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Campaign No Substitute for a Unique Product

Technology-oriented marketers are often doomed to making the same mistakes, over and over. A common mistake is the assumption that a really creative marketing campaign idea can generate demand for a product launch that otherwise appears to lack a compelling innovation. The Snap.com contest is perhaps a good case study in this regard.

The well-intentioned leadership team at this new search engine describes their challenge as "faced with somewhat daunting objectives of driving traffic to Snap, launching the new brand, capturing market share from companies like Google, Yahoo, and MSN, and doing it with a launch budget that pales in comparison, a contest was born. We were just not sold on the traditional marketing methods available, they are for the most part boring and we were under whelmed at the prospects of using a standard banner campaign to market Snap (not to mention no money to do a big TV campaign)."

Understood; traditional promotional marketing methods probably aren't going to drive people to visit Snap's website. Actually, no marketing campaign can solve Snap's problem -- because they need a more meaningful solution to the problem of helping people find exactly what they seek on the Web. Meaning, do mainstream consumers really need "the other way to search" -- or do they instead need "the better way to find?"

I posted the following observation and related suggestion on their blog, located here.

"Most people who use the Internet believe that they know how to use a search engine, but in reality many don�t attempt to use the �advanced search� capabilities when they need to. Therefore, when the search results returned are not what they expected, they discover the tech sector�s dirty little secret � even the best search engines are still more focused on enabling searching, not finding.

In contrast, that�s exactly the outcome that drives consumers to the search engines � a desire to find, not to search. If snap.com focused on innovations that significantly improved mainstream consumers (who don�t understand boolean operators) ability to find exactly what they seek, then you will have differentiated your company in this already crowded space within the marketplace.

In the absence of a fully automated solution to this simplification challenge, consider designing the next best alternative. I call this the �guided search� function. As an example, when a novice search user doesn�t find exactly what they were looking for, then offer them an easy way to refine their search. Why aren�t there already complex search string �wizards� available on the leading search engines? I don�t know why, when there appears to be an apparent need.

In summary, the most basic requirement to find information online is adequately being addressed by the leading search players; it�s the uncommon needs where there is untapped opportunity. Enter the whitespace around the edges of the search sector core, and you will find what you seek � potential demand for snap.com."

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