Talk to marketers too. Google’s missing link to cloud domination.
In his heavily insightful book “How Google Works” former CEO of Google & VP of Products respectively; Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg, summed up one of their core beliefs and strategies at google:
“Just Go Talk To The Engineers”
Great advice from a great book, so I took it to heart.
Engineers should be the cornerstone of every IT company. They Are essential to your existence.
No engineers means no innovation, means no great product, means no sales, means that you are done.
But as more time passed one thing became clear; Engineers are running too much at likes of Google.
I remember Eric saying “in product development, it’s the engineers that should come up with the products”.
That stems from the rule: Bet on technical insight, not the market research. I agree with him and totally see his viewpoint.
He wants to create a truly innovative products.
But here is where the problem is surfaced.
I recently had an assignment to research advanced cloud-based products that my company could have offered.
And as I went to AWS (Amazon Web Services), Azure, Bluemix & many more, I stumbled upon the good old Google.
Seeing all the chaos that was going on in likes of Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure didn’t trigger any sense of epiphany.
But my recent recollection of the “how Google works” and the saying “Just Talk To The Engineers” came handy to nitpick a possible problem.
I think in likes of google or amazon marketers don’t have many seats. Especially in the early stages of product development.
Marketers should have a major role in deciding what the product should be like and how it should be offered.
If not, what happens is that the complex-thinking engineers decide to run a product without any marketing influence or a solid sales strategy.
And that makes the poor marketers sell the product that was over-complicated to begin with.
Here I must acknowledge that, maybe, just maybe the complex structuring is somehow good & reasonable.
Maybe it’s essential to the metering factor of cloud-based services. Maybe their Enterprise customers want that. (as weird as that sounds)
But if that’s the case let’s look at it from another point of view.
What Is Complicated?
Suppose you want to get a 3 TB cloud data storage for your website and decide to check out Google cloud storage.
Here is the link, go on and calculate it; (I wanted to share the picture here but it was too long for the page!)
Confused? almost everyone is.
Now take wasabi, a counterpart to Google Cloud Storage. Try calculating from them: Wasabi Storage
Let’s look at the CDN domain.
CloudFlare mainly offers Content Delivery Network (CDN) which competes with Google Cloud CDN.
They had no brand leverage like Google did.
No crazy ad budget. (Google owns so many of the digital ad platforms like Google Ads or AdSense.)
No quick market seize. (in fact, they weren’t even in the top 10 CDN providers in a blog post that was posted back in 2013.)
But with a great marketing effort, they now handle more than 10% of internet traffic globally!
That’s great for a company that was nothing compared to Google in terms of early advantages or budget.
I can see one big problem here, lack of marketing involvement at the forming stages of the product. (remember the excruciatingly long and boring landing pages?)
And that stems from not having the mindset; Talk to the marketers too.
Because the architecture is set, the poor marketers are bound to do their best effort on a project that could’ve been much easier to bring to market.
Betting on the technical insight is great. But just don’t go overboard with your “Technical Aspects” or “Engineers”.
Create a balance between techies and marketers. That is what Google needs.
Comparing the balanced VS engineer based style of Marketing
So let’s take a look at CloudFlare vs. Google Cloud CDN which portrays what marketing departments (or good product marketers) can bring to the table.
Here is Google Cloud CDN.
If you are confused half way, know that they’re trying to explain their pricing model.
Here is CloudFlare’s CDN.
You can do the same exact analysis with Google vs. Digital ocean.
A company launched in 2011 that brought simplicity to clouds and is one of the fastest growing cloud-service providers globally.
Smart marketers make things simple & understandable.
And that makes acquiring customers easier, faster & more efficient.
Marketers at likes of Google can counter this by doing their best, i.e:
One-year free usage, creating a mega-enterprise aura with their case studies, educational marketing, events, strong sales infrastructure.
It would have been much easier if they mainstreamed their end-user acquisition via making their plans simpler.
And how do you do that? Give more seats to your marketers in early stages of your product development.
(I know that their target customers are a bit different to Cloudflare, but that is irrelevant. simplicity is simply always necessary)
Lets just imagine…
That google with all it’s might, brand leverage, advertising power made their customer acquisition process easier and better?
If they stopped the confusing pricing trends that nobody understands.
They are google. They are the pioneers. They make things simple. They care about the users/customers. Who needs those baffling charts anyway?
I believe the aftermath of that thought experiment would have been a larger market share.
Why AWS is Better than Google?
AWS didn’t talk to their marketers either. They are confusing too. (Even more confusing)
But they are the show-runners in clouds.
Why is that?
let’s look at three reasons…
1- Early Risers
At the start of the cloud marathon, Amazon was already a big enterprise and a household name.
They spent all that brand leverage, advertising budget & being the first big cloud provider to seize a big chunk of the market.
They were the first hyper-scale cloud provider. they started in 2006. While others:
Google 2008. Azure 2010. IBM Bluemix 2014. (Rackspace cloud launched in 2006 but started providing service in 2008)
That partly enabled them to have an amazing customer roster. They serve the likes of Adobe, Atlassian, SAP and GE.
2- Talk now
Currently, AWS is doing a very good job on their marketing & branding.
If you visit Google & AWS, it’s visible that AWS is far superior in that area.
AWS might have not talked to their marketers at the beginning & they show that immediately, but they are definitely talking now.
I wouldn’t be surprised if in the near future they change the way they do business. Of course, that is going to be very difficult.
3- Superior Brand
I love google but why didn’t they choose a name for their platform?
Google Cloud Platform? Come on. That’s just lazy.
Amazon has AWS & Microsoft has Azure. Both good names & different brands.
Now, you might be saying; what does being cool has to do with it?
Well, A lot.
Saying you have a CDN by google just doesn’t have the glamour that AWS has.
Why? It’s all about the feeling that name or brand evokes. The perception you have of it.
Just like a corvette. no corvette driver would say: I drive a Chevrolet.
Instead, they talk about their “Corvette” as if it has nothing to do with Chevrolet.
Google is like Chevrolet without a Corvette, that is trying to beat the sports car market.
It’s like if Chevy produces a car called Chevrolet Sports Car & expect people to ditch their Porsche for it.
Saying “I Have a CDN by google” just sounds wrong. Google can’t stand for everything.
They think just because Google itself is fast, they can have fast services provided to their cloud-service customers. It’s logical, but not effective in the branding realm.
I have a hard time believing the marketing team on google would come up with this kind of name. I can possibly assume; Too many engineers.
I can push my verdict here because I’ve always had a VERY hard time explaining the concept of branding to engineers.
The perceptual & irrational underlyings of branding just has a way of being condemned by the logic of engineers.
Note that AWS stands for Amazon Web Services, but your mind doesn’t know that. Your perception sees the name as something different, thus giving it it’s own unique value. The Ultimate Cloud Provider.
CDN becomes CloudFront at AWS instead of simply, Google CDN.
Google is great.
I am sure they can turn this around if they keep the innovation going and sprinkle more marketing on top of it.
Mainly at beginnings of their product development. I also talked about the book “How Google Works” at the beginning.
It inspired me to find a possible problem and write this article.
But it also inspired me to learn many lessons from two masters of business. That is why I strongly recommend reading it.
(Although there is one more claim that I am very skeptical about. The Open office endorsement. it’s a proven productivity killer. But that is a whole other talk.)
You can Buy various versions of this book in this link.