Ten years ago setting up a PPC account and learning by trial and error was a great way to approach online branding and marketing. Few websites were optimized and outside of the tech industry there wasn't much competition. Today competition is extremely fierce. The largest drawback to learning PPC is that it takes money to make money and this is a rough neighborhood to play in. Local PPC, on the other hand, is an easier place to learn the PPC ropes. Here it is possible to online marketing world. While you won't be tapping into millions of eyeballs, local eyeballs can still be valuable and profitable. Options for Your Local Campaign Any industry that requires someone to walk into a store is an excellent candidate for local PPC. Consider the steps to get started: Local PPC starts in Google Settings under Campaign Settings. Give the campaign a name like "Steve's Ice Cream, Kansas City." Then under Location and Languages: Locations: Show map: add the local and surrounding area where customers will be searching for ice cream. From this point forward everything in this PPC campaign will only show ads related to the local area. In some large densely populated markets like New York City, it's possible to just start here and see what comes back. However, you may also want to capture non-local, local customers. For example, let's imagine that someone from Seattle is visiting KC and they want to plan ice cream at "that great little place down by the Plaza." When they search for "Plaza ice cream" in Seattle- you want them to find the ad too. This is done by setting up a nationwide campaign along with the local campaign using very localized terms like: Kansas City Ice Cream, Plaza Ice Cream, Ice Cream Kansas City. While these terms won't be searched very often, when they are, in all likelihood the searches will end with a belly full of ice cream. Combining a local PPC campaign with promotional items such as T-shirts, mugs or pens, can quickly get the word out about a new business and bring in customers. Google Places: Local Platforms and PPC Ever wondered what all the mobile madness is about? According to the Pew Research Center in 2011 mobile smart phone ownership among American adults was between 35-40%. Who wouldn't want a piece of that market? Out of this group 25% of cell phone users said they primarily used their phone when accessing the Internet. Moreover, now is the perfect time to enter the mobile market because Google is using separate search algorithms for different platforms. This means a localized mobile search campaign won't need to compete with other computer based searches for ad placement. The sweet spot? Google Places has a facility that provides directions under ad extensions: local extensions: that will lead customers directly to your door. Ad Extensions is one of the most powerful tools in Google. Signing up for Google Places is free and it starts by signing up for an account at www.google.com/places. There can be a waiting period. However, once Places is set up it can add serious value to a regular ad campaign. Don't expect the world from local. As mentioned above local PPC is excellent for marketing and branding a small local business. It can be good for click-throughs and selling but usually the numbers are too small to see huge conversions. Moreover, there is a delicate balance to establish between specific and general AdWords in local PPC and this takes both time and skill. The good news is that the learning curve in local PPC can be cheap and painless- and this is something every small business can love. Photo credit: 3stagemarketing.com Bio: Eric Thomas is Brand Manager for BrandMe, Australia's premiere source for online promotional gifts.