Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

McGraw-Hill: Got Googley?

September 30, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

This week I visited the offices of McGraw-Hill Professional in Manhattan.

It was my first time meeting Gaya (right) and Julia (left) from the MHP marketing and PR team. (Although after a rigorous blog tour and lots of other promotional activity, I felt like I’d known them forever.)

When I first walked into the lobby and saw all the books proudly displayed, my first thought was how great it was to be in such good company. My second thought was, “Hey, where the hell is MY book?!?”

As it turns out, Gaya told me, my book has been a hot commodity so the fact that it wasn’t in the lobby meant it had been swiped by an employee or guest. That was a good sign, I was reassured.

Gaya, Julia, and I chatted for over an hour about our marketing and PR efforts to date and what else we could do to keep the momentum going. Here were some of the ideas we hatched:

  • Send out emails to targeted companies offering a 1 hour customized on-site presentation with an order of 50+ books
  • Webinars on topics like digital marketing trends and translating SEO skills to the broader marketing mix
  • Buy a book, send in the receipt at SASE and get a custom signed sticker to place on it
  • Team up with other authors on a holiday package book bundle

So far, I’ve been very impressed by the creativity and dedication of the MHP team. What do you think of the promotion we’ve done for the book? What else would you do if you were in our shoes? Help me demonstrate the lesson of chapter 2 and tap the wisdom of the crowds here!


Sealed with a Kiss

August 18, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

As part of my contract with McGraw-Hill, I was given 15 author’s copies of the book a week before it hit stores.

As you can imagine, I was very excited when they arrived — not because I wanted to read it (believe me, 5 times is enough even if none were the final final version). Rather, I was excited to share my masterpiece with my closest friends, family, and colleagues.

Of course, the problem is I have more than 15 close friends, family, and colleagues. So, how did I choose? Well, I’d like to say there was some science to it but I really just went with whoever was in front of my face.

My wife, Lisa (for whom the book is dedicated, along with my daughter, Eliara) got the first copy. (And, truth is, she would’ve gotten the first copy even if she wasn’t home when they arrived.)

Next on my list was my mom and dad who came over the next day. (Don’t worry, Mom and Dad Neiman… you’re on the short list as soon as I get another batch!)

Then I gave signed copies to each of my 3 office mates.

Next up were Rishad Tobaccowala and Brian Morrissey, who were both kind enough to endorse the book.

Then I took care of Matt Spiegel and Dave Gould — 2 of my close pals and business mentors. (Lance, sorry bud, not being in Chicago short-changed you here. Hang tight ’til I get my hands on more! Ditto Kappy! And Iceman. As for my man, Tony, although I can’t play the non-local card, Arlington Heights is practically another state! C$ and Benny, no excuse fellas.)

I signed one  ”Dear Connectual office visitor” and left it on the coffee table.

I kept one copy for myself and have it proudly displayed on my desk.

I sent one to someone I have a lot of respect for but will have to remain unnamed for now as I’m currently talking with him about a business venture and not ready to announce anything.

I gave one to Joe Kutchera who stopped by my office today and has been a big supporter to date. (By the way, Joe’s book, Latino Link, comes out next month.)

I’ve got one signed and ready to give my buddy Vlad Radutny from Studio IDE (excellent architectural and design resource if you need one) this Saturday at his birthday dinner. (He texted me to say all he wanted me to bring was a signed copy. Seriously? No Vodka?!?)

And the final copy is going out to Janel Laravie of Chacka Marketing. I’ve known Janel quite a while and she was one of the many industry luminaries (each of whom will be receiving a signed copy, mind you, as soon as I get my next batch) kind enough to share their wisdom in the form of interviews while I was working on my manuscript.

Even though Janel had a signed copy coming her way anyway, as it turned out, she was the winner of my first random drawing for a free signed copy as part of the commitment I made to my @GoogleyLessons Twitter followers. For every 100 followers I get, I’ll be picking one at random from the entire list to receive a signed copy. So, if you haven’t already, start following. The sooner you follow, the more potential drawings you’ll be included in!

Besides deciding who the author’s copies should go to, the hardest part has been figuring out what to write in the inscriptions. And here I thought writing the book was hard. Sheesh!

Thankfully, Janel made it easy for me, specifying that she wanted hers sealed with a kiss. Note: both Janel and I are happily married (to other people) so there’s nothing to read into this. Just having a laugh.

Janel’s other request was to take pics of the signing and sealing in action. And these were just too good not to share…


Hot Off The Press!

August 10, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

Got my authors copies last night! The rest are en route to booksellers as we speak. Looks like Amazon will be delivering between 8/26 and 8/30. Get ready to get Googley!


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.


Where the Magic Happened…

June 14, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

For my first post, I thought I’d give a behind the scenes tour of the cribs I holed up in while working on my manuscript.

This was my desk at Resolution Media. I got the boot from my office in early ’09 when I stopped working at the firm full-time and moved into a consultant role. So I nabbed this quaint corner cube. I spent the week between Christmas and New Years here cranking away on Chapters 1-10. The agency was closed during that time so I was able to write uninterrupted. This desk now belongs to one Stacie Susens and that’s her decor you’re seeing adorning the cube. I didn’t think to take a picture of my set-up there before moving out. Needless to say, I didn’t keep it nearly as tidy as Ms. Susens.

This is my desk at Elevate Studios in Chicago. I moved into this office in February and wrote chapters 11-20 here. Check out my nifty exercise ball chair. It’s supposed to make you buff while you work. That’s if used correctly, though. I tend to do a lot of bouncing (much to the chagrin of the Elevater’s) and slouching. I also did a lot of pacing and loud keyboard clacking. (I use my entire left hand to type but only the index finger on my right. Don’t ask why… I did have a computer in elementary school but always cheated and looked at the keyboard during the typing tests.) Note the Jimmy Johns menu affixed to the bulletin board. As mentioned in the Acknowledgements, that was my go-to spot for eats but I really never varied from the #14 so not sure why I needed the menu.

I spent way too much time during my family vacation in Cancun the 2nd week in March working on this book. Although, I must say, this was by far the most inspiring place to write. Too bad I was writing about marketing and not more heady topics. Chapter 21 was hatched here and I did some serious tweaking to Chapters 1-20 during this trip. I was only able to make use of the balcony for a few hours each day because they’d start pumping the bass for aquatics exercise class around noon and keep the festivities rolling through bingo and on into happy hour. So I found a nice quiet spot in one of the restaurants where I could hole up and write undisturbed. That view was not much to speak of, though. Although the queso was pretty good looking.

This was me on the “thinking couch” at Elevate the day my manuscript was due. I printed out all 350 pages, curled up witha red pen and went to town with my “final” edits. (Yes, I had more than one Coke that day.) Somehow I managed to get the manuscript completed and off to my editors at 12:08 on April 1st, missing my deadline by only 8 minutes. Fortunately, McGraw-Hill didn’t give me much flack for being late. The book is currently going through the editing stages before being sent to layout and production. Release date is set for August 27th. Oh, and did I mention it’s now available for pre-order?!

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