Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Marketing, Psychology and Change

November 2010 Book Reviews

All Marketers (Are Liars) Tell Stories

Seth Godin

Admittedly, the amendment to his original title intrigued me. Low and behold, Seth had to admit a mistake in this book’s first round of publishing. The first title got attention; it just didn’t get the attention he wanted. This is a good, simple book that reiterates the time honored premise that those that have and tell the best stories typically win. Godin does a good job of breaking the elements of good storytelling down.
 
"Focus on your ability to tell a story equals success in marketing. Stories make it easier to understand the world. Great stories are: true, make a promise, trusted, subtle, happen fast, appeal to senses (not always logic), rarely aim at everyone, don’t contradict themselves, and agree with our worldview."
 
He asserts a very interesting notion about how marketing use to work in the product life cycle versus its role nowadays. From invention to production to marketing, where invention leads to a peak (or production) and then marketing came in place on the downturn. He asserts the inverse is now true. Invention starts at a peak, production is the valley and marketing (or storytelling) represents additional growth.

The book focuses on the importance of marketing and what separates some of the best from the rest. The two biggest points I took from the book were: Don’t try to change someone’s worldview (bias/beliefs) and Marketing = Storytelling. Here are some of the better verses from the book:
 
"Marketing is about spreading ideas, and spreading ideas is the single most important output of our civilization."
 
"If your story is easy to spread, and if those you converted believe that it’s worth spreading, it will."
 
"We get what we expect because what we get is just a story in our heads. We expect something to occur and our brains make it so."
 
"If consumers have everything they need, there’s nothing left to buy except stuff that they want. And the reason they buy stuff they want is because of the way it makes them feel."

"Marketing isn’t the problem. Marketing is just a tool. People are the problem."
 
"The only stories that work, the only stories with impact, the only stories that spread are the “I can’t believe that!” stories. These are the stories that aren’t just repeatable: these are the stories that demand to be repeated."
 
"The four reasons why your new release failed:
• No one noticed it.
• People noticed it but decided they didn’t want to try it.
• People tried it but decided not to keep using it.
• People liked it but didn’t tell their friends"

This book was good, but in the world of developing a premise for great storytelling, I would still recommend reading Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath over this one.

The Fightin' Analyst Book Rating:

out of five stars



Flow

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

This was a very interesting book outlining the psychology behind people and happiness. The results contradict what a lot of people would define as happiness. It definitely gives you pause and helps to reexamine what you do and where you want to go in life and work. It’s extremely academic in parts, but the research was interesting and relatable. I can see why a number of different authors cite some of the findings from this book.
 
"Such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen."

"The self becomes more differentiated as a result of flow because overcoming a challenge inevitably leaves a person feeling more capable, more skilled."
 
This book has a great model for why people feel bored or anxious. The premise is that if the challenge exceeds your skill set too much, you'll feel anxiety. If your skill set exceeds the challenge you’ll feel boredom.
 
"Flow is where challenges and skills meet."
 
"It is this dynamic feature that explains why flow activities lead to growth and discovery. One cannot enjoy the same thing at the same level for long. We grow either bored or frustrated; and then the desire to enjoy ourselves again pushes us to stretch our skills, or to discover new opportunities for using them."
 
At the other end of the spectrum this book outlines why many people in their work lives feel unhappy or frustrated:
 
"Three main reasons for work dissatisfaction:
1. (Most important) Lack of variety and challenge
2. Conflicts with other people on the job, especially bosses.
3. (Burnout) Too much pressure, too much stress, too little time to think for oneself, too little time to spend with family."

There’s a great summary toward the end outlining how to achieve “flow” in your own life.
 
"To experience flow one must set goals for one’s actions. The goal in itself is usually not important; what matters is that it focuses a person’s attention and involves it in an achievable, enjoyable activity."
 
"Flow Model:
1. Setting goals
2. Becoming immersed in the activity
3. Paying attention to what is happening
4. Learning to enjoy immediate experience"
 
The book can be difficult to get through in spots, but there are a lot of gold nuggets to take away in the end.
 
The Fightin' Analyst Book Rating:

out of five stars


The Heart of Change

John P. Kotter

This book feels extremely structured at points, but I get the sense it was written as a handbook for management facing or try to create successful change within an organization. There are some great examples of how to successful implement change. I’ve read a number of these examples in other books though.
 
"If key players are not playing key roles in the guiding team, that usually means their sense of urgency is too low and their complacency or anger or fear too high. Perhaps the organization has been very successful – hence, complacency."
 
"The pace of external change is only going to increase. This will generally mean that the internal rate of change will have to increase too."
 
"Empowerment obstacles tend more often than not to be a boss."
 
"This isn’t rocket science. Once you see what works, once you have an optimistic sense that you can help create better organizations, it’s amazing what can happen."

If you’re looking for a short guidebook to change this is the book for you.

The Fightin' Analyst Book Rating:

out of five stars


Influencer

Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

The book expands on The Heart of Change and goes beyond business, so it’s not as dry. The authors focused a lot on only a few examples, but the uncovered some great examples of how to foster change by doing the right things under different circumstances. This book is somewhat of a combination of All Marketerts Tell Stories, The Heart of Change and even Mindset.

I’m a sucker for great quotes and this book starts every chapter with one that relates to change.

"Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now." – Steven Wright

"It’s a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get." – Arnold Palmer

"You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you toward success – or are they holding you back?" - Clement Stone

This book uses research to demonstrate how practice and discipline are usually the difference makers in change and influence:

"Ericsson has been able to systematically demonstrate that people who climb to the top of just about any field eclipse their peers through something as basic as deliberate practice. His research demonstrates that prowess, excellence, elite status – call it what you like – is not a matter of genetic gifts; it’s a matter of knowing how to enhance your skills through deliberate practice."

"Olympic hopefuls work on skills they have yet to master. Club skaters in contrast, work on skills they’ve already mastered. Amateurs tend to spend half of their time at the rink chatting with friends and not practicing at all."

"Many of the profound and persistent problems we face stem more form a lack of skill (which in turn stems from a lack of deliberate practice) than from a genetic curse, a lack of courage or a character flaw."

"Self-discipline is the true difference maker."

"Deliberate practice requires complete attention (focus). Deliberate practice doesn’t allow for daydreaming, functioning on autopilot, or only partially putting one’s mind into the routine. It requires steely-eyed concentration as students watch exactly what they’re doing, what is working, what isn’t, and why."

Change comes from the recognizing that a change needs to take place, putting the right behaviors into place and reaping the rewards of replacing those behaviors.


The Fightin' Analyst Book Rating:

out of five stars


Fascinate

Sally Hogshead

I think I’m starting to run out of good marketing and advertising books to read. The premise for this book started out as intriguing, but grew tiresome after the first 50 pages. I felt the author’s execution fell short. This isn’t a book I’ll be referencing a lot down the road. Toward the end it felt like a publisher may have applied pressure for its completion. It ended up becoming a bit of a bear to finish.

The Fightin' Analyst Book Rating:

out of five stars