October 2, 2014

When Search People Take Over

I can’t wait until search minded people take over the business world. I’m not talking about SEOs, but people who truly understand the value of search marketing and how search is just the tip of the iceberg.

The paradigm is shifting. It started with search but will evolve to every form of business. Those who don’t adapt their business models will be left behind begging congress to bail them out.

You probably already guessed from the photo above, but I’m talking about the switch from push marketing to pull marketing. If you haven’t noticed, it’s all about pull now – and companies are noticing.

The traditional push model consists of creating a project and selling you on the need. Think of the Auto industry where workers create vehicles and they sit on a lot where salesmen talk you into the “best car for you.” The pull model works the other way. It starts with a need and then helps the consumer fill it. A great example is Ford Australia – where you won’t find a pre-built car sitting on a lot. Instead, customers tell Ford exactly what they want in a car and Ford builds it for them. Guess which model has higher conversion rates and increased customer satisfaction?

Bill Gates recently said “the future of search is verbs” and he couldn’t be more right. Verbs and pull go hand in hand. They both express a need. Consumers today don’t care about your hyped up PR. They don’t want a carefully crafted marketing message. Today’s consumers have a problem at hand and they want a solution. They’re looking to do something – and the marketer who listens to their problem and provides a solution will be the one who capitalizes.

But it’s not just marketing

All of business is changing to the pull model. Nothing is safe. TV. Radio. Music Sales. Newspaper. Magazines. Even your local department store circular. All of these things have traditionally operated on a push model in which they’ve spent millions of marketing dollars to convince you what you should buy – and all of these areas are struggling to adapt to today’s pull oriented consumer.

TV viewers no longer plan their day around network schedules. TV guides are a relic. They’ll watch the shows, but on their own terms. DVR, On-demand, and subscription services like netflix and made it possible for viewers to watch what they want, when they want, where they want, and on their choice of device – yet several networks are still trying to limit access to shows, delay them several days, and pass laws trying to break your DVR.

Movies and music no longer become available for purchase every Tuesday at your local Best Buy. In fact, music isn’t even purchased – it’s streamed. That new hit song won’t be bought on an album, it will be streamed to friends at a party on Spotify, added to a Turntable.fm queue, and shared with Facebook friends in a playlist. At least, that’s what listeners are trying to do amid constantly increasing royalties that price these services out of existence.

Radio isn’t just listened to in the car. It’s available on multiple devices and even saved for later via podcast – that is, of course, if your favorite radio station isn’t delaying those streams for 24 hours in a misguided attempt to increase real time ratings.

And therein lies the problem. Consumers haven’t stopped wanting music, movies, and TV – they just want it in a way that it fits with their schedule. This is a battle of control; one that the consumers will ultimately win.

That’s why I can’t wait for search people to get involved. Imagine if Google were running cable TV or a music label. How do you think they would change TV, or even banking? True search people think differently. Their thought processes start by trying to figure out what the user is looking for and how they can provide it. That very thought process is lacking in most of today’s business leaders.

Old media is dying. Search is the future – and I’m not just talking about Google / Yahoo / Bing. I’m talking about everything, literally. And it’s exciting. I can’t wait to see how today’s pull oriented consumer shapes the business of the future and which companies still cling to their pushy ways.

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com