Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday #83: “What Would Google Do?” by Jeff Jarvis

Dear kids,

Strangely, What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis is the book that ignited my passion for nonfiction. And yet, it’s not so strange. If you’re interested in the psychology of business processes at all, or in marketing in the internet-based economy, this book is one of a kind.

My Summary:

WWGD’s message is clear: We’re in a new, Internet-based economy, with new rules. Be forewarned. Figure it out. Catch up—quick.

The new rules are as follows:

  • Customers are now in charge. Due to the Internet, they can have a huge impact on even huge institutions in an instant.
  • People can find each other anywhere and coalesce either around you or against you.
  • The mass market is dead. It’s been replaced by a mass of niches.
  • The key sales skill is no longer marketing, but conversing.
  • The economy is no longer based on scarcity, but on abundance. Attempting to control the distribution of a product will no longer guarantee a profit.
  • Enabling customers to collaborate with you in product creation, distribution, marketing and more creates a premium.
  • The most successful enterprises today are networks and the platforms upon which they’re built.
  • Most important: Owning is no longer the key to success. Openness is.

A few examples of Google-league marketers: Facebook, Craigslist, Amazon, Flickr, WordPress, Lulu, Paypal.

Google uses a few guidelines that have helped them achieve their ginormous success.

They are:

  • Give the people control and they will use it.
  • Your worst customer is your best friend (because of information they can share with you to improve).
  • Your best customer is your partner (since word-of-mouth is the best marketing). Keep them. Offer incentives to spread the word.
  • The link changes everything. Businesses must have relevant links on websites for Google to see them.
  • Do what you do best and link to the rest.
  • Join a network.
  • Become a platform. Incorporate others’ ideas and businesses (like Facebook, WordPress, and Craigslist). Think distributed.
  • Everybody needs googlejuice. If you’re not searchable, you won’t be found.
  • Life is public and so is business. Transparency vital.
  • Learn to make mistakes well (by admitting them and addressing them ASAP).
  • Rethink company structure to offer “elegant organization.”
  • Small is the new big.
  • We’re in a post-scarcity economy.
  • The mass market is dead. Long live the mass of niches.
  • Google commodifies everything.
  • Atoms are a drag. Rethink ways to offer online, intangible solutions.
  • Middlemen are doomed.
  • Free is a business model. Give away value to extend your market base, then make money through the side door.
  • Decide what business you’re in. (In order to protect your business, rethink ways to solve problems you’re already solving but are no longer working 34 somebody else does.)
  • There is an inverse relationship between control and trust.
  • Trust the people; listen life is a beta; be honest; be transparent; collaborate; don’t be evil; answers a instantaneous; life is live; mobs form; a flash; beware the cash cow in the c mine (if your business relies on something whose doom is impending – move away from it now!; encourage, enable and protect innova simplify”; get out of the way.

Other tips:

  • Release an unfinished product in beta form so instead of customers complaining, they’ll feel like a part of the process and make suggestions.
  • In marketing materials and blogs, use a human, natural voice.



Get the entire recommended reading list at Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday.


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