Archive for the ‘business books’ tag
As host of the MarketingProfs podcast, Marketing Smarts, I’ve read more business books over the last 18 months then I did over the preceding three decades.
What I’ve learned along the way is that not all business books are created equal. Some, like Lee Odden’s Optimize or Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, by Beth Kanter and KD Paine, have a strong “how to” bent. Other books, like Dan Pink’s To Sell Is Human or Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, use interesting stories and scientific research to suggest how we might better do things.
Still others, such as Humanize by Maddie Grant and Jamie Notter or Brandscaping by Andrew Davis invite us to reconsider and re-conceptualize our approaches to the way businesses are organized or the way that marketing is conducted.
Finally, there are those “business” books, such as Spreadable Media by Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford and Joshua Green, that, for good or ill, simply make you think.
Get Ready to Work
“We presume,” Sam Ford told me during this week’s episode of Marketing Smarts, “that anybody who comes to read this book is coming ready to bring a lot of labor to the project.”
The reason behind this presumption is that the question at the core of this book—What is “the role the audience plays, not as a mass aggregate but as real people”?—is, as Sam puts it, “a very complicated thing to think about.”
The problem is that when you are in the thick of actually conducting business, it’s difficult to find the time to think about such things as whether the concept of content “going viral” accurately describes the way content circulates or the implications of thinking about your “audience” as a set of eyeballs to be aggregated.
“In the agency world, we are always so focused on client needs and the next big meeting or the next new business pitch, whatever it is you’re working on, that it’s hard to stop and have these sorts of conversations,” explained Sam.
“And when you do,” he went on to say, “it so often becomes about new tactical things, new platforms, new analytical tools, new ways of doing your job, rather than these sort of deep-seated conversations.”
Being Useful By Posing Questions
Spreadable Media contains some practical advice—at one point the authors list out characteristics of content that can make it more “spreadable”—but what the book asks you to do is reexamine your assumptions about audiences, content, how the latter benefits the former, and vice versa.
Rather then tell you to do something, the book invites you to question what you are doing and, as a result of that questioning, consider what you might do instead.
In other words, it doesn’t tell you to do, it asks you to think.
And is that such a bad thing?
Citia is a new iPad app that condenses nonfiction eBooks into sharable, 3-D note cards. In this episode of “App Slap,” we take a look at what Citia does with Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly’s latest book, What Technology Wants.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
I miss my Dad everyday of every week of every year. Not just as my Dad but as my business mentor and that is why I produce each week The Engaging Brand podcast - to keep alive his desire for me to learn and for me to share….and for me to help others.
Dad was a simple soul. He wasn’t ‘educated’ like all of us are today and he was dyslexic to boot. However his simplicity in his view of business stays with me. Here is what he said when I asked for tips on leading a successful business
- When I went to and indeed left work I didn’t enter through the main doors, I always went through the factory. Never forget the shopfloor is where people painstakingly make your ideas reality. Never forget that the shopfloor is full of people who can see how to make the business better…..never fool yourself that people will follow because you are a leader, they follow you because they believe in where you are going together….that walk on a morning keeps me close, and keeps the conversations flowing.
- Remember a customer is a human being first and a consumer of your ideas second. Too many see it as the other way round.
- See business as the ultimate treasure hunt…you are searching for that hidden talent, that idea hiding out there in the world and that feeling that you have done your very best for the world.
For all the business books I read, I return to these wise words. Simple but true…but then aren’t the most complex problems, in reality simple…it is just us human beings who make them hard!
Happy Father’s Day from your little girl who has realised Dad’s do know best!
Books have always been a source of inspiration to me. When Dad and I discussed things, it usually ended up with him giving me a book to read!
Dad believed that books were like ladders, they raise you out of your every day existence to look at life…I remember saying “Like my own space station then, that I can escape to when bored or mad with the world!” to which Dad smiled.
Books are more than text on paper, indeed business books for me are
- The start of a conversation for ideas in your head
- Your own personal toolbox of ideas to solve problems that you face
- The source of inspiration for ideas
- Escapist in the sense that you can read about how the world can look if we learn to live better
- They are great for exercising your brain cells and keeping that grey matter healthy. The writer gives you the words but you give the words their context and meaning.
I read on average about 5 per week…now that is quite a lot but then I choose hopefully the best variety for The Engaging Brand podcast. In fact that is one reason I started the podcast….you may not have time to read a business book…as I do read them, then let me try and distil them for you.
If you cannot manage a book why not pick up a magazine this week – just to inspire, to start that conversation of ideas.
True story: It has been so long since I’ve posted here that when I logged in to write this I couldn’t remember how my credentials. So understanding just how hard it can be to keep up with workload and still find time to not only read business books and blogs but also share your thoughts about them, I have to say I’m always floored when busy professionals make the time to read and review microMARKETING.
I had one of those moments this morning when I saw some tweets linking to a thoughtful, comprehensive and (ahem) mostly positive video review by Marketing What’s New principal Glenn Schmelzle and Canadian marketer Danny Starr.
One of the things I love about this review is that Glenn and Danny reflect on how companies can apply the ideas from the book not only to engage b2c audiences, but also to reach b2b buyers. I’ll be the first to admit that I leaned heavily on b2c case studies throughout microMARKETING, although I peppered in a few b2b examples were appropriate and I’ve done some b2b event speaking where I focused much more heavily on what this means for business-to-business. And while Glenn (who tackles the b2b implications in the review) points out some important nuances that business marketers need to consider, it’s gratifying to see that my theory holds up in practice no matter what microcommunities matter to a given marketer.
Would love to hear from other b2b marketers who have read the book, with thoughts about how you’ve applied micromarketing approaches to address your goals.
The first thing that Andy Sernovitz, the author of Word Of Mouth Marketing, wants me to tell you is that he sent me his book and asked me to post a review of it online (very tastefully and tactfully, btw). You see, Andy advocates that anyone (or firm) looking for word of mouth marketing should be transparent about who they ask for referrals.
The first thing that I want to tell Andy is that I’m sorry.
Sorry, first, for taking so long to write this review. He sent me the book months ago, and I read it months ago. I’ve just been too lazy to sit down and write the review.
Sorry, second, for not following instructions. Andy asked that I post the review on Amazon, but that’s obviously not what I’m doing.
And sorry, third, for not writing the glowing review that I’m sure that Andy would want (and, as the author of a book myself, what I would want, too).
I do have some critiques I want to level against the book, but first the positives.
Above all, Word Of Mouth Marketing is a very well written book. It’s no minor feat to write a business book that reads as smoothly and as a fast as a novel. It took me four train rides (two into Boston, two out of Boston) to finish the book. Considering that so many business books are poorly written (full of redundant, buzzword-laden sections), this book is a welcome respite.
And please don’t let my foreshadowing of criticism diminish the fact that there a ton of tips for word of mouth marketing tactics that readers will take away from the book.
If they work in a very small firm, that is.
But I don’t think this book will be particularly helpful to marketers in medium to large organizations. Which would be OK if the book clearly stated that it was intended for marketers in small businesses. But it doesn’t, and in fact, uses big firm examples like Southwest Airlines (which, ironically, is what I’m flying on as I write this).
My criticism of the book centers around two points: 1) over-attribution, and 2) under-integration.
Word Of Mouth Marketing — like, unfortunately, too many other marketing books — suffers from a case of over-attribution: Attributing business results to word of mouth marketing without acknowledging the contribution of other marketing investments.
The references to Southwest Airlines are an example of this. Andy bashes mass media advertising (which seems to be obligatory in today’s marketing books) as being increasingly irrelevant and ineffective. Yet, Southwest Airlines — which is held out as the benefactor of great word of mouth marketing — invests heavily in TV advertising.
And quite effectively, I would bet. It’s series of ads making fun of how other airlines nickel and dime you death is pretty memorable to at least this writer.
In addition, there’s little mention that, of all the airlines, no one has a better on-time record than Southwest Airlines. Do I — and millions of other people — know this from word of mouth? Or from personal experience? And from advertising?
The second issue I had with the book concerned under-integration.
The reality of being a marketer is that, regardless of whether or not mass media advertising is as effective as it once was, few firms will stop advertising in those channels (and, in fact, all non-WOM channels in general).
Marketers in medium to large firms (and perhaps small ones too) need to know, at a minimum: 1) How much should we be spending on WOM relative to what we spend on other channels, and 2) How do we integrate WOM with other marketing tactics?
Maybe I’m being unrealistic in my expectations. But the book promises to talk about the art and science of WOM. All I saw was art. (A search of the Social Science Research Network for “word of mouth” turns up almost 100 studies — none of which were referenced or cited in the book).
Bottom line: While well written and full of good tips for executing WOM tactics, Word Of Mouth Marketing is best suited for marketers in small firms, and less so for those who must manage marketing investments across a variety of channels.