Last Friday I had lunch with an old college friend and her boyfriend, Tim.  Tim has been working on a new minimalist running shoe for the past two years and he’s just about ready to bring it to market.  Hence, the meeting with me to pick my brain about next steps.

If you know anything about my extracurricular activities, then you can see why this would be a match made in heaven.  Not only do I love running, but I just so happen to run in huarache sandals.  That’s as minimalist as you can get without running barefoot.  (By the way, I ran barefoot for a while until Erin threatened to leave me if I didn’t wear something on my feet… sandals were the compromise. )

So there I was, sitting in a French Bistro with the sun beaming outside the window, just as happy as can be talking about the two things I love almost as much as my family: online marketing and minimalist running. I figure I have to wait about 10 years in order to combine all three when Violet starts running. :)

During our conversation Tim asked about SEO and AdWords advertising.  He was curious to learn more and see which one was a better fit.

My answer? Hands down AdWords advertising is where he should focus his attention.  Of course, he shouldn’t ignore SEO completely, but that’s not the path to profitability and sustainability if you’re launching a new product or service.

I’ll also point out the fact that Tim did not even bring up social media.  If he had, then my answer does not change.  Social media is not your answer when you’re just starting out.

Tim’s #1 priority in the short term is to find his ideal selling strategy. In other words, he needs to figure out as quickly as possible the optimal price point, sales copy, website layout, cart abandonment follow-up sequences, upsells, retargeting sequences, referral programs, and iron out any kinks in the delivery and return processes.

So how the heck do you do all of that?

Well you start by driving a consistent, dependable stream of traffic to your website and then you systematically test all of the moving parts in your sales path.  That’s the basic process to find your ideal selling strategy.  It’s not rocket science, but it does take time, discipline, and the most important variable is traffic.  Without a consistent stream of high quality prospects, then you can’t test anything.

And neither SEO nor social media will reliably provide this type of traffic.  That’s why online search advertising like Google AdWords is the best place to start.  As long as your ideal customers are going to Google to find your product or service, then AdWords is the best option available.  Focus on optimizing your selling path and then when you’re ready to expand your marketing, invest more into other channels like SEO or social media.