We recently had the pleasure to catch up with one of our long-time advertisers, Ray Allen, founder of American Meadows, who kindly agreed to be the subject of a customer story a couple of years ago.

Before the wildflower seed business, Ray worked in traditional advertising for quite some time. With his combination of copywriting skills and start-up know how, he has some pretty sage insight to share: “If you look at it from the small business point of view, there are three main benefits of keyword targeted advertising: (1) reach – I can find anyone and everyone searching for the product or service I offer, (2) pay as you go -- there’s no real commitment as with more traditional media, and 3) real time messaging. If I offer a free shipping week, I can dynamically change the messaging of my ads to reflect this.”

This past year, Ray really put his own advice to the test. After running a successful seed business for more than 20 years, he was ready to expand American Meadow’s product line to include flower bulbs. In the fall of 2004, Ray started carrying popular bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. When this initial test went well, Ray extended his company’s bulb selection and created a discount plan whereby customers could advance purchase fall bulbs to save 35% or even 50% depending on how early they placed their orders. He optimized his bulbs campaign and used his ad text to inform customers about his promotional rates.

As Ray explains, “we’re to the point where we planned a whole new launch of a new group of products based on what I can do with AdWords.” When his site offered bulbs at 50% off, his ad text did too. As fall approached and the discounts fell, Ray used the Find and Edit Ad Text tool to change the discount percentage promoted in all of his ads. While that first fall was deemed a success, an optimized AdWords campaign helped boost American Meadow’s bulb sales by 350% the following year. “The medium is so great for this stuff, and people tend to underestimate the importance of ad text,” Ray says. “2005 was a really good year for us, and AdWords was a major part of it!”

To hear more about Ray and how he’s used AdWords to grow his business, check out his newly updated success story here.