5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary
Eh. I think I have had it with these kinds of books. Another book talking about how awesome the customer service at Starbucks is. Tell me something I haven’t heard. This may have been better if it was just a stapled, bullet pointed list of awesome customer service stories. Instead it was dressed up in lots of registered trademark Frappuccinos and written by a guy who appears to be pitching himself as a PR rep. Just kind of nothing new, and not worth it.
I had some really high hopes for this book, and it’s been getting a lot of press in my circle lately, but I just wasn’t impressed.
A very large part of my job is customer service, and I love reading books about it. This was kind of pitched to me (or it pitches itself) as a “why excellent customer service and going above and beyond is so important book.” And while it exceeded at making that claim – I am not sure that claim really needed to be made. And if it did, then this didn’t really seem to be the best way to make it.
What this did succeed at was at being a great CEO – case study of “Mitchells” and “Richards” clothing stores. It made me want to shop there, and be a customer. It also got me jazzed up about the idea doing more for my own customers (all the advice wasn’t really translatable) and it triggered my recurring (and ridiculous) daydreams about being even closer to the service industry. I just wish it presented itself as “The Story of Mitchells.”
“Why Buzz was a Fad but Word of Mouth was Forever”
This was an interesting book. Not only was it essentially a case study of case studies, but it got me thinking about a few things. It was written (unbeknown to me when I checked it out) by the Founder of BzzAgent, which is a group I belong to (referred to Bart – a champion Bzzer). I originally joining BzzAgent in order to get free stuff. It’s still the main reason that I like it, but after reading a book-length pamphlet for it, I got jazzed up about it again and updated my profile.
Anyway, the book is about the important of Word of Mouth marketing. It wasn’t a “how to” (since essentially this guy’s stance would be “sign up with BzzAgent”) but it was a “why this is effective.” It made a significant case, although I think at Tutor.com we have been trying to do that all along (giving out free samples, fostering feedback, etc.). But I did put it down and have two “takeaways.” The first being a validation that the idea of creating some sort of “wacky viral campaign” is ridiculous. I always found the whole concept kind of irrelevant and not sure how it boosted sales, and this had some decent info explaining why I am right (validation! Yea!). I think that the only people who think that these “Web 3.0” ideas are going to work fall into two categories – executives who read a book about it or heard about it second or third-hand and people my own age/generation who have no real experience in marketing, but think they are on the cutting edge because they are early adopters of other technology. It’s this really weird gap. I don’t know if I am explaining correctly, but I can see the archetypes (and real life counterparts) in my head.
The other thing that it left me thinking about was WHY we tell people about products and services we love. Sure, we are social animals and there are all sorts of implications and theories about why we look out for one another, etc. – but there has to be a little more to it. Do we want validation for our own choices? To have an association with a brand because we think that the brand’s appeal will reflect well on us? Do we want to be seen as an authority or cool or cutting edge? Do we want to promote the company so that it does well and stays in business for us to be able to utilize in the future? Would we not publicize it so that it doesn’t get big, and therefore ruined?
I think people speak (and don’t speak) about these things for a variety of reasons – it probably changes based on what the product is, who you are speaking to and a million other things. But it’s something I never really thought about.
“The Marketer’s Guide to Understanding and Reaching Generation Y – Kids, Teens and Tweens”
I have been trying to read more books about marketing and marketing to teens, and yet – I can’t seem to find any that have anything new. I am just never show who the intended audience of these books are. Kidfluence seems to mainly be about why marketing to kids are important, cradle to grave and the kid market share. Great. Nothing new or groundbreaking here, but … well. Okay, its not new or groundbreaking, so it must be for people just getting into the concept of marketing? But who just getting into the concept of marketing is also responsible for pitching a whole new segment to a company? Is it for people trying to come up with a product or service and figuring out an audience? It didn’t FEEL very entrepreneurial…
The truth is – I have no idea. It also cracks me up that I feel too advanced for this book, and yet by the author’s own definition? I am Generation Y. How meta.
I really enjoyed this book and I think I need to sit on it a bit and review in a week or so. Two things that kept bugging me:
1) This was not a book to read on the subway. I think I would have really benefited from a pen and paper to jot down some thoughts, or make notes on the exercises, etc. I very rarely think that about books, and I consider this to be a positive exception.
2) I am not sure if there is an updated or revised edition, but it drove me INSANE that for every company that had a website, there was an asterisk next to it and it let to a footnote with the website of the company (in full html-style format.) You would think that I would learn to stop following the asterisks, but I am just trained to read that way. I think this was probably awesome in 1998, but now I can pretty much figure out that Microsoft’s website is http://www.microsoft.com.
I am looking forward to reading some of his more recent titles (and his blog* is great too!).
As I read this book, I kept thinking “have I already read this book?” Either I absolutely have, or nothing in here is that groundbreaking. I am almost convinced I have read it though.
This is definitely written by someone from Long Island. There is a LOT about Long Island bar/bat mitzvahs and the Miracle Mile, etc. While interesting, I know all about the teens from this ‘hood. I want to know about how Middle America is dealing with Gossip Girl, etc. The part about teen “cool hunters” was interesting, although I think there are a few more substantive books on the subject. All in all – definitely worth a read. If you haven’t already read it.
From Publishers Weekly
For the readers still waiting for a substantive follow-up to Naomi Klein’s No Logo, this is the book. Quart, a former media columnist for the Independent, follows the bread-crumb trail from the Fourth Annual Advertising and Promotion to Kids conference (no joke, unfortunately) to the mechanics of “peer-to-peer marketing,” product placement in video games and the ever-escalating parties of the “bar mitzvah showcase.” She hones in on teens’ delicate self-fashioning and how it’s manipulated for profit by adult “teen trendspotters” who insinuate themselves into the lives of “Influencer” teens in order to cop “youth buzz.” Quart is brilliant on the world in which teens “obsessed with brand names feel they have a lack that only superbranding will cover over.” She gets great quotes in her first-person encounters with her mostly female subjects, giving the book real voice. And Quart’s analyses-of teen movies, SAT tutoring (to improve scores and pose college choices as brands), teen SUV ownership and the role of parents-are sharp and funny. Her exploration of how teens internalize and express market logic-through a process of “self-branding” that can include teen boob jobs and kid-produced anorexia Weblogs-is original and striking. The book lacks a broad cultural perspective: most interviewees are white, middle class and female, so it’s difficult for Quart to generalize about how American teens and tweens as a whole use money and products to define themselves. Nevertheless, by the end, readers should be able to spot certain youth demographics and deconstruct their branded worlds instantaneously-and with empathy and anger.
This book was lent to me by Adam. He hadn’t finished reading it yet, which amused me because I saw a lot of what we do in meetings or discussions outlined in the book. I had no giant “takeaways” here but it did make me more excited about branding in general. I know this is kind of a lame post, but I just returned the book and want to make sure I blogged before I forgot.
Also, I think the difference between “business books I like” and “business books I don’t like” is case studies. I much prefer books that offer concrete examples or case studies.