22 Immutable Laws

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is a valuable read from the great minds of Al Ries and Jack Trout. It focuses on marketing strategy, especially branding. It is geared towards corporate strategy so the ideas are difficult to apply to smaller businesses, but it’s still very insightful marketing.

The 5 Best Points……

5. Find a category that you can be a first mover, no one remembers the second person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean (Bert Hinkler).

4. If you don’t get in the mind of the consumer, it does no good to be the first mover. i.e. Altair 8800 the first personal computer.

3. Refrain from extending your brand to unrelated products. i.e. Domino’s frozen pizza.

2. There is no such thing as the best product, only what is perceived to be the best.

1. If you try to stand for everything, you will stand for nothing.

Invisible Marketing

Selling the Invisible written by Harry Beckwith is an excellent read about strategies for marketing of a service. The benefits of a service are not as apparent as the shiny paint job on a new Corvette. So as a result, services can be a harder sell. This book is a great how to on marketing in today’s service economy written in concise blog-like segments.

Top 4 pointers from Selling the Invisible

4. Good Ideas often sound crazy at first. Don’t let the “intelligent” people squash creative thinking.

3. The Common Sense Fallacy: Burger King thought people went to fast food for the food so they tried to stress better taste. However people really go to fast food to satisfy their hunger with cheap, fast, and okay tasting. Consumer behavior is not based on common sense.

2. Brands are extremely valuable to customers. It makes decisions easier because they know what to expect. It is a shortcut for doing research. It gives the customer confidence. Branded products out sell their replicate generic counterparts something like 9 to 1.

And the number 1 pointer….

1. Service marketing is about feelings over logic. The competent and likeable will attract far more business than the brilliant with no social skills.

Be Great!

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins, is the greatest book about being great. Whenever I’m listening to a podcast and they ask the interviewee what they are reading, they always say “Good to Great”. So I picked it up and it was very interesting. The author, Jim Collins, led a five year research study to find out how companies make the leap from a “good” company to a “great” one. He comes up with some very interesting and surprising insights.

Top 6 pointers from Good to Great

6. Don’t be afraid to make huge changes; don’t be stubborn in your ways.

5. The great companies encouraged a climate of truth, “you can’t handle the truth” was not an option, loud debates were thought to be beneficial.

4. The leaders in the study focused on getting the best people and then choosing a direction, not the other way around.

3. People are not your most important asset, the right people are. Finding the right person has more to do with character traits and innate capabilities rather than background, knowledge, or skill.

2. No matter how successful you are, if you don’t spend a majority of time with people you love or like, you won’t have a great life.

1. The CEOs who were able to sustain excellent growth were characterized by modesty, disliking of attention, giving away credit to others, and even shyness.

Just Use Duct Tape!

If you haven’t heard of it already, The Duct Tape Marketing Blog is a tremendous resource for small businesses. The content is practical and insightful and very to the point.

He also creates great podcasts where he interviews some of the biggest names in marketing.

Here’s the 3 Best Pointers from The Duct Tape Marketing Blog

3. Don’t compete on price. Someone will always be willing to go out of business sooner. Give your customers reason to pay a premium.

2. Referrals are more effective than other marketing strategies, because people trust the recommendations of people they know.

1. Do things for your customers that let them know you lay awake thinking of ways to make thier lives better.

Survey Monkey: The Ultimate Survey Making Tool

There is a great service for creating web surveys at www.surveymonkey.com. With blogger-like ease you can create web surveys and it’s free for ten questions and up to a hundred responses per survey! It also has a really great survey analysis program. You would have to pay if you want more than 100 people to take your survey, but what a great way to do marketing research! You don’t even have to be an expert! This would be ideal to survey your existing customers to find out how you can better meet their needs.

Never Eat Tofu Icecream

Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone : And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time is overflowing with great ideas on how to do networking right and get the most out of your relationships at work and in life.

The 7 Best Pointers from Never Eat Alone

7. The way to get people to want to help you is to first approach them with the desire to help them. Naturally they will want to help you as well.

6. Work on your strengths and become an expert at something, rather than working on what you are weak at. It’s better to be an expert at something than average at several things.

5. Be transparent and vulnerable. If you are honest with people they will respond in kind.

4. Talk about things that are important like kids and even politics and religion. It’s so much more interesting than the weather.

3. Have the tenacity to ask, the worse they can say is no.

2. Invisibility is worse than failure.

1. Your goal when approaching people is to find out where their passions lie.

One in 3000: Overcoming Failure

That’s the chance that an idea will become a successful product launch. It only took Thomas Edison 6000 attempts to launch the light bulb! So how are we going to come up with a great idea that can sustain a business? Edison showed that one great idea can out shine thousands of failures. Sometimes the only way to do something incredible is to become indifferent to failure.

One of the most amazing comeback stories ever is of Johnny Unitas. He was just 138 pounds in high school. Notre Dame didn’t want him because he was too light. The Pittsburgh Steelers cut him because they thought he was too dumb to play quarterback. He went to play semi-pro on fields of dirt, which had to be sprinkled with oil to keep the dust from rising. How low can you go!?

He finally got a chance with the Colts his first pass was an interception for a touchdown. His first handoff was a fumble. He had failed so many times, but he refused to give up.

Then something unexpected and extraordinary happened, he started throwing touchdowns and leading the team to wins. He went on to lead the Colts to three championships while winning three MVPs, and becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. Johnny Unitas showed true perseverance and refusal to accept failure.

The Buzz About Marketing

At times a low cost creative idea turns out to be much more effective than an expensive ad campaign. There are several examples of this in: Buzz Marketing: Get People to Talk About Your Stuff by Mark Hughes.

The author uses creative ideas to generate tremendous awareness of a product such as renaming a town half.com. Or putting ads on urinal cakes that say “stop pissing away all your money”.

Another example of buzz marketing is Starbucks. They have quite a small ad budget but they have become one of the most recognized brands in the world. Although this is probably due to the sheer volume of stores, they also use a lot of creative advertising to create buzz, such as putting a magnet of a Starbucks coffee cup on the top of a taxi causing people to run after the taxis. They also illuminated an entire skyscraper with green lights to promote the release of their Green Tea expresso drink.

These kind of efforts not only get lots of buzz but also are covered by the media, which is free advertising.

Will Math Take Over Marketing?

I just read a startling article in Business Week which suggests a growing trend of mathematics driving business decisions. As a mathaphobic this scares me because it may mean that we will have to use mathematical models to decide what was traditionally decided through intuition and experience like “which worker is best equipped for a certain job”. Lucky for us marketers, even the best models can not come up with innovative ideas, an integral part of creating consumer value.

Math Will Rock Your World (Business Week)

The Ultimate Battleship Strategy Guide

One of my all time favorite marketing books is Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. The Blue Ocean Strategy involves innovatively expanding to new markets where there is no competition rather than fight for market share in bloody “Red Oceans”.

My favorite example is Cirque du Soleil which is amazingly successful. Instead of competing with other traditional circuses they created a theater like experience with intricate costumes and story lines. Since they have significantly differentiated their product they have no competition and tremendous demand.