The paper kind you’d unfold and then were never quite able to fold up perfectly again. (You fellow old farts know what I’m talking about!)
Well, like many things, the paper map has largely been replaced by Google.
On a recent road trip to Colorado, I mainly relied on Alice (our name for the Google Maps Navigation Lady who gives you directions) to get around.
Overall, she did her job really well. But, as it turns out, Alice ain’t perfect.
She let me down on the trip – twice.
And in doing so, she perfectly illustrated the challenge you, in marketing your business online, face these days.
We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, here’s how Alice failed me…
The first time was a morning I got up early to go to Cinnamon’s Bakery. It’s an incredible little place in Estes Park specializing in cinnamon rolls, pecan sticky buns and blueberry muffins.
If you don’t get there early, they’ll likely sell out – yes, they’re THAT good!
Mouth already watering, I sleepily got in the car, plugged Cinnamon’s address into my phone and let Alice take it from there.
But Alice led me astray.
Just before I got to the main strip in the center of Estes Park, Alice had me turn right. Then she had me take a few lefts and, next thing I knew, she dumped me back on the other side of the main strip in town.
I could have just gone straight through town. It was the most direct route. The road was open. There was no traffic at 7:20 in the morning.
But Alice decided to take me on this unnecessary detour, delaying my arrival at Cinnamon’s by a minute or so.
While it did cost me a spot or two in line (which was already out the door!), it was no big whoop. There were still plenty of rolls when I got to the counter.
Soon, gorging myself on warm, doughy, cinnamon-y deliciousness, I didn’t think much more of it.
Now the second time Alice led me astray, it could have been a much bigger deal.
Luckily our little detour to the bakery had me doubting Alice’s choices in life.
Our drive home from Colorado takes 13+ hours in the best of conditions. Before setting out, Alice alerted us that a part of I-70 East (the most direct route by a long shot) was closed in Kansas.
She wanted us to take an alternate route that would have turned our 13+ hour trip into an over 15 HOUR one!
Not wanting to be in the car ANY longer than necessary, we double checked Alice’s suggested route… going to other sources to try to verify the road closure.
Not finding any, we decided to risk it and, ignoring Alice’s advice, took I-70.
As we got closer to where Alice said the “closure” was, she started chirping at us about making a detour. This one would have taken us on the back roads of rural Kansas and added 30+ minutes to our drive.
At this point, we were thinking of renaming her Karen.
But there were no notices on the interstate about a closure up ahead so, once again, we ignored Alice and stayed on I-70.
We trusted our eyes and common sense over the algorithm.
When we finally got to the point of the closure, it turned out Alice was technically right, the highway was “closed” heading eastbound.
But… all that meant was a lane shift of the eastbound traffic into one of the westbound lanes. We flew through it at 65 MPH and got home in our expected 13 hours and change.
If we had just blindly trusted Alice (Google’s algorithm), an already long trip would have been made painfully, and unnecessarily, longer.
Which brings us to the point here…
Google’s algorithms can do amazing things. But they are NOT perfect. Far from it.
When it comes to Google Maps or Google Ads or a whole host of other things…
… you do not want to blindly follow the recommendations, guidance, or suggestions of Google and its algorithms.
Doing so can lead you way off course and, in the case of your business, cost you a lot of time and money you don’t have to lose.
Listen, Google has created some incredibly powerful tools to help businesses in all sorts of ways. These tools (increasingly powered by machine learning and AI) can enable us to get results no human could get on their own.
But you have to approach them the same way we approached Alice’s attempt to lead us astray on our way home…
… by being skeptical, doing your own research and using common sense.
Bottom line here:
Yes, Google’s products and services can help you achieve great things…
…But they can also bleed you dry if you blindly put your trust in their Almighty Algorithms.
(Important side note: While we’re focusing on Google here, this all applies to Fakebook, Microsoft Ads, and a whole host of other ad networks, tools, etc. you may use to market your biz.)
And that, dear reader, brings us to one of the main goals of The Marketing Advocate:
To help you know when to listen to Alice and her AI-friends…
…When to run the other way when you see them coming…
… And when (and how) to find a happy medium. One where you can leverage AI and machine learning but still use your own brain and common sense to optimize your marketing in a way that best suits your needs… not the needs of Big Tech.
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