The Internet is a giant treasure trove of information – some of it erroneous and some of it valuable. Search engines are the card catalog (ask your parents) and the librarians wrapped into one – sifting and categorizing this information to allow users to find the most relevant and valuable responses nearly instantaneously (longer if you’re still on dial-up).
However, like David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust phase, this goes both ways. Knowing what people search for, how they search for it, where they search from and when they search can yield up insights and data that can be of tremendous use to marketers. The best example of this is what I call the HoHeGriS Principle.
HoHeGriS stands for Hoagie, Hero, Grinder or Sub. Some may quibble but these are all essentially the same kind of sandwich with different regionally based names. If you’re marketing one of these things nationally, you might want to make sure you show up for all of these keywords but in different proportions by market to get the best ROI on your sammich campaign. The difference in regional vernacular using Google’s Insights for Search tool is striking:
Keep in mind that I set the category on Food/Beverage to weed out unrelated searches especially for “hero” or “sub.” So clearly Pennsylvania is big on “hoagie” while the rest of the country could care less. On the other hand “sub” is big in several states but absolutely dominates Massachusetts.
Google showed the value in this kind of data mining today with the announcement that they had begun to track searches for flu related queries by location to better understand how outbreaks begin and spread. They’ve even dedicated a page, Google Flu Trends, where the public can see this information.
While Google may not be ready to start a Google Sandwich Trends page, marketers should already be building their own data trendlines to understand the consumers their clients are trying to reach. Before you get too comfortable thinking that your market is homogenous, remember the HoHegriS Principle!