Archive for Business Books

Word of Mouth Marketing: Book Review

Andy Sernovitz’s Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking (Amazon link) is a practical, hands-on guide to building your business through word of mouth marketing.

Word of mouth marketing isn’t something is difficult to do – you just need to 1) get started, 2) do it consistently, and 3) pay attention to what is working, what isn’t, and adjust accordingly. Andy’s book give you the tools and advice you need to do those three things. Here is a quick overview of what you will find in the book.

The first part of the book outlines the “essential concepts” of word of mouth marketing. Chapter 1 defines word of mouth marketing, outlines what makes it work (and what doesn’t), and explains how word of mouth marketing is most likely already your best source of business, even if you have been calling it something else.

Chapter 2 discusses the “deep stuff” relative to marketing and the increasing importance of word of mouth in growing your business. Part 1 of the book wraps up with a Word of Mouth Marketing Manifesto – 13 key points to keep in mind when designing and operating your word of mouth marketing campaigns.

Part 2 of the book focuses on “how to do it”, namely, how to implement Sernovitz’s 5 T’s of word of mouth marketing:

  1. Talkers – those who will tell their friends about you
  2. Topics – what they will talk about
  3. Tools – you can use to make it easier for the message to travel
  4. Taking part – or joining the conversation
  5. Tracking – measuring and understanding what is being said about you

The book provides several examples and worksheets to help you use these 5 T’s to implement your own word of mouth marketing campaign. You can also download the worksheets from the books website –

Other Notes

I think this is my favorite take away from the book:

“… if you choose to be a better business, you will do bigger business.”

and my second favorite quote is:

“Advertising is the cost of being boring.”

Don’t be boring, it’s too expensive.

How does Word of Mouth Marketing apply to small business and independent professionals?

This probably (hopefully?) seems like a silly question because, as pointed out on page 32, word of mouth has always been your best marketing.

So pick up a copy of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, and choose to be a better business.

One last note

While this book isn’t about social media, per se, if you are looking for guidelines for creating a social media policy for your business, take a look at the Honesty ROI starting on page 27. In this case, ROI stands for relationship (say who you’re representing), opinion (only say what you really believe), and identity (never lie about who you are). Following these simple rules and teaching them to your employees is a great social media policy as well as for building a business people want to talk about.

Do The Work!

When I attended the most recent Duct Tape Marketing Consultant’s annual gathering, one of the items in my gift bag was a small book – Do The Work! Overcome Resistance and get out of your own way, by Steven Pressfield. At just under 100 pages, this is one of those books that you can read quickly, but you will want to read more than once because it is packed full of great advice.

I believe the subtitle of the book says it all; we can all achieve our goals, we just need to recognize and overcome resistance and get out of our own way.

The book follows the path you would take from starting a project to completing and delivering it. Just like your project, the book contains three sections- beginning, middle, and the end. Pressfield points out all of the predictable resistance points that you are likely to encounter along the way.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the poem on the back cover:

A child has no trouble

believing the unbelievable,

nor does the genius

or the madman.

It’s only you and I,

with our big brains

and our tiny hearts,

who doubt and overthink

and hesitate.

If you want to stop thinking about what you could have done and start accomplishing more, push aside that big brain of yours, go buy this book, and put the wisdom inside of it to work.

Duct Tape Marketing 2nd Edition Now Available

covershottThe updated and revised version of Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide(Amazon affiliate link) is available now.

The latest version of the book includes new sections covering:

  • using content to be found
  • fusing online and offline tactics
  • how to create a total web presence
  • practical ways to get more from social media
  • using the marketing hourglass to run your marketing

Here is a short video from John explaining why he released a new version of his best selling book:

New visitors to this blog should know that I am a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, so I am a little biased, but I think this new edition has a lot of great information in it to help you take your business to the next level.

The new edition of the book comes with a free Duct Tape Marketing Signature Brand Audit.  A Signature Brand Audit is a free 30 minute session with an Authorized Duct Tape Marketing Consultant to review your existing marketing, give you a quick snapshot on the effectiveness of your web site and suggest several ways to make improvements right now. This is like receiving a guided tour of the main principles contained in the book.

Drop me a note if you have any questions about the book or applying the principles it contains to your business. You can also get your free Duct Tape Marketing Signature Brand Audit here.

It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For

What would the world lose if your company ceased to exist?

This is one of the questions explored in the book It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For: Why Every Extraordinary Business Is Driven by Purpose

Authors John Spence and Haley Rushing share their experience of working with some of the world’s most successful brands (Southwest, Wal-mart, BMW to name a few) who attribute much of their success to being purpose driven in everything they do. They also share the troubles some brands have had when they have strayed away from their purpose.

This message of this book really resonated with me. I’ve always been more interested in why people do what they do and my favorite customers have always been those who are in business not only to make money but to also serve a greater purpose – trying to make the world a better place for their customers and\or employees. I wish I had read this book a long time ago.

The book is organized into four main parts:

Part 1 – Purpose Principles – Lays the foundation by defining purpose, arguing why you should want one along with tips and advise for discovering and articulating your purpose.

Part 2- Building an Organization that makes a Difference – This section speaks to taking a vision, based on purpose, and using it to serve an unfilled need(s) in the marketplace.

Part 3 – Becoming a Leader of Great Purpose – Discusses purpose based leadership principles and how leaders must be the “stewards of purpose”.

Part 4 – Bringing Your Purpose to the Life in the Marketplace – provides a number of case studies of organizations bringing their purpose to life. Spence shows the wide application of purpose by including examples from for-profit corporations, membership organizations, non-profits, educational institutions, and sports organizations.

I highly recommend this book. I have a handful of books that contain the main ideas I try to use in my business and refer to often. This book is going on the same shelf as those.

People Buy Your Why

Have you had a chance to read the book Start with Why (Amazon affiliate link) by Simon Sinek? The big idea from this book is people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. The book explains how the part of our brain that is responsible for decision making is different from the part of the brain that is responsible for language and the challenges that presents when we try to aspire others to take action.

In Duct Tape Marketing, we are always talking about the principle of “strategy before tactics”. I find that while most business owners agree with this concept on an intellectual level, they often struggle with putting it into practice. I believe the ideas in Simon’s book line up perfectly with this principle – first we have to be clear about our WHY. With a crystal clear WHY, almost any tactic can be successful.

If you have taken the time to really think about your ideal customers, I’m willing to bet that once you got past the typical demographics (industry, geography, revenue, etc.) you will find  indications that your best customers share one or more of your beliefs. They like what you stand for. You both value your relationship. As marketers, we sometimes muddy this up by calling it your Core Difference or some other name but it’s really just your WHY.

We marketers are also fond of saying “marketing is everyone’s job”. What if we replaced that with “everyone should understand and be able to communicate our WHY”? What effect would that have on your business? Would it change more than marketing? I think so.

If you haven’t had a chance to read Simon’s book, I highly recommend it. Start your marketing  with WHY, find customers who believe what you believe and work together so that everyone can succeed.

Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms

Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms: The Guide to Establishing Credibility and Accelerating Relationships

This book review is way over due. I actually pre-ordered it, so I’m a little embarrassed that I’m just posting about it now. But I’m going to blame it on Michelle (the author, Michelle Golden) for writing such a damn good book. It seems like every time I pick it up to write a review, I get caught up in re-reading it and run out of time. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

This is easily the best book about social media that I’ve read. I haven’t read them all, but I’ve read a lot of them. I promise this is a book you will dog ear and refer to over and over again.

Before I talk about what’s in the book, I want to talk about why I think Michelle was able to write such a good book about social media. It’s because she get’s it. Sure, she’s a good writer, obviously brilliant, and did great research. But she also “walks the talk” using social media to build and nurture relationships.

How do I know this? I often refer to Michelle as “my favorite person that I’ve never met”. We’ve never met in person, but I feel like I know her. We connected primarily through social media (we may have exchanged emails early on), having brief conversations over time. I would recommend her without hesitation to anyone in my professional network. My point in sharing all of this is that if you follow the recommendations in Michelle’s book, you too can build strong relationships with potential customers and referral partners whom you may never have met without social media.

Ok, enough of my gushing <g>, let’s take a look at the book. It is divided into four main parts – What, Why, How, and Tips.

The first section explains “What” firms need to know about social media and includes a chapter on establishing firm policies and guidelines. Personally, I’m not a big fan of creating policies for social media (I view them as regulating talking), but I accept the reality that firms want policies. If you must set  policies, the process outlined in chapter 2 is the most reasonable approach I’ve seen. I love how it starts with an assessment of your firm’s risk tolerance and builds from there.

The second section dives into the “Why” of social media. Actually, section two is just a wonderful section about marketing professional services in general. In my opinion, this is exactly how it should be. I’ve been arguing for some time that “social media marketing” isn’t a thing; rather, social media is a set of tools for communicating. Marketing messages are just one type of message we can convey using social media. Of course, the book makes this point far more eloquently than I do.

The last chapter of section 2 relates some case studies demonstrating real life examples of professionals effectively using social media to grow their practices.

Section 3 covers the “How” of social media. How to set up and the most common social media tools – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. The chapters in this section will walk you step by step through each tool and give you some helpful tips about how to use the tools once you get them up and running.

The last section of the book contains tips for helping you get the most out of social media in your practice. Tips include how to be effective online, how to write for the web, social media etiquette, and other best practices.

Whether you are a social media newbie or veteran, you will find helpful, practical advice in this book that will help you build relationships and grow your business.

Go buy the book now.

Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business


Online video can be a powerful tool for marketing your professional service firm. The explosion of affordable video cameras and social media sites give us a plethora of options for creating and distributing video. In fact, there are so many options for creating and publishing videos it can be a little overwhelming. If you share that feeling, then Steve Garfield’s book, Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business (New Rules Social Media Series) is for you.

The book is filled with step-by-step guidelines for recording your video and uploading it to various sites for hosting and sharing. Steve teaches you what you need to know about choosing a camera, lighting and sound, editing, uploading, broadcasting live, and adding video to your blog (or creating a blog if you don’t have one).

The book also contains lots of interviews with movers and shakers that give a great view on what is going on in the industry.

If your marketing plans for 2011 include using video, pick up a copy of Steve’s book.

You can learn more about Steve and video at

Positioning for Professionals by Tim Williams

As I was reading Tim William’s Positioning for Professionals: How Professional Knowledge Firms Can Differentiate Their Way to Success , I repeatedly found myself thinking “Tim, your preaching to the choir”. This isn’t a complaint, sometimes it’s nice to be in the choir, to hear other “preaching” the same message you do, to hear how they do it differently and perhaps more clearly.

Regular readers here know that I am part of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant network. In Duct Tape Marketing we always start out an engagement by stressing the importance of having a narrowly defined target market. As Tim so clearly points out in the first few chapters of his book, narrow doesn’t mean small. Narrow is specialized and there are plenty of large firms that have gotten that way by being specialized.

Duct Tape Marketing fans are also familiar with the concept of “differentiate or compete based on price”. Tim (and other members of Verasage) have a lot to say about pricing based on value to the customer. Chapters 9 and 10 cover pricing and value.

Another common theme I found in Tim’s book is the idea that a well defined position (or marketing strategy) actually becomes the centerpiece of your business strategy. If marketing is about setting expectations, then it is vital to make sure those expectations are held up when we interact with customers. Chapter 5 elaborates on this idea of positioning as a business strategy.

Positioning is a key component to building a profitable professional service firm. Read Tim’s book and put yourself in position to make 2011 your most profitable year yet.

SHiFT – Harness the Trigger Events that Turn Prospects into Customers


I just finished reading Craig Elias’ and Tibor Shanto’s book Shift!: Harness The Trigger Events That Turn Prospects Into Customers. The main idea of the book is that you can greatly improve your sales by improving your timing – namely, after they experience a Trigger Event and before they talk to your competitors.

The authors define three buying modes for customers  – 1) Status Quo, 2) Window of Dissatisfaction, and 3) Searching for Alternatives. According to SHiFT, most salespeople spend the bulk of their time talking to prospects who are either in the Status Quo or Searching for Alternatives modes. However, the best time to make a sale is when the customer has entered into the Window of Dissatisfaction. If you want to be the first viable seller to see the decision maker when they are in the Window of Dissatisfaction, you need to be aware of the common Trigger Events that cause someone to move from Status Quo to the Window of Dissatisfaction.

This book is written from a salesperson’s point of view but I think it also provides some insights for marketers as well. According to the authors, we are five times more likely to close a sale if we reach the buyer when they are in the Window of Dissatisfaction stage vs. when they are in the Searching for Alternatives stage. Why is this important for marketers? One reason is that because information is so readily available on the internet and from our various networks (both online and offline), decision makers are much further along the path to the Searching for Alternatives mode before they ever talk to a salesperson. This is similar to the ideas that Ardath Albee wrote about in eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale.

There are plenty of examples and worksheets to help you apply the principles in the book to your particular situation. I found the ideas in the book to be congruent with what we teach in Duct Tape Marketing and what I’ve learned in Sandler Sales Training. There is plenty of good information here, but you will need to do some work to incorporate it into a system of your own and use it consistently to reap the benefits.

eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale – Book Review

I recently picked up Ardath Albee’s eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale (Amazon affiliate link).I really liked this book as I thought it presented a clear strategy for using eMarketing tools to attract prospects and nurture them as they progress through the buying cycle. Ardath also presents a practical framework that business can use to model their customer, create relevant content, and map that content to the needs of prospects – and this is important – based on where they are in the buying cycle.

This is one of the few books that is going to get moved from my “read” to my “study” pile. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy. I will be incorporating many of the ideas in Ardath’s book into my business and I’m sure I will be blogging about how to apply many of the concepts she outlines in a professional service firm setting.

Here is a quick summary of what you will find in the book:

The first part of this book, eMarketing Essentials, speaks to the opportunities and benefits of eMarketing. It lays a nice foundation for the role of eMarketing in changing world of B2B marketing.

Part 2 of the book, Customer Consensus, begins the discussion of using persona’s to understand your customers and the buying process. While I thought the material about creating persona’s was a little light (to be fair, persona’s development could be an entire book), I found the sections on creating a buyer synopsis and the buying process to be excellent. Understanding the buyer process and the information a buyer needs in each stage of that process was my key take away from this book.

Natural Nurturing, is essential to marketing for complex sales. Depending on the nature of the purchase, a great deal of time can pass between the time a prospect first discovers you and when they make their purchase. Chapter 8 outlines a framework to use to assemble a natural nurturing track.

The fourth section of the book, Contagious Content, outlines the ingredients need to create marketing content that is relevant to your prospects and will differentiate you from your competitors by focusing on the needs of your prospects relative to where they are in their buying process.

In Persistent Progression (part 5), Ardath explains how to create content that keeps prospects and customers moving along the buying process. This section also contains a nice discussion about what marketing can do to help sales people close the deal when they hand off a prospect to sales.

Part 6, Meaningful Metrics, wraps up with a discussion of quantifying marketing results, measuring the value delivered by marketing to sales, and how to listen and use dialogue to continually improve your marketing efforts.