Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

Jon Raj, Cello Partners

Jon Raj
Founder and Managing Partner
Cello Partners

Which of the lessons below resonates with you the most and why?

All of the lessons are essential to meet today’s marketing challenges and when used in concert they become really powerful. That being said, I will focus on “Brands can be the answer.”

While most brands like to think that they “are the answer,” whether they actually are depends on the question. Most marketing campaigns do a lousy job of conveying the power of their brands as they relate to what consumers actually need.

Traditional advertising/marketing tactics have a long history of effectively creating awareness–but usually stop there. The world that today’s brands live in is vastly different than than the world of even five years ago, yet the guardians of these brands continue to use the same strategies and tactics that they did all those years back. Only brands that adapt to the new environment–and new consumer expectations and demands–will thrive and grow.

Today, brands need to have the answers, but can’t be interrupters. They can’t win by yelling the loudest–they have to be the most relevant, speak the same language, and understand the needs, desires and aspirations of their consumer. They can’t talk at them, but need to engage with them. Brands have a new responsibility to be ‘open 24/7’ and available.

Brands must realize that they can use their marketing as a way to prove–not just tell–their value proposition. By creating utility, entertainment value or some other form of value exchange, the message becomes a reason to believe, a proof point, a competitive differentiator.

No longer are messages about who they are and what they represent is enough. Brands must step out of their TV sets and interact with the real world.

Lesson #7 is “Act Like Content.” Visa did a great job of this when it created the Visa Small Business Network in June of 2008. Why did you create the Visa Small Business Network? Why did you decide to house it within Facebook?

Small business owners are a heavily-marketed to segment. Conventional wisdom in the B-to-B space leads marketers towards the same positioning that translates to beautifully produced spots that scream, “we get you!”. This typically translates to “blah, blah, blah” to small business owners.

Visa wanted to go past the rhetoric and break through the clutter by not screaming but conversing. With the Visa Business Network, Visa wanted to establish an authentic platform where they could connect small business owners. The program was designed to prove and not just tell how Visa supports small businesses.

Online resources for small business are disparate – no one place existed that gave owners all the tools and information they needed to run their business. And often, business owners feel alone, with no one to bounce ideas off or get ideas from.

Using Facebook, Visa created a “back office” for small business owners where they could connect with other businesses, get valuable information from experts, and access tools to help run their businesses better. And by participating, they received free ad credits to help them target their customers and get more business. The utility of the application strategically aligned with Visa’s proposition and created the perfect contextual relevancy for their message.

To be successful on and off Google, marketers must position their brands as answers to their target customer’s problems.

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