A Look Back at a Lesson in Culture Courtesy of Google Maps - Part 2
Ryan Buddenhagen, February 14, 2012
In yesterday's post, I described how the initial resistance of Google's Street View in Germany could, at least in part, be attributed to the country's more private culture. Looking at its acceptance, the raising of concerns by Google Maps' audience had a considerable positive impact. Engagement to some degree did occur, according to the Time Magazine/Worldcrunch article, or at least Germans opposing the service had a vehicle to show their opposition made possible by the head of Hamburg's Data Protection Authority (DPA). In the article, the head of this authority stated that giving people the opportunity to disapprove "diffused the situation and helped Street View gain acceptance." Thus, creating a forum which allows people to voice concerns is sometimes all that is needed.
Engagement for Improved Strategy
As a result, a secondary lesson here for Google and other companies, tech or otherwise, is to engage with the target audience. This practice is seemingly obvious but can get lost in a company's planning if they take a product-centric approach in the design phase or even build-up to the launch without considering the local socio-political climate and culture. By engaging with the target audience, companies can learn customer concerns as well as the aspects of the product they are most excited about. This is usually done in a research fashion utilizing surveys, interviews, and focus groups to gather both qualitative and quantitative data. This information is invaluable and can be immediately used by the company to:
a) improve design and features
b) know where to offer greater explanation or product detail
c) diffuse issues or steer clear of potential road blocks
d) understand what aspects to focus on in marketing for maximum impact
e) learn if a product is even viable in that particular setting
Such a process is similarly important for an SEO company that delivers multi-faceted services to a segment of its target audience: its clients. By first exploring clients' understanding of their own needs, strengths, weaknesses, and goals, among other considerations, the SEO company engages their client to learn more. This dialogue is essential to mutual understanding and being able to deliver exactly what clients need.
This engagement is even more important when SEO companies are delivering services like multilingual SEO in international markets. In such circumstances, it is valuable to understand the context and work out potential issues. The importance of engagement and its impact on business planning, both for SEO services and elsewhere, simply cannot be understated.