Pay attention, marketers: remember Roger & Peppers, evangelizing 1:1 customer relationships back in 1997? Well, just when you finally have your company's customer databases and filtering tools all worked out, and you actually identified that Lego-loving dentist in Taipei and emailed him a personalized offer for a family holiday in Denmark, Google changes the name of the game with a vengeance.

The art of 'Googling' (checking people's backgrounds on the internet via search engine Google) -- which started out as a useful tool for weeding out psychopaths from the online dating game and performing a quick double-check on an applicant's claim about his or her astonishing career -- will soon be an integral part of corporate 1:1 marketing strategies.


With consumers disclosing their most intimate secrets online (voluntarily!), Google has essentially created a 'domestic database', i.e. a world-wide database loaded with your customers' details and profiles, with a depth of information your company's database can only dream of.

So instead of consumers Googling you before they buy your services, you should Google THEM, and instantly get more personal information than you'd ever be able to capture with traditional 1:1 in an entire life-time. TRENDWATCHING.COM has dubbed this emerging trend COUNTER-GOOGLING, and the opportunities are tasty!

A real-life COUNTER-GOOGLING example? The Bel Air Hotel in LA already Googles first-time guests upon arrival, based on their reservation details (name and address), leading to personalized services like assigning guests a room with morning sun if Googling shows the guest enjoys jogging early in the day (source: http://blog.outer-court.com).

Where to start? All you need is a name and some address details, to make sure you're COUNTER-GOOGLING the right customer. Best chance of hitting the data-jackpot? Three million or so bloggers: consumers who keep an Internet diary, revealing to all the world their commercial preferences, daily doings, recent holiday photos, habits and customs, family matters and what have you. And what about millions and millions of online resumes, showing detailed career paths, marital status and 'life and work objectives'? ;-)

OPPORTUNITIES
Sure, putting COUNTER-GOOGLING to work could be seen as a form of spam. It may even feel creepy to some consumers. But as always, honesty will do the trick: if consumers put their entire life stories online, and you as a company candidly refer to this public information AND make them an offer they can't refuse, more sales may be on the way. And bloggers, savvy consumers by nature, will no doubt introduce a 'no unsollicited sales' seal, the moment they grow tired of COUNTER-GOOGLING, making it clear what's off limits and what's fair game. Smart bloggers could even, in a dedicated section of their page or site, list the goods and services they don't mind getting personalized offers for!

On the marketer's side of things, TRENDWATCHING.COM sees a massive opportunity for COUNTER-GOOGLING experts; specialized companies who'll be Googling customers non-stop on behalf of 1:1 marketing-prone corporations like airlines, banks, hotels, e-tailers and car manufacturers. A logical extension for direct marketing companies, who until now have only collect broad socio-demographic data.

How to get started? Ask your sales department for a list of 25 recent first-time customers (names and addresses), start COUNTER-GOOGLING, and be amazed at what you'll find, learn and dream up! Repeat for 25 long-time clients. Then, reap profits ;-)