Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google


July 30, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

As the publication date draws near and promotional activity reaches a fevered pitch, I’ve been getting lots of questions about the process of writing a book and my plans for future projects.

I’ve assembled the most frequently asked questions here and, starting on Monday, I’ll address one each day until I cover them all. Please feel free to add more to this list in the comments.

1. What made you want to write a book?
2. How did you land your deal with McGraw-Hill?
3. How did you come up with the idea?
4. Did Google approve this book?
5. How long did it take you to write the book?
6. What was the hardest part about writing the book?
7. Who is the book written for?
8. What others books are similar to yours?
9. Will you write another book?


Google Rap Videos: Gettin’ Googley Wit’ It!

July 28, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

In Chapter 19, I share tips for making your company a great story as a means to stimulate word of mouth. One of the tactics I discuss is the $2 bill strategy inspired by Ian Sohn of Ogilvy.

The basic idea is to stock your cash register with $2 bills and give people a reason to tell others about their experience at your store. This concept has legs well beyond retail though. It’s all about making your brand memorable and worth sharing.

With that in mind, I’ve developed my $2 bill as pictured above. In the center is my alter-ego, The Lyrical G (fka A Katt), who’s known to drop rhymes on a dime — or, in this case, 20 dimes.

Check out this video we shot to promote the book and keep an eye out for a guest appearance at 3:10…

Yes, folks, that’s 100% legit on-the-spot improvisational freestyle after the line about the “cat in the pleather hatter.” And, yes, that Raiders visor is 100% pleather (plastic leather). No, I really don’t know why I own it.

Naturally, we ran a few takes of the rap so that we’d have some options to choose from for the final video. Some of them were so wacky that we just had to create an outtakes file. Here are some highlights from the cutting room floor…

And here’s more of the Goog stuff…

As I hit the circuit to promote my book over the coming months, I plan to bust out a Googley rap at the end of each presentation. To see how I fare, subscribe to the Googely Lessons YouTube Channel, created by Matt Ballek, video marketing rockstar, where we’ll be posting all the live material. (Yes, I realized Googley is misspelled but YT wouldn’t allow a username with Google in it.) And keep an eye on this page for Google rap video related updates.

Update: Looks like we’ve got a bona-fide catch-phrase in “Cash money, baby!” Now all we need is a “Cash money, baby!” baby! Cue my daughter, Eliara…

Do you have a Cash Money Baby?

Film your child, niece, nephew, cousin or random kid at the park saying “Cash money, baby!“ Then upload it to YouTube as a reply to this video or share the link in the comments here and it’ll be featured on my YouTube Channel.

Update #2: More videos about the book and special guest appearances by Tha Lryical G can be found on the Googley Lessons blog tour

Update Oct. 2010: Live from SES Chicago, here’s the full Googley Lessons rap, covering all 20 chapters…

Update Dec. 2010: Here’s another version of the full Googley Lessons Rap with some some twists and turns along the way. Live from Catalyst Ranch

Update March 2011: Taking things to a whole new level with the Ultimate SEO PPC Rap Battle featuring the SEO Rapper vs. me, the PPC MC, culminating live at the Search Insider Summit in Captiva.

Update Nov. 2011:

Here’s a well-”liked” rap to close my presentation at OMS Chicago

Update Apr. 2012:

After getting beat by Chuck in the Ultimate SEO PPC Rap Battle, I decided to set up a battle I couldn’t lose! Here I am as Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg battling Larry Page and Sergey Brin at the end of my ad:tech San Francisco session.

Update June 6, 2012:

Going off after my session at Internet Retailer Conference and Expo:

Update June 22, 2012:

Here’s a little flourish I added to the finish of my presentation at the SIM Partners SIMpoisum:


How I Used Social Media To Get A Book Deal

July 20, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

I shared the back-story of how I landed my book deal with Laurie Sullivan for her column in ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors), “Crowdsourcing Social Media Becomes Ticket to Publishing Contract.”

Here’s the quick and dirty of how it all went down:

  1. Got inspired to pen a Tweet-o-biography — essentially chronicling my life to date, one tweet at a time
  2. Set up a Twitter account @tweetobiography and bought the domain Tweetobiography.com to explain the project and stream the tweets
  3. Began tweeting.
  4. Presented at ad:tech webinar and digital expo and met marketing rep from McGraw Hill Professional at my “booth”
  5. Asked MHP rep if she could get me in touch with an editor to pitch my project
  6. Got connected with editor and pitched Tweetobiography
  7. Politely told by editor that MHP published business books and Tweetobiography would not be a good fit
  8. Got buy-in to come back to editor when I had a more business-friendly book idea
  9. Came up with concept for “Everything I Need to Know About Marketing I Learned From Google”
  10. Published 10 “lessons” in MediaPost Search Insider column
  11. Blogged, tweeted, begged and pleaded for people to click “Like it” on MediaPost column — generated over 150 responses
  12. Set up Twitter account @LearnFromGoogle and bought the domain LearnFromGoogle.com to explain the project and stream the tweets (many of which I included in the book to break up the long-form copy and encourage dialogue pre/post publishing). Note: now I’m using @GoogleyLessons and GoogleyLessons.com.
  13. Circled back with MHP editor who liked idea and asked me to create formal proposal
  14. Published 2 follow-up columns in MediaPost bringing the list of lessons to 20 total
  15. Submitted proposal and received offer
  16. Put Tweetobiography on hold

Here’s my advice for writers looking to get a deal of their own:

  • Build up a loyal fan base via your blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Goal is to add RSS subscribers, followers, friends, and connections. This will show potential publishers that you have an embedded audience and platform for promoting your book.
  • Seed some content into the community (eg, blog post, byline in a relevant trade pub) to generate a groundswell of interest prior to reaching out to publishers. Focus on generating comments, retweets, and other signals of interest. This will show potential publishers that this topic is highly regarded and buzzworthy. Don’t be afraid to flat-out ask people to support your efforts to get published. Publishers want to see that you have the ability to self-promote.
  • Create dialogue with thought-leaders in your category via social media (eg, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) Goal is to get them to name-check you in one of their posts, status updates, tweets, etc. This helps with awareness and credibility.
  • Follow the social media efforts of publishers that you think are a fit. Join their LinkedIn groups, follow them on Twitter, fan them on Facebook. Goal is to get a feel for their style, hot buttons, catalog, etc. Engage them in these environments with dialogue about their current projects, not yours. Show them that you are a fan first, author second. That way, when it’s time to hit them up with your proposal, you’ll know what they’re looking for and they will recognize you as well.
  • Along the same lines, connect via LinkedIn with individuals that work for the publishers you want to approach. Goal is to network your way to editors. This will show that you’re resourceful but, more importantly, hopefully land you a conversation with the right person at the publishing house.
  • Don’t quit social media when you get the book deal. Your job has just begun and social media can help you keep people interested until the book is released. Share interview excerpts, behind the scenes stories and other nuggets that will build up anticipation. Also, create a way for people to sign up to be notified when the book is released and use social media to drive registration.
  • Make it easy for people to share info about your upcoming book (or book-writing efforts if you don’t have a deal yet) by using “Share this” and other social bookmarking tools. Goal is to “go viral” and get people passing along info about your book to friends.


My Googleplex Tour

July 16, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

On March 16th, 2010, I got the “official” Googleplex tour from Sandra Heikkinen and Sarah Tran of Google’s global communications and public affairs team. They were quite gracious with their time and bountiful with their stories. Here’s what I captured…

As you turn off the 101 onto Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View, California, you realize you’re not in Kansas anymore. And you’re certainly not in San Francisco.

Having barely lifted my head from my new Motorola Droid (yes, that’s a Google phone) as I emailed, texted, tweeted, talked and mapped the entire 60 minutes it took me from stepping off the plane at SFO to the AirTran to the rental car to arrive at the Google campus, I didn’t get the subtle transition from the city to the Valley.

So, when I finally I looked up and took it all in, I quickly found myself in a geek’s wet dream. You could just smell the efficiency in the air. (Smells nothing like napalm in the morning but definitely like victory.)

Pulling into the lot at 1098 Alta where I was to meet a Google PR rep, the first thing I noticed was the biker I had to swerve from hitting. Us city-folk aren’t used to sharing the road. Biking seems to be the preferred mode of transportation around here. And check out those flowering trees. That’s another thing you don’t see much in urbanville…

I circled the lot to find a spot where I could park my gas guzzling rental. (Which reminds me, what will the rental car companies do when they can’t profit from the gas underage payments?)

It’s times like these that I wish I was an expecting mom…

I managed to find a visitor’s spot and put the rental in park. I had a few quick business calls to make so I rolled down the windows and let in some of that fresh Mountain View air. It was a beautiful March day. 67 and sunny.

Hopping out of my car to meet my tour guides, Sandra and Sarah, I started to rethink my decision to wear my Google Me shirt. Do they get crap like that all the time? Will they protest my use of their trademark? Will they just think I’m uncool? Whatever.

We started at the famous Building 43 which houses all the big wigs. (As for the small wigs, apparently, salespeople relegated to Crittenden campus.)

Walking into the lobby is a feast for the senses. Just like a Google search results page, there are a plethora of assets vying for your attention.

There’s the Giant Nexus One. The favorite place pins.

And just as quickly as the eyes start racing, the stories start flowing.

There’s the extra doors used as props on windows. (At Google, everything gets use and nothing goes to waste… except maybe Yahoo.)

The eco-friendliness goes deep at Google, with recycled rocks and pebbles on the ground. And all the wood is sustainably-harvested. (Yeah, cuz that’s what I was wondering when I saw those things flapping around up there!)

We pass by conference rooms that look like tents are and are stuffed with recycled denim to make heating and cooling more efficient. I mistook them for makeshift operating rooms where they implant a hatred for Microsoft in your brain.

Sandra rattles off that the Googleplex has almost 10,000 solar panels providing 30% of the electricity needed on campus. I didn’t see any goats mowing the lawns though.

Back in the lobby, a demo was taking place in a multi-screen Google Earth “machine” where you can fly from place to place…

Looking up, you see the SpaceShipOne replica built by Paul Allen and won Ansari X Prize in 2004. Man, these guys accumulate a lot of crap. Apparently, they had to remove the sides of the building to accommodate that bad boy. (Seems like a good use of resources.)

Sarah tells me that someone once left a piano in one of the buildings because they moved out of their apartment and it was too small to hold it. Sure, enough the piano got a lot of use so engineers rigged it up so you could play and listen with headphones.

Here’s the shrine of Chade-Meng Tan, whose official title at Google is Jolly Good Fellow (that nobody can deny). Apparently, he always waited in line for pictures with presidents and other celebs that came to the Googleplex. He hung all the pics in his cube but they moved them to the lobby and now people who visit wait in line for pics with Meng. To date, he’s met with over 100 celebs and rumor is he still keeps in touch with the Dalai Lama. Wonder if he shared the secrets of the algorithm?!?

One thing you can’t ignore is the presence of food… everywhere. There are some 15-ish cafés on campus, each with different themes. Many of them focus on organic foods with products procured locally.

Here’s the No Name Café started by Google’s first chef, Charlie, who  was also the  Grateful Dead’s chef.

It wouldn’t be a dot-com without a pool table. I shudder to think how good these engineers are at calculating the angles and such.

This is outside Building 42 (I think… it’s hard to keep track where you are when your senses are being assailed from every direction).

Basically, life at Google goes: Eat. Work. Play. Repeat.

You really never need to leave…

This place really is one big engineer’s dorm room!

Paintings of the Google doodles are scattered all over…

As are Google Places pins…

Another thing you quickly notice is that there are flyers everywhere prodding Googlers to do things break out of your shell. Or put a solar roof over your head.

Hit a softball. (Because that will come in handy when handling those Q’s from reporters.)

Offer your baby for ground-breaking research. Ga ga google.

And don’t forget the 2nd Birthday of the Google Store (not sure what that is but guessing they don’t sell iPhones).

Join the internationalization team! If only Google Translate were available when the Tower of Babel was being built!

Gotta give them credit for making use of all available space. But what’s with all these tree-killing flyers? Surely, there’s a way to cull all these into an e-newsletter?

Growing herbs for the cafeteria…

Wow, they really do give out everything here. (Hope this doesn’t just spit out underwater options!)

It’s important to stay active when all you do is sit around all day (and night) programming. (Too bad this volleyball court looks like it hasn’t been used in weeks.)

There was some action in the pool, though. Wonder what he’s doing? Google query: “Signs of drowning”

The gym was packed, too, complete with G-Fit trainers and lockers. (“No pictures, please,” I’m told. “Why, is this where they keep the algorithm?” I respond.)

Back outside, the randomness continues.

This is supposedly the largest complete replica of t-rex skeleton. It was found in South Dakota and cast in bronze. As an April fools prank, someone set up pink flamingos that inched closer to the dinosaur each day before ending up in its mouth on 4/1.

Here’s an oversized Android with Nexus One and giant cupcake, donut, and éclair representing first 3 releases — c, d, e. At the time, no-one knew what the 4th would be. My money was on French Crullers. Turned out to be Froyo. Wonder if they’ll go back to the ice cream well for I with It’s It (which is a Googleplex fave).

After about an hour, my cup runneth over. Too many sights for my sore eyes and stories for my saddle bags.

I bid adieu to Sandra and Sarah and plopped down in this Fujiiryoki massage chair and mooched some free wifi for a couple hours.

This was in the lobby of Building 44. Apparently this is where the Android development takes place. I figured that out not by the giant Android standing watch outside but by the guy who kept running around the lobby (and up and down the stairs and up and down the stairs) yelling “ONE!” into his phone. (Geez, if he can’t remember the name of the Google phone, he’s got bigger problems than call reception.)

That reminds me of  another observation I made at the Googleplex. Something is always beeping. You’re never quite sure what is is (and have to wonder if ANYONE is.) Finally, after a full day on campus, I figured out what I was hearing. That, my friends, is the sound of innovation. It also sounds like a high-tech bomb ready to explode. Victory, indeed.


Book Preview in Tech Journal South

by Aaron Goldman

This isn’t an excerpt per se, but I elaborated on 5 marketing lessons learned from Google in Tech Journal South back in February. Have excerpts lined up to run in Visibility Magazine, MediaPost, and others in the hopper. Will post links when they publish.


Google Requests Permission for Take-off with ITA

July 3, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

Google ITA

On Thursday, Google announced it would acquire ITA, a travel software firm, and immediately launched the requisite website pro-actively lobbying to get the deal approved by regulators.

I shared the following POV on the implications of the Google ITA acquisition with Laurie Sullivan of MediaPost for her article, “Google Buys ITA Travel Software Co. For $700 Million Cash, Dings Bing.”

Let’s start with advantages to users, which is always how Google thinks about things. The future of search utility is not in links but in actions. In my book [Chapter 21: Future Proofing, to be exact] I talk about how the future is search-and-act engines or “app-ssistants” like Siri (which Apple bought) that allow you to give instructions rather than submit queries and deliver actions not just links. So for example, if you’re planning a trip you can just tell your app-ssistant, “Chicago to New York for pleasure” and it will fetch you an itinerary with airlines, hotel, car rental, dinner reservations, theater tickets, etc. all based on your saved preferences. In this example, a product like ITA is critical to gathering and organizing much of the data needed to complete the action.

For advertisers, the advantages are a little less obvious. Long-term, search-and-act engines will provide tremendous opportunities to brands that have digitized and distributed their assets [as outlined in Chapter 17: Show Off Your Assets] so app-ssistants can find them and include them in the actions they deliver. Short-term, ITA likely means more traffic to Google and, importantly, more commercial queries that advertisers love because they represent someone ready to buy, read: strong ROI. [More on this in Chapter 4: Mindset Matters.]

For Google, more commercial queries mean more ad revenue. Also, Bing has been playing up its strengths in travel with Farecast integration. This deal should give Google the decided edge and help it retain share.

Image Source: Channel Fever.net

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