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Johnny's rule
2010-02-16: At my school we were streamed. I was, of course, in the A stream, and in the B stream were all the people who wore Oxford bags with ruler pockets, smoked and did art.
Imagine my surprise when art turned out to be more important as Britain outsourced all its doings to China and became a service and creative economy.
Anyway it's not just quite hard to be a scientist or an accountant, it's also quite hard to be a footballer or artist too.
That's because of Johnny's rule which says "everything in life is as complicated and hard as we can possibly make it". It's the antidote to "the grass is always greener".
If something is basically simple and worth doing, others will discover that (very quickly now we are all on't'Internet) and because we can't all be in the papers or get the work, a fight starts to be the one on top. People compete to be the best, and that means when you, as a footballer, want to do that simple thing of kicking the ball into the back of the net, you are going to face someone dedicated to stopping you. And when I say dedicated, I mean they've spent their whole life working for this moment. Which means you've got to spend your whole life working on ways to score anyway. Suddenly, football isn't simple any more. It's a whole life immersion thing. And when you're the best, it can all come down to .. well, you're the one who trained on Christmas day, or didn't get drunk and drive a golf buggy up the motorway. You were 0.01% more dedicated, so you take everything. Life's tough.
Interestingly, for another blog, I may have just read (in Life Inc) why that is, and how it's been engineered like that.
But anyway, search engine optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) are similar pursuits. There's only one page we are all competing for and simply, only the best will win.
I've had a flurry of interest in PPC recently and I think it's because people have been working at SEO and not getting the results they want. They don't want to take the long haul route of creating content (even though that's really what works) and they think "ah sod it, I'll buy my position".
Google is perfectly willing to take all your money.
PPC is not simple. You have to know what you are doing. To compete you have to convert (so a PPC campaign isn't just about the ads, it's about optimising your landing pages too, so it's a conversion thing as much as anything else), and you have to be at least as good as the others on the page.
It's that ignorance thing: it seems simple to place a PPC ad, therefore it's cheap to buy someone to do it. Well, to run a successful PPC campaign requires exploding your market into fragments, advertising to each individually, measuring the bejeezus out of all of it, constant improvement and forensic attention to the detail until out of the 650 ad and keyword combinations (my latest) you end up with perhaps 10 that are bringing you profit, for now at least.
So no, PPC isn't simple. Nothing is: Johnny's rule. But get it right and it works. To get it right, you have to know what you're doing.

By John Allsopp
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