Selling Trending Items via PPC: A Success Story and Some Advice


The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a small retailer in Alabama that profited from noticing and acting on a paid search opportunity.

365 Inc. first seized a market opportunity—late last year, knowing that the World Cup was approaching, the company ordered several thousand vuvuzelas (stadium horns). They had a hunch vuvuzelas would become popular among U.S. soccer fans, which ultimately proved true.
As the World Cup drew near, 365 Inc. bid on vuvuzela-related terms like “soccer horn” and “stadium horn” from Google and Yahoo for between 15 and 30 cents per click. Its ads began appearing in search results, and as of July 1 the company had sold $240,000 worth of vuvuzelas (30,000 vuvuzelas at $8 apiece).
The company wouldn’t reveal to the Wall Street Journal how much it spent on the horns, or the total amount it spent on paid search, but it did reveal that 20% of clicks resulted in at least one vuvuzela sale. How’s that for a conversion rate?
365 Inc.’s success at seizing both a market and paid search opportunity can serve as an inspiration for your own company. Here are fivetips for selling trending items via PPC:
1. Think about the future. If 365 Inc. hadn’t predicted that vuvuzelas would become popular, it wouldn’t have bought them in the first place. Follow the company’s lead, and start thinking about what products or services might spike in sales as a result of upcoming events. Be careful though! Predictions are, well, unpredictable, and there's always the risk of making a poor investment.
2. If you’re not good at predictions, discover what topics are already hot. Read the news media, check out search trends on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, and visit Twitter to see what topics are gaining traction. If you see that many people are starting to discover the wonders of juniper berries, for example, consider buying a supply of the spice and selling it through your website.
3. Get on your keyword research. Once you are ready to sell, take your first step toward promoting your product or service through paid search. Think about what keyword phrase people would likely use to find your offering. Considering using a keyword research tool (like the free one offered by WordStream), as well as a negative keyword tool (WordStream also offers a free one of these).
4. Start your campaign right away. It’s a good idea to set bids for your keywords before the keywords are picked up by other retailers. That way, for a certain period of time you can place high in search engine results for a relatively low cost. If you get in the game early, you can earn a profit easier.
5. Know when to drop out. See how your net income evolves as other companies start competing with you for your keywords. If after some time you find that your sales income is not worth the cost of the keywords, consider ending your campaign. Hopefully you would have earned enough money in the beginning that your overall efforts were worthwhile.
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