New business books to inspire you

Syndetics book coverThe freaks shall inherit the earth : entrepreneurship for weirdos, misfits, and world dominators / Chris Brogan.
“Do you ever wonder where you fit in? Do you sometimes get that feeling that you have something much bigger to offer the universe, but then it fills you with fear and anxiety, so you think maybe I’ll just pay it safe? But what is safe? The factory job? The cubicle job? Factories all over have been converted to open spaces for startups. Skyscrapers have entire floors open for lease because the “same as everyone else” class of jobs have dried up. Many of us were raised to seek out a job that required us to fit in, to conform, to adapt until we fit the mold. The Freaks Shall Inherit The Earth is a guide for the kind of person who wouldn’t normally pick up a business book. The personal business revolution is upon us. Here’s your recipe book for starting your revolutionary business, including some of what you will learn: How to be as weird as you want while providing a viable business structure to support it What most people are missing from the basic frameworks of doing business How to turn passions into businesses How to build out the Digital Channel What Kickstarter and Square mean for the future of business) Take the plunge. Learn to fail and then win. Dare to do something that “everyone else” doesn’t. The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth will help. Bestselling author and successful entrepreneur Chris Brogan explains step-by-step how to build your business from the ground up, all without compromising the unique mindset and personal values that make you a freak in the first place”– Provided by publisher.

Syndetics book coverHearing our calling : rethinking work and the workplace / Gill Coombs.“This book is for people who are dissatisfied with their jobs, and would like to find their vocation. Coombs questions many unquestioned assumptions about the workplace, putting our work into the larger context of where we are as a society today, and the environmental crisis. I think this book will also appeal to people — like me — who feel a deep unease with ‘business as usual’ and believe that there are alternatives out there to many conventional modes of work. The book begins by exploring a general sense of unhappiness in the workplace, suggesting that our large institutions have inadvertently created a situation where people’s best talents are underutilized or ignored. She then explores the history of work, and the underlying assumption — or insistence — that there’s no alternative to how we live now. The most useful chapters, for me, were those that looked at finding your vocation. Coombs looks at the human community ecologically, suggesting that each of us has a natural role or purpose to play. The bottom line, Coombs suggests, is that business as usual is no longer possible, and that a general, society-wide rethinking is required about how we live. And there seems no better place to start this process than in the workplace. Recommended”. (Amazon UK)

Syndetics book coverDecoding the new consumer mind : how and why we shop and buy / Kit Yarrow ; foreword by Paco Underhill.“I highly recommend this book and it was a really enjoyable read – very accessible to most anyone interested in the topic of consumer psychology. This is also critical read for marketers of all levels. It provides a thorough analysis of the shift in today’s current consumer mindset with implications to digital and native advertising, public relations and brand identity. This is the perfect introduction for executives of any level and within any department in order to understand the impact of a new cultural identity, and to align their operations with marketing targets”. (Amazon reviewer)

Syndetics book coverSuper teams : using the principles of RESPECT to unleash explosive business performance / Paul Marciano, PhD, Clinton Wingrove. “…SuperTeams is: a different and highly compelling book about transforming groups of individuals not only into teams but into high performance teams that get terrific business results. When I reviewed Carrots and Sticks, I described it as the most important book on Worker Safety of the 21st Century and it isn’t about worker safety, and I stand by that assessment. If that is true, that SuperTeams is a close second. In SuperTeams Dr. Paul Marciano (an intellectual powerhouse in his own right) teams with Human Resources guru Clinton Wingrove to create a work that is more applied and instructive than Carrots and Sticks, and that builds on the first book. SuperTeams is like a field manual for putting Carrots and Sticks into place. I keep three books on my desk that I consult often, SuperTeams is one of them. It is a truly important work that anyone who manages people should know and reference; take my advice: buy two, because you will want to keep one close and if you lend one out you probably won’t get it back”. (Amazon reviewer)

Syndetics book coverThe curve : turning followers into superfans / Nicholas Lovell.“This is not only a great read, but following on from titles such as “The Long Tail” is opening our eyes to the imminent future of consumer orientated business. Covering a multitude of examples from businesses across Gaming, Music, Baking Goods and Swimming Pools, Nicholas shows how the embracing of the Free price point is enabling people throw of the tyranny of the physical and significantly increase their earnings and value of their business. I would recommend this as a key book for anyone who is involved in a business which sells direct to consumers. (Amazon UK reviewer)

Syndetics book coverThe hard thing about hard things : building a business when there are no easy answers / Ben Horowitz.
“*Starred Review* It’s fairly evident that this is a collection of blogs, loosely strung together, united in their varied perspectives on start-ups, CEO-dom, and business in general. Though Horowitz is a cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and his credentials reside mainly in Silicon Valley, he’s imparted some valuable insight on hard lessons learned that apply to any manager, whether in the executive suite or not. As with most experiential books, it is all about him but it’s written in such an engaging and universally acceptable manner that no one could object. Leave aside his background, for the moment. Who would realize, for instance, that executives worry about things like initiating layoffs, hiring the right people, training, and minimizing politics, among others? It’s a refreshingly honest take, and his colorful (and, yes, profanity-laced) language breaks down any other misperceptions about the role and the person. Plus, his imagination is compelling, such as the comparisons between peacetime and wartime CEOs: Peacetime CEO always has a contingency plan. Wartime CEO knows that sometimes you gotta roll a hard six. After all, the success equation is easy: the hard thing is getting it done.–Jacobs, Barbara Copyright 2014 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverJab, jab, jab, right hook : how to tell your story in a noisy social world / Gary Vaynerchuk.“I have a ton of social media books on my shelves, but none of them work quite the same angle as this author. While many books focus on the ‘how-to’ of a specific platform, or even go into detailed accounts of exactly what to post, this book focuses on something much more interesting: storytelling…The author argues that stories change with each platform, and then goes on to show how your story should change in each instance. His six rules for storytelling on social media platforms inform the more detailed advice he gives for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, & Tumbler…If you own or work in any business, this is a great place to start. It’s not a how-to and the author expects some media savvy on the part of the reader, but what you will learn about storytelling on different platforms will be invaluable for your company if you apply it appropriately. Highly recommended.” (Amazon reviewer)

What I’ve been tweeting lately

Transforming Performance Measurement for the 21st Century via @fulltextreports

Best practices & guidelines for social media, mobile & digital WOM communications in today’s regulatory environment
via @womma

2014 MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte social business study Via

The Shifting Economics of Global Manufacturing How Cost Competitiveness Is Changing Worldwide via @fulltextreports

A new study says that failure is the key to the success of entrepreneurs via @freelancersu: Serial Entrepreneurship: Learning by Doing?

Global talent and rewards study

The Second Most Common Marketing Mistake (guest post from Michael Noone)

This article follows on from End Your “Yeah, Me Too” Marketing.

The second most common marketing mistake that businesses make is what we call “Fragmented” or “Piece-Meal” Marketing.” This is absolutely the wrong approach to marketing, yet it is the most common approach in business today. Everybody is doing it, including you and your competitors. The good news (or bad news if you’re slow), is that the first one to fix this problem basically wins. Seriously.

Let me explain fragmented marketing, which is the wrong way to do it, in contrast to what we call “systemised marketing” which is the right way to do it.

Fragmented marketing means that there is no cohesive message or comprehensive system handling your marketing for you. Instead, when you buy marketing and advertising, it is developed by the company creating the ad. Right?

Think back to the last advertisement or marketing piece that you created for your company. What was it—a brochure, a website, a printed ad, a radio spot? So now let me ask you a question—who created the final product for you? They did, didn’t they? The radio station created your radio spot, the magazine created your magazine ad, the design company created your brochure, the web design company created the website, and the video production company developed the content for your video, right?

Think about how fragmented that makes your marketing efforts. All of those different companies have different ideas about what your marketing message should be based on their limited experience. Inevitably, they all use platitudes and then try to throw in their own dose of creativity. Think about how wrong this is. You need to develop and own your own message. You shouldn’t leave it to others, and you certainly shouldn’t leave it to multiple teams of others who don’t really have your best interest in mind, nor do they care about your position in the marketplace.

This is why you need to have a marketing system in place. The system dictates the content of the advertisements and it dictates the sequence that your prospects go through and the message that your prospects hear as they are ultimately led to your door. A systemised marketing program would actually facilitate the decision making process—in other words it would define what criteria your prospect should look for in a company, product, or service, and in doing so, it would lead them to buy from you and not your competitor.

Here’s another question to illustrate this problem—take a look at your last advertisement (I know it’s filled with platitudes), but here’s the question.
How much money did you pay to have the content of that advertisement strategically created and formulated to ensure maximum results? I’m not talking about the design. I’m talking about the content—the message—what you actually said in the advertisement—not what it looks like.

That’s what I thought—you paid nothing, right?

99.9% of the time, you only paid to have the advertisement produced or designed, or you paid for the spots or “airtime.” The content was usually just thrown together by the designer, the production team, or the salesperson!

Think about it—the most important part of your marketing material—that is, the content and message—was put together for free by people who usually have no idea how to create good messaging anyway. And have you ever heard the saying, “you get what you pay for?” Well, I hate to tell you this, but if you’ve never paid anybody to create the actual message or content for your advertising campaigns, then you got what you paid for.

So here’s the point—when you think of marketing, you need to start thinking about your message. You need to think about what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. When you think of marketing—don’t think of mediums anymore—think of messaging. Only once you have the right message should you start considering which mediums to run your marketing in.

You see, this is the difference between a marketing system and typical fragmented marketing. A marketing system considers first the message. Then it develops the message and installs the message in a comprehensive marketing system, which facilitates the prospects decision making process. Finally, it chooses the best mediums to put those messages into to generate leads to pump into the system. Do you see how much more effective that is than typical fragmented marketing?

In our audio program, I use Apple as an example of a company who is doing their marketing the right way. Now I don’t care if you like or dislike Apple and whether or not you use their products. But think about it, as of the time of this article, Apple is currently the most profitable company in the world. They have more money in the bank than the US Federal government, they have zero debt, and they rose to TOTAL DOMINANCE selling overpriced electronic equipment to consumers in the “worst economy since the great depression.”

Obviously, Apple is doing something right when it comes to marketing. Now, I don’t want you thinking that you can model your business after Apple and make a ton of money. Nor do I think that Apple’s success is based purely on marketing. However, the philosophy and methodology of Apple’s marketing has helped them achieve their current level of success. And, your business whether you are generating 1 billion, 100 million, 10 million, or 1 million dollars in revenue each year, will be able to benefit from these insights.

I am mentioning this right now because it is relevant to the concept of having a marketing system.

Think about Apple for a second—do they have fragmented marketing or do they have a marketing system? Exactly! They have a marketing system. Their entire sales process is controlled by Apple, it is not left to others or to the fickle nature of the marketplace. Apple owns it and in doing so, they profit greatly from it.

Where Did Platitudes Come From?

After reading the preceding text, you might be asking yourself, why are we all using platitudes? It seems so obvious that it’s the wrong way to do it, but everybody is doing it. Well, I don’t want to spend too much time answering that question, because I want to get to the solutions quickly for you, but the answer to this question is actually more important than you realize. And, understanding the answer to this question is essential in order for you to be able to fix the problem.

So, have you ever seen the “Invisible Gorilla experiment?” If not, let me explain it to you. The experiment was devised by Dan Simons who received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Cornell University. You can find the video on YouTube by typing in Invisible Gorilla into the search field or clicking on the link.

In the video there are 3 students with white shirts and 3 students with black shirts. The white team passes a basketball to one another and the black team does the same. But the catch is that they are all moving around, and walking in and amongst one another. Your job as the observer is to count how many times the team with the white shirts passes the ball to one another. That’s it. The video only lasts about 20 seconds.

But here’s where it gets funny. In the middle of the video, a guy wearing a gorilla suit walks right into the video frame, stands right in front of the camera, faces the camera, leans back, pounds his chest, and then walks out of the camera frame. It’s hilarious, because he’s right there in front of your face pounding the chest.

But, guess what. Most people watching the video never see the gorilla. I’m serious. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Years ago when this video first came out, I bought a license from Dan to use this video in my training seminars. The video has been shown to hundreds of people and my personal experience has been that well over 80% of people I show it to, never see the gorilla. In fact, I always hope that at least 1 person sees the gorilla, because if not, my audience accuses me of showing 2 different videos.

You know why, because humans simply cannot believe that a full size gorilla could walk right in front of their face, pound his chest, and walk away without them ever noticing. But it’s true. It’s unbelievably true. You see, it’s just part of human nature. And the reason why it happens is because the viewer is distracted counting basketball passes. You see, if the viewer was not given the task of counting basketball passes, basically 100% of all people would see the gorilla. But because people are distracted with another task, they completely miss these incredibly obvious things happening right in front of them.

This is the exact same way that street magicians and pickpockets operate. They are called masters of misdirection because they have learned how to focus your attention on something else while they are stealing your wallet, watch, or purse, or producing a card from a card deck to impress you.

Think about how that applies to you. Are you focused on running your business? I bet you are. I bet you are a very effective and focused business person who runs their business pretty efficiently, or at least you’re trying to. But think about that as it pertains to marketing. If you are distracted by industry news reports, inventory, profit and loss sheets, HR issues, turnover, insurance, sales forecasts, personnel problems, payroll, and the other 273 relevant issues that you need to pay attention to so that you can effectively run your business, it is highly likely that some very obvious and important gorillas are pounding their chest in front of your face and you are missing them altogether.

In fact, the same goes for other areas of your life like your relationships, your family, your health, your faith and other important things. You should really consider that.

But anyhow, we’re talking about marketing right now and I want to help you understand where this invisible gorilla came from in marketing advertising. And for the sake of this discussion, the invisible gorilla represents the two common mistakes we discussed previously—that is using platitudes, and using fragmented marketing. In order to understand this, we need to take a trip down memory lane.

So let’s go back to the late 1800s. Back then advertising in America was done mostly on a local or regional level. And because of that, the advertising was very comparative and the competition was really fierce. Advertisers didn’t use wishy washy platitudes. Instead they were very specific about why you should buy from them and not their competitors. This continued all the way through the middle of the 20th century. But then, the most significant change in the history of advertising came to America around 1945. It was then, that television was first introduced commercially to America. By the time the 50s rolled around, the typical American family had one television set, but it only received 3 channels.

But here’s the thing, people were enamoured with this new device and they basically sat around every night watching it. It was a powerful opportunity. Some of the biggest companies in the country saw the opportunity and jumped onto it. They realized that they could reach pretty much everybody in the whole country using the TV and they could do it for a pretty cheap price. They could buy a TV commercial and almost reach everybody in the entire country for around $4,000 per minute. I mean it was the deal of the century, even in 1950s money.

So once this began to catch on, the price for commercials skyrocketed. It’s simple supply and demand. Local and regional advertisers started disappearing because they couldn’t afford the higher rates so the ads were all dominated by larger, national companies. And since these large advertisers were already large and had national distribution, the results from these TV commercials were huge—so they happily paid the money.

As the advertising prices rose, the length of the average commercial shrank down and down until it finally got to an average of 30 seconds. You may or may not remember, but they used to be 2 minutes long.

But here’s why this is important to you. With only 30 seconds available, advertisers lost the opportunity to really educate their prospects. There was no time available, so instead they started using slogans. They did not explain why they were better, what their unique selling proposition was, or what gave them the competitive edge. Instead, it was all slogans and platitudes simply because of time.

Large advertisers discovered that, because there were relatively few competitors competing on the national stage, they could just spend money and win automatically. They didn’t have to be better, they didn’t have to be unique, and they didn’t have to offer better service or quality. They could simply come up with the big bucks on TV commercials and then laugh all the way to the bank. If there were a few competitors that was fine because there was enough business to split 2 or 3 ways. This is why we ended up with 2 or 3 major players in most national industries. We have Ford, GM, and Chrysler. There’s Pepsi and Coke, etc.

Ultimately, what happened is advertisements lost their sales and marketing function and instead became all about creativity and design.

Let’s create something funny, cute, entertaining, and then imprint it on everybody’s brains by playing it a billion times on TV and we’ll win.

Melts in your mouth, not in your hand. It’s Kentucky Fried Chicken for me. Don’t leave home without it. Fly the friendly skies. The Warehouse – Where everyone gets a bargain. How about this one – World Famous In … That’s right – World Famous In New Zealand.

How’d you know that? That commercial hasn’t run for several decades! Anyhow, creativity, slogans and platitudes took over and began to fill every advertising medium: radio, newspaper, magazines, billboards, yellow pages, you name it.

In fact, they even teach this kind of junk in business colleges and universities because they think this is the way to do it. After all, all of these companies have made their millions doing marketing this way—so it must be right. Right? Yeah, right. Not even close.

So here’s the big problem, nearly everybody today involved in advertising and marketing including marketing graduates, marketing directors, business owners, and advertising salespeople all grew up in an era of creativity, slogans, and platitudes. So, what do they do when it’s time to create their own marketing and advertising? Well, they call upon their memory banks and pull up all of the advertising and marketing that they’ve ever seen in their life, and use it as a model to create their own advertising and marketing. And the result is that they come up with a bunch of platitudes and lame slogans.

The messages they send are so bad that now they have to shout at you in TV ads to get your attention. Does that win you over or irritate you?

It’s the invisible gorilla in the advertising industry. Everybody is doing it the wrong way even in your industry. But here’s the beautiful part about it all. The first one to fix this problem wins. If you will take a step back, look at the marketplace again and you’ll see there is a big gorilla pounding its chest at you. And if you’ll just follow the methodology I teach, you can take your company on the path towards TOTAL DOMINANCE.