On September 15, 1997, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, a couple of really smart, energetic Stanford University PhD students, registered the domain, Google.com. The past 10 years have not only been an outstanding business success but they have taught businesses how to market effectively in the digital age.
Hint: This is not your father’s Marketing Model.
In the 10 years since Google has been a company it has changed the very sinew of business and life today. When a company’s name becomes a verb, as in “I’ll Google that to see what it is,” we know it has permeated our lives and our society.
Here are some principles that you can blend into your business for success in the digital age. As you work with these, remember that having fun and making money are driving principles of Google and today’s Internet.
Provide Value For Free---Then Leverage It. In the Internet Age we’re oriented to getting lots of things for free. We need to get serious value for free, not just a bunch of junk that we can get anywhere. The traditional-minded marketer thinks this won’t work. Traditional-minded marketers think they should be paid for everything they do. They don’t understand the reality of Relationship Marketing and how you sow seeds before you reap a harvest. Google provides marvelous search capabilities for free. Then they provide ads that correlate to the searches. Sure, they are tracking what you type. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to use Google. Permission-based marketing, as Seth Godin has told us, requires a strategy that doesn’t push stuff on people (think traditional advertising). Instead, it offers value in exchange for permission to stay in touch. Prospects reach out for the value offered and they provide, for instance, their legitimate name and a legitimate email address for future contact.
Not Just A Hunch, Real Serious Numbers. Too often in business we go with a “gut feeling” to make decisions. While it can be useful at times (think of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink) a hunch can often be wrong. As Gladwell tells us, the best hunches are based on fact and experience. We might think that the market wants blue widgets. However, seeing a report of what widgets people actually pay money for and take action to buy means a lot more. Google can consolidate these numbers and give us what we want. When you’re building a marketing campaign, you have to start with solid, real data before implementing a campaign. A hunch can be useful but only if backed up with lots of real, serious data for decision making. Tracking your ad words in Google on two similar ads can reveal a lot more about your advertising effectiveness than just a hunch.
Multiple Product Offerings. Google provides a lot more than just search. Google provides not only search capabilities but it provides a host of other features. Google provides the ability to do math calculations, mapping, directions, provide alerts for specific terms when they appear in the press, and a host of other features. I love the Google Trends section that shows me what is happening in the world based on inquiries. Diversify in your business based on your core strengths, not just what looks nice. Track results and be the best in those categories where you offer products. Diversification and hedging are smart marketing moves in the age of the Internet.
Continued Innovation. Marketing is changing as the needs, wants and desires of the marketplace change. Google is continually examining what will and won’t work. They are willing to risk time, money and effort to see what the market offers. While you’re offering your core products to the marketplace, continually be on the lookout for new areas of need. Filter it through the prism of what your market is ready, willing and able to buy. This is smart Relationship Marketing. You have limited resources, time being the greatest resource. Invest your resources in Relationship Marketing wisely.
“Cool” But Not “Cute.” In an effort to be seen as popular and knowledgeable of what is happening it would be easy to go too far and be seen as amateurish in your approach. Going too far the other direction makes your product boring and dull. Yes, it is a continuum and there are no definite answers. And yes, it is different for each business and each product. And yes, it is one of the most difficult decisions you’ll make each day! Find ways to focus on buyers’ needs and what they want and you’ll be on the right track. Become a maniac about serving them. You’ll always be “cool” when your product is seen as a benefit by buyers. If you got too far into “cute” you can pull back---but remember the lesson for the future.
Happy Birthday, Google! It is the new company to model. It used to be Microsoft. Today it is Google (maybe Apple, also). We can learn a lot about running our own businesses by following these principles from Google. Who knows, perhaps 10 years from now I’ll be writing about you and your new company founded on new principles of success as the Internet changes! Prepare today for the changes and get ready for the fun!
Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at www.terrybrock.com.
Copyright © 2007, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used without prior written permission.