There is a transformation happening. People don't care what you say about your products; they care about what consumers say about your products.
No one cares about your products - that was the message that really hit me at Incisive Media's SES NY this spring.
That message was delivered by David Meerman Scott - marketing speaker and bestselling author of "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" and the new book "World Wide Rave." He was the keynote speaker on Tuesday.
That sentiment isn't really revolutionary. But the profound truth of it is probably more relevant than any time in the past.
Let me tell you a story.
If you are only going to eat pizza one night, choosing the "best" place is daunting.
Actually, for the last couple years coming to SES New York, I just took the listing on Google Maps first page with the best (and most) comments. For two years in a row that was John's Pizzeria. They currently have 234 reviews listed in Google with an average of three and a half stars.
But it's not the stars that kept me coming back. It was the actual comments people left:
The BEST...Hands down.
By Kelly - Mar 2, 2010
This is the best pizza in NY. If not the entire world. I have tried them all and this is the WINNER.
John's Pizzeria - Fantastic
By A TripAdvisor Member - Jan 15, 2010
We went there for dinner 3 times during our holiday in New York and the food and the service were consistently excellent and we just wish we had gone there every evening! Definitely try it out!!!!
By A TripAdvisor Member - Jan 7, 2010
the doorman at our hotel recommended to go here for some good pizza. we werent disappointed, the first night we went we were seated in the first part of the restaurant and didnt realise how big it was until we went back the 2nd time.
That's all I needed to hear. These people came to New York with endless choices of restaurants and they went to John's Pizzeria multiple times. I went once and loved it. The next year I brought a party of 10 people there. And they loved it. The user reviews were spot on.
This year I thought it would be fun to try something different.
Greg dug a little deeper into the results and came up with Keste Pizzeria & Vino.
Granted, it "only" had 36 reviews, compared to John's 234. But its overall rating was a solid four out of five stars. But that wasn't what pushed him to select this place. Check out some of these reviews:
By TheBigOne - Jan 17, 2010
Took my fiancee there tonight. We are both 'hard core' foodies. VERY friendly staff. Service was great. Pizzas were some of the best I have ever had. Cooked to perfection. Ingredients tasted extremely fresh.
Best Pizza - ever!
By msasala - Nov 29, 2009
We ate lunch there today - it was by far the best meal we have had in NYC! We remembered Roberto from when he was in Pittsburgh and made sure to stop by. It was so good!
The pizza is delicious, refreshingly...
By TonyB1196736 - Aug 7, 2009
different and indisputably authentic. The reasonably priced wine list (of wines that are actually good on their own and as complements to the meal) and the interesting selection of beers make Keste a standout lunch or casual dinner destination.
This looked like an underground treasure of the city. And you know what? Those anonymous reviewers I've never met in my life once again did not disappoint. The place rocked.
But here's where the story gets interesting.
I asked Greg if he went to Keste's Web site.
His answer was, "I accidentally clicked on it. But it was all Flash and annoying so I just backed out and got back to Google."
This interested me to no end. As I thought about how David Meerman Scott said no one cares about your product, I realized there is transformation happening.
People don't care what you say about your products. They want to know what other people say about your products.
If we don't realize this, I believe our Web sites will become obsolete.
People simply won't go to your site because they know it's just filled with puffery, marketing-speak, and straight-up meaningless content.
Another quote I got from David Meerman Scott was, "Stop talking about the product. Talk about the people who are buying the product."
If you want to have any relevance in the conversation that is going on about your brand, you would do well giving your prospects some straight-up truth about who you are and what you sell.
All of this is reflected in the search engine results. User-generated reviews and blog posts increasingly dominate the top results for your brand name. We all need to be thinking of off-site optimization in this brave new world of search engine optimization in the second decade of the 21st century.
SES and ClickZ are both part of Incisive Media.
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Sage Lewis is the president of SageRock Digital Marketing. SageRock has been a leader in Web marketing since 1999, offering search engine optimization, paid search marketing, social media marketing, and analytics.
Sage speaks nationally with SES and other prominent Web marketing organizations. He is one of the most sought after speakers and coaches in the field of Web marketing. From coast to coast, Sage has trained, coached, and consulted with some of the largest brands and conferences in the country.
Sage is also "The Web Marketing Video Guy" with nearly 500 Web marketing videos published. Sage writes as an expert for ClickZ in the "Search Engine Marketing" section. He lives in Akron, Ohio with his wife, Rocky, and son, Indiana.
His columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive.
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