No, I don't mean to take them off the shelves, or rip up your catalog. Yes, I know that if we don't sell things, we cease to make a living. I'm talking about a style of marketing that seems focused on nothing but the final sale, while missing all of the other steps of the process. You need to end this maniacal focus on the sale as being the only way you interact with your customers. Too many people have gotten the idea that search marketing is great for sales, but have forgotten everything else about search marketing, and maybe marketing in general. To succeed at marketing, even search marketing, you need to find a way to remember about the rest of the buying cycle.

LONDON - NOVEMBER 12: A Shopper walks past a p...

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This was all brought to mind when I was on a panel last week at OMMA Global asking the musical question, "Is your company spending too much on search?" The unspoken premise is that, while search is great for making the sale, we might be spending too much for that last click, when other tactics ranging from display ads to e-mail to social media (and many more) actually lead to the sales that customers finish off with a search.

It's an interesting question that the panel grappled with, discussing attribution modeling and other arcane subjects, but I think we need to consider something more fundamental: "Search is not a tool limited to the final purchase."

Think about another tool we use in marketing, the telephone. Although our call centers close business on the phone, we don't stop them from merely answering a customer's question. Nor do we stop anyone else in the company from using the phone. Search is no different.

Yes, when someone searches for our products by brand name (maybe even with the exact model number), of course we want our results to come up at the top of the list. And, sure it's gratifying when we make that sale. But how did the customer figure out your model number?

It's likely that the journey started long before that final search. And, although social media and other tactics probably played a part, search did, too. How much of your social media work is discovered not because people shared content but because search found it? So if SEO is not part of your social media campaigns, it needs to be. The folks creating social media might not be the same folks that are in charge of search optimization, but they need to be able to use search as a tool. You let them use the phone, right?

And we need to value search for more than the last click. If your Web site is nothing more than an overblown catalog, you are missing the rest of the buying cycle. You are missing all the people who are searching for a solution to their problem, folks that don't even know what your product or service is for. So, the answer to whether you are spending too much on search is found, in part, in another question, "How are you using search?" If you use search only for that last step in the process, you are probably giving it too much credit, much like crediting the cash register for all sales in a physical store. But if you use search all through the buying cycle, it's amplifying all of your other tactics.

So, stop selling your products. Start marketing them.

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March 22, 2010

Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.


100% agree!

you must be a customer service oriented guy :)

notice that most "sellers" will promise heaven and earth just to make that sale. gheezzz. what happens when you are holding that sleazy product in your hand, you have to call them to complain.

man, how did that culture of marketing ever started?

live debt free

Great article.

I agree we need to make our marketing plan to reach people at all parts of the cycle. People do not come online to pull out there credit cards often, they come on to find a solution to there problem.

I agree with you that we need to help them find that solution in there search.


Thanks Mukul, I thought that this style of marketing started to change a coupl eof years ago, but perhaps the plunge in the economy has caused us to regress.

That's a good question, Anthony. I admit that i don't know when it started, but I think I have an idea when it will stop--when it no longer works. And that day is coming...

I agree! There is a New Zealand Maori proverb "He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!" (What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!). Our businesses becomes glib and cheap when we lose site of people and focus on the dollar!

And after all it is highly moral to serve the needs of the customer or the one in need first. Identifying the needs and trying to provide an effective solution gives both the parties a complete sense of satisfaction. This also accomplishes the purpose of marketing well and finally selling one's product to a bright prospect. Please keep posting.

This should be common sense for the smart marketer. Find a solution and give the solution to the customer. Many marketers I see are going in the opposite way, diluting the market and giving other marketers a bad rep. This needs to stop for sure.

I agree, Mr. Toaster, that it should be common sense. Like you, I often find myself staring at marketers doing it wrong--even ones who should know better.But l

Most of all it is the honest dealing that will become the asset of the seller,in today's market it is a rare commodity.The seller think that the sale is over as soon as the product is sold

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Search Engine Guide > Mike Moran > Stop Selling Your Products!