Google recently launched an ad campaign – the people looking for a haircut are the ones who need a haircut. The Google ad powerfully articulates the singular strength of their flagship product – Google knows how to help you find your customers when they’re looking for what you have to offer. The implication of the ad is clear – if you want to reach new customers, search marketing is the best way to do it. And, as we all know, the best customers to find are customers looking to spend money.
And while this is a great product marketing ad, it avoids a critical part of the marketing effort - reaching a potential new customer before they start their search. Or, more importantly, getting someone to search for your brand / product specifically, instead of just a product category, in general. Or, to state it most succinctly, branding. The obvious example – people don’t look for an .mp3 player, they search for an iPod.
We bring this up because the Google ad is a great reminder of why brand-building still matters – yes, its good to be found in a search... but its even better to be sought after with a search. And that is why search marketing – as valuable as it is – will never replace traditional brand building efforts. So, while we are huge advocates of search marketing, we think that it should never be done at the expense of brand identity development. Because, if you can get to the person before they start looking, you've got a much better shot at having them skip the competitors and go straight to you.
Not to mention, to borrow from Google's conceit, search marketing is never going to convince someone they needed a haircut in the first place...