1. Read ASAP! · Career · Marketing · Skills

BR 236: This is Marketing by Seth Godin

Category: 1 – Read ASAP! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: “Marketers help drive change for the people they serve. Change happens with trust and tension.” All of Seth’s work drives home a few vital points – if we seek to drive change for people we serve, we are marketers. And, in the long run, our ability to be good marketers comes from consistently acting in a way that wins trust. And, we win trust by behaving in a trustworthy manner in whatever we do.

In many ways, Seth’s book was a “1 – Read ASAP” before it even showed up at my table because Seth has won my trust through years of daily writing on his excellent blog. His brand shines through. I expected it to change how I think about marketing.. and it did.

Finally, in the spirit of being targeted at an audience, this book is for fans of Seth’s blog. And, it delivers if you are one. :)

Top 3 Lessons:

  1. The famous adage about people buying a hole versus a drill still misses the point. People don’t buy the hole, they buy the shelf, cleanliness, and eventually the satisfaction of being clean. People buy experiences.
  2. The symbols and logos you use are part of your brand – a set of expectations. Brand is a set of associations that people care about.Direct marketing involves measuring everything. Brand doesn’t. Refuse to measure brand marketing – you should only do it if you are willing to be consistent and patient.People associate frequency with trust. Don’t change ads or what you’re communicating when you are tired. :) (Question for myself – what is my brand? What are the consistent messages?)
  3. In the 1960s, legendary salesman and coach Zig Ziglar used to sell pots and pans. The standard approach for a salesperson at the time was to hit a new town, sell as many pots and pans over the course of a day, and drive out to the next one. However, Zig did it differently. When he picked a town, he moved in for a few weeks. He made sure he got the early adopters his colleagues got on day one. But, then, he stayed long enough to make friends, organize dinners, and get to know the community. As his behavior was so unusual, he began winning the trust of the folks on the other side of the chasm until he’d successfully sold his wares to anyone in the town who had a need for them. The magic of Zig’s approach was to intentionally commit to being patient to make the change he sought to make.
2. BUY it! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Business · Creativity · Marketing · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research · Psychology · Relationships

BR 221: The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath

Category: 2 – BUY it!* (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: I love books by Chip and Dan Heath. While this book didn’t resonate as strongly as Decisive (their previous book) did, I thought it brought together lessons on a very important topic, Great moments are what we remember in this life. Understanding how these get made is, thus, as important a lesson as any.

Top 3 Lessons:

  1. A formula for excellent mentorship: High expectations + Assurance + Direction + Support
  2. Responsiveness is the key to strong relationships. It means you are attuned to the other person. The idea that physicians ask patients “what matters to you” revolutionized children’s healthcare in Scotland.
    Do we understand what matters to the people we care about? (Deep questions, thus, are a great way to get to know people.)
  3. In the short term, we often choose to fix problems over creating moments. In the long term, that backfires. Moments are not a means to the end, they are the end. They are what we remember in the end.
2. BUY it! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Leadership · Marketing · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research · Self Improvement

BR 110: Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Category: 2 – BUY it! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: It hammers home a simple idea and really demonstrates the power of a (simple) framework in making ideas stick. Only downside is that it can occasionally be repetitive – but, maybe, that is the point. :)

Top 3 learnings:

1. Start with Why

2. Start with Why. Then move to the ‘how’ and the ‘what’.

3. Start with Why. Always explain your purpose.

I have been working on implementing this in everything I do. It hasn’t become habitual yet but I’m hoping it will become soon. A simple, really powerful idea.

There are lots of other little lessons from the book that I could list in the top 3 learnings but I fear diluting what I really took away from the book.

3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Marketing · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research

BR 93: The Purple Cow by Seth Godin


Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: I love Seth’s daily blogs more than I do his books – for some reason. I think the daily dose of “Seth-spiration” is something that just doesn’t come off as much in his book.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Innovation is the only way forward. We have to create an offering that’s a ‘purple cow’ i.e. extremely special!

2. Companies often lose focus after creating a purple cow. They sacrifice uniqueness for profits. E.g.: Starbucks

3. Many memorable examples of companies that have created such incredible products. One that comes to mind is Schindler Elevators which ask you to type in the floor you’d like to get to first and then directs you to the list that would take you there fastest – thereby saving valuable lift space. (now commonplace)

3. SHELF it · Book Reviews · Marketing · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research

BR 86: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Classic Gladwell – very journalistic with a few pretty powerful stories and example. I am not entirely sure if the book is entirely accurate but it does succeed in communicating a few key learnings.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Snap judgments are innate. We make them about everything. The point of differentiation between a snap judgment we make about strawberry flavored ice cream with that of an ‘expert’ is that we will never be able to explain (correctly) as to how we arrived at that judgment. When you become an expert in a field, you hone your gut in a way that a novice cannot match. (understandably)

The application is apparent when we ask for customer feedback. Asking a customer whether they like a food item on display may work well but asking them to rationalize why would probably take us down an unwanted path.

2. The product is the packaging. I was pretty amazed by some of the examples here.

One that comes to mind is – When 7UP was sold in bottles with a yellowish shade, they had customers complaining that there was too much lime – even if there was no change in the drink!

That explains why the famous Pepsi taste challenge failed because drinking Coke out of a Coke can means something entirely different to drinking Coke out of a plastic un-labelled glass.

3. Going back to the fact that snap judgments are innate. It reminded me of a question a friend of mine posed – We are all innately discriminatory (color, race etc). How do we stop those judgments from taking control of us the moment we see a symptom? That one’s just ‘food for thought’.

3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Marketing

BR 2: How to become a Marketing Superstar – Jeffrey J Fox

Category: 3- SHELF it (All Categories are 1) Read ASAP! 2) BUY it! 3) SHELF it 4) SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Jeffrey J Fox’s style is throw in many ideas in concise small chapters and he does so in this book as well. It’s a quick and easy read with a lot of simple-to-apply marketing concepts laced with a few nice stories. Having said that, it is not a book that has had so much impact!

What to expect: Many byte-sized marketing learnings with quite a few being easy to apply. For eg: Always talk about how much a customer would lose rather than gain. Clear, concise and easy to get through book.

Do I recommend this book?: Shelf it.. until you feel you’d like to get down to designing a flyer or a brochure..