"Summertime...and the livin' is easy. Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high."
Ok..be glad you can't actually hear me singing, because truth is - I can't sing. Not even in the shower. That doesn't mean livin' ain't easy. Or, that the fish aren't jumpin'. It is summertime, and with this long-awaited season comes certain rules. Like the one that says - get thee to a beach! And while you're there enjoying the balmy breezes, the laughter of kids chasing each other on the shore, and the feel of warm sand between your toes, you had better have a good book in hand. What's better than relaxing on the beach with a good book?
Traditionally, you would take a novel. But, that's so passe'. Yes, I know - The Da Vince Code is all the rage, but...really now, why must you follow the crowd? Can't you be different? While you're at the beach, take some time to catch up on the best how-tos in the business. Specifically, how-to market to women -or men, or kids, or pets - yes, pets have preferences, just ask their owners - who are usually women, by the way.
Here are three books I recommend - they will not only engage you, they will enlighten you. Wear sunglasses.
1. Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? by Bryan & Jeffery Eisenbert (with Lisa T. David). The usual pundits (Seth Godin and his ilk) are giving this book high praise - which usually steers me away from a book. I'm tired of 'experts' telling me what to read. I like word-of-mouth and viral marketing. I like hearing from my peers. I like...knowing the product I'm purchasing (or the book I'm reading) actually worked for someone other than the Seth Godins of the world.
This book rocks! I got a preview copy some time ago - after being contacted by Holly Buchanan. I put a lot of stock in what Holly says - and I know my good friend Michele Miller was talking up Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? too. In all honesty, these good ladies know the authors. So, it's to their advantage to talk up this book. But...and this is a very BIG BUT... they wouldn't talk up the book, if it wasn't good. They might 'mention' it, if asked. They might add it to their reading list, to be nice. But, they wouldn't talk it up like they are, if it wasn't good.
That's why I grabbed a review copy when it was offered, and why I'm writing about it now. I read it once and I'm going to read it again. If you want to understand this whole customer-centric marketing model - which is the way of NOW and TOMORROW - you'll get all the insight you need in this book. I will admit this - on the first page of the book there is a note from Roy H. Williams of the Wizard of Ads Trilogy - someone I admire and respect, more so than most anyone. So, anyone who gets a nod from Roy, gets a nod from me. Here's what he said,
"In 1999, the Wachowski brothers revolutionized moviemaking with stunning new agles and special effects in The Matrix. Now the 'Eisenbrothers' have done the same for business in Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? Stunning new angles! Techniques that will be copied for decades. Cat is sure to be remembered as the genesis of an important new direction in marketing."
Try not to get sand on it.
2. This next book will change the way you look at your business - for the better. Jaynie L. Smith (who will be a book interview in a future post - revealing more great stuff on this topic), has written a book that takes the ??? out of how to position yourself relative to your competition. Her book, Creating Competitive Advantage, outlines the steps you need to take to discover just what it is that you do so much better than anyone else. The key is this: it's probably NOT what you think it is.
Jaynie says, "When you promote your competitive advantages and identify new ones, you are making preemptive strikes against competitors who rely strictly on price. Let the other guy go broke with the price strategy, and never get down in the mud to wrestle with someone who outweighs you."
This is a quick and valuable rad. I was nodding my head throughout - stopping now and then to think of my competitive advantages - realizing that I might not know them all. I might have to ask my clients - or get Jaynie in to help me uncover them. The back cover comes with acclaim from David Neeleman (CEO JetBlue Airways) and Jack Trout (author of Trout on Strategy), two businessmen who look nice on anyone's cover. On this cover, their presence says, "Pay attention. This is good stuff." Be prepared for lots of great stories - and bring a highlighter - you'll want to mark specific passages.
3. As the old saying goes - the best is saved for last. Something to take away with you today. I have a vested interest in this next book. My company, WME Books, is the publisher. You should know, however, that although we support authors who elect to self-publish, we don't take all the authors who come through our door. Many of them just aren't ready for publication, and don't want to put the effort into their project to get it ready for publication.
Mary Clare Hunt is not one of those people. Mary is dedicated to her cause. I met Mary a long time ago - via the Internet. We exchanged emails for awhile and when she told me she was writing a book, I offered my services. Over a period of months, and missteps, we finally got together and WME Books got Mary's contract. I really wanted that contract. I knew that this book was going to be a blockbuster. I knew it because... it's about women and the trust factor - something no one else is talking about.
In Women We Trust: A cultural shift to the softer side of business is Mary Clare Hunt's first book, but it won't be her last. She has crafted a book stories that demonstate a new cultural, a woman's culture - with the kind of insight that comes with women's intuition. Here's what started it all, "One day," Mary says, "I realized that all of my professional dealings were with - women. I hadn't consciously chosen to work only with women, it happened over time. They were providing more value than men...and I liked working with them. In a way, I had switched from brand XY to brand XX." She then did a quick survey of her friends and lo! and behold! they all said the same thing - they preferred to do business within their own "culture" primarily because of the service!
I talk about women all the time. I mention the facts that we control more and more spending, and influence more and more purchasing decisions. Mary did her homework and includes all the relevant stats, but...she does so much more. Her book delves well beyond the usual marketing tools of fancy advertisements and catchy slogans. This is how she describes the new women's culture, "Women are interested in building connections and relationships with those whose values and communication skills match their own. It speeds up the trust building and makes business more fun."
It may be a challenge for companies to identify the characteristics of 'trust' from a woman's perspective, according to Mary. But, this new feminine culture is just that - a culture. Learning to work within it is just part of a learning curve. Business as usual.
We believe this book is for marketers and business professionals who may be aware of this cultural shift but aren't quite sure how to instill the change in their business. It's also for their employees, who, in most instances, are in a position to influence customers to a greater extent than expensive advertising and marketing promotions. And, we think it's for female consumers who take their purchasing power seriously.
You can get a pre-publication copy at a 20% discount here - but hurry. The book's publication date is June 30th. Visit Mary's blog here. And watch this space - for the announcement of a virtual book tour with Mary and some high-powered bloggers.
Don't ignore this cultural shift - it just may change the way we do business in the new millennium. And yes, you heard it here - first! (well, second...Mary's blog announced the book weeks ago...)
p.s. Don't forget: voting at Marketing Sherpa for the Reader's Choice awards in blogging is open until midnight Monday, June 26th, due to a problem with the survey form on Friday. If you feel good about voting for Lip-sticking, I am indebted to you. The important thing is to VOTE! (if not for me, maybe for Andy? Or Toby? Or Susan? Or Wayne? Or...gosh! Get over there and choose...I did.)