Pete’s Weekly: Marketing in Infinity and Beyond

I have just read the last page (after reading all the pages before it, of course) of Steven Levy’s fine book on Google, “In the Plex“. Even if you are not interested in what Google does, it’s worth a read to understand how our lives have changed over the past decade because of Google. You can save a few trees and a lot of carbon if you buy the Kindleversion.(You don’t need a Kindle to read the full version because the PC-based Kindle software is plenty good as well, which is fine if you have a laptop while sitting in bed. I have not yet been so desperate that I have taken my desktop PC to bed with me.)I found it interesting because of the Google focus on speed. On the one hand, everyone rhapsodises on their utterly simple front page, uncluttered, and every Swedish designers dream.

And yet, nobody else does it.

More than that, at what other time in the history of man could I, working in Norway, offer a marketing service to a an engineering firm in Johannesburg? And within a day that firm is getting enquiries for their specialist metal-forming service from all over South Africa. Because they are on the front page of Google for 89 phrases that strangers might use when looking for their services And that service costs less each month than each sale they make? All thanks to a couple of students who ran with the idea that they could do better than Yahooor any search engine of 15 years ago? I remain in awe each day.

Whenever the state builds roads or bridges, we look at it as an investment in infrastructure. When building starts, we know how much traffic there is. But it mere presence fosters growth and inspires more and more people to use it for more and more diverse things. It makes it easier and faster to go somewhere. It saves time and money. It makes it easier to reach places that you did know existed.

I see marketing as just such an infrastructure. It’s like building a series of roads and bridges between your business and all the people that might one day need the work that you do. The secret lies in making it simple for those people to find you at the moment their need arises.

Right now these are strangers that you don’t yet know. These are strangers who will become clients and friends. These are strangers who will value your services enough to pay for them for years and years. But you have to meet them first. Your marketing is the map of roads and bridges you build to help them find you easily.

An infrastructure outlives its creators. Most of the roads we use now were built long before we arrived, and the people who built them have since taken residence in another dimension. But while they may be gone, their legacy remains for all of use to benefit from.

Contrast this with the average experience of a small business owner. The business will not survive her exit (for retirement or any other reason).

But just as for a road infrastructure, a marketing infrastructure makes it easy to find a buyer for the entire business. This is because it relentlessly introduces a stream of strangers who want what the business sells. The biggest challenge any buyer of the business faces is understanding where the clients come from. At that point word-of-mouth has no value. A stream of clients introducing themselves each day has huge value.

Yesterday we put a property broker on the front page of Google for 186 long tail search phases. Just one sale will pay for our service for the next few years. (My phone buzzes each time someone asks them for help. I am more excited than they are.)

And all of this is thanks to 2 youngsters who were adamant they could help everybody find anything better. (In the beginning, while they still wanted to finish their degrees, they tried to sell their “engine” to firms like Yahoo, all of whom roundly rejected it. Much like most folk think that online marketing won’t work for them today.)

Isn’t history boring? It just keeps repeating itself.

All the best

Peter Carruthers

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