Tag Archives: Book Review

What Jay Baer’s book Youtility taught me

youtility_book_jay_baerAs a consumer, you probably don’t pay much attention to the profound impact that technology is having on our behavior. For example, wearable tech like the Nike FuelBand is improving our awareness of daily activity. And the more we monitor, the more easily we are encouraged to remain on track. But technology is also having the opposite effect on marketing. According to Jay Baer’s book Youtility, technology is making top-of-mind awareness, or keeping a product or service in front of a consumer, ineffective. This shift is forcing marketers to become more creative in how do they connect with consumers. Baer stitches together several arguments that have resulted in this shift:

  1. The media landscape has severely fragmented. Almost 40 years ago, a commercial airing alongside the #1 show Happy Days would capture the attention of 30 million viewer in the US. Nowadays, a “hot” show like The Walking Dead at best would have half that number of viewers. That number doesn’t seem so bad until one considers that in the US half of all cable/satellite subscribers have DVR’s and DVR users tend to skip half of all commercials. So the overall reach of TV has dropped by 75% over the past four decades.
  2. Consumers’ distrust of brands continues to grow. According to Edelman’s Trust Index Barometer, trust in businesses continues to fall year annually. edelman_trust_index_US_business_2014
  3. Consumers are extremely diligent in making buying decisions. On average, consumers rely on 10.4 sources of information before buying. While that’s a lot of research, brands have to be one of the go-to sources or miss out on the buying opportunity.

The issue at hand is the new friction between brands and consumers: today’s consumers are more elusive. And given that they are also less loyal than ever before, it is not surprising that marketers today are desperately looking for ways to deliver the right message at the right time to the right audience. From Baer’s perspective, brands focus on being helpful have a fighting chance to connect with consumers. Brands can reach this goal by producing high-quality content. That requires more than an army of one — it requires brands to mobilize their entire team. One of the striking examples in the book is OpenView Venture Partners, a 30 person shop that publishes a tremendous amount of content:

  • Daily: 1 article, 1 video
  • Weekly: podcast, newsletter, interview with business or marketing expert
  • Quarterly: 2 ebooks, 2 case studies, 2 reports, info-graphic & online assessment tool

So does this strategy actually work? Beyond reading about the case studies in the book, I’ve successfully applied this strategy in growing awareness for my agency channel. In my line of work, I help deliver technology solutions to agencies so I need to know who’s who. Early last year, I created and published a slide to Slideshare that highlighted network and non-network agencies in Atlanta. And that version of the slide received over 3,000 views in just a month! Since then, I’ve updated the slide a few times based on feedback from the agency community. Collectively, the slide has received close to 6,000 views on Slideshare over the past year. That is why I think that Jay’s book is a must-have for anyone that’s serious about marketing! Thanks to Mathew Sweezey, a marketing strategy evangelist at Pardot, who suggested that I read this book!

What’s the secret to going from good to great?

Every summer I take a week off of work to spend time with my wife’s family to just relax and play. The week also gives me time to catch up on whatever it is that I haven’t fitted into my normal, yet seemingly busy, life.

This year, I had the opportunity to read the The Big Short, a book by Michael Lewis. It is well-written tale on the real estate bubble of 2008 and the ensuing financial market meltdown. The entire book is amazing — one that was tough to put down — but there was one quote in it that jumped out at me:

If you’re in a business where you can do only one thing and it doesn’t work out, it’s hard for your bosses to be mad at you.

I can easily relate to this quote because I’ve tended to have multiple roles in each one of my jobs. While some roles weren’t right, these experiences validated my initial assumption that I have a passion for technology. And it is passion that has allowed me to go from good to great.

So what are the two things that hold us back from finding our passion?

The first thing is a lack of motivation. We’re such creatures of habit that we tend to fight change. That is why it is critical to experience new things, like getting out of your comfort zone, and to test (and retest) your limits every so often. You never know when you finally understand that one programming concept or overcome that one physically impossible challenge.

The second thing is a lack of curiosity. Ignorance is bliss! We simply don’t know what we should know.

At the end, if you don’t find either motivation or curiosity you’ll need to accept the fact that reaching your full potential is no one’s fault but your own.

PS If you’re a finance geek, this book is definitely for you!

Delivering Happiness by Zappos CEO delivers on its promise

Being in the service industry, I regularly read blogs about happenings in the business world. And every blue moon I get to read a good business book.

One book that I just finished reading is Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, written by Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh. The book chronicles Tony’s entrepreneurial journey from his first successful business where he sold mail-ordered button to the rise of Zappos.com and subsequent sale to Amazon. Throughout the book, Tony weaves in mini-lessons on what made things work (and what caused things to fail at times). Since the book is about delivering profits, passion, and purpose, I wanted to highlight a few lessons that struck a cord with me about running a business (or a team):

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