Customer Learning, a largely unexploited marketing strategy

Google’s course on power searching is a brilliant marketing move. As retailer Sy Syms used to say, “The best customer is an educated customer.” Google is teaching people to use more of its services. Simultaneously, Google is building customer loyalty. Co-learning builds trust. As other companies realize the potential of learning as a marketing tool, we’re going to see a lot more programs like this.

Google could have produced a slick, buttoned-down, tech-oriented training program, like they did for Google Wave. No people on screen. No rapport. Remember this? I never did figure out how to use Wave.

This time around, Google chose this friendly, avuncular fellow to take you by the hand. He’s not a salesperson; he’s a research scientist, a true-blue Googler. He gives encouragement: you’re on the path to being a Power Searcher! He’s casual. Very approachable. Looks like he’s talking to you from his living room. He stumbles occasionally. Dan comes across as authentic, the type of guy you’d enjoy talking to at a bar. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, Mr. Rogers.


The Google course is primarily formal. Google chose the curriculum and tests what you learn. (The course is informal in that you choose whether or not to participate and when.) The action on Google Groups is mainly posting answers to questions rather than interaction. Power Searching with Google features:

  • Six 50-minute classes.
  • Interactive activities to practice new skills.
  • Opportunities to connect with others using Google Groups, Google+, and Hangouts on Air.
  • Upon passing the post-course assessment, a printable Certificate of Completion will be emailed to you.

Given that most people are novices at search and that Google has so many features that even Dan admits he forgets some of them, a formal approach seems entirely appropriate.

The Extended Enterprise

We used to think of companies as being like castles, cut off from the world by firewall moats. The only learning we cared about was taking care of our own and perhaps our distributors.

Now we see companies as extended enterprises. We strive to get each molecule in the extended atom on the same wave length. The way to achieve this resonance is by learning with one another.

Co-learning — adapting to the future — is an unexploited marketing strategy. It’s the key to creating a coherent organization.

July 13

Classes are taking a break. Today there’s a HangOut On Air. I was on a flight from Oakland to Phoenix at the time, so I listened in on YouTube.

The session was Q&A, with instructor Dan taking written questions from G+. I can’t say I got much out of this. Ho hum.

1,350 people! Wow! I wonder how many people are enrolled overall.