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Sometimes we forget what really matters.

We forget that the primary job of marketing is to elicit a strong reaction for our brand, products and services.

Customers don't care how cool YOU think your products are, only how cool THEY think your products are!

The landscape is littered with dinosaurs who thought their products were great (and in fact they might have been) but nobody cared because their marketing and connection with their target audience was not executed properly.

Much to my surprise, a simple thermostat (really, a thermostat!) has reminded me of exactly why we cannot forget the core tenets of marketing, branding and connecting with our customers on a deep and emotional level -- call it Marketing 101.

Let's Talk Thermostats and Internet Marketing -- No Really!

By now you've probably seen or heard about the new Nest Learning Thermostat.

It's sleek, clean, beautiful to look at, and invokes a sense of wonder at the possibilities -- if a simple thermostat can be this cool, what else in your house can be turned into a functional work of art?

But the design, function and launch strategy of the Nest "smart" thermostat -- founded by Tony Fadell, designer of the iPod -- works on many different levels that we can and should be using within our own Internet marketing and business strategies constantly.

In a great article by Wired Magazine, Fadell explains his concept for the thermostat:

Untold tons of carbon were being pumped into the air, with people losing billions of dollars in energy costs, all because there was no easy, automatic way to control the temperature. But what if you could apply all the skills and brilliance of Silicon Valley to produce a thermostat that was smart, thrifty and so delightful that saving energy was as much fun as shuffling an iTunes playlist?

From the article about how the Nest Learning Thermostat works:

The Nest is the iPod of thermostats. A simple loop of brushed stainless steel encases a chassis of reflective polymer, which encircles a crisp color digital display. Artificial intelligence figures out when to turn down the heat and when to jack up the air conditioning, so that you don’t waste money and perturb the ozone when no one is home, or when you’re asleep upstairs. You can communicate with the Nest from your smartphone, tablet or web browser.

online-marketing-lessonsThe Most Powerful Lesson In Marketing

At the heart of Nest is a set of core values passed down by the founders that dictates not only the entire direction of product development, but also influences their entire marketing campaign and website design strategy.

What I want to do is focus on these core values for 2 important reasons:

1) The top down strategy, execution and value system has created an amazing product out of what used to be an afterthought

2) These same core values are a very important part of why Nest has so far been extremely successful in their marketing

As a result of these core values and an amazing product, Nest thermostats have sold out quickly (you now have to wait till next year to get one!) even though they were being sold for $249 a pop -- with installation costing $119!

Imagine that: Creating buzz for a product that is arguably not a necessity but a luxury.

Here's a quote from the company's own blog, by the VP of engineering Matt Rogers:

We’ve worked for a year and a half to create The Nest Learning Thermostat. It’s the culmination of all we care about -- cutting waste, creating technology that makes a difference, solving a daily frustration -- and everything we’ve learned:

  • Invest a ton in design.
  • Sweat even the smallest details.
  • Never compromise when it comes to the customer experience.
  • Push technology further than anyone thinks it will go.

Takeaway #1: Start With Your Passion - Create Amazing Products & Services

It all begins with the underlying company values, strategy and objectives handed down by leadership.

I believe it starts with an underlying passion for something -- whether to change the world, enlighten, entertain, serve, solve a problem or frustration, etc.

For example when designing the Biquitous website, I thought long and hard about what I stood for, what types of clients I wanted to work with (not the other way around!) and how I could explain what we did in an emotional way that would immediately resonate with my target client.

For me, it wasn't just about SEO, website design or Internet marketing -- it was much deeper than that.

It was about becoming true partners with the companies we worked with and creating long lasting and collaborative relationships that would last for years.

Every aspect of our Internet strategy, ad copy, videos and web design always took these values and message into account.

Nest did the same thing when creating a revolutionary thermostat that "speaks" to their target audience.

In fact, looking at the Nest thermostat, you can see the loving attention to detail and the company's core values in every square inch of the brushed metal surface and user-friendly functionality.

The simple takeaway is to create a company/product/service that you yourself would use -- and believe in -- and deliver it exactly the way you would want it delivered.

Takeaway #2: Execute That Same Vision In Your Entire Marketing Strategy

internet-marketing-takeawaysNow that you've got an amazing product that you firmly believe in, take those same core values and extend them to your marketing efforts to elicit passion and desire within your target audience.

Let's look at the bullet points from Matt Roger's blog post to bring the point home and apply them directly to your own company and specifically your online presence:

  • Invest a ton in design: For most business leaders this usually means making sure that 3 critical areas of your Internet presence are taken care of: Strategy, Execution and Results.

In other words, you need to "invest a ton in design" to ensure that your website looks fantastic, attracts your target audience, elicits passion within your customers and converts visitors into sales.

Let's not kid ourselves, the #1 reason why the Nest thermostat is sold out is because it looks cool and there's nothing like it on the market, not because of its other features, which are also fantastic.

If you get customers to inquire about or purchase your products or services because your marketing/branding/website were deemed "cool", interesting, or they addressed a direct frustration, then you've done your job.

  • Sweat even the smallest details: This is very important for Internet marketers and business leaders as a whole.

You simply cannot afford to have simple things fall through the cracks and diminish the "gut" feeling a potential client has when they visit your website because your contact form doesn't work, you have broken links, your spelling or grammar is incorrect, or some other "detail" simply wasn't done right.

Testing and refinement are CRITICAL to an overall polished and congruent experience for your target audience.

It's worth the extra money to hire a site tester, proof reader or copy editor and have someone obsess over the tiniest details that could diminish your brand in any way.

Remember this saying as you navigate these sometimes treacherous waters:

The easier something is to use, the harder it was to create.

The opposite also holds true, and people will notice.


  • Never compromise when it comes to the customer experience: This represents the biggest conundrum for marketers.

With deadlines as well as customer and management expectations, how do you balance launching a product or service with making sure that the customer experience is as polished as possible?

Part of eliciting passion when someone interacts with your product or service revolves around the little details that add up to a monumental experience.

Each incremental detail encompasses and entire perception: a slow loading web page, a difficult to use form, strange colors that don't mesh well together, etc.

Taken alone, they aren't that big of a deal, but together represent essential shortcomings in your Internet marketing strategy and tell a subtle tale about the type of company you operate  and what will be tolerated.

When someone visits your website or sees your product or service, you'll likely get only one chance to make an immediate and lasting impression.

When you see the Nest thermostat or visit the Nest website, that impression is of the highest caliber.

  • marketing-to-serve-the-customerPush technology further than anyone thinks it will go: As a leader within your organization, it is your singular duty to utilize the latest technologies and best practices to not only increase your company's bottom line, but to also serve your customers in ways they've never thought possible.

Nest does this by aligning their website to your Nest thermostat so that you can check in and see how it is being used and what days you used less energy than anticipated.

In addition, Nest has an app that allows you to synch with your Nest thermostat automatically to your smartphone through Wi-Fi while also allowing you to adjust the temperature remotely.

Are you missing out on ways you can streamline your customer experience, deliver more value to your target audience and wow current and future customers by offering a product or service in ways they've rarely if ever been offered before?

What about extracting further value from what you are already doing through continuing education and studying the greats not only in your industry, but others as well?

Are you using the latest in video, social media, SEO, landing page optimization strategies or other initiatives to constantly improve your message to your target audience and always ensure you are delivering that message in ways they want to receive it?

Bottom Line:

There are so many bad examples of what NOT to do when it comes to marketing in general, and the Internet in particular, that I wanted to focus on the stuff that Nest does right so that we can apply it to our own Internet and business marketing strategies.

It starts at the top with a passion and commitment to excellence for what you do as a brand that then extends to every piece of your marketing efforts.

People know when they're being duped -- they can smell it a mile away.

When all is said and done, the purpose of marketing is to elicit passion to get your target audience to take action -- whatever action that might be.

The most successful marketing strategies align a company's internal core values with the very best marketing initiatives to bring that message to their audience in a clean, authentic and passionate way that resonates on a gut level with their customers and clients.

Who would have thought that a simple thermostat could teach us so much about how to market on the Internet?