In 2013, Christopher Skinner at a Google ThinkFinance event in Mountainview. Five years is a long time when you’re thinking about digital, yet the concepts here still ring true. Let’s revisit each lesson from the presentation and apply it to 2018 digital thinking.

1. The Customer Journey is Just Like Dating

Would you walk up to a stranger on the street and ask them on a trip to Paris? No. To get there, you suggest a coffee date, then a dinner date, and then the romantic getaway. You need to treat your potential customers the same way. If you show them the big discount or offer right away, you’re going to have a low response rate. No trips to Paris or the checkout.

2. Think of Your Business Like a Lawn

And the blades of grass are your profits. When you're watering and fertilizing, you're making the grass grow - that's your branding. When you're mowing - that's your Direct Response. Your lawn needs both these efforts to grow its greenest and its best. By the same token, a healthy marketing strategy is made up of Branding and Direct Response efforts in perfect balance.

3. Stop Looking Over the Back of the Boat

This is our favorite metaphor. In 2013, we did not have our prediction technology, but we were on the way to making it. MakeBuzz recommended strategically buying media, using your data to see where they live and what they do to make predictions. Now, we look well beyond basic demographics. We look at human activities to make our predictions. We’re at the crow’s nest on our ship seeing what’s ahead.

4. Pay Attention to Real Social Circles

Offline word of mouth is still a thing! In 2013, a study found that 93% of word of mouth is offline. We expect that statistic to be unchanged since then. So how did we suggest to get people talking in 2013? Concentrate media in geographic areas.

With our predictive technology, we’d tell you to do more than that. We are more precise. Tailor your message to your best customers. Reach out to potential customers in a way that delights them so they will start conversations. We think Netflix is particularly good at this. They create shows to entertain certain personalities, which end up creating a buzz (think of Stranger Things!).

5. Your Brand Search Terms are Not Gifts from God

Back to our previous concept, you need to put effort into your branding to begin awareness. No one will search for you if they have no idea who you are! Create awareness before pushing a potential customer to buy your product (have a coffee date before a trip to Paris!).

Certain people will accept your brand, and others will not. Focus on the right groups. Google won’t help. Use tools outside of GA.

6. Profitability is Like Chicken Soup

In other words, it’s not the same from one end of the bowl to another. A variety of markets exist in one city, changing from one zip code to the next. You can now bucket your customers based on personalities.


It seems like advice from 2013 would be irrelevant, but good concepts take a while to become outdated. If you follow an overarching strategy and guidelines you can update your tactics. In 2013, we were really into bucketing customers by zip codes and media, but now we think you should bucket customers by their shared traits.

Once you understand people at a people level, you can move beyond media tactics.

Got some questions for us? Write to us and we will be happy to help!