How Google Inspired Me to Create Printed Marketing Collateral

This is part one of a 2-part article about how Google inspired me to create a piece of printed marketing collateral I use to drive traffic for my online business.

It all started around 4 years ago.  One day out of the blue, I received a small spiral-bound booklet in the mail from Google.  Here is what the booklet looks like:

Google tips

Imagine my surprise!  You see, I’ve always thought of Google as the quintessential electronic business.  Who would have thought that they’d print up little spiral bound booklets and mail them to small business owners like me?  But they did.

After getting over my shock at receiving snail mail from Google, I realized what a gem it was.  The booklet is called “Tweak Your Way to Profitability.”   The subtitle is “Tips for Boosting Your Income with AdSense.” The booklet is all about how to make more money on your website by running Google AdSense units.  It consists of 8 tips contained in the little booklet.

Several things intrigued me about this marketing piece – so much so, that over 4 years later I still have it.

(1) Information oriented. The first thing that caught my eye was that it contained helpful tips. I’m an information hound … a sucker for any marketing materials that are in the form of information. I don’t want sales pitches. I don’t want glitzy nothingness. But give me data or advice or information that’s creatively packaged — and I lap it up like a kitten at a bowl of milk.

For a B2B marketing piece, information-oriented items are powerful. I have a box filled with all manner of booklets, tip sheets, even bookmarks and business cards with tips printed on them.   But this has to be one of the more memorable examples I’ve ever received.

Here is one of the tips on the inside pages:

Google Tweak Your Way book - tip

Notice they used some simple clip art or line drawings.  Most important is the font and white space.  It’s simplicity itself.  And not hard to re-create on your own, or get a designer to help you with.

(2) It is oriented toward me. So many marketing materials are about the company that produces them.  I want to see something that tells me WIIFM — what’s in it for me.  This piece does.  It starts with the subtitle “boosting your income.”  Notice the word “your” in that subtitle.

It continues with the way each of the tips is phrased, to focus on the reader’s revenue generation.  Who isn’t intrigued with the idea of making more money in your business?

(3) It’s lumpy. This is the kind of thing John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing calls “lumpy mail.” It is something dimensional.  It consists of eleven sheets of heavy paper stock bound together with wire spiral binding.  It’s compact: 3 inches by 4.5 inches.

It is tactile. I can play around with it. Touch it. Feel it. Flip through the pages. It engages me.  It feels like it would be heresy to  throw something like this in the trash. (Heck, 4 years later and I still haven’t thrown it in the trash.)

(4) It’s colorful and playful. There’s something about that title phrase “Tweak your way to …” that makes it seem like learning — and placing ads — will be fun. Even the bright apple green color feels energetic.  They could have made this booklet serious sounding, but didn’t.  And that’s a big part of its appeal.  It’s fun!

(5) It has a call to action. At the bottom of each page is a short simple URL to go online.  And at the end of the booklet, there’s a call to action statement that invites you to go online:

Google Tweak book - call to action

Once you go online, you reach a microsite that contains each of the tips along with additional detailed information that wouldn’t fit on a single page.  The microsite contains numerous Web links to draw you deeper into the Google AdSense site.  Obviously the goal is to get you to increase the use of AdSense units on your sites, get you earning more, and thus make you more loyal.

And guess what?  Even years later, that microsite set up as a companion for the booklet is still live.

This booklet has stayed with me like few other marketing materials.  It even inspired me to create a spiral-bound booklet of my own, with tips.  I also created a microsite section of my website to draw people back to.  Think about how you might use something like this to market your business.

That Google booklet inspired me to develop a booklet of my own. However, my own booklet didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted it to —  I just didn’t execute it as well.

I wrote about my experiences, including my analysis of why the Google booklet was so effective — and what I would have done differently in creating my own booklet:  Lessons From Home Grown Marketing Collateral.


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

15 Reactions
  1. Anita,

    Very interesting. I have just started a course (Quick Ebook Creation Video Workshop by Maritza Parra) on how to create an ebook. After I finished the course and created the ebook, I am interested in creating a booklet that I could distribute in different ways.

    Do you have the URL for the Google Adsense microsite?

  2. I love really great collateral, too. I have little books and booklets and items I’ve saved over the years. Every so often, I pull them out and see what I can learn anew, or what I find is still the same…

    In the era of the ebook and instant download, it is so important to remember that a real, tactile, thinking person is on the other end of our communications. A guy I know always send a handwritten note and he swears that’s what gets him new business. Not email, not eBooks, but a plain old-fashioned handwritten note. No one does it anymore, so it is unique and captivating. Maybe the new handbook should be titled:

    The Luddite’s Guide to Online Marketing…

  3. TJ, I am definitively not a Luddite due to the anti-industrial ideology. But that said, I like to receive a handwritten note! 🙂

  4. Excellent Anita! It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that some of our target market does not spend as much time as we do online. Organizations that don’t look at the big picture (online and offline strategies) when determining their marketing strategy are leaving a lot of money on the table.

  5. Oh that’s nice.

  6. Very interesting! When will I ever receive a snail mail from the big G?

  7. It’s funny how we find inspiration sometimes. Even after 4 years, you’re still intrigued enough to pick it up and write about it. Now that’s great marketing.

  8. I had a little different experience but similar. Many years ago before google existed, the forerunner of the whole sponsored search industry was (later changed name to ‘overture’ then bought out by yahoo). I spent a few bucks over there (no great amounts) and they sent me a cool black ballcap with the “” logo on the front. I wore that thing religiously for at least a year. It made me a walking poster for their company and, in essence, a member of their team. All for ball cap that probably cost them $3 in bulk plus an equal amount to package and ship.

  9. @Amanda – I thought about the comment you made and wow, that’s so true — what a great piece it must be to have Anita pick it up after so many years and write about it.

    @Martin — You are definitely no Luddite, Martin. I don’t even know how to write by hand anymore. Do I even own a pen?

  10. Hi Anita,

    I’ve always been a fan of printed marketing materials. Especially in an era when people are using e-mail for everything and opening less and less of it, it’s helpful to be able to give someone something they can hold in their hands.

    I also believe that, if you go this route, it is very important that your materials are quality printed. Because they are, after all, a reflection of your business.


  11. Google has done a really nice job like this in the past with a number of the advertising campaigns. It’s always interesting to see what they send out.

  12. TJ: I am writing by hand too. I have started to use a digital pen called Pulse Smartpen by Livescribe. You use a special paper with “microdots” and you could link your writing to a recording of for example a speech or your own “notes to self”. You could then share your notes with others and “translate” your handwritten notes to text if you use an handwriting recognition application called MyScript. You could see my video introduction to this gadget in my post, Do Not Miss A Word With Livescribe. Click on “Martin Lindeskog” Says.

  13. It’s good example of remaking of positive experience!
    You are quite right!