Google Fiber: 4 Hot New Startup Tips by a Not-So-New Company

As they say, if you want to succeed, fail often.

However another strategy works even better:  Learn from the failure of others.

Sounds simple in theory, but how exactly do you get first hand knowledge of other people’s failures?

Most people/companies keep their failures private and don’t blog or post them on Facebook for all to see.

For me, the simple trick I use in discovering how to benefit from the failure of others is to examine what the successful ARE DOING versus what they ARE NOT DOING.

In other words, examine the most successful companies (or people) and reverse engineer their public tactics.

Dig into their strategy, their marketing copy, and their products.  Find out what they’re doing because if they’re doing it, you’re most likely exposing weeks, months, or years of their trial-and-error, or trial-and-failure.

You effectively, are leveraging their failures.

So when it comes to the internet, wouldn’t it make sense to examine the strategy tactics of one of history’s most successful internet companies… Google?

For example, Google recently announced it’s “Google Fiber” service — a high speed internet service that is sure to rival your local cable or satellite provider.

In its offering, I reconfirmed 4 Fastlane startup tips for new companies — for some of you — they will be new.

Google Fiber, available only in Kansas City, caught my interest on a multitude of Fastlane fronts. I spent about 15 minutes examining the whole offering.

If we reverse engineer the offering and put it into actionable items for a Fastlane process, here is what you get.

1) The Offer

The default page for the offer (About Us) is benefit driven. In fact, it is overloaded with benefits: No more waiting, tons of HD channels, huge recording ability, and more. The OFFER specifically explains WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU — it lays out the value and translates features into benefits.

For example…

The feature: 1000MB per second

The benefit: No more waiting, get what you want instantaneously!

Google does the leg work and tells you EXACTLY WHY this is important by translating the feature to a benefit.

REFLECTION: Is your offering laid out in clear, easy to read benefits? Are you telling your potential customers exactly WHY THEY NEED YOU? Or are you overworking your users with technical, numerical jargon that requires translation? No one cares that your internet connection is 1000MB fast — people do care that the latest Lady Gaga song can be downloaded in 1/4 of a second.

2) The Value

On the plans and pricing page, it outlines THE VALUE by giving you 3 easy options. It took me about 6 seconds to calculate that Google Fiber is an incredible value and would save me probably $100/mo for 10X the service.

In other words, I WANT IT.  (Note to gurus: I don’t care if Google Fiber’s management is “doing what they love” – NEED and DEMAND don’t care.)

The value proposition to me, the consumer, is a home run.

REFLECTION: Is your value proposition to the consumer, a home run? Or a duck snort just over the shortstop for a single?   Exceptional value propositions are driven by exceptional products.

3) The Confirmation of Demand

To get the Fiber service in your neighborhood, Google asks you to pre-register by completing a simple form AND by paying a $10, pre-registration fee.

They explain with this:

We’re building our Google Fiber network by demand—fiberhoods that meet their pre-registration goal will get Fiber service.  The $10 pre-registration fee is an advance payment towards your first bill. If your fiberhood doesn’t qualify by September 9, we will refund the money. However, if you pre-register and you decide that you don’t want Google Fiber after your fiberhood qualifies, you won’t get your money back.

I was surprised about the $10 fee but it does something remarkable: It tells Google that people are serious.

Many times, entrepreneurs launch a product or service and everyone says “That’s AWESOME!” or “What a great idea!” but when it comes down to opening up their wallet and PAYING for it, no one does.

Google is confirming demand FIRST before allocating investment dollars to a particular city.

For example, in this article by Startup America, a seasoned entrepreneur exclaims that

“There is a big difference between prospects who say ‘I love what you’re doing’ and those who say ‘I love what you’re doing and here’s my credit card.”

By taking a $10 registration fee, Google is CONFIRMING the demand.

Understand this: A customer who says they’d buy your product and a customer who says they’d buy your product AND give you a credit card are two totally different customer segments.

REFLECTION: If you’re in launch phase of your product or service, have you CONFIRMED demand by lining up PAYING customers who have come to the point of departure with their ca$h? Or are your customers just apparitions: friends and family who’ve graciously served you up with some positive platitudes … “Great idea Bill!” … “Awesome!” … positive platitudes don’t pay bills.

4) Spreading the Word

In order to benefit from Google Fiber, you need to get your city lined up. Google spearheads the movement by telling potential customers to “rally your neighbors.” If enough interest is generated, Google will invest $ into your city.

• Your fiberhood needs to reach its pre-registration goal in order to qualify for Fiber, so encourage your neighbors to pre-register too.

• Once your fiberhood qualifies, continue to rally your neighbors. The order of construction within your city will be determined by pre-registration rankings on September 9th.

All this “rallying” by you; sharing on Twitter/FB, URL linking, etc, is FREE advertising for Google. They receive free publicity, spread the word, and receive priceless feedback regarding demand.  Will Fiber catch on?  Will Fiber be advertised on it’s competition’s website?

Ha ha, well,  it already has… as seen here on the front page of Yahoo.

REFLECTION: Is your product, or value proposition, good enough that it would compel you to tell your neighbors?  Facebook shareable?  Tweetable?

To conclude, learning is not just about experience and the experience of failure, but about observation.

Examine those who have succeeded, and are succeeding.

What are they doing?

Not doing?

Speed up your own success by reverse engineering the learning curves of those who are already successful.

Good luck and onward…








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  • Chris

    I’ve just added the “CONFIRMING the the demand” part to my fastlane process. Before i was going to be base it on “opt ins” or “demand based on interest” but actually confirming the demand is a much more concrete way of doing it. THANKS Mj.

    • When I presold my books, I didn’t ask for a deposit.  When it came down to release (and “click here to buy”) — about 1/2 didn’t follow through.   There is demand, and confirmed demand. =)

      • Even better, what do you think about this (forget the deposit) test demand by having a buy button – if someone is clicking on the buy button – most likely they want to buy (at least 90% of the time) Thus pretty good indication of real demand. Maybe you might get a couple people who click for the sake of clicking but if you get a pretty decent sample size i wouldn’t see why this wouldn’t be a indicator of ‘accurate’ demand. Not people who just say they will buy the product. 

  • I can see the same trend of “I love what you’re doing” and ”
    I love what you’re doing and here’s my credit card” on my site where I have a signup form for a free website analysis.

    Almost none of those who signup are really interested in paying for improvements once the analysis is done. I’m going to start charging for it to filter out the less serious people and increase the perceived value of my services, and add some case studies to show that I can walk the walk.

    •  Henrik, are the leads worth anything?  Sometimes the FREE lead could turn to a paying customer after several exposures.  Just make sure you aren’t killing your lead supply.  I’d rather have 20 leads from the free website analysis, than none.

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  • Regardless of Google’s tactic, which is awesome, I don’t know if I’m seeing a presell trend now that I’m interested in business or it has always been like this.
    I’m from Spain and I’m seeing a lot of authors lately, mostly internet-based, preselling their books, something they never did before. It is indeed an awesome idea, in some cases adding some extra value like “follow the writing process”, “get direct access to me”, etc.

  • Jamie Wolf

    As always, I love your practical and dead-on advice. I keep pushing your book on my twitter followers and friends. I write biz articles for my local paper and will definitely paraphrase you on this one! In fact, I’ve got a book coming out soon and mention you and your book in it! Just now I noticed one of your other posts where you note  you didn’t charge when you pre-sold your advice. I can see that’s something I need to learn from as I’m just starting to pre-sell mine! Thanks, MJ – I’m a big fan!

    •  Thanks, appreciate ya spreading the word.  :)

  • This post is highlighting the effect of G fiber. MJ you break it down again. Understanding it from the post on those key points.

  • My favorite distinction you laid out here how ballsy/smart/counter intuitive it was for Google to ask people to demonstrate their commitment to this venture.

    I know this tactic would scare the hell out of 95% of any business owners or corporate boards. They’d rather avoid taking the chance of being rejected and let themselves feel like they had accomplished something with the almost worthless platitudes that rolled in from a survey group who was polled on their concept.

    There’s one thing I would highly advise though relative to the following piece of advice given above . . .

    “In other words, examine the most successful companies (or people) and reverse engineer their public tactics.”

    . . . and that is to make sure that when you’re paying attention to these companies marketing, make sure they’re smart direct marketers before you follow suit. Some businesses blow money on advertising and marketing without even thinking twice. They’ve grown so big and they set budget X amount to be spent on this every year and whether their campaigns win, lose, or draw they blow the whole wad.

    The smart marketers in your industry insist that their marketing and advertising pay for itself (brings in enough leads or customers to break even or otherwise justify the expense based on them knowing the math of what the lifetime value of a customer to them is and how much they can spend to get a lead and how much it costs to get a customer) and if it doesn’t, it’s gone. If it doesn’t adhere to direct response marketing 101 principles, it’s axed before it even hits the street. And be very impressed if you find that they test their ads often.

    But even smart marketers are guilty of working to deceive their competitors who blatantly copy their ads by running an ad they know isn’t effective to try to teach them a lesson. The lesson we can learn is that if you’re going to emulate an ad, you want to make sure you’ve seen it run multiple times and preferably in multiple places over a span of months – not days.

    So when it comes to advertising, reverse engineering out to be thought of as methodical reconnaissance or a stake out where the evidence gathered builds a rock solid case for following in their footsteps.

    And for the most part, if you study big dumb corporations who run “Brand Awareness” campaigns because they have more ego and money than brains, that you’ll come to the conclusion they don’t play with they don’t play in the same league as the lean and mean entrepreneur has to if they want to survive and thrive.

    Corporations like Apple have so much money rolling in from the momentum they’ve built up over the years, that they can afford for their ads to not ask for a response. If their marketing is good, they’re gonna money. If their ads suck moose cock, they’re gonna make money.

    All of that to say, beware the savvy of the business’s marketing/advertising and the level they play at before you model their behavior.

  • Kevin

    Great article MJ!

    • All Article are great :P

  • Ibnu Hajar Ulinnuha

    MJ, i wonder how to make our potential user commit, if credit card is not our natural habit yet, In Indonesia, debit card are more common than credit card

  • Catherine

    Great article! Thanks MJ