Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

FAQ #9: Will You Write Another Book?

August 12, 2010 by Aaron Goldman


I’d imagine writing a book is much like completing that other item on my bucket list — running a marathon. It’s an incredibly exhausting process but exhilarating at the same time and crossing the finish line not only feels great, it makes you want to do it again… someday.

I will write another book. Someday.

I have what I think is a very strong concept. It will definitely be more of a “consumer-friendly” book rather than a business book so I can relate my ideas to a broader audience (ie, I want to write something that my mom would actually want to read.)

My next book will also be Google related. After all, it’s what I know best. I’ll save the details for a later time though as I want to flesh them out further and make sure no-one steals my ideas before I’m far enough down the line that I can’t be beaten to market.

Note: this post is part of a series. For more, see the full list of FAQs.


FAQ #8: What Other Books Are Similar to Yours?

August 11, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

I have yet to come across any books that outline general marketing lessons learned from Google so I believe my book stands alone for this niche topic.

However, there are a number of books that successfully cover Google, marketing, and related themes. Below is the response I included in my book proposal when McGraw-Hill asked me for the following:

List 3-4 competing books (preferably books which have been bestsellers or have been highly visible/influential in your content area) and positively distinguish your book. How is your book outstanding and unique, from both an editorial and a marketing perspective? If there are no direct competitors, cite the books that come closest.

1. What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis

This book spells out new rules for operating in a Google world. My book will focus solely on marketing lessons rather than general business insights. And my book will be less about Google and more about companies that are applying lessons learned from Google. Also, by interspersing tweets and encouraging ongoing dialogue via Twitter, my book will be less static, more dynamic, and appeal to people that don’t have the attention span to read long-form text.

2. The Search by John Battelle

This book is about the history of Google and importance of search. My book is less about search and more about principles of search that can be applied to all marketing tactics. But I will draw from what John did most successfully which was intertwine interviews with top Google brass and other industry pundits to weave the story together and make it more compelling.

3. Small is the New Big by Seth Godin

While this book is not about Google or search, it is about marketing. And it’s written in a style I’ll emulate in terms of quick, punchy copy and thought-provoking, often contrarian, sound-bytes. Further, the “Small is the New Big” point-of-view speaks to the changing paradigm in marketing that I’ll be highlighting in my book. The main difference is that I’ll demonstrate the new world order by focusing specifically on lessons learned from Google referencing the occasional tweet as opposed to Seth’s lessons culled from a wide (dare I say, wandering) swath of insights and experiences hashed out in blog posts.

Note: I realize what I wrote is a bit brash but please keep in mind that I wrote this to sell McGraw-Hill on making me an offer. I can only hope that my readers will consider my book to be in the same ballpark as those written by Jarvis, Battelle, and Godin.

‘Nother Note: this post is part of a series. For more, see the full list of FAQs.


FAQ #7: Who Is the Book Written For?

August 10, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

As with FAQ #1, I’ll just copy and paste from the proposal I sent to McGraw-Hill as they were keen to know the answer before green-lighting the project…

Anyone with a stake in marketing, from small business owners to CEO’s of Fortune 500 corporations, will want to buy this book. That said, the sweet spot will be marketing professionals responsible for advertising, PR, promotions, product development, etc. These folks are either “client-side” working at in-house marketing departments or “agency-side” at marketing communications firms. A subset of this group that will be particularly interested in buying this book is search engine marketing professionals looking to apply their skills to the broader marketing mix.

Note: this post is part of a series. For more, see the full list of FAQs.


FAQ #6: What Was the Hardest Part About Writing the Book?

August 9, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

It wasn’t too hard coming up with the topic. As discussed in FAQ #3, it just sort of came to me.

And it wasn’t too hard getting my thoughts on paper. When I sat down to write, the copy flowed pretty freely.

Far and away, the hardest part about writing this book was doing the research and coordinating interviews with key industry professionals.

I knew that no-one would want to read 300+ pages of what Aaron Goldman thinks about Google and marketing. Rather, to make this book truly compelling, I’d need to offer up a comprehensive point-of-view shared by the most thoughtful and influential folks in the marketing world.

As you can image, the most thoughtful and influential folks in the marketing world are also the busiest folks in just about all the world. Trying to coordinate interviews around their schedules proved to be a most tedious and arduous task.

In some cases, I wasn’t able to get the information I needed until weeks or months after I had written the chapter into which the material would be inserted. This made things difficult for me. I’m definitely a linear writer. I do best when I start at the beginning and proceed to the end.

Having to juggle an un-chronological (and sometimes illogical) research process definitely threw me for a loop. Ultimately, though, I was able to nail down a good 75%+ of the peoples whose input I sought and the manuscript came out all the better for having done it.

Note: this post is part of a series. For more, see the full list of FAQs.


FAQ #5: How Long Did It Take You to Write the Book?

August 6, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

In calendar time, 3 months and 1 week.

In total writing time, probably 4 weeks.

I started writing the book (granted I had an outline to work off given my MediaPost columns — more on that in FAQ #2) the week between Christmas and New Years 2009. I spent about 5 full days (8am-6pm) writing that week.

Then, for the next 2 months, I took off every Friday and a random day here and there to write. I also took off one full week in February. By “took off,” I mean turning on the out-of-office auto-responder and catching up on phone or email in the evenings.

Finally, in March, I took about 3 days out of a 7-day family vacation in Mexico to write.

My manuscript deadline was March 31st and I missed it by 8 minutes after a long day of reviewing everything and making a few last tweaks. Thankfully, McGraw-Hill didn’t give me a hard time about being “late.”

After April 1st, I had a bit of a break while the book went through the editing process. I received the first batch of copyedited manuscript on May 11th and had until May 28th to provide my feedback.

Then, I received the proofed pages on June 16th and turned around my comments by June 28th.

My final deliverable was the index which I received on July 8th and sent back on July 12th.

Now the book is off to the printers and should be rolling off the press any day now in time to hit stores on 8/27.

Note: this post is part of a series. For more, see the full list of FAQs.


FAQ #4: Did Google Approve This Book?

August 5, 2010 by Aaron Goldman


When I first contacted Google’s PR department to secure interviews with specific employees, it was made very clear that Google could not endorse any particular book or author. However, they were happy to help me get in touch with key personnel and, for the most part, allowed the interviewees to speak with me unmonitored and uncensored.

One thing that’s been a bit dicey relative to Google’s  policies is the use of “Google” in a domain. Originally, I secured LearnFromGoogle.com as the URL for my book and I used @LearnFromGoogle on Twitter to mirror it. This was before I had stumbled across these Google brand permission guidelines which state somewhat ambiguously, “We cannot approve the use of Internet domain names that use the word ‘Google’ or some variation of ‘Google’. For example, we would not approve a site called googleXYZ.com or gogggles.com.”

So do they prohibit it or just “cannot approve” it?

While no-one from Google had contacted me about my use of LearnFromGoogle.com, I thought I better play it safe and switched to GoogleyLessons.com. Sure, the letters “Google” still appear in order in this domain but Googley is a different word with its own meaning so I hoped (and still hope) it’s kosher.

As it were, Googley has turned out to be a more versatile phrase for use in my chapter summaries (Get Googley!) and, in general, conveys a more informal tone which is in line with my persona and the book’s narrative. Let’s just hope no-one from Google legal reads this post and decides to do more than “not approve” it!

Note: this post is part of a series. For more, see the full list of FAQs.


FAQ #3: How Did You Come Up With the Idea?

August 4, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

As discussed in my post on how social media helped me land a book deal, my first idea (Tweet-o-biography) was rejected. But I had the ear of an editor and I couldn’t let that go to waste so I set out to find a more relevant topic for the McGraw-Hill Professional (MHP) catalog.

The idea that turned out to be the basis for my book was actually inspired by an old poster my brother, Noah, had hanging in his room growing up. It said, “Everything I Need to Know About Life, I Learned From Star Trek.” (Yes, he was, and still is, a trekkie.) My favorite quote from that poster, by the way, is, “Always set your phaser on stun.” I’ve since adapted that to my repertoire of quick quips with, “I always set my phaser to stunning.)

After dropping that line one day, I got to thinking about the poster which made me consider that as affected as my brother’s life has been by Star Trek, mine has been by Google. From there, I started laying out life lessons learned from Google. The list quickly morphed to business lessons as that had been consuming my life at the time and viola, the idea was hatched.

I thought the topic had book potential but I needed to be sure that 1) others would be interested in the topic and 2) that I had enough to say on the subject… so I set out to pen a series of bylines for MediaPost under the theme, “Everything I Need to Know About Marketing I Learned From Google.” These 3 columns became the outline of the book and the fodder I used to lure MHP into making me an offer.

The title ended up getting shortened by MHP’s editors to remove “I Need” and the rest, as they say, is history.

Note: this post is part of a series. For more, see the full list of FAQs.


FAQ #2: How Did You Land Your Deal With McGraw-Hill?

August 3, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

I outlined this pretty extensively in my post, “How I Used Social Media to Land a Book Deal,” so I won’t repeat myself here. I will add, though, that I think there are 5 keys to getting published:

1. Idea - must be timely, relevant, and unique
2. Connections - a strong network will help you get in with a publisher, secure interviews while doing research, and generate PR for launch
3. Penmanship – bottom line, you need to be a halfway decent writer
4. Time - creating flexibility in one’s schedule is key to carving out the blocks needed to put pen to paper. See also FAQ #5.
5. Luck – always a factor!

Note: this post is part of a series. For more, see the full list of FAQs.


FAQ #1: What Made You Want to Write a Book?

August 2, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

To answer this question, I’ll cut and paste the response I included in my book proposal to this set of questions from McGraw-Hill:

In four to six paragraphs, please describe your book, its purpose, approach, and content. What prompted you to write the book now? Describe any significant trends, events or current news relating to the subject matter of your book. What are the outstanding, distinctive, or innovative features of the book?

I’ve always wanted to write a book. Now that I’ve started a family, it’s one of two things left on my bucket list. The other is running a marathon. I figure my knees will hold up better then my fingers — what with the carpal tunnel setting in from all the blackberrying and blogging I do — so I’d better get going on that book.

I’ve always loved to write. I was the sports editor of my high school paper. I worked at my college newspaper — granted that was an ad sales gig. And I currently publish a byline every two weeks in one of the largest internet marketing trade publications — in addition to authoring some fifteen odd blogs.

I’m ready to write this book. When I started my own company in April of this year, I finally took control of my professional destiny, as well as my personal calendar. Accordingly, I’ve been able to set my own priorities and publishing a book is at the top of the list.

The industry is ready for me to write this book. Google is everywhere. It’s loved and feared all at the same time. But, more importantly, it’s well-known and used by billions. For business professionals, Google is not only part of the every-day routine navigating the web, it’s a core component of the corporate marketing mix. (Google currently generates over $20 billion in advertising revenue globally and accounts for over 25% of all internet advertising spend.) The ubiquity of Google and the uniqueness of its corporate culture make it a subject everyone can relate to.

I’ve learned so much from Google. Having been involved in internet advertising for over ten years and spent hundreds of millions of dollars with Google on behalf of my clients, I have a unique window into where the company’s been, where it’s going, and what’s made it so successful. These lessons transcend advertising with Google, advertising on the Internet, and even advertising in general. These lessons can be applied to every aspect of marketing from public relations to product development to promotions to brand strategy.

Everyone can learn so much from Google. It’s time for me to share what I’ve learned. I’ll share what I’ve learned through first-hand experience working with clients like FedEx, Visa, Gatorade, State Farm, Lowe’s, Apple among others. I’ll share what I’ve learned through first-hand encounters with the Google brain trust. And I’ll share what I’ve learned by observing innovative, growth-oriented companies, like Zappos and Threadless, putting lessons learned from Google to good use. Along the way, I’ll keep the action moving with a compelling narrative from an “insider’s” point-of-view, leaving the reader with tangible action-items to improve his or her own marketing efforts. And, ala Twitter, I’ll keep the copy light and easily digestible to appeal to today’s attention-span-challenged professionals. Speaking of Twitter, I plan to intersperse relevant tweets from industry influentials as well as messages solicited specifically for this book via a new account I’ve set up, @LearnFromGoogle. [Note: this was subsequently changed to @GoogleyLessons -- see FAQ #4 for rationale.]

Note: this post is part of a series. For more, see the full list of FAQs.



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?

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