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You don’t need a product if you discuss the problem, not the solution. The goal of your eventual product will be reaching people who have the problem you are trying to solve.
The title of this article may seem like a total contradiction – how can someone market a product that isn’t defined and doesn’t exist? What would they even talk about in marketing??
The answer to this question is very simple:
These people search for information or solutions in several places. They use Google searches to find articles, websites, experts, studies, or groups on Facebook or LinkedIn or influencers on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, or YouTube.
Your goal is to reach those people when they are interested in solving a problem.
Branding a new product is a difficult process that takes a very long time, as you must reach many people multiple times and explain what you do. And you have to do this when people are already bombarded with marketing messages that they purposefully ignore.
Creating a Brand
Creating interest in your product requires starting the marketing immediately after setting up the company and preferably even long before. The purpose of the branding process is not to sell your product or service, which does not currently exist, but to achieve two other goals.
The first goal is to direct potential customers to your company’s website or create brand recognition through other means. This is the heart of the marketing process, and companies invest huge sums in it.
A brief glance through ads in the newspaper or Google shows how much effort and money companies invest in getting us to pay attention. The companies may not exist, even if they have a great product or service, but no matter what it sells, if no one has heard of the company, the product will not have customers.
The second goal is to position the company as Thought Leaders or experts in the field who are world leaders in thinking about the problem and finding solutions for it. You need to prepare the ground for when you have something that can be displayed or sold by attracting a wide audience that is interested, willing to listen, and willing to take our company seriously.
Building a Marketing Plan
The million-dollar question is, of course, how to achieve two such difficult and complicated goals without investing a lot of money in ongoing and expensive advertising across many channels.
The answer includes several components, the first and most important of which is time.
It takes a long time to unravel the details and overcome the challenges of launching a new business. It’s time-consuming to understand the market, to become experts in the problem you are trying to solve, to prepare research and marketing materials, to place them across many channels, and to position yourself so Google will present your company’s material as one of the top search results (just to name a few).
It’s a learning process saturated with trial and error that just takes time, and it’s the main reason why it’s important to start working on it as the first thing a company does. As the saying goes, “time is money,” and the longer you wait, the more money you will have to spend on marketing.
An additional component to crafting effective branding is to become a true expert in the problem. That includes intensive Google searches for any material related to the problem and for people who can help you, e.g., other sellers in the industry that can promote of the company in one way or another.
Another crucial component to designing a marketing plan is developing databases with information on details or cases related to the problem. Such databases are the basis for creating large amounts of content tailored to Google search results.
The Value of the Long Tail
The simplest and most direct way to understand the importance of databases is to examine the marketing methods of other successful companies like LinkedIn, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Zillow, ZoomInfo, CrunchBase, GlassDoor, Indeed, etc.
The strategy of these companies (and many others) is based on a content strategy known as the long tail, in which the company produces hundreds of thousands or millions of different pages, one page per item, whether it is a specific U.S. postal address, or a specific company, or a hotel.
Each and every one of these items were added to a database, and each gets a separate page with unique content.
Zillow and its competitors (e.g., Homesnap and Redfin) have millions of content pages. They host a separate content page for each address in the United States, with a photo of the house, apartment, or building; location; the number of rooms; and, most importantly, the valuation of the property calculated from recent sales of similar homes in the area.
Zillow built these pages so that with every search for a U.S. address, its website appears as one of the first results. In this way, any person buying or selling a house or apartment will come across Zillow’s content.
Beyond that, even if you aren’t in the market for a new property but are just looking for an address, you will receive Zillow content, and slowly, the Zillow brand will become a recognized seller with content you value.
This is a very impressive achievement considering that Zillow has not spent a penny on Google advertising., and Its marketing expenses are actually fixed and include the cost of the research and development of its content.
Similarly, CrunchBase has produced a page for every company worldwide, with each page including basic information about that company, The icing on the cake is information about the company’s financing, how much money it raised in how many rounds of financing, who invested, and when those companies made their investments.
When someone searches for a company name in Google, its CrunchBase page will almost always return as one of the first results. This tells us that CrunchBase has designed extremely powerful branding, marketing itself as a company with reliable information on company financing.
TripAdvisor is a similar story too. The company has created content on many hotels and tourist sites around the world, allowing site visitors to add comments and ratings to every page.
Over time, much original content created by users was collected. As more material accumulated, Google prioritized TripAdvisor pages when someone searched for a particular hotel or tourist site.
There is a strong positive feedback loop for TripAdvisor’s content – the higher Google displays the content in the results, the more people are inclined to read it. Moreover, when the content is good and interesting to users, Google will display it higher in the results.
All this being said, the interesting part of a long-tail content strategy is that the number of Google searches for each page is completely negligible.
How many times a day will someone search for information on “23 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA”? Probably almost never.
But how many searches a day are there? How many are for addresses in the United States? Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands.
By producing a separate page for each address, the company assures itself that hundreds of thousands of times a day, Google will consider displaying its content as the top result for a huge variety of searches.
This strategy is very different from manually producing a large amount of content into which the writer strives to insert the words and phrases people may be searching for (i.e., developing content that is search engine optimized).
What would be more effective for CrunchBase – writing articles on corporate finance or publishing, millions of pages on actual funding created automatically?
In our next article, we will look at some examples of how to produce a long tail of content, even in cases where it is not obvious.