What Would Google Do? #1: What we can learn from the zero-advertising-investment thought experiment

Jeff-jarvis What Would Google Do?  Jeff Jarvis is the man asking…

what does zero media budget look like?  what if the ambition of every brand was a media investment of nothing?

it's a question posed by Jeff Jarvis (pictured) towards the start of
his marvelous What Would Google Do? – a reverse-engineering of the
brand upon which the fastest growing company in the world is built.  he
observes that:

"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
… 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."

it may be a deeply unreachable goal for many brands and businesses;
whose products are less differentiated and in which interest in lower
and usage less frequent.  but some interesting and important measurement
principles emerge from the thought experiment…

  • how do you currently measure – and benchmark – not just customer engagement, but customer ownership of your brand?
  • how are you measuring the conversations – in the myriad of forms –
    that those customers are engaged in about your brand's products and
  • how are you benchmarking the value of those conversations against
    not just each other but against other marketing communications
    outputs?  how many TVRs maketh the influential (and not so influential)
    blog post or status update?
  • if, as Jarvis asserts (and I agree), "your customers have always
    owned your brand"; how do you measure, value, and encourage responsible
    ownership of the biggest intangible asset on which your business
  • and above all -  if you're not asking these questions?  who is?

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