If you’re like most business owners, you want to attract more customers…. and that means you need to make some kind of investment in marketing (with your time or your money, or a combination).

Now, there are actually hundreds of different marketing investments you could make, because there is an endless supply of strategies and tactics.  And just like with financial investments, some diversification is a good thing — it provides stability. We recommend that you invest in multiple types of marketing, so you’re not reliant on any single source of customers.

But if we were forced to pick just one marketing investment in order to attract new customers on a reliable basis, we would choose advertising. In our view, every business owner should be investing in advertising because advertising gives you control over the timing, content, and placement of your marketing messages.  Paid advertising is the best way to guarantee that you attract new customers, month after month.

And in our view, Google AdWords is the best place to get started advertising. I always recommend Google AdWords because you pay per-click (PPC), which means the traffic you’ll receive is more qualified. Plus, Google is (by far) the biggest source of PPC traffic, so it’s our favorite place to get started before expanding to other ad outlets (like Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, etc).

So, if you want to create a campaign on Google AdWords, then your next question might be what’s the best way to go about the process. Well, you basically have 5 options, any of which could be perfect for you, depending on your unique situation.

(Note: Even if you’re not sure you’re ready to invest in Google AdWords, these are the same 5 options you’ll need to decide between when preparing to make any kind of marketing investment).

Option #1. Outsource It (Hire a Company to Do It For You)

For many business owners, this is the most obvious choice.  Instead of doing it yourself, you’ll hire a company who specializes in managing Google AdWords campaigns (these companies are known as PPC management companies).

Well, I might ruffle a few feathers by saying this, but I believe that hiring a PPC company is a bad idea for many (if not most) business owners… for several reasons.

Most business owners decide they’re too busy to learn anything about AdWords, but they want customers… so they go out and hire a PPC company to do it for them. But they haven’t educated themselves about how AdWords works.

The reality is that if you go out and hire a PPC company before you educate yourself about how AdWords works, you’re putting yourself in a pretty vulnerable position. You won’t be able to evaluate the quality of the PPC company’s work. You won’t know if they’re following best practices and doing the best possible job for you… or neglecting your campaign and wasting your advertising investments. And, as with all lines of work, there’s a wide variety of quality when it comes to online marketing companies.

The other issue with hiring a (good) PPC management company is that it’s expensive. The vast majority of small business owners only spend a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars per month with AdWords. On the other hand, good PPC companies charge a minimum of $1,000 per month to create and manage AdWords campaigns (and many charge many multiples of that, per month).

This should be obvious… but it’s not a good investment if you’re spending more on the fees than you’re spending on the ads. (Would you enter into that kind of arrangement with a stock broker?)

Now, you might be thinking, “I’ll just hire a cheap PPC company for $200-300 per month.” Well, I wouldn’t recommend that either. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.   At that level, you’ll get far better results if you just manage your own ads (assuming you know what you’re doing).

I believe the best time to hire a professional PPC management company is when you’ve already got a successful, profitable AdWords campaign humming – and you’re looking to scale it up. That’s when you bring in the hired guns.

(If you’re curious, I would say it makes sense to hire a PPC company once you’re spending $10,000 or more per month on AdWords…. Minimum $5,000 per month).

Option #2. Delegate It (Hand-off to an Employee)

Right now, you might be thinking, “Look, I just don’t have time to do it myself… so I’m going to hand off this AdWords stuff to one of my employees do it for me.

In my view, the same rules apply to delegation as to outsourcing. How will you know whether this person is doing a good job, or messing it up and wasting your advertising investments?

We strongly recommend that you educate yourself and set up your first Google AdWords campaign yourself. Eventually, you can delegate our outsource your AdWords campaign. But first, you should learn the fundamentals. Advertising is a significant investment that can have a huge impact on your growth and profitability.

However, if you’re just way too busy to consider doing it yourself, then the next best thing is to invest in your employee’s education. You can have them learn the best practices and set up your campaign for you, as long as you trust them to do a good job for you and you manage them carefully, so you’re confident they’re not neglecting it.

OK, so here are your options for educating yourself (or an employee) about Google AdWords…

Option #3. Learn Through Trial & Error

Experience is truly the best teacher of all. If you make a mistake and lose a couple hundred (or a couple thousand) dollars, you’ll definitely learn the lesson… and you won’t make that mistake again.

But most business owners aren’t in a position to “gamble” with their money and learn through trial and error.

That’s why it’s helpful to have a guide who’s been there and done that…

Option #4. Get Expert Help (Consulting & Coaching)

The fastest way to learn is to find an expert who can give you personal feedback, help you avoid costly mistakes, and point out short-cuts based on real world experience.

(Note: This rule really applies to the attainment of any skill in life — just not to getting good at Google AdWords.  The fastest way to master anything is to hire an expert to show you the way.)

When it comes to AdWords, this expert would meet you in person (if you live nearby) or jump on the phone, answer your questions, and provide personalized input and guidance — either on a one-time or an on-going basis.

This kind of personal attention is perfect for some people. But it’s not for everybody…

For one, it requires a significant investment. One AdWords coach I know charges $1,350 per month for 4 sessions per month ($337.50 per hour). Another charges $2,000 per hour.  These rates may sound really expensive, but their clients will tell you it’s well worth it in time saved, costly mistakes avoided, and profitable shortcuts gained.

Nevertheless, if you’re like most small business owners, you’re probably not ready to make such a big investment in your education… You’re probably looking for a more affordable way to get started on the right track, which leads us to option #5…

Option #5. Self-Service Training

My recommendation to most business owners is to invest in their own education through self-service training — either for themselves or their employees.

There are endless blogs, books, ebooks, courses, workshops and seminars on how to create and manage Google AdWords campaigns. Over the years, I’ve studied most of them…  And many existing resources are good, but the problem is that none of them really connects all the dots for local business owners.

For example, one critical step missing from most other books and courses is how to track the success of online advertising when you have an “offline” sale… which is the case for most local businesses, such as restaurants, attorneys, chiropractors, dentists, etc.

A few months ago, we suggested to some of our clients and customers that we were thinking of creating a step-by-step Google AdWords course specifically for local businesses. We immediately got a really positive response, and since then some of our customers have been asking us when this course is going to be ready.

So here’s a quick update.  We’re hard at work (Phil started recording the training videos yesterday).  Actually I’ve got to wrap up this post and get back to working on the course…  Next week, I’ll post an update with more details about what’ll be included.

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more of our tips and strategies, I recommend you grab a copy of our free Google AdWords report:

Click here —> 10 Steps to Dominate Google AdWords