With our first glimpse of summer, it seems Internet marketing staff are moving around.  But it may equally be that summer has nothing to do with it and many have been caught short with poor performance – this would not surprise me.

But if you find yourself in need of an AdWords specialist, how do find the talent you require? After all skimping on talent is a sure fire recipe for disaster. Felix Dennis quoted the novelist Aldous Huxley’s great words ‘there is no substitute for talent. Industry and all the virtues are of no avail’. Very perceptive for a guy who never experienced the Internet!

Dennis further noted that ‘any company managed and run by plodders and jobsworths will be lucky to survive, let alone prosper’. With the decline of SEO’s importance due to the uncertainties created by Google monthly updates, AdWords management is the key to your company’s growth online and growth is your key to wealth.

It’s unlikely that you can achieve real growth without the involvement of AdWords – it’s now a multichannel world requiring specialists. For most web design / web marketing agencies this has become a serious issue as clients demand real return on their investments. AdWords is now so sophisticated that it’s beyond the scope of most SEO specialists. In fairness online marketing is now so complex that you can no longer be an AdWords, SEO and Social expert. The era of the AdWords specialist has arrived. You cannot be a jack of all trades; you in reality can only be master of one.

So to ensure your business grows or you just keep your job, how do you identify and hire AdWords talent? You can’t skimp on it, if you do someone else will slide in and literal steal your sales. These are dangerous times to be a retailer if you don’t have talent on your side.

Personally I don’t take anything at face value anymore. I’ve encountered enough sales people in my time to know that their words at best are embellished or at worst it’s BS. It doesn’t matter if their shoe salesmen or recruitment experts now reinvented as AdWords experts, they’re  by and large all the same snake oil types. By the way, this doesn’t just apply to sales staff. Try recruiting an ecommerce manager, especially one that worked for an agency and you’ll be exposed to a whole raft of new buzz words that they don’t even understand. I was recently subjected to the latest one – bandwidth. Everything was a matter of insufficient bandwidth. Bandwidth is the latest buzzword for staff resources! Matters weren’t helped as this individually explained to me the latest ideas he had for AdWords with such zeal. Just the small issue that his strategy and implementation approach was now outdated and ineffective.  The lesson here is fools can masquerade as talent very convincingly during an interview or pitch. You need to be on your guard, but there are some very talented people out there. The best tend to be women when it comes to e commerce managers.

But back to recruiting your AdWords expert. It’s a difficult under taking as you are trying to evaluate the credentials of several different disciplines. Your chosen expert must first and foremost be a marketing expert. They need to understand buying psychology and the hot buttons that motivate customers to buy. Take Simon Cowl, whatever your opinions; he clearly has an understanding of what mass market TV audiences crave. Marketing insight occasionally can be found in young talented individuals, but more often it requires exposure and experience. Just watch the Apprentice, they all view themselves as creative, but clearly to us they are not. Take away the nice offices and then ask yourselves how creative is your agency? But oh, if you only needed creativity,  AdWords would be so simple. It requires a technical skill, but not just good IT skills – its way beyond that.

Your chosen AdWords guru needs to be cunning and adept at developing strategies that push the boundaries. One of the key elements to my own success with AdWords has been the experience gained building flight booking systems that still power most of the UK’s flight searches even to this day.  Years devising strategies to find the cheapest routes and flight combinations have given me a unique approach to AdWords – I seem to have a mindset that looks at systems, sees weakness and opportunities and then turn them to an advantage.

If you use the same AdWords strategies as everyone else, you get average results. As Tom Ford (head of Gucci at 30) explained in the documentary Visionaries: Inside the Creative Mind, you have to know which boundaries to push and on occasion which rules can be broken.

If you understand the rules and know which can be flexed then you can deliver exceptional performance. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that we increasingly spend our time training AdWords agencies.

Let assume you’ve spent time finding a creative and technically able AdWords expert, even one who’s mature enough to realise they need to be open to new ideas, including ones they didn’t create. Now there are a lot of individuals out there who can talk a very impressive pitch. I’ve even sat in both company and agency meetings whilst staff extol the virtues of their performance with focus on ROI and KPI’s, they’ve even made me think that this assignment will be a challenge. Then the veil is rolled back and I get to see the AdWords account – clearly I have a different understanding of ROI. As a rule of thumb I like clients to generate a rare thing to many called PROFIT. Worth capitalising and yes I was shouting, for it makes the world go around. Just to be clear, ROI in my mind does not include making the client a loss.

This brings us to a vital skill, commercial awareness or simply ‘Show Me the Money’. I am not here for glory or industry awards – I’ll just settle for clients making cold hard cash – helps them to pay me my invoices. Commercial awareness is rarer than marketing and technical skill combined. It is often lacking, but suddenly appears as a talent when people start their own business (still a large number of advertisers lack this skill and as a result they push up costs for the rest as they crash around losing money). I do believe that unless you have advertised on Google AdWords with your own money and experienced the highs and lows then you can’t understand the clients need and for the most part will lack commercial awareness until you have a stake in the undertaking.

I am not talking about spending a few thousand advertising your own agency; I am talking several hundred thousand. I’ve experienced working my backside off only to find out at the end of the week Google’s taken all my gross profit and more on a few occasions. I know what it’s like and how you can’t get home fast enough to drown your sorrows with a cold Stella.

Out of that experience, I learnt lessons and I developed strategies to turnaround my own account and then that of others. I became the UK’s leading AdWords expert and created AdWords mentoring as an industry in the UK. I’ve help more AdWords advisors at Google then I care to remember.

The simple solution to finding talent is select people who’ve walked the road already, ideally those you ran it and won.  Run with winners and the mentors who made them winners.  Surround yourself with talent and most of your problems will disappear.

John Langley

John Langley


I am the founder of Click Convert, an Award Winning agency, here to deliver great marketing for Small and Medium Businesses. We’ve created over $1.1 billion in sales for clients. We’re one of the top digital marketing companies in America and the UK for small and medium businesses digital marketing. We’re a Google Premier Partner, a Google Top 50 agency and our work was recommended by Google’s CEO in 2020. Outside of family and Click Convert, Cars, Adventure and Pizza are my passion. Our vision is to Inform, Empower and Deliver to help both clients and readers.

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