Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Marketing Must Have

The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly – David Meerman Scott (Wiley – Fourth Edition)

When David Meerman Scott originally released The New Rules of Marketing & PR six years ago, it was at the time a groundbreaking, direct to consumers approach that was a twist to traditional marketing. While the book may not have spawned a revolution, it certainly was one of the early roadmaps to the evolution of how to communicate and market directly to consumers.

In the completely revised and updated fourth edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, Scott goes beyond just strategies and delves directly into tactics that not just marketers, but business owners can put into practice today to improve their results.

Rather than taking the often expensive route of trying to reach consumers through traditional mediums, utilizing repetition of messages to hopefully reach consumers, Scott offers up techniques to open up a treasure trove of information about your products and services and open the door to them becoming your customer. This is steps ahead of tried and true calls to action, making the approach more about the consumer than it is about you and your business.

Some may be quick to claim that this is a death knell for traditional marketers, allowing business owners to start a DIY marketing storm, but the reality is that nimble practitioners will simply showcase their value by deliver focused content that will allow business to stand out in the storm. If this book isn’t already in your business toolbox, it should be.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Why An Educated Consumer is Your Best Customer

Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype – Jay Baer (Portfolio Publishing)

Back in the early 1980s clothing merchant Sy Syms coined the phrase, “an educated consumer is our best customer” as a way to attract clientele to his men’s clothing outlets. He reasoned that if customers knew that they would get a good deal on a nice suit every time they shopped at his stores, then would keep coming back for more. It was an interesting concept, meant to be helpful rather than hype-ful and it was about 30 years before it’s time.

While things didn’t work out in the end for Sy Syms with his stores closing in bankruptcy a few years back, the concept of the educated consumer has become a whole new way for smart marketers to attract new customers. That concept is at the center of Jay Baer’s new book, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype. The online world has created a seismic shift in consumer’s favor when it comes to the purchase process. The abundance of information that is available to consumers about the products and services that the purchase everyday is truly staggering.

By the same token the information available to those consumers about your business is equally abundant. Baer makes the case that marketing battleground has shifted from winning the consumer’s hearts to winning the consumer’s minds. I have always made the argument that the best person to tell your businesses story is you and Baer illustrates that concept with examples of real companies succeeding by offering help rather than hype.

As a healthcare marketer it would be easy for me to think that sites like WEB MD would lead patients to try to treat themselves and avoid coming to a doctor’s office for help. The reality is that while WEB MD does offer treatment suggestions, in the end they help doctor’s to treat patients because the patient is better educated about potential illnesses or injuries; they can communicate more clearly, ask better questions and assist physicians in finding the best treatment options. So why would I want to shift marketing focus away from physician credentials and cool new equipment, to patient focused information to help them make better healthcare choices?

It may not be an easy transition for veteran marketers to make from talking at consumers to engaging consumers and drawing them in and allowing them to take the lead. A quick scan of how many companies use tweets, likes and blogs to continue to jam branding statements down consumer’s throats will tell you it’s not an easy jump. Baer makes the process easier with a series of blueprints to guide you through the process. I might suggest delving into the blueprints then going back to the real business examples of how companies “youtilize” themselves.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Inside Insights On Egos

Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk on Leadership – Bob Lutz (Portfolio Books)

If you pick up Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk on Leadership expecting to pick up some insights on what separates great leaders from the not so great, I am afraid you will sorely disappointed. Bob Lutz, the octogenarian, automotive executive who held a plethora of high powered roles with GM, Ford, Chrysler, BMW and Exide offers some entertaining opinions on his fellow automotive executives that he witnessed in action, often up close and personal.

Lutz makes a few things abundantly clear; he was (and is) a mover and shaker in the automotive industry, he has a VERY high opinion of himself, and he is certainly not shy about expressing his thoughts about his colleagues and the leaders he has interacted with during his career.

The most telling and entertaining profiles are of automotive industry colleagues who’s leadership and personalities Lutz dissects and more often than not flays with a rapier wit and the light touch of a verbal bludgeon.  Clearly Lutz is beyond worrying about winning friends and influencing people, which in the end makes the book so entertaining.

While you can glean that Lutz played a masters hand in the politics of middle to senior to C-suite management, always properly positioning himself for next steps and willing to make the beneficial compromise; I’m not certain that you will gain much in the way of useful leadership strategy here. Bottom line; Icons and Idiots, does live up to its promise of doling out straight talk.