Brian Despain: The DiscoveryThere has been a lot of great conversation about the discovery vs. search and the challenges that discovery creates. Discovery in regards to search is exactly what you would think it is. Search is looking and finding something specific while discovery is an unexpected find. People do this all the time when surfing the web. They start with a goal in mind and then end up at Zombo (make sure the volume is turned up).

Gerry Bavaro recently posted about the challenges of finding conversions in a discovery oriented world, and as I’ve talked about in the past; it would be wise to expand our concept of conversions. This is not some soft method that allows us fail to convert potential customers into active customers. It’s more representative of current nature between marketers and customers.

I’ve also been talking about businesses building their corporate social graph in order to maximize the opportunity for discovery through recommendation. What I am excited about is the concept and application of mobile discovery. Google just released an application “labeled” LCB that some consider mobile discovery or better yet searchless searching. It allows someone to easily drill down to find what they are looking for within the confines of a mobile device. This is not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about people discovering products, services & places randomly or based on recommendations made by their peers when they are physically within range of these products, services and/or places. When this information is distributed by a business it is known as location based services. For me discovery is more of a social function (or at least it should be) with peers making recommendations or the “A HA!” moment. For example:

A friend sees a book they think you might like. They pull out their mobile phone and place a marker in that location. The marker is comprised of exact physical location (floor, aisle, section, SKU, price, etc) and a description of the book. (Mobile phone should actually scan the SKU to make it easy and that’s another post.) They then save the marker as it relates to one of their friends. (Hopefully, this friend is participating in personalized marketing.) The friend is sent an alert with the information and a notation on their mobile map. (Obviously they have the right to accept/reject the recommendation.) Once that person is within a certain physical proximity to the book store/book, an alert comes up asking them if they would like directions to get to the book.

This type of discovery is indirect and utilizes a friend’s knowledge to help someone find a product they would like. It is just to easy to imagine that someone would peruse the recommendations made by a certain social networking group on Google Maps (or eventually Google Earth) to find something worthwhile. This is already happening. Lightpole is a geotargeting company with similar functionality.

The question for marketers; What kind of tools do we create to allow for others to discover us?