1 posts categorized "Groundswell"

03/20/2009 Read this Book!

I may be the last person on Twitter to do so, but I finally read the book Groundswell by present and former Forrester Research people Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li. Here’s my short review:

Buy this book and read it, now.
Then give it to your boss and make him read it.
Then get everyone in whatever group you’re in, and get them all to read it.

If you read one book on online or digital marketing this year, that book should be Groundswell.

Okay, now the longer version.

Groundswell3 I’ve had a pile of marketing books on my desk and night table for the past 10 years. I’ve actually finished a few of them. I’m not sure if I’m suffering from Google brain or whether I don’t have the patience to dig through some dense but informative volumes. From what I hear, I’m not the only one with the unread books around me.

The writing is the first thing that makes Groundswell stand out. The book explains complex and new technology quite simply. I’ve written a number of blog posts on writing and simplicity and I’m a big fan of how Bernoff and Li write. They are very good explainers without becoming overly pedagogical. This is a book your boss will understand.

The examples or cases are the second thing that makes Groundswell stand out. The cases are great stories, filled with people and they tell as much about the land mines as they do about the successes. Most of us can see ourselves in a lot of these stories, even if most of us can’t envision ourselves in some of the larger campaigns. That’s because the stories are about people, not about technologies.

And people are the third thing that makes Groundswell stand out. The book puts the focus on finding smart ways to communicate with people, customers, prospects or employees. It’s about finding relevant ways of listening to and talking with people.  That’s why social media is so hard: it’s a dialogue.

While Bernoff and Li hit on what are now familiar concepts - giving up control, starting small, listening instead of announcing – they do so in a way that adds depth and imperative.

Personally, I love the way the challenge you to disrupt thinking about the value of your products to instead look at what’s valuable to your customers. Those two things might only touch each other tangentially. The story about how to talk to young girls about tampons when that’s the LAST thing they want to talk about should ring alarm bells for all of us. The same thing applies to lots of low interest categories, like banking or electricity, to name two.

Don’t get distracted by some of the bigger examples they give and the talk about expensive third party solutions. This book is chock full of advice for marketers of all shapes and sizes. Some of the best solutions in the book cost almost no money.

So read the book and start helping your clients change. But first, do the same thing for your agency, shop or yourself. Since you’re going to make mistakes, it’s probably better you make the first ones on your own dime.

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