Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

Chapter 3: Keep It Simple, Stupid

Executive Summary:

What are you supposed to do on Google.com?

Duh, search. But why is that such a rhetorical question? Because the Google homepage screams search. There’s nothing to distract you from the task at hand. Just a search box and a lot of white space.

In order to attract customers and prospects and generate that coveted word-of-mouth, your products and services must be so simple to learn about, use, and remember that a baby — or your mother — could do it.

FedEx is all about keeping it simple with its “Relax, it’s FedEx” tagline.

GEICO is so easy a caveman can do it!

Hone your Twitter pitch. Describe your company in 140 characters or less. Then shrink it to 95 characters and run it as a Google ad to see how people respond. Tweak. Iterate. Dumb it down without making people feel dumb.

Select Quotes:

“Don’t over think it. Sometimes simple creates the best experience.”

– Sean Cheyney, VP, Marketing & Business Development, AccuQuote, @scheyney

“Sometimes consumers need direction, but they almost always want to feel as though they are making their own decisions.”

– Michelle Prieb, Project Manager, Research and Communications Organization, Center for Media Design, Ball State University, @meprieb

“Over the years I have found that being able to articulate things that are complex into simple concepts (not dumb-down but hone) and then making it relevant to the audience, consumer and or client have been absolutely key.”

– Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, VivaKi, @RishadT

“Focus and simplicity can lead to widespread adoption.”

– Sean Finnegan, President and Chief Digital Officer, Starcom MediaVest Group, @SeanFinnegan

“As a marketer focused on delivering ROI and measurable outcomes, I prefer placing my budgetary bets based on what people DO versus what they SAY they’ll do.”

– Olivier Lemaignen, Director of Marketing, Kodak Gallery, @Olivier_US

Final Thought:

As a business, to simply thrive you need to thrive simply.


June 10, 2010: Today, Google inexplicably strayed from the KISS theme on its homepage. It released a new feature whereby the background of the Google homepage featured rich imagery (ala Bing) and rotated automatically upon refresh. Many people, including yours truly, thought this was the new default for Google.com. In a blog post, Marissa Mayer described the functionality and then updated it to explain that the default image was only a one-day “special doodle.” Going forward, each user would have the ability to choose an image or keep the clean, white homepage. I, for one, think this is a mistake. As discussed in this chapter, anything that distracts people from searching will have adverse impact on Google’s cash cow, clicks on search ads.

Mar. 15, 2011: Here’s a quick screencast describing the Twitter Pitch.

Aug. 31, 2011:  I wasn’t able to get a screenshot but apparently today Google ran a deal-of-the-day offer on its homepage per Reuters. Talk about selling out.

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