In a conversation about the potential market lock-in of Google at Abe Burmeister‘s blog, Dave Chiu introduced me to a great presentation Seth Godin made to Google early in 2006, explaining that it was marketing, and not technology, that made Google the market leader. I couldn’t agree more, even though most of my technology friends will swear it was all about the quality of PageRank.
Tests show that when Yahoo! & Google results are formatted identically, users can’t tell the difference. And yet, Google matters to people. They matter in a deeply personal way. They have created a powerhouse brand because better technology gave them an opportunity to market to the masses and that marketing worked.
Seth puts this in his framework of remarkable stories. His bestselling books The Purple Cow and All Marketers are Liars discuss this in much greater detail, with lots of anecdotes, examples, and advice on how to improve marketing through remarkable stories. Good stuff.
What he doesn’t talk about is how you create the right stories to tell. He misses that point in his books as well. But that’s ok. Stories are powerful marketing tools. That’s an important enough message by itself. In the presentation he also does a great job pointing out the anticipatory and experiential value of a brand–that value people get just because they buy the brand, independent of the actual value of the product. The driver for this type of value is story, especially when the brand connects with people’s identity in profound ways.
He then goes on to outline his view of Fashion/Permission marketing that is uniquely enabled by the Internet as a one-to-one disintermediated medium. He exhorts Google to create a permission tool that gets users to invite Google into a deeper relationship, one that gives Google more context and more details about what users are really looking for. In other words, leveraging the brand to enhance the technology by meeting users needs in a more meaningful way, which of course will only enhance the brand further. Great stuff. Note to Google: possible areas for development: VRM and Complex Search.
It is worth watching, if only to see the advice one of the hottest minds in marketing gives to the most influention Internet company on the planet.
Curiously, Seth missed the opportunity to explain to Google that their haphazard development strategy is steering them, inexorably, away from the branding that made them the market leader: the promise of making the Internet simple.