuz it’s got big implications for your business and how you tackle online marketing.

First a little history…

Let’s go back to the good ol’ days. Just 5 or 10 years ago. Click costs in AdWords were cheap. And it was still pretty easy to rank high in the organic and local search results.

Yes, for those with just a little knowledge of how the search engines worked, life was good.

Well, y’all know those days are long gone!

Now you’d be hard pressed to find a niche where you don’t have to fight tooth and nail against a legion of competitors trying to claim that precious real estate on top of Page 1 of Google for themselves.

Google AdWords Ain’t Just About Search Any More

In AdWords, there was a time you could focus just on campaigns running on Google.com (and maybe the Display Network if you were more advanced) and be just fine.

But now, in addition to Search and Display Networks, there’s Remarketing, Product Listing Ads, Video ads, mobile optimized settings, ad extensions, all sorts of new bidding structures, automated rules, scripts, etc.

And that’s just the surface level stuff. You can dig layers deeper on any one of those topics.

There’s always been a “Stupidity Tax” in AdWords for those who didn’t know what they’re doing. These days, the tax is MUCH higher and Google (and your competitors) will devour you if you’re not careful.

SEO has seen tectonic shifts recently as well.

You can’t go out and buy a bunch of links to catapult your site to the top of the search results any more. Yes, links still matter. But you gotta be VERY careful about how and where you get them. And you need to focus more on regularly creating truly unique content, social signals, Authorship, etc.

The Changes Search Engine Marketing Firms Are Making

There was a time when all we focused on here at Words That Click were AdWords Search campaigns. And that was enough.

There was a time when my buddy who’s a top SEO expert only worried about SEO and building backlinks for his clients. And that was enough.

But just doing those things ain’t enough anymore.

These days, to really make AdWords work, a company like mine can’t put its blinders on and just focus on keywords, ads and bid prices.

Not to say we can’t get improvements focusing on those things because we can and do. But it’ll only get us so far before we hit a wall.

See, to really compete in AdWords (and/or SEO) and truly make significant improvements to a campaign, we HAVE to focus on the landing pages and Conversion Optimization too.

We have to work with businesses on their messaging. Their offers. Their calls to action. Their entire sales funnel really.

All that stuff needs to be addressed to make an AdWords campaign truly fly these days.

But, wait, there’s even more!

Because even if you have great landing pages in place, traffic from Google can still be pricey (though if you’ve optimized your landing pages, you can afford to pay those clicks MUCH easier than your competitors who ignore conversions).

Or, sometimes there are situations where a site’s pretty well optimized and AdWords is driving about as much traffic as we can squeeze out of it so the question becomes how to drive more prospects to a site.

So if we’re really going to our job of helping customers achieve the objective of growing their businesses, we have to look for other sources of paid traffic besides AdWords.

And there’s no shortage of them out there…

  • Bing (and other search engines)
  • FB ads (which have become much more viable for a wider range of businesses lately)
  • Retargeting platforms like Simpli.fi and AdRoll
  • PPV platforms like Trafficvance
  • Content Recommendation Engines like Outbrain
  • and on and on

See, my friends and I in the industry all have a bird’s eye view of what’s going on in the world of online marketing. We get to go behind the scenes of hundreds of companies in all different markets. We study both the successes and failures of various marketing campaigns.

And from that view of the world, we see what the companies dominating their markets are doing.

We see the truly successful companies know their numbers and are obsessive about measuring results (remember this… if you can’t measure it, you can’t fix it).

We see the truly successful companies put a lot of resources into Conversion Optimization and are obsessively testing ways to get more prospects to raise their hands and enter their sales funnels.

We see the truly successful companies never EVER rely on just one source of traffic… they diversify by using a wide range of paid and “free” sources of traffic.

And in seeing all this, it’s crystal clear that as marketing firms we can’t afford to be one trick ponies. Firms that only focus on AdWords or SEO and nothing else are going to go the way of the dodo.

If we’re gonna help our clients’ marketing campaigns be as successful as they can be, just focusing on clicks, backlinks and Quality Scores ain’t gonna make it happen.

What Lessons Should You Take Away From This?

Well, you, as a business owner, can’t afford to be a one trick pony either when it comes to your marketing.

In my 11 Simple Principles report I originally wrote 5 years ago, I said this:

Relying on just one source of traffic and sales to drive your online marketing efforts puts your business in a very dangerous position.”

And that’s even truer today than it was then.

You HAVE to diversify your traffic sources.

You HAVE to work the conversion side of your website.

And you HAVE to carefully measure results so you know your numbers and see EXACTLY what’s putting money in your bank account and what’s siphoning money out of it.

The webs a-changin’.

Yes, it’s a more challenging environment. But your prospects are still looking for you there.

And it’s the companies that adapt by adding more sources of traffic, focus on Conversions and watch their numbers that are gonna turn the lion’s share of the prospects into customers.

So, the question is, is it going to be you or your competition that get them?

7 Easy (And Wickedly Effective) Ways to Pimp Your Website in 2014

Happy New Year!

I’m assuming you’ve got big plans for your business this year, right?

I mean, I’ve never heard an entrepreneur say “I’m happy with how things are. I think I’ll just kick back and relax.”

Heck no! You wanna grow your business. Make it bigger and better. You’re like the Once-ler from the Lorax and figure on “biggering and Biggering and BIGGERING…”!

Well, for most businesses, your website is Ground Zero for making that happen. You want it to be a well-oiled machine that attracts, engages and converts your ideal prospects into paying customers.

So with that in mind, here are 7 tools, strategies and/or tips to help your website do that much more effectively this year. (These are in no particular order, though if I had a gun to my head and was forced to pick just one of these, it’d be #7.)

1. Get Rid of Your Sliders

Yep. I’m talking about those rotating image sliders that are all the rage on websites these days. They flash a product, message, offer, etc. for a few seconds and then move on to the next.

Well, as our parents used to say, “Just because everyone else jumps off a bridge, doesn’t mean you should do it too.”

The thing is, sliders KILL conversions.

There have been a number of studies by conversion experts and, in almost all of them, websites/landing pages that use sliders have lower conversion rates than the ones that just feature ONE specific offer/message/product.

(A lot of it has to do with movement. Our eyes are naturally drawn to movement. So when you have that slider constantly scrolling at the top of your site, it draws visitors’ attention every time it rotates. And that’s distracting and prevents them from focusing on the stuff you really want them paying attention to – your offer, products, proof, call to action, etc.)

So pick the ONE message you want to deliver at the top of your site and make sure it’s the only one that people see at the top of your landing pages.

2. Install Crazy Egg

Full disclosure here – I’m a paid regular contributor to the Crazy Egg blog, The Daily Egg.

That said, I get no kickbacks for recommending Crazy Egg software. The only reason I’m recommending it here is because I believe in it.

The software creates “heatmaps” of your website that visually show you where people are clicking on your website. You can see “scrollmaps” that show how far down the pages of your site most people scroll. You also get “confetti” maps that show information about the people clicking like referral sources, operating system and browser type.

Google Analytics is very important and provides a lot of essential information. But it doesn’t give you the full story. Crazy Egg helps you figure out how people are interacting with your site and provides  invaluable insights on how to rearrange, redesign and revamp things to get them clicking on the things you want them to click on.

It provides insights that help you figure out WHY people aren’t converting on your site. Among the companies that value Crazy Egg to get these insights are Amazon, eBay and Microsoft.

And with plans starting at just $9/month, it’s so ridiculously cheap that you can’t afford not to get access to this treasure trove of information!

3. Set up Goals in Analytics

You’ve got Analytics installed on your site (right?!). Well that’s great, but it’s just the beginning. What you really want to do with Analytics is set up Goals.

What is it you want people to do when they get to your website?

  • Buy something
  • Sign up for a newsletter, free report or whitepaper
  • Start a free trial of your service

Any or all of those things can be set up as Goals in Analytics so you can track when people perform the actions you want them to take. Then you can get a clearer picture of how many people are taking those actions, what source(s) of traffic perform the best and how changes you make to your site affect the conversion rates of your Goals.

Installing Analytics and setting up Goals are completely free and provide essential information you need to improve your sales funnel. If you don’t have them set up yet, make it one of the first New Year’s Resolutions you make good on this year.

4. Better Button Copy

If you have buttons on your website that say “Submit” or “Click Here”, you’re making a big mistake.

Changing the copy on those buttons may be one of the easiest, yet most effective things you can do to increase conversions on your site.

Use copy that conveys a benefit. Here are a few examples:

  • “Start your Free Trial”
  • “Get the Secret Now”
  • “Sign up and reserve your spot today”
  • “Get Free Updates”

You want to use the button copy to convey the VALUE your prospect gets for clicking. Do that effectively and watch your conversions rise.

5. Get Rid of the I’s and We’s

People don’t come to your website to hear all about you, how great you are and/or how great your products and services are.

They come to your site to find out what you and your products and services can DO FOR THEM. How can you make their lives better? How can you eliminate a pain they’re experiencing OR fulfill a desire they have?

Read over the copy on your site and see if there are more I’s, We’s and Our’s, than You’s. Because if you’re talking about yourself more than your prospects, it’s almost a guarantee your message is missing the mark.

Put the focus squarely on them, their emotions, their problems and desires and your copy will be more effective in getting them to respond.

6. Add More Proof

Why should people believe the claims you make on your site?

Most websites fall way short when it comes to backing up those claims. As Internet marketing guru Terry Dean so beautifully put it “Claims without proof, are just hype.”

Take a look at your website. Do you have lots o’ proof to back up the claims you make on it?

Bet you could add more.

Testimonials and case studies are great. But there’s tons of other ways to generate proof…

Videos. Awards. Credentials. Relevant stories. Social media mentions/fans/followers. Media coverage. Published articles. 3rd party endorsements. Celebrity endorsements. Notable clients.

Adding these things give more credibility to the claims you make and reduce the risk in your prospects’ minds about doing business with you.

More proof = lower perceived risk = higher conversions.

7. Install Optimizely

Okay, if you only do one thing to your website in 2014, it’s this.

Optimizely is a software tool that allows you to easily make changes to a page on your website and then split test the original vs. the page with the changes to see which one generates more conversions.

Basically Optimizely makes a copy of your web page on their server and lets you easily edit the text, images, buttons, etc. on that page (through a WYSIWIG editor… NO coding is required to make changes!).

All you do is install one snippet of code on your site, decide what changes you want to make to try to boost conversions and the software does the rest.

It will show half the visitors to your site the original version and the other half the page that has the change(s). Then it does the math and tells you when one of the variations has outperformed the other and you have a statistically significant winner.

In AdWords, split testing your ads is about the best thing you can do over time to increase the performance of your campaigns. And it’s simple to do.

Optimizely makes split testing your website – the best thing you can do over time to increase the performance of your website – almost as simple as split testing your AdWords ads.

We’re using Optimizely more and more on client sites and it’s an incredibly addictive (and profitable for clients!) game to try to consistently beat the control and improve conversions on the site.

And it’s dirt cheap to get started with a 30 day free trial and a base package starting at just $17/month. Considering the revenue boost an increase in conversions can bring to your business, using Optimizely can easily be THE most profitable investment you make in the New Year.

$300 Flip Flops & The Philosophy of Money

Okay, I’m going a bit philosophical on y’all this month.

That wasn’t the original plan. I’d been planning to share some important insights into AdWords. But that’ll have to wait cuz I got something more important to discuss instead.

And it’s something that applies to all businesses… not just those who use AdWords.

Actually, this gets down to the absolute fundamentals of what you’re trying to accomplish in marketing.  (We’ll get to that in a bit, but need to set it up first.)

So what’s so important?


Yep. Good ‘ol cash. Moolah. Greenbacks. Benjamins. Smackers. Coin. Dinero.

This article was sparked by a Mastermind Group I’m in. Recently, we had a few speakers come in to talk about money, the psychology of money and building wealth.

One of the speakers posed the following question (that he says is important for ALL of us to answer):

“What is your philosophy of money?”

The question kinda surprised me because, quite frankly, until he asked that question I never thought I had a philosophy of money!

But we all do. Most of us just haven’t stopped to think about it.

How bout you? When was the last time you stopped to think about your philosophy of money?

What is it that you believe about money?

Money Is Not The Root of All Evil

For example, there’s a common saying “Money is the root of all evil”.

Do you agree with that statement?

I don’t.

I believe money is just money. It can’t do anything on its own.

If you take a twenty outta your wallet, put it on the table and tell it “go do something evil”, nothing’s gonna happen.

Because in and of itself, money is neither good nor evil. It just is.

It’s what people DO with it that makes money good or evil.

So, following that logic, you could make the case that it’s actually people that are the source of all evil. Though, along with that, you’d also have to say that people are the source of all good.

Whoa… going a bit deeper here than expected. My brain’s starting to hurt.

So before we jump off the philosophical deep end, let’s reel things back in a bit and get to the main point I want to make here and how this all applies to your business…

See, in thinking about my philosophy of money, one of my beliefs is that, in general, people aren’t too good at determining the value of money on our own.

Is $5 Really Worth $5?

Yes a $5 bill is worth $5 and a $100 bill is worth $100. That’s not what I’m talking about here, though.

To understand what I’m talking about, we need to get clear on the difference between COST and VALUE. And to do that, I’m gonna turn to the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, who once described it this way:

“Cost is what you pay, value is what you get.”

So, what we’re talking about here is how do you determine what the VALUE of that $5 or $100 is to you?

Or, more importantly for business owners, what’s the VALUE of $5 or $100 to your prospects?

As business owners, that’s a critical question to answer. Because the only way you’re gonna get their dough is if they believe the value of what they’re getting from you is equal to or greater than what they’re giving you.

And here’s the key to this… most of the value does not lie in the features of the product/service you provide. It’s in the ultimate benefit that your prospects believe they will GET from your product/service.

$300 Flip Flops

Here’s an example of what I mean:

Let’s talk flip flops for a minute.

You can get flip flops on Zappos.com or at Target for less than $20. If you want a pair of leather flip flops at one of those places, you can find them for $50 or so.

Want a pair of Prada flip flops at Saks? That’ll set you back about $290. (Want the leather flip flops with a rubber sole from Gucci? That’ll be $350 please.)

Now, we’re talkin’ flip flops here. There’s not much material that goes into making them. Basically about 10 inches of rubber and some thin straps.

Is the cost of materials and labor that go into the Gucci and Prada flip flops $300 more than the ones you’ll find at Target?

Not likely.

But people will shell out $300 for the luxury brand…

Because in their minds the higher cost, in and of itself, makes them value the flip flops more.

Because in their minds, the Prada flip flops are a status symbol.

Because in their minds, buying Prada flip flops buys them membership into an exclusive club they want to be a part of.

In other words, the value of the Prada flip flops isn’t in the flip flops themselves, it’s in how the flip flops make them FEEL. It’s what wearing Prada flip flops represents to them. It’s how wearing those flip flops helps them play out the story about themselves they picture in their minds.

This example is about luxury brands, but the concept applies to pretty much anything you sell. You have to understand the true motivations behind WHY your prospects want what you offer. You have to understand what they value and how they value it. You have to understand the story they believe about themselves and help them write the ending they wish to achieve/avoid.

The Most Important Job of Your Marketing

The key to what I said before about people not being too good about determining the value of money are the words “on our own”.

See, most of the value we place on things is shaped by EXTERNAL factors. We’re not good at doing it in a vacuum.

It’s shaped by our friends and the people we surround ourselves with. It’s shaped by media and the culture we live in. It’s shaped by the brands and marketing messages we’re exposed to (by the way, we direct marketers can be a bit dismissive of branding, but a powerful brand does wonders for establishing the value of its offerings).

It’s that last one that you have control over. YOU have the power to help your clients determine the true value of what you’re offering them.

Arguably the most important job of your marketing is to build that value up so your prospects believe they’d be foolish to pass on your offer. AND bonus points if you convince them it’s worth paying you a premium over what your competitors charge.

That’s not easy to do.

It takes a lot of research. It takes a lot of testing. It takes a lot of work.

But doing it will be the most valuable thing you can do for your business.

Well, at least that’s my philosophy.

Living in the Moment

This article has little to do with business or marketing. It’s WAY more important than those things.

It’s a 100{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} true story that happened 10 years ago this month. It’s touching. It’s funny. And it’s about one of the most important life lessons I’ve learned (yet something I still struggle with constantly).

Hope you enjoy it and it’s something you take to heart as we head into the holiday season…

It was Thanksgiving Eve 2003.

At an age when most infants were sleeping soundly through the night, our 9 month old daughter wasn’t.

She’d been suffering from recurring ear infections for 3 long months. She was fine during the day. But at night the pressure would build up in her little ears and every few hours she’d wake up screaming in pain.

My wife and I took shifts going into our daughter’s room each night. The usual drill was: pick her up, calm her down, put her back in her crib and then go back to sleep for a few hours until she’d wake up screaming again.

This went on night after lonnngg night.

It was torture.

On this night, our daughter went to sleep around 8PM. And, after doing some chores, having a snack and watching some TV, I turned in around 11PM.

Not an hour later I was awoken… not by the baby, but by our neighbor’s damn dogs.

They were yappy little things and our neighbors had a bad habit of leaving them outside early in the morning and late at night.

But this night was even worse than normal.

Over the next 2 hours the following pattern repeated itself…

The dogs would bark. There’d be silence for about 5 – 10 minutes. I’d settle down thinking the dogs had finally gone inside, and then, just as I was about to drift off to sleep, the damn dogs would start barking again.

By about 2AM I’d had it. I finally was about to drag myself out of bed, find our neighbor’s phone number and give them a piece of my mind. But just as I was about to move, I heard the unmistakable sound of their back door slamming shut and I knew the dogs were finally inside where they belonged.

Being quite worked by this point, it took me a good 20 or 30 minutes to calm down. And then, just as I felt myself mere seconds away from that elusive slumber, my daughter, who’d been sleeping longer than she had in months, woke up crying.

Now, admittedly, I was not exactly what you would call a happy camper when I had to go in to get my daughter at night. Not that I was upset with her, or anyone else for that matter… I was just generally a bit pissed off at the fact that I wasn’t asleep at 2:30 in the morning, night after sleepless night.

And while my initial reaction on this night was to be generally ticked off, it quickly turned into a sense of humor about the situation. The night was already shot so there was no point getting even more worked up. So I figured I might as well make the best of it.

As I lumbered into my daughter’s room, my thoughts turned to an email I’d received a few days earlier. It was from a friend whose son was about the same age as my daughter. The email included an essay by the author Anna Quindlen entitled, “On Being Mom.”

Even though it was written from a mother’s point of view, its message applies to anyone involved with raising a child. Here’s an excerpt that gets to the heart of the essay and is the part that was running through my mind that night:

“But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.”

So a little after 2:30 in the morning I figured, what the hell, let’s take a stab at this living in the moment thing!

I picked my daughter up out of her crib and dropped down into the rocking chair with her in my arms. Almost immediately she stopped crying and fell back to sleep.

Normally I would’ve waited a few minutes, put her back in her crib and gone back to bed. But not this night. On this night I decided to live in the moment.

The room was dark except for a tiny sliver of light escaping from the crack in her closet door where we kept the light on.

In the dim light I studied her tiny little fingers. I studied her precious little face and the funny facial contortions she made in her sleep. I studied the little fuzzy white onesie she was wearing with the three yellow ducks and the words “Quack, Quack, Quack.”

And I took in the nearly complete silence of the early morning. No cars, no planes, no birds, no one walking by outside. Just the low hum of the fan in the other room.

It was just my baby girl and me.

After what seemed like a good 45 minutes, I looked up at the clock on the dresser and it was only 2:45. Barely 15 minutes had passed!

I couldn’t believe it. It seemed living in the moment actually could slow down time.

I can’t tell you how excited I was about this!

I started thinking about how powerful living in the moment is. I thought about how fortunate I was to have discovered this little trick so early on in her life. And I thought maybe, just maybe, by living in the moment more her childhood wouldn’t blow by as quickly as the parents of older children always said it would.

I was so excited and was enjoying my newfound power so much that, despite being dead tired, I decided to stay there with her a little longer.

After what felt like another 20 minutes or so I looked at the clock again.

Still 2:45. WOW!! I thought I must be getting even better with practice.

I actually made time stand still!

But then my overtired brain started to grind a little. Time can’t stand still. Surely at least a few minutes had passed since I last looked at the clock. There’s no way it could still be 2:45.

Thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me, I peered harder through the darkness at the clock sitting on the dresser. It definitely said 2:45. But something didn’t seem right.

After a few moments of staring at the clock, I thought it seemed REALLY quiet in the room. And it was at that point I suddenly realized that the second hand on the clock wasn’t moving.

Time actually was standing still – but it wasn’t because I’d been living in the moment, it was because the batteries in the clock (which we’d gotten as a wedding present 3 years earlier) had just died!

When I realized what was going on I immediately stood up, plopped my daughter back down in her crib, and went to bed.

Now this used to be where the story ended. It was just a funny story I’d share with friends.

However, in the years since that night I’ve come to the following realization…

When I think back over my daughter’s life so far, there are very few memories I can recall so clearly, so vividly and so fondly as this one.

And 10 ridiculously fast years later I can still remember her little duck pajamas, her tiny fingers wrapped around mine, and the joy of sitting there in near darkness and silence holding this precious little girl in my arms.

As entrepreneurs, we can’t always live in the moment. We need to plan, strategize and focus on the future.

But we often get so caught up in looking towards the future, we don’t stop and live in the here and now.

We don’t stop to think about how far we’ve come.

We don’t take time to celebrate the little victories and achievements we have every day.

We don’t take as much time as we should to set work aside, turn off our smartphones, tablets and laptops to enjoy and give our full attention to our friends and families.

So, this holiday season, take some time to live in the moment and fully enjoy what you have.

Doing this may not make time stand still, but it can certainly help you savor some of life’s more important (and even not so important) moments.