Here’s a second day’s snippet from What Would Google Do? I’m going to jump all around the book, picking bits here and there. Today’s is on advertising. But first, here’s a link to a Newsweek Q&A about WWGD?
For more than a century, the public face of companies has been their advertising, slogans, brands, and logos. How much better it would be if a company’s public face were that of its public, its satisfied customers who are willing to share their satisfaction, and its employees who have direct relationships with customers. Brands are people.
If that’s the ideal, then here’s the goal: Eliminate advertising. Or at least fire your ad agency. Oh, you won’t get rid of advertising entirely. You should be so lucky. But every time a customer recommends you and your product to a friend is a time when you don’t have to market to that friend. It is possible today to think that one good word can spread as far as an ad would. This scenario is not hypothetical. When I had my problems with Dell, I could see them losing sales as people came to my blog and left comments saying they’d just decided not to buy a Dell, often adding that they’d told their friends their vow as well. There’s no telling how much one pissed-off customer costs you today. The contrary is also true. A happy customer can sell your products. Now that bloggers are praising Dell online, new sales accrue as customers reconsider the company. When Dell started offering discounts to users of Twitter, who passed the word to more users, the company added $500,000 in sales in no time.
The more your customers take ownership of your brand, the less you will spend annoying people with your ads. I can hear your agency: You can’t hand messaging over to the people; they’ll be off-message. Well, tell your agency their message may be off. Your customers have always owned your brand.
Advertising is your last priority, your last resort, an unfortunate byproduct of not having enough friends?.?.?.??yet. Learn this lesson from Google, which spends next to nothing on advertising. It became the fastest growing company in the history of the world without marketing. It grew thanks to its friends, not through ads. In its “10 things Google has found to be true,” the company says its “growth has come not through TV ad campaigns but through word of mouth from one satisfied user to another.” The generation that has that damned “Yahoo-ooo” sound stuck in their heads thanks to untold millions spent on commercials is the same generation that used and spread Google instead, for free.