In the past month, I have seen two very good examples of online marketing. Today, Adrian Ho shared the third one. All done by Google.
First, there is "Send a Christmas Card", for free - courtesy of Google. It works like this: there's a selection of Google-themed Christmas cards, you pick one, enter your email address, your friends email and mailing address, and you are good to go. Google sends a postcard to your friend (and collects A LOT of emails in the process).
I have just checked the page now, and the initiative apparently worked - all Christmas cards are out. (Ah, the people are so predictable ...). What in fact happened is that Google combined people's perception that the brand doesn't advertise with giving stuff away for free, which is what people love the most. Good job, Google!
Then, there is "Give Chrome for the Holidays." The promo tagline is: "Google Chrome is Now Really Easy to Share. So if you are looking for gift ideas, why not wrap up Google Chrome with one of our shiny artist themes and give the gift of super-fast browsing. Google Chrome is so simple to use, even your grandma will love it." Well, I don't know about the grandma, but I am sure that geeks and their friends everywhere have already bit the bait. This is a lesson 101 of how to spread the word (and make people adopt your product faster) by being "helpful." Again, Google doesn't advertise. It just really invests in its customers. Good.
And then, Adrian took a photo of Google's gift - "We're the favorite place" from Google maps. This one is real simple and easy and very very promotional. It's a nice touch that just makes us love Google a bit more. After all, who doesn't want to be a favorite place?
What's interesting here is that, if any other brand have done the same thing, it would be sneered upon as a marketing gimmick. But - by carefully playing by the rules of online marketing (don't shower people with ad messages, create a lot of interlinked services to lock-in customers, expand the category by spreading to adjacent markets, and yes, don't be evil), Google managed to position themselves as the brand which does not advertise - but the one that invests in customers.
And, as we know, all good investments pay off.