This ebook contains Eloqua-written book reviews of five of the most important B2B marketing and social media books of 2010. Empowered, Real-Time Marketing & PR, The Dragonfly Effect, Content Rules, and The Mirror Test.
BOOK REVIEW COLLECTIONOur Favorite Books of 2010
Book Review CollectionELOQUA BOOK REVIEW:Content RulesContent Rules could be dubbed “the encyclopedia ofcontent marketing,” that is, if encyclopedias were (a.)still relevant, and (b.) written by disorientingly upbeatpeople.Content Rules could be dubbed “the Bible of contentmarketing,” if only comparing a business book tosacred scripture didn’t counter-intuitively violate theauthors’ own guidelines (banned words #18: “offensivephrases”).So instead Content Rules is bucketed alone, which is,frankly, exactly what it deserves. After all, it stands asthe single best book on the red-hot topic of contentmarketing since, well, since content marketing becamea topic.Blogging, consulting, marketing, reporting, entrepreneur-ing, social media-ing powerhouses Ann Handley (ofMarketingProfs and ClickZ fame) and the omnipresentCC Chapman teamed-up to bring us Content Rules, thelatest in marketing factotum David Meerman Scott’sNew Rules Social Media Book Series (published by John Wiley & Sons). Given the pressure toproduce something extraordinary, assembling a supergroup is slippery business. For every WeAre The World there’s a dozen Damn Yankees. I assure you, the output of the Handley/Chapmancollaboration is far closer to The Traveling Wilburys than it is to Power Station. (Ok, no moresupergroup references for the rest of this review. Promise.)In some ways, I resent this book. After all, I’ve carved out a nice little niche for myself leading thecontent marketing charge here at Eloqua, yet now anyone who reads Content Rules and puts theauthors’ counsel into practice can match me step-for-step. If it wasn’t for those meddling kids,Handley and Chapman, I wouldn’t have lost my competitive advantage.But my self-interests aside, this book should be cheered. It reads like a gift basket welcoming newneighbors into the content marketing community. It is friendly, accessible, humble and genuinelyhelpful. The authors love what they do, and they love that you are reading about how you can doit, too.Content Rules is essentially three books: an actual book, a how-to manual, and a resource center.This three-books-in-one structure is a brilliant way to overcome what could have been the undoingof Content Rules. You see, the book speaks to a menacingly wide audience – so wide, in fact,that if the duo followed conventional wisdom and wrote for “the middle,” both hardcore contentmarketers and the local merchant would be dissatisfied. Instead, the clever structure allows Like these reviews? Subscribe to our blog!
Book Review Collection readers to zero in on the aspects that matter most to their businesses. Want to be an expert on podcasting? There’s a section on that. Interested in learning how a business-to-business company rocked the content marketing world? See the case study on Kinaxis. Looking to understand the concepts that drive content marketing success? Check out the entire first section. Need to bone up on your SEO skills? Just look at the book’s “optimized” subtitle: “How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business.” (Never overlook your single most important reader: Google.) It’s like opt-in reading. Yet, regardless of the section you find yourself reading, the voice is consistent, the counsel is valuable, and the stories are engaging. It’s not as if the publisher welded together three disparate books. The structure is clearly by design, and it speaks well of the care and forethought that went into all aspects of Content Rules. While I will get to specifics in a moment, the most honest – and important – comment I can make about Content Rules is this: I will be better at my job for having read this book. Ok, now onto the fun stuff: quotes and tidbits from the authors. • Marcus Sheridan of River Pools and Spa defines content marketing better than any social media analyst or content marketing influencer ever has. He says, “I want our web site to be an encyclopedia of pool buying.” Bingo. • Reimagine; don’t recycle. This advice is thematic throughout the book. And it’s not only eloquent, it’s also brilliant. Your readers (a.k.a. customers) deserve more than a new headline placed over the same old text. • Do something unexpected. This advice alone has had a massive impact on Eloqua’s business. In fact, it nearly led me to begin this review with the out-of-nowhere sentence: “I have a crush on Ann Handley.” But I rethought making that statement publicly. • Start with an inventory of the content you already have. Exhibit A for Eloqua: The Social Media Playbook. This tip works, really. • Show, don’t tell. Yup. Along with “do something unexpected,” this tip has been a difference- maker in my career. Take it seriously. Take it. Seriously. • 18 business buzzwords we need to ban. Equal parts hilarious, squirm-inducing and mandatory. Great stuff here. • “Create 10 things out of one thing.” Perfectly stated by Kirsten Watson of Kinaxis. And arguably the best advice in the entire book. • “Share or solve; don’t shill.” I take the above bullet back. This is the best advice in the book. (More on this tip in a moment.) Moreover, Handley and Chapman tackle some of the thorniest topics in content marketing, like “Should you put a form in front of your assets, or set them free?” and “Should you start with one mammoth piece of content and smash it into pieces, or should you begin by creating smaller pieces?”Tweet this!
Book Review CollectionArguably the strongest content in the book is the section that centers on webinars. The authorsdissect this content type with surgical precision, and they manage to make their point (“Toomany webinars promise great content, but the hosts don’t really push the speaker to deliver onthat promise.”) while making the reader laugh (“pitch slapped” is the act of being “sold” duringwhat was billed as an educational session). There’s also some really (really!) smart advice in thissection, like “go big or go tactical.”There are, however, some areas in which Content Rules breezes over a topic that merits deeperdiscussion. For example, the “share or solve; don’t shill” concept arises regularly, but the authorsstop short of offering examples of the dark side of content marketing. They give a good illustrationof bad copywriting (Sealy Posturepedic), but the example is not shilling per se, it’s just lousymarketing. Readers would benefit just as much from learning what not to do as what to do, butthe book is, at moments, deliriously positive.Measurement is similarly shortchanged. I imagine this absence is a byproduct of the broadnessof the book’s target audience. The wider the readership the more varied the objectives. A sectionon KPIs different companies have assigned to their content marketing efforts would have beenhelpful. Content marketing is so new that practitioners are more concerned with what they shouldbe measuring than how they should go about measuring it. The authors were in a unique positionto share at a very high level what types of benefits businesses are tracking against their contentprograms.Looked at another way, Content Rules might not be a perfect book, but it is a perfectly humanbook. And if I were to reduce the counsel threaded throughout to one tip, it would be just that:Be yourself, be human.Success requires a blend of skill, timing and luck. Ann Handley and CC Chapman are clearlytwo of the most skilled content marketers in the world, and their timing couldn’t be better (justyesterday, after reading a Content Marketing Institute post, a CMO friend of mine wrote me to say,“You are in a very good career lane.”). All that’s missing is luck. With a little luck this book willbe the smash hit it deserves to be. Sure, that means I’ll have a lot more competition … but don’tforget that I also have Content Rules on my bookshelf.Want to stay in touch with all of the companies and people mentioned in this book? Follow ourContent Rules Twitter list. Like these reviews? Subscribe to our blog!
Book Review Collection ELOQUA BOOK REVIEW: The Mirror Test I didn’t think I was going to like this book. Not because author Jeffrey Hayzlett isn’t smart (he is). Not because Hayzlett isn’t a hell of a storyteller (he is). But because of something the great poet and novelist Charles Bukowski wrote in response to the disappointment he sensed from the audience at his live readings: “Writers write, they don’t speak.” You see, my initial exposure to Hayzlett was at a conference (the WOMMA School of WOM event) where he proceeded to have me (and the rest of the crowd) doubled-over in laughter one moment and scribbling down unforgettable tips the next. So when I picked up “The Mirror Test,” I thought, “Speakers speak, they don’t write.” While “The Mirror Test” isn’t exactly Hemingway (or Bukowski for that matter), it is a rollicking, hard- driving, unapologetic business book that basically shakes the reader into action. And if you are in a position of influence in your organization (especially if it’s a start-up or small business), this literary kick- in-the-ass is a very, very good thing. Apparently many professionals are set to auto-pilot, and Hayzlett manages to scramble the control panel, forcing the reader to identify who he is and why he is doing what he’s doing – and fast, like before the plane hits the ground. In Hayzlett’s world, it would seem the greatest curse for a leader is the absence of self-awareness. The concept behind the book is simple: Is your business “fogging the mirror,” that is, is it evidencing signs of life. Each chapter bum-rushes the reader through a different “test,” a different dimension of business viability, and closes with a pointed question: “Are you fogging the mirror?” At times I lost track of what exactly was being tested in any given chapter. I felt like I needed a “you-are-here” map, like the ones in labyrinthine shopping malls. In that regard, the book was like a meal prepared in a Slow Cooker: Delicious, though all the ingredients end up tasting the same. Initially this frustrated me, but gradually I thought: Who cares? These stories are absolutely brilliant, they are funny, they are poignant, and, most importantly, they are useful. Oh, and this Hayzlett guy is plum nuts. “The Mirror Test” is the chainsaw-artist of business books: not exactly high art, but way more fun to look at. Here’s what I mean:Tweet this!
Book Review Collection • Do you know who “Johnny Vegas” is? • Can you recite your 118, convincingly? • Are you running a pheasant farm? • Have you ever liver-and-onions’ed your business? • How many gravy-sucking pigs are eating away at your profits?Like I said: Chainsaw.But there is even some grace in power tool arts. You see, while Hayzlett has fun playing with hisbad-ass South Dakotan image, the guy’s got a point. Actually, he’s got lots of ‘em. And they arepretty much all on-point. He’s merciless on business leaders who compete on price, he makes acompelling case about a different type of ROI (“Return on Ignoring”), and he positively imploresreaders to be themselves (albeit, more self-aware, more informed, more individualistic versions ofthemselves). It’s like the scared straight program, but for business leaders.My suggestion: Pour yourself a Diet Mt. Dew, kick your feet up on your desk and dig in. It’s 225pages of tough love from a guy who could kick your ass, but, fortunately for you, chooses not to.Want to stay in touch with all of the companies and people mentioned in this book? Follow ourThe Mirror Test Twitter list. Like these reviews? Subscribe to our blog!
Book Review Collection ELOQUA BOOK REVIEW: Real-Time Marketing & PR This is my third book review for the Eloqua “It’s All About Revenue” blog, but before I get started, here’s some related news: In November, the author, David Meerman Scott, released a free e-book, titled: “Real Time: How Marketing & PR at Speed Delivers Measurable Success.“ The e-book is hosted on WebInkNow, David’s blog. Go grab it. I was treated to a sneak preview, and it’s nothing short of fascinating. The takeaway: Employ real-time PR strategies, outperform your market. It’s simply unambiguous. Now onto the review. Let me begin with a caution: This book will shatter your PR model. It will fracture it beyond recognition. But rest easy. It will also put it back together again in a vastly improved way. The best ideas are those that are so simple, they manage to hide in plain sight. Some of these discoveries turn into landmark businesses (an online “yearbook” for everyone in the world, a global auction, digital classifieds), while others become concepts that alter the way professionals think and act. David Meerman Scott’s brand new book Real-Time Marketing & PR (Wiley) is a shining example of the latter. That is, David creates a business case for “immediacy” so ironclad that, in companies across the world, “tomorrow” will soon become code for “too late.” And when that happens — when communications professionals develop reflexive recognition of real-time opportunities — “now” will become the call to arms for this generation of PR leaders (mercifully laying to rest yesterday’s hackneyed “join the conversation” slogan). Speaking of catch-phrases, David suggests companies begin replacing the term “social media” (which is encumbered by the weight of triviality) with “real-time media.” He explains why in this video. Put another way, Real-Time Marketing & PR is as much a “movement” as it is a book. It marks the moment companies stop viewing time as a shield (that is, hiding behind the clock for as long as it takes to perfect a message) and begin seeing it as a sword. David cuts no corners in his veritable “how-to” guide for turning time into competitive advantage. The first thing you’ll experience when reading Real-Time Marketing & PR is a feeling of panic. That is, the book’s case for immediacy is so persuasive that you may find yourself wanting to read it faster. You will want to get started now. My advice: Read it in a captive, disconnectedTweet this!
Book Review Collectionenvironment, like on an no-WiFi flight (United “offers” many). That way, there will be technicalguardrails to prevent you from putting it down, inchoate, and getting started prematurely onyour real-time PR plan. After all, right up to the very last page, the book is filled with examples,insights and counsel you don’t want to miss, such as: • “The successful organization is one that pushes decision-making as far down in the organization as possible.” Absolutely brilliant insight into the day-to-day reality of a real- time communications program. The model can only truly work if individual contributors are empowered to act outside of the multi-layered morass of internal approvals. • Think in terms of “their time” versus “your time.” One of the themes in Real-Time Marketing & PR is the notion of responding on your audience’s schedule, not yours. In many ways this is a companion mindset to “inbound marketing” — that is, to redirect your thinking from your own solutions and to your buyers’ needs. • “Social media are tools. Real time is a mindset.” Not only grammatically accurate (finally, someone who recognizes “media” as plural!), but it’s also the mantra for the entire real time movement. • Real-world, real-time examples from United, Toyota, BP, Sky News, TMZ, Avaya and even Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.Of course speed boats create massive wakes, and racing toward real-time presents a variety ofnew and unanticipated challenges for marketers. Reading this book, I found myself thinkingabout how much more important judgment becomes in the real-time era. In fact, one could arguethat the importance of an individual’s judgment is inversely proportional to the amount of timeafforded to planning a response.Executives should also think about how they want to go about creating a culture that embracesreal time communications. Companies that strive for “perfection” will need to make concessions— fast and perfect seldom co-exist — and organizations that reward top performers may want tocreate a new award category.To that end, it shouldn’t only be a must-read for marketing communications professionals, but,perhaps even more importantly, the executives who chart corporate culture.David Meerman Scott spoke at Eloqua Experience 2010 on the value of real-time marketing andpublic relations. He serves on the Eloqua advisory board.Want to stay in touch with all of the companies and people mentioned in this book? Follow ourReal-Time Marketing & PR Twitter list. Like these reviews? Subscribe to our blog!
Book Review Collection ELOQUA BOOK REVIEW: The Dragonfly Effect When was the last time you read a business book that made your eyes well up? Probably never (unless, of course, you thought I meant tears of boredom – in which case, the answer is probably: often). But The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith (Wiley, of course) will elicit an emotional response, despite being anything but boring. In fact, in many ways, it’s anything but a business book — after all, it’s less about creating wealth through social channels than it is creating richness through them. Richness of relationships, richness of experience, richness of life. (I assure you, the book itself is far less hokey than the preceding sentence.) Although I’d opened the book mindful of publishing a review on this blog, I abandoned that mindset on page 15. It’s on that page that the scribbled notes in the margins shifted from “consider quote for lead” to “check if stuffworthsupporting.org is available for new blog” (it is) and “if I donated $25 per stuffworthsupporting post, would that look vapid?” (It would.) In other words, I stopped imagining this review and instead began imagining ways I could implement the authors’ suggestions. Ultimately, The Dragonfly Effect is about embracing disruptive technology to make a difference in the world, and, by extension, in one’s own life. At the risk of oversimplifying the distinguished careers of the authors, Aaker is one of the world’s preeminent experts on our relationship with “happiness,” while Smith is a tech-industry A-lister. Together they unwrap ways – immensely practical, do-able ways – for each of us to enrich our lives, and the lives of those around us, by employing the social Web to inspire others to support whatever it is we care most deeply about. The Dragonfly Effect is an unconventional book inasmuch as it’s ostensibly about technology, but really it’s about humanity. Technology, particularly social networks, is simply the connective tissue between people. A corollary to the rule that the Internet provides a disproportionate advantage to emerging companies, Aaker and Smith argue that by harnessing the very design of social media, individuals, too, can have a disproportionate effect on the world around them. Design? Yes. Design. You see, the authors liken social media to the dragonfly’s physique. (Does an insect have a “physique”?) Apparently, according to the authors, thanks to the dragonfly’s unique four-winged design, it is the only insect that can move briskly in any direction. This physical structure serves as an extended metaphor throughout the book. Each chapter cleverlyTweet this!
Book Review Collectionmaps to an individual wing – Focus, Get Attention, Engage, Take Action – and, by exactingcommand over each, the reader can move his cause in any direction, with the power and dexterityof the dragonfly.The writing itself is similarly unconventional. It contains stories that are positively heartbreaking,and it tells them with a delicious combination of precision and emotion. It also is speckled with“For Dummies”-like tidbits and how-to tips, making it feel more like a business title. Meanwhilethe helpful “voice,” charmingly simple flow charts and generous citations are reminiscent of atextbook. There is even a dash of science (e.g., “And even the smallest act of kindness … canresult in a surge in dopamine.”). Honestly, I’ve never read a book quite like this. It is absolutelyfascinating in both substance and style.Read it if you want to be smarter about social media; read it if you want to be smarter aboutsociology. Read it if you want to learn something; read it if you want to feel something. Read it ifyou want to change your organization; read it if you simply want change. Just read it. Because, Iassure you, there’s nothing else quite like it. (If your fall reading list is getting the better of you,there’s always the Dragonfly Effect Blog, which is a useful starting point.)Want to stay in touch with all of the companies and people mentioned in this book? Follow ourThe Dragonfly Effect Twitter list. Like these reviews? Subscribe to our blog!
Book Review Collection ELOQUA BOOK REVIEW: 7 Reasons to Read “Empowered” I read Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, Transform Your Business (Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler, Harvard Business Review Press) over a multi-leg trip that had me speaking on social media from Toronto to Orlando. I was so engrossed in the book that I found myself wanting to skip out on my sessions and duck into a vacant room to furtively knock off another chapter. It is pretty much that good. (I also found myself wanting to scrap my deck and instead persuade everyone in the room to become highly empowered and resourceful operatives in their organizations, or to support the HEROes on their own teams.) You see, most business books that center on social media teach you how to swing a hammer. Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler show you where to place the nail. If that metaphor works for you, “Empowered” will work for you. If not, there are any number of tactical social media books that will likely satisfy you more. It’s also refreshing to read a business book that’s written by someone with actual writing skills. The disappointing reality is that most readers no longer hold business writers up to much of a writing standard. They exist to deliver information, nothing more. But “Empowered” is very well written – and not in a “in the land of the blind the one- eyed man is king” kind of way. The pace, the voice, the word choice, the humility, that balance of examples and counsel, the varied sentence structure, the personal disclosures all combine to produce a very good book – not just a very good book … for a business title. “Empowered” also respects the reader. Bernoff and Schadler know their audience, and, although they are the ones imparting knowledge, the duo never writes down to the reader. It’s informative absent pedantry. But all the blogosphere loves a list, so to package this post up in a way that the Web prefers, here goes. A list of the seven reasons you should read “Empowered”: 1. It’s funny: “Comments from your own Twitter feeds and content from your Facebook Pages are catnip for [Mass Connectors].” Not your average metaphor.Tweet this!
Book Review Collection 2. It’s purposefully visual: The visuals advance the reader’s understanding of the message being conveyed. In most business books, graphics are employed to “prove” the content is important (“look, it’s got a chart, this must be real!”). But not “Empowered.” The easy-to- process illustrations complement and emphasize the companion text. As they should. 3. It’s actionable: In one chart I noted that 16% of software buyers express their opinions on the web. Eloqua has 50,000 users. Now I have a lofty but measurable goal: How can I get 8,000 of our users to talk about our software? (Also, as I re-read dog-eared pages prepping for this post, I found a note scribbled in a column: “Type this and paste to wall.”) 4. It’s fresh: There were a number of stories that were absolutely brand new to me (the NHL’s use of tweetups, Philadelphia Eagles’ use of SMS, Black & Decker’s use of video, BBVA’s use of blogs). And even the ones with which I was familiar (United Breaks Guitars, Comcast’s sleeping tech, and Ford Fiesta), the freshness of the writers’ perspective made it valuable to re-read the cases all over again. 5. It’s diverse: It’s remarkable how diverse the examples are. From global conglomerates like IBM, to household brands like BestBuy, to industrial organizations like SunBelt Rentals, to the smallest of small businesses like rentvillas.com, “Empowered” proves that not only can HEROes make a difference in businesses of all sizes, but also that businesses of all sizes can learn from one another. 6. It’s inspirational: The reader won’t walk away feeling intimidated or overwhelmed. Never does the sentiment “you are too late” or “the industry has passed you by” emerge. Every reader will walk away from this book feeling like there is still time to surf this wave, it hasn’t crashed on a foreign shore just yet. 7. It’s right. Empowered employees allow companies to react faster, innovate smarter, serve customers better, and, most importantly, drive changes deeper. Also the mantra “when customers are empowered, customer service is marketing” jumped off the page. That statement should be the battle cry of this generation of marketers.Of course, one thing I learned when running communications at BzzAgent is that word of mouthis less credible if it’s 100 percent positive. It’s in the thistle of criticism that peer referrals findtheir power. So with that in mind, there was one item that didn’t quite work for me. I felt likemobile was a little shoehorned into the book. This isn’t to say that mobile technologies aren’tmassively important – if anyone doesn’t think the handheld will be the dominant form-factor offuture communications, they should turn in their Web 2.0 membership card – but rather thatmobile seemed over-emphasized for this particular premise. To return to the opening metaphor,it felt as if the mobile-related content was more about “swinging the hammer” than “where toplace the nail.”That said, the authors’ knowledge of the mobile space is without rival. So even if that particularchapter felt disjointed from the rest of the content, the reader still walks away with a deeper andmore current understanding of what is arguably the most important sector in technology. Not abad consolation prize.Want to stay in touch with all of the companies and people mentioned in this book? Follow ourEmpowered Twitter list. Like these reviews? Subscribe to our blog!
Book Review Collection Publishing & Social Media: The Last Page Is Now The First Reading a good book isn’t a passive experience. It’s something that grabs you by the lapels and shakes you into thinking, feeling, even doing something in response. Over the past several months, we cherry-picked five books that shook us into action. And we reviewed them to inspire you to grab a copy yourself. All five books – The Dragonfly Effect, Real-Time Marketing & PR, Empowered, The Mirror Test and Content Rules – include fascinating stories involving compelling people, many of whom are (conveniently) active in social media. So with that common tie, we created Twitter lists comprised of every person and company mentioned in each book. In print, these characters informed and fascinated us, but their stories don’t end on the last page. Follow these lists to keep up with the personalities that made the books so remarkable. Content Rules Twitter list The Mirror Test Twitter list Real-Time Marketing & PR Twitter list The Dragonfly Effect Twitter list Empowered Twitter list For every book we review, we’ll also create a companion Twitter list for readers to follow. Social media doesn’t spell the end for publishing; it offers new opportunities to continue the experience long after the last page is turned.Tweet this!