Marketing lessons from Google

Widely respected for their engineering talent, and amazing hacker culture, Google is never credited for the amazing marketing they do. When we look for the companies which have done a great job at marketing/branding, we think of Guiness, Apple, or Ikea. Today I want to talk about the marketing lessons we can learn from Google.

It is all about the ROI.

For Barcamp Hyderbad, Google let us use its offices. They generally let you use their premises for hacker events. Let us calculate the ROI for Google for allowing this event.

This event was on Saturday, so cost of distraction to normal operations was minimal. There is some cost incurred in lighting and electricity, and Google’s famed free snacks. For this the 300 odd hackers, in this event, get to see Google’s campus/infrastructure/people first hand. In many companies in India, the cost to get an employee is in the ballpark of INR 50000. If even ten people from this group decide to sometime join Google, the ROI for Google is made up, many, many times over.

This is such a no-brainer, I always wonder why every company does not go all out to ask people to organize such events in their campuses.

Owning a word in prospect’s mind is the best way you can market your self.

“The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind” - So says Al Ries.

Google does not yet own own the word search, at least not yet. But they own the word, PAGERANK, in the prospect’s(webmaster’s) mind. Now pagerank is a grossly overhyped concept, and is just one of the 200+ factors even Google considers when ranking a page. Yet as this is simple and easy to understand concept, countless webmasters have spent countless hours agonizing over their pagerank. Using pagerank, Google is able to push their toolbar(people install toolbar so that they can see the page rank of each web page), which helps them get more data, and to further refine their search.

You should always be pushing your products.

In his book The High Performance Enterpreneur, Subroto Bagchi tells the story when he was in a high profile keynote address by Bill Gates. Subroto Bagchi was sitting expecting Bill Gates to tell the directions IT was going to take, and give a speech befitting a visionary, and instead BG gave a speech telling how great Windows XP was, and a sales pitch about WinXP. “If you are not proud of your product, and sell it at every opportunity, who will” - infers SB.

Google mixes new products it launches, or wants to give a boost, very strongly in its organic search results. A search for video shows embedded Youtube links in organic search results. Most searches link to Google-groups, and Google videos. For a long time Google pushed Booksearch with web searches. Not that it is bad, but you must always be pushing your product, nepotistically.

If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.

This is again from The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. Google can not beat Microsoft in desktop office suites, so they start a web based office suite. This seems so obvious, and yet Microsoft and Yahoo are trying to better search by playing by Google’s rules. They might create better algorithms(and I profesize that Yahoo’s algorithm is at least as good as Google’s), but more data beats better algorithms, and Google has way more data than Yahoo or Microsoft have. Social search has so much potential, and yet we see half baked products from Wikia?

You can get away with murder, you just need to position yourself right.

What would you call a software which logged every search you did, sites you visited, times you stayed on them? If not from Google, spyware, if from Google, toolbar. Of course, you can classify this as an example of permission marketing, by showing you the page rank of all sites, easy access to Google sites, they get permission to track you, and data mine you.

Thank you for reading the Agiliq blog. This article was written by shabda on Apr 21, 2008 in marketing .

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