Does Google’s Primer App Have SMB Relevance?

In October last year Google released an app called Primer which was developed as a tool for startups, particularly Google’s ad-tech products, to learn the fundamentals of marketing through mini-marketing lessons.  Primer released some updates about a week ago and it appears that the strategy for the tool has evolved to include a broader target audience.

The app offers marketing lessons developed by Google marketers on a variety of topics. Lessons unfold via a series of “cards” that the user swipes through and also features interactive activities like quizzes. Some of the info captured from these lessons is then turned into a list of personalized “next steps” as they relate to a particular lesson.

In the FAQ section of the Primer site, the target audience is defined as “anyone looking to learn more about marketing – from startup founders to small business owners to brand managers at Fortune 500 companies.” The broad reach, but particularly the small business angle is interesting.

After an admittedly brief exposure to the app (three completed lessons), the SMB application remains a question mark for me. Part of my hesitation comes from the subject matter found in the lessons currently available on the app. Featured lessons include:

  • Create Content Themes That Match Your Values
  • Identify Customers’ Needs to Create Better Solutions
  • Create a High Quality, High Ranking Search Ad
  • Design Your Mobile Site to Be Customer-Friendly
  • Short, Sweet & Powerful: Crafting Creative Briefs

While useful and interesting topics, about half of sole proprietors don’t even have a website, suggesting that many SMBs still need even more fundamental “how-to” content and education. And these “super-small” businesses represent the majority of all SMBs with the US Small Business Administration (SBA) saying there are about 21 million sole proprietors in the US.

On the other hand, as a member of the marketing community, I find the app to be really useful, engaging and informative. I recently went through the “Short, Sweet & Powerful: Crafting Creative Briefs” lesson which explained why creative briefs are important and how to develop one. The bite-sized pieces made for a great user experience and I left the lesson feeling more informed and confident.

Google’s angle with the app appears to be, in part, data acquisition. A quiz I took in the lesson asked what pieces of my creative brief I knew and what I still needed to figure out. This kind of insight into one’s marketing efforts gives Google an intimate look into a marketer’s needs, highlighting the opportunity for improvement.

As it relates to SMBs, given the fact that many are spending more time on marketing but not necessarily more money, topics like those listed above may be slightly more advanced or nuanced than the majority of SMBs are looking for. For example, at our LSA Bootcamp series we are seeing most interest in fundamentals around email marketing, Facebook and search engine optimization (SEO).

As a marketer I found these lessons useful and engaging and a good use of idle time. However, the SMB use case appears to need some further development. But what do you think? Have you used the app? And if so, do you think SMBs, including sole proprietors, would find Primer useful/relevant?

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