Thursday, November 25, 2010

Book Review: Fascinate by Sally Hogshead

Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead is a book I have been waiting close to six months to read.  Took me longer than I had anticipated to get to it, but I'm glad that I finally did because this book is amazing and a must for any communicator or marketer.

There seems to be a trend in marketing thinking these days.  In order to really understand why we do things (like buy or hold onto an idea) we need to look to the "ologies".  Biology (or Buy-ology), sociology and anthropology are all being used to explain why we do seemingly irrational things.  In Linchpin, Seth Godin talks about the lizard brain and its power over our actions.  In Made to Switch, the Heath brothers talk about engaging the rider, directing the elephant and shaping the path... all of these are metaphors for parts of our brain.  In order to write Fascinate, Sally Hogshead must have poured over thousands of pages of research because much of book is based on scientific research about what fascinates us.

At the start of this book, we learn the golden hallmarks of a fascinating message:

  1. Provokes a strong and immediate emotional reaction
  2. Creates advocates
  3. Becomes "cultural shorthand" for a specific set of actions of values
  4. Incites conversation
  5. Forces competitors to realign around it
  6. Triggers social revolutions
 After this, we spend the rest of the book learning about the seven fascination triggers:


However, what I would say makes this book really stand out is the amazing three part ending on how to evaluate how fascinating your company or message is, how to create a fascinating message and then how to execute it.  This is the part of this book that sets it apart because it gives you specific exercises you can do in order to harness the power of fascination for your own endeavors.

Simply put this book is a must-read and one I will be adding to my own personal collection for sure.  If you'd like to get a taste for the material before reading it, you can listen to Mitch Joel's Six Pixels of Separation Podcast that has an interview with Sally Hogshead.  

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Book Review: The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier

As mentioned in my previous post, I have a few books to read in the upcoming months. I just finished reading "The Brand Gap: A Whiteboard Overview" by Marty Neumeier.

Neumeier is a California-based brand collaboration expert. This means that he specializes in making sure marketing teams understand and communicate brand value consistently across all of their activities and customer touch points.

The Brand Gap is a quick read and designed to get you into the heart of branding really quickly.  Absent from this book is the long-winded prose you find in many marketing/branding books where the author goes on and on about one subject until you begin to fall asleep.  Neumeier keeps this book on-point and to the point.

Tip: The book contains a summary and suggested reading list at the end and both are awesome.

He starts by talking about what a brand is (a gut reaction) and what the brand gap is (between strategy and creativity).  Then he goes about explaining the five disciplines of creating a brand that is "charismatic", meaning a brand less prone to commoditization.   They are:

  1. Differentiation
  2. Collaboration
  3. Innovation
  4. Validation
  5. Cultivation
I have to say that after reading this book, I realize that many of these concepts and many of the exercises in the book have been taught to me over the years.  Nevertheless, this book is so good and so easy to get through that I recommend it as essential reading for everyone who is even close to managing a brand.

Next up:  Fascinate by Sally Hogshead.  Been waiting 6 months to read this one! 

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

What I'm Reading

Every few months I seem to go on a massive reading binge that is often the result of getting a bunch of books I have placed on hold at the library.

I am so blessed to live about two blocks from the Main branch here in Ottawa and I'd just like to take a second to say that the Ottawa Public Library rocks.  You can go online, find the book you want and place a hold on it.  It is then sent to the branch of your choosing.  You get an email when it's ready for pick up and all you have to do is drop in and check it out.  Bonus is that the Main branch has self serve checkout so it takes two second to pick up your book(s).  Libraries are great resources and they are free to use.  I do buy some books but I probably save myself hundreds of dollars each year by using the library.

Anyways, back to my post.

I recently finished reading Mitch Joel's book "Six Pixels of Separation".  It is a must-read for anyone looking to understand how the web has enabled us to be connected and includes lots of great actionable content that you can start applying right away.

One thing that is in the book that blew me away (and still is blowing me away days later) is the fact that bad reviews convert better than good ones.  Everyone I mention this to can't really believe it but when you listen to the reasoning and methodology, you see that it does make sense.  What is almost more interesting to me is the sense that marketers have been conditioned (and I don't know why or how this happened) to feel as though we need to shield our customers from negative reviews.  If you've ever wondered whether or not you should use data to make decisions (and test whenever possible) - there it is.    I'd like to run some test on a product page sometime.

I also have a few books waiting to be read as well.  One of them is Marty Neumeier's "The Brand Gap".   Which is, obviously, all about branding.  I have heard so many good things about this book and I started it just last night.

The other one is Sally Hogshead's "Fascinate" which is a book I have been waiting about six months to get.  I have heard interviews with Sally on podcasts so I have a pretty good idea of what the book is all about but I'm still looking forward to reading it.  Fascinate is all about teaching marketers 7 triggers for creating products and marketing messages that appeal to your audience.

The last one I have to pick up this afternoon, is Greg Verdino's "Micromarketing" which is all about social media marketing but more specifically, using small bits of content spread all over the place, in a unified manner, to get your message across.

I've got my work cut out for me in the next few weeks as these books are all due back by the end of the month.  Better get to it!

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