Strategic Planet Logo
Could your business use a helping hand?
Book Summaries By Our Team

An Ordinary Man


by Paul Rusesabagina

The story of one manís fight against the bloodshed and horror that engulfed Rwanda in 1994, An Ordinary Man accurately depicts the massacre that occurred when civil differences led to outward hatred and murder. In roughly 100 days, 800,000 people were butchered by fellow countrymen, most by means of machete.

Rusesabagina, the manager of a luxury hotel in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, provided a safe haven for over 1,200 of his countrymen inside his facility. It was one of the only places in the country that was able to provide refuge during the gruesome conflict. Rusesabagina managed to keep those in his care alive through miraculous acts of bravery, flattery, and negotiation.

An Ordinary Man is a story about the triumphs and disappointments of humanity. Although the book is based upon the events that occurred in Rwandan history, it is also a reflection upon humanity as a whole. Itís a reminder of how fragile our circumstances, our way of life, and our surroundings can become if we neglect our responsibilities as human beings.


Book Yourself Solid


by Michael Port

Book Yourself Solid is all about helping businesses find out who their clients should be, and winning them as customers.

Port emphasizes that having a solid foundation is where success begins. A foundation should include:

  • Only working with clients that inspire and energize you
  • An understanding of why people want what your business provides
  • Branding
  • The ability to talk about your business to others in an exciting and interesting way

The ability to find new clients that are a fit for the business is critical for business growth. Port outlines a few techniques and marketing avenues that can help increase a client pool. These include:

  • Networking with individuals and groups that are likely to produce referrals
  • Direct Outreach – Calls, Letters, E-mail, Brochures, etc.
  • Obtaining referrals from current clients
  • Using the web – Gradual, permission based personal data gathering
  • Public Speaking and Demonstrating
  • Writing – Either online or in print
  • Keeping In Touch – Contacting clients and potential clients on a regular basis and providing them continually with valuable and relevant information

Throughout the book, the author provides step-by-step action suggestions. These suggestions provide the reader with a to-do list. Following the listed items allows the reader to put principles learned into immediate action.


Buzzmarketing


by Mark Hughes

All of the big guys (Coke, Johnson & Johnson, etc.) have been slowly pulling out of television, and other forms of traditional advertising. The following was posted on Buzzmarketing.com:

"In the ten years starting in 1994, AmEx's TV ad spending plummeted from 80% of its total advertising budget to 35%." -Los Angeles Times

Allstate slashed its upfront spending to $10 million from $70 million two years ago. -Wall Street Journal

Coca-Cola announced that it plans not to make any purchases during the TV upfront ad buying period. Yesterday Johnson & Johnson also announced plans to skip this year's TV upfront. Coke and J&J's move to sit out the TV upfront also reflects major advertising shifting their ad budgets away from network TV because of the changing media habits of consumers. -AdAge

78% of the top 133 marketers feel the potency of their television advertising has declined in the last two years. -ANA/Forrester Research Study

With the advent of Tivo and DVRs, along with the fact that marketing has become so noisy, many of the big players are realizing that their money could be better spent elsewhere.

Buzzmarketing is a very inexpensive way to get noticed in a big way. Examples include Half.com's idea to change the name of Halfway, Oregon to half.com, Oregon. It started a media frenzy, and was beneficial to both half.com and the town. Another example is IBM's campaign to support Linux development. IBM spray-painted city sidewalks with it's message. It got them into some trouble, but it definitely got them some buzz!

Buzzmarketing works off of a few simple concepts. Hughes outlines what he calls the 6 buttons of buzz marketing in his book.


Creating Customer Evangelists


by Ben McConnell & Jackie Huba

The best advertising is free advertising, and the best advertisers are those that spread the good word about your company simply because they want to.

The book has broken the evangelist creation process into 6 steps:

  1. Customer Plus-Delta. Companies need to know what their customers like about them and what they dislike. Knowing these things give companies something to work on, and keeps them from accidentally erasing something that customers love.
  2. Napsterize your knowledge. Giving away ideas and products creates word of mouth, and allows customers to pass information and products on to others. It's an effective way to put others to work marketing for you. Instead of giving one free sample, why not give two or three? Then, people will be able to try for themselves and distribute to others as well.
  3. Build the buzz. Getting people talking about something cannot be forced. People will spread ideas that are important or exciting to them. Simply introducing topics into networks that already exist (blogs, email, etc.) allows people to begin to generate a natural, un-forced buzz campaign for you!
  4. Create community. When people love something, they like to share it. They also like to interact with others who value the same things. Creating avenues for people to meet and interact helps to develop a following of evangelists that will find their own ways to spread the word about your company. It's like having a volunteer campaign team with no management needed.
  5. Bite-size chunks. Giving away a small sampling of your product or service makes it easy to obtain new customers. The barriers to entry for new customers are zero, and it lessens the barriers for them to purchase the full-blown version later.
  6. Create a cause. Don't just sell products and services. Sell a dream. Customers will become passionate about things when they see how it can affect lives, rather than how it can meet one specific need.

Failing Forward


by John Maxwell

Traditionally, people have viewed failures and mistakes as terrible events in life. We've been taught to see misfortunes as nothing but setbacks and difficulties.

Maxwell presents a series of examples of people who've taken their failures, and used them to become strong, inspiring people. Anything from business failure to life threatening accidents, which often destroy a person's faith and happiness, can lead people to greatness. Failures can be some of our greatest blessings in disguise.

Maxwell outlines these steps to failing forward:

  1. Realize there is one major difference between average people and achieving people.
  2. Learn a new definition of failure.
  3. Remove the "you" from failure.
  4. Take action and reduce your fear.
  5. Change your response to failure by accepting responsibility.
  6. Don't let the failure from outside get inside you.
  7. Say good-bye to yesterday.
  8. Change yourself, and your world changes.
  9. Get over yourself and start giving yourself.
  10. Find the benefit in every bad experience.
  11. If at first you do succeed, try something harder.
  12. Learn from a bad experience and make it a good experience.
  13. Work on the weakness that weakens you.
  14. Understand there's not much difference between failure and success.
  15. Get up, get over it, get going.


Free Prize Inside!


by Seth Godin

Traditional Marketing has become noisy. Consumers are bombarded thousands of times a day with marketing through every medium imaginable.

These include:

  • TV
  • Radio
  • Magazines
  • Billboards
  • Newspapers
  • Packaging
  • And almost everything else you see, hear, read, taste, smell or feel every day.

Consumers have become so overwhelmed, that traditional marketing messages don't have the impact that they once did. Today, spending more money and running more ads does not always lead to an increase in sales.

The expenses of R&D are also increasing, so counting on your goods or services to sell themselves through product superiority is becoming very expensive.

So how do today's businesses get attention? By offering the Free Prize Inside!

Godin calls these ‘free prizes' soft innovations. These are simple ideas that cause customers to remember, return and refer. These are things that make a product or service remarkable. Some examples are:

  • Dinosaur shaped pasta by Chef Boyardee
  • Personal TVs in every JetBlue seat
  • Inexpensive HP printers, compensated by profitable ink cartridges
  • Enterprise Rent-a-Car, cater to non-airport customers
  • USPS zip-code system

Many of these innovative products and services don't differ much from the competition, but they give consumers that little extra something and a reason to remain loyal.


Leadership & Self-Deception


by The Arbinger Institute

"Self deception…blinds us to the true cause of problems, and once blind, all of the ‘solutions' we can think of will actually make matters worse."

Self Deception & the Box

Anytime we start down the path of self-deception, we find ourselves "in the box." The box is the mindset that tells us that our ideas and actions are right, smarter, and more appropriate than those that others may approach us with.

When we're in the box every decision we make takes us further and further away from a solution to our problems.

Getting In & Out of the Box

Whenever we put the blame for a problem or inconvenience upon someone or something other than ourselves, we enter the box. When we're in the box we simply cannot solve any of our problems correctly because we focus all of our attention on changing someone or something that we have no control over. We try and try to make things go our way, but no matter what we do, our problems seem to follow us.

Climbing out of the box occurs when we shift the blame to where it belongs – upon ourselves. When we start to change our own thoughts, beliefs, actions, etc., we'll soon realize that a majority of our stresses come from within. When we're out of the box, we can look at a situation from new perspectives. Being out of the box lifts us to a higher vantage point that allows us to see things that we'd never notice otherwise.

Examples

  • While driving on the freeway, someone pulls up behind your vehicle and starts tailgating you. You get angry and refuse to switch lanes to get even with him. Then, you realize that your cruise control has turned itself off and you're going 10 mph below the speed limit. Suddenly you shift the blame to yourself, and the tailgater seems justified in his actions. You switch lanes and increase your driving speed, and everyone gets on with their journey.
  • You wake up at night to the sound of your baby crying. You lay in bed for a few minutes, hoping that your wife will wake up and go to take care of it. After a few minutes of waiting you realize that your wife isn't getting up. Thoughts start going through your head about how lazy she is and how you have to get up at 5:00 AM and need your sleep. Soon you begin to infuriate yourself and continue to harbor bad feelings toward your wife. You just know she is pretending to be asleep so you will have to get up to stop the crying. Suddenly you remember all of the things that your wife did all day and realize that she is just as tired as you are. You could have gotten up, taken care of the baby, and been back in bed in the amount of time you've wasted feeling sorry for yourself.

When we're in the box we view others as objects, and we think about what they should be doing for us. When we're out of the box, we see others as people, and try to find things that we can do for them.


Made to Stick


by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Ever wonder why we remember some things so vividly, and allow others to drift quietly out of memory? Made to Stick identifies some of the key elements that help route information away from the mind's garbage shoot and toward long term memory.

Have you ever attended a meeting or conference, and walked out racking your brain trying to remember what you've just listened to? Maybe you even had the initiative to take notes, but did those notes help make ideas become a vivid memory?

Now try to remember readying a story as a child with your mother, or watching your favorite movie for the first time. Even if those events took place twenty years ago, you can probably describe them accurately in amazing detail.

Made to Stick offers ideas that will help us communicate with others in ways that are more memorable and valuable. It's a guide to making communication more meaningful.


The New Rules of Marketing & PR


by David Meerman Scott

This book explains how the internet has changed the way that marketing and public relations are handled. Some methods that were used in the past, that are not as effective today are:

  • Traditional Advertising
  • One-Way interruptive commercials
  • Relying solely on the media to run your PR stories

People don't like one-way messages. Potential customers want the ability to find specifics about your products and services, and they want to find it in their own way and on their own time. The internet allows for all of that. People also like to receive information in a number of different ways. The internet provides an interactive education, rather than the filtered imagery or sound that we get from traditional media.

The web also allows us to cut out the middleman, and contact our audiences directly. No longer do we have to pay for our News and PR to be released to the world. Some ways that we can get our messages out quickly and easily are:

  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Social Networking Sites
  • Websites
  • RSS Feeds
  • Search Engines
  • Email

The most important change is that we can now target our audiences more effectively.  We don't have to over-generalize through one TV commercial.  Now, affordably and effectively, we contact each of our specific target markets with a message that is tailored to fit their needs. It's better for everyone.  Now, marketing doesn't have to be annoying to those that don't want to hear it and too vague for people that do.


Permission Marketing


by Seth Godin

There was a time when the loudest, most shocking and most intrusive advertising would win the most customers. But, as time has progressed, traditional mass marketing has become less and less effective.

Marketing has become so loud and pushy that consumers are beginning to treat it as annoying background noise and brushing it off. Traditional "interruption" marketing will become less and less effective as consumers are continually bombarded with mass media. What used to be innovative and different has become simply ordinary.

Landing a client these days takes trust and patience. The new way to win customers is by asking permission and waiting for them to "raise their hand." People don't like to be ‘sold' things. They like being able to discover for themselves new products and services that create value in their lives. They also like people and businesses that they can trust. One way that marketers can meet both of these criteria is to give someone a valuable free gift.

When a potential customer accepts a gift, the permission marketing ball can start rolling. Most consumers will gladly give up some simple personal information when something of value has been thoughtfully given to them first. This strategy not only benefits the consumer, but it gets the marketer's foot in the door and gives them permission to request another exchange in the future. Coming up with exchange tactics can be simplified by remembering "The less you ask of the consumer and the bigger the "bribe," the more likely the consumer will give you permission."

From there, permission marketing becomes a process. "The Permission Marketer knows that the first date is an opportunity to sell the other person on a second date." After the first transaction is completed, the marketer can gradually up the ante without sending potential customers scrambling. Eventually, marketers and consumers can develop healthy loyal friendships.


Why Johnny Can't Brand


by Bill Schley

This book's goal is to help companies discover what Schley calls a ‘Dominant Selling Idea.' In other words, what does the company do better than anyone else, and how can the company get people to associate its name with its DSI.

A DSI should be very specific and well defined. Blurring the edges to give the company some wiggle room is beneficial to neither the customer nor the company. If a business does not know exactly what it does, neither will potential customers. A Dominant Selling Idea must be spelled out in crystal clarity; it must be completely obvious to everyone.

A Dominant Selling Idea should be the force behind everything a company does. It should dictate:

  • The company name
  • Customer interaction policies and procedures
  • All marketing strategies
  • The company's logo design
  • Slogans and taglines
  • Etc.

Sometimes finding a Dominant Selling Idea isn't easy. It can take a lot of time and resources. Most businesses feel that they can't afford to ‘waste' efforts on such a project, but there's actually no better use for their resources.

Reading and following the book's plan of action from start to finish will provide the reader with a DSI in 8 short weeks.


Word of Mouth Marketing


by Andy Sernovitz

This book is all about getting people to talk about your business. The author has broken the process down to 5 T's:

  1. Talkers: Find out who will talk about you. If you're a day care, it's the parents of children that attend. If you're a motorcycle manufacturer, it's the people who love bikes. Knowing who will tell their friends about you is the first step to getting the word out.
  2. Topics: People need something to talk about, and they can't always come up with it on their own. Giving them something to share with a friend can be as simple as having a unique sale, giving a free-prize-inside, or doing anything else remarkable. When people experience something out of the norm, they will talk about it.
  3. Tools: There are a variety of tools available to help spread a message quickly and widely. Using blogs, tell-a-friend links, and emails are a few mentioned. Tools need to be simple or they're much less likely to be used by your customers.
  4. Taking Part: Once the message is out, you need to monitor what people are saying. Honestly reading and replying to messages that others are posting shows that you care about setting things right when an error occurs, and that you're thankful for praise when you receive it. The key is being honest and genuinely caring towards others.
  5. Tracking: Data is useless unless you collect it and you know what to do with it. Knowing what people are saying is one thing, knowing how to use that to advance your business is another. You need to know how to use and induce word of mouth if it is ever going benefit your business.