Four Books, Seven Years and One Message
Being a keen reader, especially when it comes to marketing strategies and the like, I seem to devour these types of books and when I can can see a common thread over a period of years, it gives me goose bumps.
Every book has something to offer and helps me to learn how people develop when planning to sell products or services. I especially love to read about ther problems, how they managed to get by and finally what the outcome was that compelled them to write a book about the subject in the first place.
Waiting for your Cat to Bark
Back in 2009 I purchased a copy of Waiting for your Cat to Bark (Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing), by Brian and Jeffrey Eisenberg. It was en eye-opener and made complete sense to me. It seemed like they were stating the obvious, which is what all good books do for me, it was so simple; Identify them, write for them and speak to customers in their own language.
Digital Body Language
As I got more interested in personas and looking to better connect with potential customers looking at the sites I was working on (no surprise there then!), I picked up a copy of Digital Body Language by Steve Woods (Deciphering Customer Intentions in an Online World). Steve Woods is the co-founder of Eloqua, the marketing automation software provider.
Well, these two books combined presented a world that had before been unattainable. On the one hand to make sure that the messages we put across were correctly crafted and then to be able to seek out a method that delivered the correct information to the right person(a).
Landing Page Software
We later started using Landing Page software from the likes of Unbounce and ION which also helped us segment the people and businesses we were marketing to, but back to the books.
When it comes to developing our businesses there is a tendency, with me at least, to want to make the business perfect. Whether its the web site, content, infrastructure, well, just about anything. It doesn't necessarily help with me being a bit of a perfectionist as well. Perfectionism can impair a process like Lean Start Up.
The Lean Start Up
Without attempting to put myself across as a Lean Start Up guru, because I'm not, however, having recently read Eric Ries's book (which was recommended to me by a chap from Intuit, the accounting software company, at a business exhibition), I started to realise that there was a common theme running through all these books and that was to put the focus on the customer. Not just talking like them in their language but to building the whole business around them and not simply what we wanted or liked.
I often say to younger businesses, its all well and good your mother telling you that you have a great web site, but its the customers that count.
In essence, Lean Start Up encourages us to focus on what works for the customer, even if its a manual process. Get it right first and don't waste valuable resources, financial and human, in making a perfect first "Whatever it is you're developing". Ries talks about a MVP, a minimum viable product. And the examples were inspiring, especially when the CEO is doing a manual job to establish of an automated product will work - and then getting the required investment - and then seeing the company go from strength to strength.
The same approach can be used when applying marketing strategies and establishing their effectiveness. The key element here is to actually speak to the customers instead of blindly persuing a strategy, whether its working or not.
So, here I am reading Lean Start Up and I receive one of my many emails I seem plagued with. This time it was from Marketo, another marketing automation software company who by the way produce some great content (a bit of Eats Shoots and Leaves going on here ), It showed two people fighting over a book called Youtility. This is the power of "Word of Mouth".
After reading the article, I was compelled to buy the book. The intro was excellent and by the time I got to the main part of the book I was hooked. I read it over the weekend as I realised that it dovetailed with the Lean Start Up book and the two previous ones.
Youtility put the focus squarely on the business leaders to drive the business in such a way that the business moves from selling to helping - As Jay Baer says, there is only a two letter difference that makes all the difference.
Having been involved in selling since the 80's, It gets to feel a bit passe when a company wants to get out among the prospects and "close them down". I liked what Jay says about our potential markets:
- Suspects want to know what your company knows, not what you sell
- Prospects wants information that relates to their particular interest
- A lead is a prospect who meets a specific predetermined criteria making them disproportionately likely to become a customer.
- Opportunities are potential customers who are ready to buy.
So, that said, the crux of Youtility is to create content and a culture that strives to help not sell. Many of us don't like being sold to and enjoy the experience when someone actually takes the time to help us, without seemingly attempting to sell us something at the end of the process.
I read Youtility and then picked up Lean Start Up again.
When combining the messages of all four books it is clear that these four marketers and business owners have collectively created as mini library of essential information that will undoubtedly redefine the way businesses are run and the way we market to our target markets. Its little wonder that Zendesk, the online Customer Support company have been so successful.
If you want to stay ahead of the curve, I suggest that you go out and buy these books and get them read and inwardly digested before you start back in September. Some very interesting reading for the beach.
Here are the links to Amazon to check out the books: