3 Lessons From Captain Ron on Google Adwords

Chances are, you've never heard of Captain Ron - and that's a shame. The movie was a box office bust in 1992 when it was released but, critics aside, many people now regard it as a classic that came well before it's time. The basic backstory is that Martin Harvey (Martin Short) inherits a yacht formerly owned by Clark Gable. Not wanting to pay the hefty fee for a boat mover and wanting a vacation from his hectic life, he convinces his family to go with him and help sail the boat back to Miami from the tiny island of Ste. Pomme de Terre. Kurt Russell plays the lead character, Captain Ron, who gets recruited to sail them back to Miami while teaching them the ins and outs of sailing on the big ocean. They quickly learn what an interesting character Captain Ron is and that they’re in for one hell of a trip.

If you're one of the unfortunate few who haven't seen this movie, it's worth the watch - at least once. There are so many memorable quotes, most of which come from Captain Ron. I'll be walking you through three of my favorite "Captain Tips" that can easily be applied to Google AdWords.

Lesson #1

Within the first five minutes of meeting Captain Ron we begin to learn of his storied past. Martin's son, Ben, asks Captain Ron how he lost his left eye. The picture below is the beginning of Captain Ron's story that follows. Huge SOB, ran the whole coast. What can we takeaway from this comical moment? Always do your keyword research. Whether you're setting up a new AdWords account or adding new campaigns and ad groups to a pre-existing one, be sure to thoroughly research your keywords and target market with the Google Keyword Planner. If you don't adequately know your target audience, what they are searching for, and the underlying reasons why, you'll be fighting a losing battle when it comes to writing relevant ads that will actually trigger them to click on your ad.

Lesson #2

A few minutes after the prior scene, Captain Ron comes to the unfortunate realization that he forgot to set the e-brake on "his buddy's car" he arrived in on the pier. With the car currently resting underwater at the end of the dock, it's no surprise that Captain Ron is quick to want to cast off from Ste. Pomme de Terre. He begins prepping the boat to set sail despite the fact that he's been with the Harvey family all of five minutes. During this frantic prep, Martin's wife says "Wait a minute, we don't even know if this thing is safe or not!". Captain Ron is quick to deliver this humorous retort. If anything's gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there. The lesson here? With AdWords, you can do all the initial research you want but the only real way to see which keywords or ads are going to perform better is to get them out there in the wild and give them ample time to collect data which you can analyze. Be sure to outline your testing goals beforehand and decide on how you want to utilize ad rotation, that is, whether you want to optimize for clicks, conversions, or always rotate ads evenly. Test everything from the headlines, to ad copy, to the display URL. Be sure you have a strong Call-to-Action. Once you've done this, give the ads ample time to run, usually between 15-45 days depending on the industry and your ad spend. If you've followed all of these steps, the best performing ads will all but choose themselves.

Lesson #3

A little while later on, Captain Ron and the Harvey family are docked at the fictional island of St. Haag for the night. Captain Ron and Ben decide to enjoy the evening with a little game of Monopoly. Captain Ron suggests that they put a little money into the game to make things more "interesting". Much later that night, we cut back to their game in progress as Ben rolls and lands on one of Captain Ron's properties. "Hah! Three houses - that's $375 -that's thirty-seven cents." Ben dejectedly responds with, "Well...that's half the money I have left." Shit happens, cough it up. This is probably my favorite quote of the whole movie. The only way to truly get better at something is to get out there and start doing it yourself - the same holds true with AdWords. You're bound to make mistakes along the way but rather than being discouraged, own your mistakes and learn from them. Get better. As Captain Ron notes in one scene, "Listen up. Now, the way it works shipboard is, you do your job. You do it good, you get a better job. Maybe you get promoted from swab to mate."

AdWords is a constantly evolving landscape. Even the best AdWords managers have to continually invest time to keep up with the latest changes by Google. This is good news for newcomers - they can hit the ground running on a clean slate without having to "forget the wrong" when Google pulls a complete 180° with certain items such as Enhanced Campaigns. If you happen to be a newcomer to AdWords and are looking to get started, here's a great resource to set you in the right direction.