VisionTech Angels’ bi-monthly pitch weeks have a stealth expert in the audience listening to startup companies present their case for funding.
He listens with neutral interest. But when a presenter starts talking about pay per click (PPC) or digital advertising, he leans forward, expression suddenly serious, intent on the speaker. He holds his thoughts until the presenter leaves the room. His insight is invaluable to other VisionTech Angels considering investing in early growth companies.
The stealth expert is Pat East, president of VisionTech Angels’ Bloomington chapter and also founder of one of the nation’s top five PPC marketing agencies and its top industry event, the Hero Conference. He started his company when the digital marketing industry was in its infancy. Now Pat and his colleagues at Hanapin Marketing advise a client base that includes The Home Depot, The Weather Channel, Uggs, Shoe Carnival, and Purdue University.
One of Pat’s hot buttons during pitch week is how presenters often overestimate how easy PPC advertising is and how effective it will be. This from a person whose strategy helped Icelandair increase its flight bookings by 80 percent.
“When I hear a presenter say they got an estimate from an agency and this is how many leads they will generate when they get funding, it’s a red flag. You don’t just turn on pay per click and your business takes off,” says Pat. “There’s a tremendous amount of research, messaging, testing, retesting, and analysis that makes a PPC campaign work.”
On the flip side, Pat’s surprised to hear companies say they’re not using PPC, retargeting website visitors and converting them into leads. “It’s the best way to generate leads and reduce the costs associated with lead generation.”
He should know. In 2000 when he was working for another company, he started dabbling in PPC before Google was GOOGLE. At his suggestion, his boss bought a single keyword and soon the company had quintupled its leads for a fraction of the cost. The company saw its sales grow from $6 million a year to $20 million. In 2004, Pat opened Hanapin Marketing; his former boss was his first client.
Since then, Pat and Hanapin Marketing have become one of the industry’s most gracious ambassadors. In addition to freely sharing their expertise and knowledge through blogs and webinars, they sponsor the Hero Conference, the world’s largest PPC conference series. This year the events are in Austin (April 16-18) and London (October 22-24). Attendees come from around the world to learn the latest in PPC and digital advertising from innovators and thought leaders from Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more.
Pat’s other passion is angel investing. He joined VisionTech Angels in 2014 because of a desire to support entrepreneurs in Bloomington and across Indiana. VisionTech Angels Executive Director Ben Pidgeon says having Pat as a chapter president and resident PPC expert is beneficial to his fellow investors, pitch companies and portfolio companies (those receiving VisionTech Angels investments).
“With so many companies relying on digital advertising to drive sales, we are fortunate to have an industry pioneer like Pat. His knowledge base is invaluable when we’re evaluating investment opportunities or providing advice to our portfolio companies,” said Ben. “The more informed our members are, the better our investment decisions.”
Would you like to know more about using pay per click advertising to launch or grow your start-up company or existing business? Or, are you an angel investor who wants to amp up your knowledge base? Hanapin Marketing’s next Hero Conference is April 16-18 in Austin, Texas. Learn more and register here.
Editor’s Note: One VisionTech Angel is attending Hero Conference in April. Stay tuned!