Los Colores Cat Club is a long-standing CFA club of the Southwest Region. Once known for its two-day, eight-ring shows that drew campaigners from afar for one of the largest counts on the West Coast (especially for kittens), escalating expenses for show halls and judge's travel (local judges were never used), combined with declining entries, created a precarious situation financially. The situation was so dire that the club had to cancel its traditional show in 2007, instead putting on a smaller one-day "fund-raiser" show.
Advertising of the show had resulted in large crowds of feline enthusiasts in the past. This advertising was done with a combination of newspaper ads, area signs, and flyers distributed at local businesses. These forms of advertising were expensive, labor intensive, and was producing less and less gate with every year, even with our traditional location in Pasasdena, known for an upscale, medium density demographic that trends toward older residents, a perfect scenario for cat show gate. A website, geared for the general public, had drawn some traffic and at the last show printable on-line coupons had matched or outnumbered newspaper coupons.
For the 2008 show, I proposed that Los Colores test out a new concept: Google Ads. I had done preliminary research on the subject, and proposed that the club earmark $500 for this form of advertising. This was a completely new concept for the club and, frankly, I had no idea if it was going to even pay for itself.
First the results. Although the gate was not wildly spectactular (some of this was undoubtably due to the difficulty of finding the show hall due to construction in the area), the $500 investment produced approximately $2400-2700 of gate. A good return on our investment by any standard. According to the vendors, the demographic of the gate was... well... I'll just quote one of them: "...And they spent money too!" Not only that, but this form of advertising was easy to do by a single person with limited time to dedicate to the project.
Here is how it works: You sign up for an account with Google here: http://adwords.google.com and provide a method of payment (credit card). You then create your ad. For the Los Colores show the ad read:
Pasadena Cat Show
300+ Show Cats, up to 40 breeds
Great Vendors & Feline Agility too!
Remember to target your ad to the general public. Location matters, not the name of the club. Tell them what they can expect to see, although your number of words is quite limited.
Then you set your budget. This is the difficult part. The premise of Google Ads is that you give them a certain amount of money and the number of times your ad appears during a Google search (or on a Google advertiser's site) and where it appears (assumption is the higher on the list of ads, the better) is based on your budget and how many other advertisers are "bidding" on your "keywords" in your market.
Don't panic. It sounds more complicated than it is!
A common misperception about Google advertising is that you will be advertising to the entire world. This is not correct. Whenever a computer accesses the Internet, it gives a code, called an IP address, that tells the world of the Internet where that computer is located. Google uses thi information to only send ads appropriate for that location. So, for the Pasadena CA show, I chose to target our ad for "the Los Angeles area". The wider your area, the more money you will need to budget to have your ad appear with significant frequency.
The other factor is your chosen keywords to associate your ad with. This means when anyone (in the Los Angeles area) used Google to search on the words "cat show", for instance, our ad may appear on the side of those search results. In fact, with our budget of $500, EVERY search by a computer in the LA area for "cat show" appeared to elicit our ad. So what about other keywords? This is where you need to be creative. The Google Ad site will suggest related keywords, based on its history of what people searching on that term also tend to search on. I chose to include "cat breeders", "CFA", and "Persian kittens" (and other breeds as well). I also included "Pasadena events" and "things to do in Pasadena". You are only limited by your imagination.
How about the keyword "cat" or "cats"? Realize that for these more common (and more popular for advertisers as well), you are "bidding against" many more other advertisers. Each "click through" (more on that later) will cost more money, you may not appear on as many searches, and the tagret audience may not be as likely to be interested in going to a cat show. However, with our budget of $500, I found I was able to add the words "cat", "cats", "kitten" and "kittens" within our budget. The balance between the size of geographical area and the choice of keywords is something that can only be optimized with experience.
You pay for each person that clicks on your ad, approximately $0.10 - $0.33 per "click". Keep this in mind if you see an ad pop up for a show for your club (or another cat club). PLEASE do not click on these ads! As exhibitors, we should be getting our information about upcoming cat shows from our registry's site, where that information is distributed free for the clubs! The purpose of Internet advertising is to reach people who normally would not be aware of upcoming shows.
When people click on an ad, they should be directed to a website that is geared for the general public. Visit the one we used for Los Colores here: www.loscolorescatshow.com Notice the printable coupon for $1 off admission. This is necessary to determine the success of your advertising campaign.
I started the ad on Septemeber 1st for a show that was held September 21-22nd. In those three weeks, we made 614,000 page impressions (the number of times our ad was displayed). From those, 1300 people clicked on the ad. Of those, approximately 200 "families" attended the show with coupons in hand, comprising about 3/4 of the gate for our show. The ad cost our club only $350.
I strongly encourage other clubs to give this form of advertising a try. It was a good investment for us. We hope to see you at an even bigger and better Los Colores show in September 2009!
--Lorraine Shelton, member Los Colores Cat Club (CFA)
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