Back in the 1980s, my father John Dorney founded Dorney Security, our family’s commercial and residential security company in El Paso, Texas. I started helping my dad with the business in 2000, and since then, we’ve turned what started out as a part-time, door-to-door business into a full-time, tech-savvy operation that’s grown to become the largest locally-owned regional security firm in El Paso. Until 2009, we relied primarily on referrals and testimonials from existing customers to acquire new customers.
When the recession hit, we had to be more efficient in developing our proactive sales outreach on a tight budget. We decided it was time to invest in a website and start advertising online within our geographic region. We built our website and signed up with Google AdWords. Month after month, we bring in about quarter of our business through AdWords. Now that we’ve been advertising online for a couple of years, I’ve learned a few lessons that might be helpful for other business owners interested in starting an online advertising campaign:
- Don’t be afraid to start. Online advertising is actually very simple, budget-friendly, and can be targeted very locally. While there can be an initial learning curve, you’ll find that you’ll get the best results if you spend a little time going through the online tutorials and refining your search parameters.
- Spend some time learning your online advertising program. The most challenging part of setting up AdWords was refining our keywords by zip code, but since I spent a few minutes going through Google’s online tutorials and refining our keywords and geographic parameters, I’ve been very pleased with our placement in local search results.
- Experiment with your budget. I’ve tailored AdWords to suit the ebb and flow of my customers. Since more people tend to search for home security systems on the weekends, AdWords knows that my budget should be higher on Saturdays and Sundays than during the workweek, allowing me to reach the people who are looking for security when they need it on their timetable.
- Play around. Tweak your keywords and other search parameters until you’ve found what brings in the best results for your business. Now that I know which keywords bring the most traffic to my site, e.g. [home security el paso] and [wireless alarms], I can dedicate more of my budget to them.
- Constantly pay attention to where your clicks are coming from. I was surprised that 80% of my AdWords traffic comes through ads on mobile devices. Stats like this tell me where to steer my AdWords spending.
I really had to convince my parents to give online advertising a try. They believed that it was only for national companies, but when we sold an alarm system to a new customer after just one week on AdWords, they were convinced. In the future, we plan to start selling alarm systems online so we can expand to new regions, and I plan to use AdWords to reach each new region. With a solid marketing program in place, my father and I sleep soundly at night knowing that our business is reaching the right customers. And our customers are sleeping safely at night, which is our top priority.
Shane Dorney is CEO of his family business, Dorney Security Systems, a company committed to giving peace of mind to families across the Southwest for over 25 years. He has been working in the home security industry for 11 years. Shane holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brigham Young University and currently serves as an Aviation Officer in the New Mexico Army National Guard.