“Google is not just a company, it is an entirely new way of thinking. Jarvis has done something really important: extend that approach to business and culture, revealing just how revolutionary it is.” – Chris Anderson, author of the Long Tail.

American Journalist, Professor and Public Speaker, Jeff Jarvis is the Author of the internationally acclaimed “What Would Google Do?.” Basing his arguments on business models adopted by Google—the fastest growing company in recent times, he was able to derive forty clear and straightforward rules to manage and live by in the business world of today.

We live in a world where many businesses are constantly being challenged to find new ways to survive and remain relevant in the new internet age. Opposite to what older institutions may consider to be a great business plan, Jeff has discovered that it is of greater significance to focus on newer ways to add more value to the market as opposed to solely relying on that which can be extracted from the business market. One way of achieving this is by bringing the market to customers rather than making them come to you. It is also important to note already existing markets within a community, that way it is easier help such communities do what they plan to do better.

Companies like Google see the world differently and operate using the rules of a new age, something that can only be achieved by understanding the change that has been ushered in by the internet.

In a seminar hosted by Nigeria’s leading financial institution, Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) in Lagos, Nigeria, Jeff Jarvis discusses certain rules that point out why everyone and everything from businesses to individuals and nations, need to evolve with the Google era.

Your worst customer is your best friend

The fact that every company has faced certain challenges when providing goods or services to customers cannot be over emphasized. However as opposed to shying away from complaints or not wanting to mess with the “cash cow” and other major investments, one might find that the customer, whether aggravated or not, could make a very strong argument. Jarvis narrated a personal encounter with computer technology company, dell, after he purchased a laptop model. Making use of his blog to express certain frustrations and challenges with the laptop, he hardly expected the kind of response that followed. Using of sentences like, “DELL SUCKS. DELL LIES. Put that in your Google and smoke it, Dell,” it eventually sparked into a mini- riot with hundreds of people who shared the same sentiment. Although Dell may have had this coming, by failing to relate with the very people that keep them in business, they learned the importance of showing online users how much they care about them as valued customers. As a result of this, the company turned this unfortunate event into a positive one by implementing a strategy which not only engaged customers but also worked to provide transparency.

The power of the link

The link changes everything…

Linking content about a product, an event or expert opinion, to shed more light on a topic goes a long way in passing the over all message across. There is hardly a need to recount a story, or describe features of a particular product if someone has already done so and it is in fact relevant to your business. The readers or customers would like to read the full details, not a hyperlinked word alone–direct them to it. “Do what you do best and link to the rest,” Jarvis explained.

He also added that outside of media, retailers should link to manufacturers for product information. Manufacturers should link to customers who are talking about their products. Authors should link to experts (… if only books enabled links). Head hunters, conferences, industry associations and universities should use links to connect people who share needs, knowledge and interests.

Life is public, so is business

There are many social and personal benefits to living a more public life on the internet; a place where customers can easily reach you“You have to be public to be found.” The more opportunities you have the easier you are to find, but once you decide to not to make something public, you risk customers not finding you or not trusting you because you’re keeping secrets.” Companies like micro blogging platform,Tumblr serve as a digital marketing tool for small businesses. This may be attributed to the fact that the images on Tumblr are public. Also product information or businesses which may not necessarily have visual components can still make use of this platform by making themselves available to customers and providing new information about (or related to) your company or products.

Trust the people…Listen

As mentioned earlier, the “people” play an important role in businesses. The decision to take their comments or suggestions seriously may not be as risky as it appears and this helps when it comes to understanding how best to serve customers. It is also important because listening to people is one of the only ways you can bring greater value to customers. For instance Dell learnt how to listen and it went very well. In the era of social media and other platforms where the consumers are empowered, other companies in Africa and the world at large ought to borrow a leaf from Dell.

Make mistakes well

“Corrections do not diminish credibility. Corrections enhance credibility.”

While older institutions may not want to be disrupted by a new era, there have been many success stories from experimentation. How else would you know if a new plan will work or whether a new product will do well in the market? It is wise to focus on existing customers and serving them well, however, you are doomed as a business if you only extract and not add value to the market. Google as a company, tends to release products and services which are still at the refining stage without necessarily knowing what it is yet. However they work with other companies, and, in some cases customers, thereby forming a collaborative entity.

Source: Felicia Omari Ochelle, Ventures Africa

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