Archive for April, 2009

Cracking the Da Vinci Code. The unauthorized guide to the facts behind dan Brown’s best selling novel. Simon Cox

Cracking the Da Vinci Code. The unauthorized guide to the facts behind dan Brown’s best selling novel. Simon Cox. 2004. ISBN 1402718373.  I confess to having read two of Dan Brown‘s books , and even saw the Ron Howard’s and Tom Hanks movie.  I claim to be a Christian and yet Brown’s writing and ideas are just so contrary to a faith based world view.  This little book is quite useful for someone like me. With an alphabetical marching of topics in page after page, Cox reveals the sources for the facts and the fiction (mostly fiction) behind Brown’s fictions.  Since I first found out that Geoffrey Moore did not invent the  the idea of “eartly adopters” , I have been a believer that ideas get recycled from story teller to story teller.  Cox does us a favor by laying out just where many of the ideas came from and often from whom.  If you have read the “book” then this book is quite helpful  to you.  I was interested in the links between DaVinci, Isaac Newton and others Cox found.

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cold Calling. Keith Rosen

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cold Calling. Keith Rosen. 2004.  ISBN 1592572278. I needed to research some sales tactics last week and re-discovered this book on my shelf.  It was a treasure as the author – a sales top percentage seller as well as a clear writer has put together a good simple  workbook wrto leads and lead generation/prospecting.   He gives useful and succinct advice which ties in closely with the research  created by Rocket Builders on Precision Sales and Marketing.  There are certain things every sales person needs to know before they pick up the telephone. Eg.

  • What must you know about this prospect in order to decide that they are a real customer for your product? (Brian Carrolls ” a qualified lead”)
  • Every salesperson should be able  to fluently/truthfully present 5 compelling reasons to buy his/her product – (not compelling – more than different) These should survive the “so what” response.
  • Prospects buy what the product does for them ( The drill creates holes). What does yours do (In English? )
  • Why should they care what you have to say – what is in it for them?
  • How are you  (and your product) going to help them become a better , (e.g. Product manager, CEO CFO?) at what they do?
  • What is your key differentiator – that no one else/product can do?
  • Your no 1 (and 2,3,4,5 …) sales tools are the stories from wildly satisfied customers.–exactly like the target you are selling to!  Is your tool box filled ?
  • Prepare to prospect more leads from the prospect before you talk to them, even if they do not become” qualified”.
  • Gatekeepers are more often information warehouses than barriers- how are you doing with them?  Do you know what their day is like?

There is much more here. As in many sales books the essence is presented along with the necessary. So the audience who most needs to know this material (rooky, tired, jaded and wearly) , often skips over the most important parts.
if you sell – and want to do better – this is a good primary resource book

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buy-ology Truth and lies about why we buy. Martin Lindstrom.


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buy-ology Truth and lies about why we buy. Martin Lindstrom. 2008. ISBN 9780385523882.  This is the best book on marketing I have read this year.  Lindstrom  (www.martinlindstrom.com)  is famous world over for assisting major firms about effective marketing.  So take this expertise and marry it with science  i.e fMRI and SST studies of brain activities to actually measure brain response to marketing messages (no more this what I think he wants to hear feedback)  The outcomes  are hilarious, upsetting and completely different than what you expect.  Eg

  • The Surgeon Generals warnings on cigarettes actually stimulate smokers to smoke more!
  • Only Coca Cola is really getting true value from its American Idol ads (unlike Fords $27m) .
  • It just goes on and on. Oh and the logo you sweated over so much – no effect considering the other things going on in your targets life!

If you have any touch points with marketing you must buy read and reread this book. If you are a consumer – you will be a better informed one if you read this book.  I can think of no one who would not benefit from reading this bok, unless you are the the unlikely ad exec who “sold” a big campaign that Lindstom just blew holes in.   Clearly written , well organized (and thoroughly annotated)  you will really enjoy this one!

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Isaac Newton. James Gleick.

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Isaac Newton. James Gleick. 2003. ISBN 1400032954. At various times of his life Newton was a reclusive, paranoid, antisocial cleric/scholar at Cambridge who as he rose in esteem,  grew increasingly ambitious, autocratic and demagogic.  It seems he travelled very little, probably never saw the sea , yet set down the answers to tides and the creation of tide tables.

The trials of an author,  trying to recapture the life of persons who lived at that time in what was a very rural England with only had one large city London,  can only be imagined.  Records were scant to nonexistent, most of the population was illiterate, books were published rarely and read by few.  The language was Old English yet most of what Newton discovered required new words to describe it.

Lesson learned for me was the extent that Newton explored alchemy (which became very useful when he was put in charge of the Royal Mint) .  He struggled to reconcile his theological research with the preachings of the day, having decided that the “Holy Trinity”  was just not based on the ancient writings he had translated and that the Church had manufactured stories over the years. This was a real problem because at one time in order to remain at Cambridge he was supposed to be ordained as a priest.  Newton also hid the bulk of his findings away for many decades, refusing to publish them, yet railing against those who “rediscovered” the materials on their own and published them. Letters flew across the country, positions were taken, hatreds grew.  When Newton grew in esteem and power, he became a real tyrant in his positions against all others. It was pretty heady stuff in its day.

If you are a scientist or just  curious, this is a a useful book. Not an easy read, through no fault of the author. But it is short.

Cover of "Isaac Newton"
Cover of Isaac Newton
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Youtube: An insider’s guide to climbing the charts. Alan Lastufka & Michael W. Dean

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YouTube: An insider’s guide to climbing the charts. Alan Lastufka & Michael W. Dean. 2009. ISBN 9780596521141.  When I picked this one up I could not help but think, “Why? Why would anyone want to be really good at Youtube?”  This book gives any marketer more than enough answers.

The authors are not only adepts at YouTube, they have a good background in film and film studies.  This combination has allowed the creation of  a very pragmatic, hands on guide that really does lead you through how to achieve the goal in the title. Very readable and moves right along, so it is not a heavy tome by any measure.

On another level the book provides some insight on the user generated content space and just how compelling it is. The linked examples in the book are very useful in a study of this space.  You see how Youtube has been able to generate such a strong and growing user base.  No wonder that the analysts say that Google is losing millions on just the hosting alone for YouTube.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out and for how long.    Any marketer will gain a lot from this book.

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The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited. Real-life lessons in Word of Mouth marketing. Emanuel Rosen

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The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited. Real-life lessons in Word of Mouth marketing. Emanuel Rosen. 2009. ISBN 9780385526326. Rosen first published the ground breaking Anatomy of Buzz in 2000.  This updated version brings in the  growth in knowledge of  social media and WoM marketingover the last 8 years.    Using a technique of short tight chapters, Rosen creates a very readible text full of good case studies and examples. If you are in marketing, you have read his first book. This updated version deserves to be on your reading shelf as well.  Great book for a coast  to coast flight (or Vancouver to Florida)  as it will take the round trip to fully appreciate everything in this book.  Lesson learned for me?  A 2007 Edelman Trust study stated that the most top rated source of trusted information was ” a person like me”, up there with a doctor or health care specialist. A CEO was rated number 8 and a PR person no. 10 on a trust scale.  (well deserved rating I would say)

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Secrets of Social Media Marketing. How to use online conversations and customer communities to turbo charge your business. Paul Gillin

Secrets of Social Media Marketing. How to use online conversations and customer communities to turbo charge your business. Paul Gillin. 2009. ISBN 9781884956850. Paul wrote The New Influencers. This new book is a well researched and well written continuation of how he sees the marketing world still  evolving. This book is so filled with useful advice and numerous links (www.SSMMBook.com) that any review can not do it justice. Gillin’s  long history in the tech community makes him the correct guy to do this type of book.  I t is  a clear easy compelling  read.

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Customer Words (voice of the customer). That is what much marketing is usually missing

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Customer Words (voice of the customer).  Sales and Marketings’ often missing element.

While working with a few very diverse clients last week, I realized that they had both missed the strategic importance of using customer words.
One client was receiving very good testimonials on how great their service was, how quick the responses were and how thoroughly customers were helped through their requests. I asked my client what would be done with the good words. They did not know.   I suggested that these would be ideal immediate candidates for their sparse testimonial web page.
Client two had a market segment with  frozen capital funding. Several past customers were finding it difficult to pay annual maintenance on products due to the systematized funding freeze. This segment will be receivers of funds in Obama’s rebuilding plan, but today the dollars were not there. My client decided to try out a retention program that essentially guaranteed select customer licenses, using a multi month pay-us-when-the-funds-arrive partnership plan. This cost little  to do but the results were priceless.  The first customers became product evangelists and were effusive with praise for my client , with language such as , ” You really understand what we are going through.  You are working with us to make it happen.”   I suggested that this plan deserved to be rolled out to any past customers who were in the same boat, using words from these effusive customers in all communication.

Voice of the customer is one of the strongest marketing tools you have for your lead generation and customer nurturing activities. In our Foundation Precision Sales and Marketing Program, after the hard work on segmentation, positioning and value proposition is first done, equally important Voice of the Customer research is undertaken. Voice of the Customer is how you validate  your value statements and build up your marketing messages to show why a prospect would want to trust you. Done well, you are then sensitized to always  capture and use more voices of the customer.  This is a strategy that pays long term dividends.  Top salesmen have used customer voice for years.

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Nine Commentaries on the Chinese Communist Party. The Epoch Times, 2005

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Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party.  The Epoch Times. 2005.  ISBN 1-932674-16-0. The Epoch Times wrote these as a series of columns which are now available as a download and a book.  (http://ninecommentaries.com/)   It could use some editing, as it was put together as nine separatly published  “stories” which as a complete set , causes some repetition.  If you are a scholar of trends,  cultures  and predicting economic behavior tied to past behaviors,  this is your type of book.

I was shocked to realize the worsening  abject poverty of the 800 M peasants in China.   They are still in  a residential registry system, preventing them from freely moving around the country. Peasants earn 1/3 of an urban wage and yet carry the highest tax load of the country.   They have no medical insurance,  no UI, no retirement pensions, and can not take loans from banks.  They pay a mandatory provident fund, public welfare fund, administrative management fund, extra education fee, birth control fee, militia organization and training fee, country road construction fee, and military service compensation fee.   They must sell part of their grain at a flat rate to the state , pay agricultural tax, a butchery tax as well as other levies. If you live in an urban environment you pay none of this while earning much more.

The articles detail the systemic corruption in China as well as the state sponsored suppression of groups such as Falun Gong.  There is much evidence of periodic loosening of oppression and then subsequent tightening. the authors warn that the party is very good at manipulating Western press to their own ends.  Human rights and care for the environment are not even on the table in Chian.  Quite the opposite.   As well there is a good discussion of how far the Chinese system has moved away from resembling Communism into a revised totalitarianism with very cult like attributes.  Other religions are feared and suppressed – voilently.   The party has only one goal, to remain in control.  A very illuminating series.

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Style. Toward clarity and grace. Joseph M. Williams

Style. Toward clarity and grace. Joseph M. Williams. 1995.  ISBN 0226899152.  A very good handbook to better writing. A very useful addition to Zissner’s On Writing Well.  I expecially enjoyed the references to good writing that tended to break the rules, while still showing that they author knew all the “rules”.   If you feel that your concise albeit clear  writng is tends to being boring,  this book will  to help you  add interest and style to your work.  Not a light read, it is more useful to you if you have some work that you wish to edit at hand.

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