I admit it. As a marketer, sometimes I get stuck with ideas when I try to promote my own self.
Maybe it’s a cultural stigma that somehow self promotion is a shameful thing (hence the term “shameless self promotion”). And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
But one day (as I was TOTT-ing … “thinking on the toilet,” term you see posted on the back of bathroom stall doors) it dawned on me: “Heck, I should use my knowledge to benefit … ME!”
For example, this guy was looking for a job. He was trying to stand out from the other applicants, so he bought keywords for executives in the company that he was trying to get hired at.
Why did it work?
Simple. He tapped into people’s natural tendency to Google themselves. Like Al Pacino, vanity is ALL marketers’ favorite sin.
That’s just ONE interesting use case of PPC that search engine designers probably never intended.
Ok, so maybe vanity isn’t the best and the brightest use case for PPC. But sometimes we all get creativity block, so here five creative ways that people have used PPC marketing.
1) Use PPC to Market-Test Your Product Ideas
The last thing you want to do when you create a product (book, widget, software, whatever) is to do it in a vacuum.
If you’re an entrepreneur, I’m sure you’ve heard “Build it and they will come.”
If that were the case, every product that silicon valley engineers build should all be $1B+ valuation companies.
However, great products don’t build great companies. Don’t believe me? Just go to any night / flea market in China, Thailand, India, Brazil … or any of those up and coming countries. They’re FILLED with awesome products that will never fly off the shelves anywhere on earth.
Why not ASK people if they would use your product first? You can use PPC to do some market research  and find out for yourself if:
- there is market demand for it
- people would even be interested in signing up to be your beta tester
I'm guilty too. One of my web ideas pivoted three times before I called it quits because I couldn’t find a market fit. (But I did learn some valuable lessons about Facebook fanpage marketing .)
Don’t be another victim. Audience first, product second.
2) Use PPC for Nonprofit Fundraising
Yep, the political people figured it out too.
Politicians are using PPC  to sway, but most importantly, to raise money from the people.
In fact, they spend LOTS, especially during the important election times.
Politicians know this – it doesn’t matter what media people are reading. As long as you can get in front of them, you can get your message heard.
So if you’re in the non-profit space (or at least an organization that does non-profit things, like silicon valley startups *cough cough*), why not tap into the minds of people who are LOOKING to hand you free money?
In fact, I’ve used PPC to help ignite a non-profit fundraising effort  for a dog rescue organization in Singapore. They raised a couple of thousand dollars in a matter of a few weeks and got insane exposure for their organization, as well as media coverage. (Plus their video got over 1 MILLION views as soon as the virality kicked in.)
Ask and you shall receive.
3) Use PPC to Test Offline Advertising
A while back, a small chat software as service company called HipChat used a billboard  to get its message in front of tech people in Silicon Valley on 101 (one of the busiest freeways there).
Their cost? $7k for 4 weeks.
Despite the universally accepted notion that this kind of advertising doesn’t work, the HipChat team managed to go viral , getting backlinks, free media mentions and PR, and of course customer signups .
So if you do a popular internet meme ad for your product, will you get the same results? Probably not. But here’s my point. Offline ads (newspapers, magazines, billboards, posters, etc.) are ALL very expensive media.
Why not use PPC to test out your messaging FIRST before plunking down tens of thousands of dollars of your cold hard cash? It’s much easier to test your messaging online that in print.
Do an A/B test  to find out what resonates with people before committing to that final order at the print shop.
4) Use PPC to Test Your Conference Event Titles
Ever wonder why some conferences are such a spectacular hit and some are just plain duds?
Why not use PPC to test event titles before committing the entire marketing team to promote event titles that people don’t find interesting?
The last thing you want to do is have NO one show up.
5) Use PPC to Get a Date
Are you single? Have you ever wondered why you are single even though you’re this kick-ass marketer and you should have members of the opposite sex beating down the door for one chance of dating you?
Just like you’re giving your product or service (or your client’s) a chance in the marketplace by giving it exposure, you can do the same for your OWN love life.
I personally used copywriting to get better dates  and I thought I was a genius. I even thought, heck, since I can target single women with Facebook ads, I might as well try that.
Then I thought ... maybe that’s a little TOO crazy.
Until I read about this guy  – he did what I thought was too crazy.
This guy even did an A/B test! Now I must worship him. He even compiled a spreadsheet of this results on a cost per lead basis.
Heck, you might even try guest blogging on one of those PUA (pickup artist) blogs to see if you can land some single men as your potential online marketing client.
Be creative. Be unique.
Take your PPC  to a whole new level with your imagination wide open.
I’m curious – what have YOU seen done with PPC? Leave your thoughts in the comment box.
TaeWoo Kim, an entrepreneur, digital marketer, speaker, and blogger. He has over 7 years of experience in software startup, inbound marketing, direct response marketing, PPC/search engine marketing, sales lead generation, conversion rate optimization, email marketing, and social media. You can follow him on Twitter (@TaeWooKim ), Google+ , and on his blog FreshSuperCool.com.