Spreadsheets are the backbone of most companies. Entire software stacks are developed and sold in order to address business problems that a regular spreadsheet can solve.
In fact, “unbundling” spreadsheets has been identified as a lucrative opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to launch a new software product. The model is simple: copy one specific feature of spreadsheets, productize it, and sell it for a small monthly fee.
Why does this work, despite how widespread and accessible spreadsheets are? The most logical answer would be simply because we don’t know how to use them to their fullest potential. If we did, we certainly wouldn’t pay for them, one feature at a time.
In any industry, of any size, there exists a need that only the capability of a spreadsheet can fulfill. But rather than take the time to learn and hone in how they can be operated in a way to do so, we tend to go for the solution that has a shiny UI and tailored messaging that naturally appeals to our senses.
Spreadsheets are all you need. Google Sheets, specifically. Excel was a great introduction for most of us into the wonderful world of sheets, but Google has swooped in and taken the baton further than Excel ever could. The reasons for this are many, but include:
Microsoft Excel is (as of this writing) is $160. Google Sheets is free. Unless Excel has some unique feature or formula that saves you thousands of dollars in time and productivity, there is no sane reason why someone would pay a significant amount of cash for something they could get for free.
The cloud changed everything. There is no longer the need to buy two versions of Excel, or attach the latest spreadsheet and email it to yourself in case you want to work on it while you’re not at home or work. The convenience of an online environment which can be accessed and edited from anywhere in the world is perhaps the most attractive aspect of Sheets.
Like plugins to WordPress and software updates for iPhones, Google Sheets features extensions which allow you to power up its capabilities beyond what we can imagine. With free (and paid) Addons, as well as Macros and Scripts, it simply blows Excel out of the water with possibilities.
Google Sheets is to marketers what Affinity/Adobe is to designers. It is our default tool of choice, one we’d be lost without. That’s why to be taken seriously as a marketer, you need to master it.
There’s more to learn in Sheets than there is in third party SEO or PPC software. They are great options too, but the fundamentals are rooted in data analysis and operations that Sheets is so well versed in. Airtable may be an up and coming contender, but I don’t ever see it (or AI tools like it) surpassing the practicality of a modern day spreadsheet app like Sheets.
Courses are great. So are some books. But the best way to learn it is to practice. You’ll be surprised where it can take you.