Book Review: What Would Google Do?

What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis. See his blog at

If you’ve been feeling left behind about how the internet is changing
business (anything from the falling fortunes of newspapers and the
music industry to how people are making big bucks selling personalized
t-shirts) this is a worthwhile book.

If you’re already up on The Cluetrain Manifesto (the now-ancient in Internet time document that first said that “markets are conversations” and have been following the best blogs on Web 2.0 (as it is achingly called), then you won’t learn
that much that is new.

But for me, who is half-way towards “getting it” and just now getting up to speed (Hey, I’m now on Twitter..)
I found it a worthwhile read.

While the title points to Google, it’s about any company that is doing business differently and reaping the rewards.

Here are the main takeaway points, as I saw them.

Customers are now in control, not you (just see what happened when Jarvis posted his rant about Dell on his blog.)

Be open to opportunities and link to those who complement your service/product. Be networked.
Be open to the public, not just for the sake of links from Google but also for a new connection with customers.

Niches rule – the mass market is less important.

to your customers – really listen. Give them control over where your
product goes. (I find this is very useful for my own product –
customers tell me what they want, I make what they want, I make money.)

mistakes (that’s OK) but confess to them and learn from them. Be
honest; don’t hide. Say sorry I screwed up, here’s how I am going to
make it right.

Move quickly. (I think that gives entrepreneurs a huge advantage over big biz – just look at GM…)

Distribute your product widely. Go to where the customers are, don’t expect them to come to you.

second half of the book is devoted to various industries, with Jarvis
speculating on how they can develop (or not) in a Googlish way.

of his ideas are good (I think he’s spot on in media – also one of my
favorite topics) but seriously off base with real estate (he says
the only advantage real estate agents offer is access to the MLS – take
that away and they have little use. I disagree – a good real estate agent earns their fee by their consultancy and marketing services. Indeed, a good real estate agent is essential if you are to buy or sell wisely.)

summary – an inspiring read for anyone keen to keep up with the
whirlwind changes going on. Particularly important right now, as it
could be argued that the current economy will speed the changes –
making those who get it winners; those who don’t get it dead. I found
the book gave me lots of ideas for my business.