This is one of those books that works almost like a blog post. It's cross-referenced and you can skip to the parts you are interested in, because everything is organized so you can pull content. We will see more books come off the press with formats that borrow from social media - and not a moment too soon!
I have it from reliable sources, that although personality is not included, you can go and get yours. Rohit Bhargava was among the group at Blogger Social 2008 a couple of weeks back, and I've had the distinct pleasure of picking his brain on book writing and how he's launching his new book with a full social media conversation.
Social Media Launch
Rohit took the conversation to the next level with his launch - building up to it by offering an interview series, which he followed up with participation from readers in the form of voting for the top 12 interviews, and the announcement of the winner for the top prize - all for a total of 55 blogger interviews, 678 votes just for the top 5 picks, 19 comments, and 118 blog reactions. For starters.
The exclusive download was just the tip of the iceberg. During Blogger Social he bought breakfast for a chat with bloggers (yes, I also got a signed copy of the book, and I read this first although I had a pile of books from Amazon on my desk). Rohit created a site dedicated to the book, and this past week he announced the personality project - 100 visionary minds, 1 question: why does personality matter?
I asked Rohit about the chickens on the cover, I really like them! His response was: they stood out. And that they did. I like the one jumping with the colored crest so much, that I think there might be an opportunity for a wise marketer to produce the thing (unless it already exists) and give it away with the t-shirt that spells out: PNI.
I'm sure you're all asking yourselves what are we ever going to do with yet another book about marketing. So did Rohit. To answer that question, here's what he did. He set aside a cool $1k - you got that correct, yes - and went to his favorite bookstore where he proceeded to buy all of the books that would compete for our share of mind. Whenever in doubt about standing out in usefulness, he would refer back to the pile. I like that thinking.
Plot that Thickens
Why don't companies sound more human? That's a great question. A business lacks personality because it has made a deliberate choice to hide it. It makes perfect sense - scale used to mean credibility, consistency was key, not so intuitively given where we are today, layers inspired consumer trust. The communication took place through ads anyway. There is more, though. Companies lose personality because:
- Being ordinary still means being profitable
- Focusing on policies vs. logic remains core
- Silencing employees = managing risk
Well, things have changed, and those companies that wish to stay in business, need to go get a personality. Mind you, in Hugh's cartoons (yes, they grace the pages of the book), personality can't save crap. If your product needs help, that's where you start, in earnest please. It's a page turner, any page you are focused on at work.
Is like making coffee, espresso preferably. You need good beans ground just right, and you need a filter that works well. The personality-making filter will output fine results. As your raw material, what you have to work with, percolates, it goes through three distinct and complementary qualities:
I liked what Rohit suggests for authenticity. Beyond creating a credible heritage, he talks about demonstrating passion and belief, fostering individuals vs. people (words matter), and having a motive beyond profit (I am especially keen on this point). You have something unique and different, you come through as genuine, and you give them something to talk about. What's next?
Blogs are fine examples of having personalities. We talk like real people here. Meet a blogger in the flesh, and you will continue the conversation started at their blog. They sound just like they write - even I do (oh, boy).
Every day I get loads of sales calls at work. Guess what? I absolutely d e t e s t those coming from people who pretend to be giving me something and are very coy about the fact that they are in fact trying to sell me something. Admit it, admit you are marketing to me and let's have a frank conversation on value, for me, real value. Now, that would work.
Do you take yourself too seriously? Time to show you have a sense of humor. Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. This might be a business book, in life you have a book of business - and that is made of your relationships. Gone are the times when you could go solo and be a star without the help of anyone else. Today you need others to succeed. Companies need customers.
I was enjoying the book's theories a lot, and then Rohit went ahead and did something unthinkable. He added an "how to" section. Imagine that! You don't have to. You can dive right in when you acquire your copy, skipping the whole first section.
Now let's stop talking to people (ahem, individuals) the way advertising does. Remember that business is but a term to describe humans engaged in an experience they pay to have. Avoid condescension, share the credit often, and be open to participation.
The dynamics of marketing have changed. Individuals now have the power to create content, not just consume it. How are you using the personality behind your brand to build a relationship with your customers?
[Click here to download and excerpt or to buy the book.]