Posts Tagged ‘book’

Book Review: The Ubiquitous Persuaders

Thursday, February 11th, 2010


I will always remember the day I was most nervous about the launch of my book. It wasn’t the first day of sales on Amazon or my interview on ABC News. Rather, it was the day George Parker said he would review my book. In case you don’t read AdScam or haven’t grabbed a pint with him after one of his many conference appearances, George Parker is the man in the advertising industry who is most likely to say your work sucks. He is a lifelong advertising veteran, but no longer has to kiss clients’ and bosses’ asses—and he regularly uses his wit and stage to tear down the worst of our industry. But we decided to send him a copy of my book anyway. We figured that he and his audience would agree with our book topic, and, frankly, I wanted the Simon Cowell of our business to tell me whether I have any talent. Luckily, he gave my book a very positive review. And now I want to return the favor.

George’s most recent book, The Ubiquitous Persuaders, is a must-read for anyone who works in the world of advertising agencies, or wants to learn how this business really operates. Not only does he help us laugh at the worst parts of being in this business, but he takes us on a journey through the struggles to figure out what to do now. He hits topics ranging from the rise of ad-agency conglomerates (we’re a member of one of them, WPP) to pharmaceutical marketing to the politics of political advertising. Throughout the book, he brings in countless anecdotes from his long career on the front lines.

It is truly refreshing to read the completely honest opinions of someone in the ad business. We do not see this very often—mainly because all of us working in advertising are afraid to burn bridges with past, present, or future clients. One of my favorite lines, for example, is something none of us would dare say:

“As anyone who’s been in advertising for any length of time knows, it is quite possibly the dumbest business in the world.”

I have to admit that “advertising” as an occupation can be pretty dumb—especially when you’re doing things the interruptive way and in those times when you are forced to give your client what they want, rather than what they need.

But Parker goes on later in his book to suggest that meaningful marketing is the path to success for those of us who don’t want to do things the dumb way:

“Successful practitioners of the advertising arts will be those who can create effective communications without obvious intrusiveness.”

So give George Parker’s latest book a read. I guarantee that you will laugh out loud for a few hours—and you just might discover some smarter ways to survive this crazy advertising business.

10 Books You Should Have Read in 2009

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

ad age 10 books

Every year I genuinely look forward to reading the lists of best and worst of the past year from media sources ranging from ESPN to The Wall Street Journal. Advertising Age, my favorite work-related read, takes it to the next level with its “Book of Tens.” This year I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled to have my book, The Next Evolution of Marketing, named as one of the “10 Books You Should Have Read in 2009.”

Making this list is a great wrap-up to only the third month in publication for the book, and represents a promising start to 2010. Every day someone stops me in the hallways or pings me on various social media to ask me how the book is selling. I don’t get a lot of information other than checking where it ranks on, so I usually answer that “it seems to be going well” based on a solid ranking and comparisons to other well-known marketing and advertising books.

When I look back on the three years it took to get this book to market and reflect on results so far, I look less at book rankings and think more about the people it has touched. Overall, I am most proud of the reaction of individual readers—the comments from old friends/clients such as Kevin Doohan who have watched this project from the beginning, to industry players/bloggers as diverse as Jim Tobin and George Parker, and especially the people around the world who have emailed or Twittered me out of the blue with glowing comments. I loved the book when I finished writing it about this time last year, but getting great feedback from others and hearing that you are influencing their thoughts and actions is priceless for anyone who creates content.

Every day I remind myself that the goal here is not to just sell books, but rather to be a catalyst for the next evolution of marketing, and to turn marketing into a noble profession. Through the work of our team and many others I genuinely feel that this is happening. We’ve got some big plans ahead in 2010 and I believe word of mouth about the book and the overall concept of Marketing with Meaning is only just getting started.

And as I look back at where we’ve come, I have to take the opportunity to thank you, dear readers, for being early adopters and incredible supporters of this movement. You are responsible for its success to date, and will lead the progress in 2010 and beyond. Let’s make it a great year, together.

ABC News NOW Features Marketing with Meaning

Friday, October 16th, 2009

abc interview

Last Friday I had a spur of the moment opportunity to be interviewed by ABC News NOW for a segment promoting my book, The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect with Your Customers by Marketing with Meaning. I believe it aired live on some ABC stations, and of course the video segment is available online at

I’m pretty happy with how the interview turned out. (My wife says I need to smile more.) I got to hit most of the key points I hoped to, and was able to pull out a wide range of examples. I have to say that the experience of interviewing via satellite like this was very odd. I was basically sitting in a dark, empty studio in Cincinnati, staring at a TV camera lens and listening to an audio feed of the ABC News show in my ear. You have to make it look like you’re in the middle of a real, face-to-face conversation but it couldn’t be further from that. Anyway, check out the video by clicking here and let me know what you think!

Adweek: Building Brands, One Act at a Time

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

adweek story

I’m writing from the Delta Sky Club in San Diego today as I wait for my return flight to Cincinnati after a whirlwind iMedia Brand Summit. My keynote speech yesterday went very well and I got to hand out 400 copies of my new book to an audience of brilliant digital marketers. I got to meet many of them, and, thankfully, my Twitter feedback on the presentation was strong! I’ll share more of my experience and lessons from iMedia in the next few days, but for now I wanted to share an article that I wrote for Adweek, which just hit today.

In this piece I put traditional equity building ad campaigns in the crosshairs and call out several examples of big brands that have failed to turn themselves around despite big spending and slick, celebrity-laden ad campaigns. Meanwhile, a handful of companies are making tremendous revenue and equity gains by creating marketing that actually adds value to people’s lives.

Take a read and let me know what you think!

Crispin’s New Site Shows Smart Branding

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

crispin beta site

My buddy and our agency’s President, Jay Woffington, is a master of comparing diverse data and figuring out how they add up to a common issue or opportunity. One of his favorite sayings is, “Two points make a line,” meaning that there can be a direct link between seemingly unrelated data or events. Well, it seems that we have another genuine trend on our hands, as now there are three prominent examples of companies that have turned over their websites to open social-media input by featuring unedited Twitter comments, Wikipedia entries, Facebook friends, and blog posts. First was Modernista!, an advertising agency, and next came the Skittles brand. Both experienced a mainly positive burst of buzz. The third example comes from another ad agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, which has a live beta site that is attracting attention. Although the trend seems real, the questions linger: Is it meaningful… and it is worth the risk?

On the first question, I increasingly believe that adopting social media into your home page can be a powerful positive for customers. I say “increasingly” because the social-media space is evolving with the new digital social norms that are still self-organizing before our eyes. It is clear that already people are using social networks to judge any brand that they come across, whether it is posting a question to friends on Facebook, reading a review on an e-commerce site, or using Google, which often draws from personal reviews on blogs and discussion boards. So at the same time that people are visiting your brand’s website, they have a few other open browser tabs with this information. For forward thinkers such as Modernista!, Skittles, and Crispin, the logic is that they might as well go ahead and showcase this social media on the home page. So in this basis alone the approach is meaningful marketing.

The biggest marketing benefit can come when the brand website visitor first arrives and sees several positive stories, tweets, and blog posts. People judge a website and brand within microseconds, and some trusted, impartial comments on the home page can make a big impact. Instead of cluttering this moment of truth with ad copy, why not defer to the more-trusted comments of other customers? That’s what a billion-dollar brand that I used to work on, Tide, figured when it recently launched a home page redesign featuring actual user reviews front and center. And Juicy Juice is testing a banner ad that presents live tweets from moms.

But what about the risk and bad stories and comments that might appear at this moment of truth? Well, Crispin saw just what that looks like last week. First, it lost the Volkswagen account, which led to a rash of negative tweets and stories. It’s never fun to lose a big client, and worse to see the news everywhere. Second, the company took a lot of heat for running a contest in which it invited designers to create a new logo for the electric motorcycle start-up Brammo for a $1,000 top prize. Many in the design industry felt that this was undermining and cheapening their craft. Again, another round of negatives has filled its beta home page. In fact, the very public space and open ability to add a negative comment likely invites a much more negative response than one would otherwise see. It’s the chance to hold a virtual picket sign on the company’s front lawn.

So Crispin would call this a failure, right? I don’t think so. They are smart enough to have anticipated the negatives that can happen and I believe they fully embrace the haters. Even negatives can end up being positive in this case. First, it shows that the company is in the center of the action and they matter. This falls under the age-old line that even bad publicity is better than no publicity. The second benefit is that this open acceptance of hate media actually helps them attract the right clients, those who want to take risks and want to build a brand with a little controversy. Jason Bender, one of our top Creative Directors and leader of the team that recently won a Gold Cyber Lion at Cannes for a Pringles banner ad (that was somewhat controversial), said it best in our conversation about the issue:

“This shows people that Crispin is not for everyone, and that they don’t mind alienating the tight-asses they don’t want as clients. This helps them weed out the bad prospects.”

With this open site, negatives and all, Crispin as a brand is living and breathing the kind of marketing that it does for its clients. Brands such as Burger King, MINI, and Microsoft hired the agency in order to stir up attention, and they’ve all gotten what they wanted. In fact, Volkswagen chose to look for a new agency because it felt it needed to broaden its marketing to a wider audience. This will likely mean more watered down creative and Crispin wouldn’t want to do it anyway.

Interestingly, this Crispin story comes just as we at Bridge Worldwide have started to dabble social media on our Web presence. You might have noticed that we just launched our new Marketing with Meaning site, and on the home page we decided to feature a live feed of Twitter posts that include anyone who uses my handle, @mktgwithmeaning. We actually got to this idea in a roundabout way. We asked Ryan, our Web developer, to try to increase interest in our Twitter account on the home page, and he wrote an Ajax widget that brought in live tweets. We loved the idea, but I hated seeing my picture 15 times running down the screen. Someone mentioned that we could bring in retweets and other @replies. I immediately loved the idea because it would show the new visitor at this moment of truth that this is a popular topic that others are talking about. Second, I knew that the people who followed the Marketing with Meaning cause would appreciate that we were giving them at least a few minutes of public attention on our home page. And this in turn would lead to more tweets.

But what about the negatives of our modest effort? Jay and I actually had a long conversation about what could go wrong. Our agency recently got dinged a bit on something we shared publicly, so we felt the need to be cautious. We thought about the worst that could happen: Someone could, say, protest our work for a client and flood the site with negative tweets. If a client CEO with no social-media understanding (rare, I know) visited the site and saw this on our own home page it could be a huge negative. However unlikely, it is possible, so we made some plans to deal with it, but launched the tool regardless.

Bridge Worldwide is no Crispin Porter + Bogusky. We don’t believe that we need to embrace controversy to build brands. However we do have a very defined point of view on the kind of work we want to do for clients: Marketing with Meaning. This blog, the Twitter feed, the upcoming book, and more all are tools that we use to put ourselves out there for client consideration. When I speak with clients and prospects about this concept I say that sometimes our work will be interruptive and less meaningful if that is what is called for; after all, we exist first and foremost to serve our clients’ needs. But I quickly follow that this is our starting point for all recommendations, and that we’re going to challenge them continuously to move in this direction.

Just as Crispin has successfully attracted clients that follow its brand belief, I hope that our focus on Marketing with Meaning will attract more of the clients we want: brands that buy into our concept and are ready to buy meaningful ideas. The more public we are with this statement, the more likely we are to succeed.

Free Chapter Download from ‘The Next Evolution of Marketing’

Friday, September 4th, 2009

chapter 2 image

It’s just a little less than one month to go before the official release of my book, The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect with Your Customers by Marketing with Meaning. You might have noticed the new website, here, which matches the design of the book and brings in a lot of new content and tools that I’ll be introducing in future posts. Today I want to share the release of a free chapter of the book, in hopes that you will enjoy the sample, place a pre-order, and share it with friends and colleagues. You can find it on our Media Kit page or simply click here to open a PDF.

It was actually an easy decision to pick this chapter as the free download. Aside from its very compelling first paragraph, above (c’mon, who can resist that!), I selected Chapter 2 because it is where I first fully introduce the concept of Marketing with Meaning. It begins by suggesting we are at the verge of a next evolution of marketing, following in the footsteps of Direct Marketing and Permission Marketing. I then take the reader through four stories of brands that have made a fundamental shift away from interruption and toward meaning, each in a way that fits perfectly with its brand equity and target customers’ needs. Those four brands are Dove, Nike, Burger King, and The Partnership for a Drug-Free America. The chapter ends with an introduction of the Hierarchy of Meaningful Marketing, a tool that I further explore in the following three chapters.

Of course, I can’t finish this blog post without calling out the fact that this free chapter is an example of practicing the Marketing with Meaning that I preach. Free samples of any kind give the prospective buyer a chance to check out the product or service with no risk. And I actually spend a couple of pages describing diverse examples and benefits of free samples in my book. My hope is that people come away from this chapter with an overview of the concept and a hunger to see what else I have to say. On the other hand, I also hope that people who read and dislike this chapter are able to save their money (and not spread negative word of mouth!). I would like to thank my team at McGraw-Hill for understanding the importance of a free chapter and for making it happen quickly.

I will be introducing other examples of meaningful marketing around this book as the next few weeks roll by. Thanks so much for your support, feedback, and sharing.

Book Review: ‘Free’ by Chris Anderson

Monday, August 10th, 2009

I was expecting—maybe even hoping—to hate Chris Anderson’s new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price. As a digital marketer I have seen far too many poor business models pop up, become addicted to annoying advertising, and slowly fade away (e.g., the Bloglines RSS reader is killing me). I felt that Anderson was launching his book at the worst time, just as the economy hit new lows and businesses were burned by failing to act responsibly. I even started putting together notes for a thought-piece on why “free” is wrong and why the “99-cent economy” with iTunes songs and iPhone apps is the real answer. But after reading Free, I have to admit that Anderson is right, and I must thank him for providing yet another pillar of proof that the world must shift to Marketing with Meaning.

Anderson wrote the book with his biggest detractors and doubters well in mind. The result is a book that is well-researched with bulletproof logic and hundreds of examples. As an economics major myself, I appreciated that he went down into the details of this dismal science in order to make his case. He also blends in psychological studies to teach us how we think and react to free versus paid offers. For example, one study suggests that, “Most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something is FREE! we forget the downside.”

Free aspires to be a general business book and approaches the simple, compelling work of Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers). However, I believe we marketers will get the most out of the Free manifesto. Anderson describes how one of our traditional tools, free samples, is powering new business models in industries as diverse as music, retail, and bike rental. But his thinking for us is much deeper…

One of Anderson’s fundamental points is that while the cost of information (and many real-world products) nears zero, the amount of attention people can give to something has remained unchanged. Unless we figure out how to avoid sleep or sprout additional heads, we’re pretty much limited here. This means that consumer engagement—the doorway to selling them stuff—is becoming harder and harder to open. As a result, if you’re a musician hoping to break through, or a game developer hoping to attract players, you are better off giving something away in order to earn this engagement. Once we have their attention, there is a chance to sell them something.

This is actually very much the thinking behind Marketing with Meaning. Because consumers are less willing or able to give their increasingly valuable attention to interruptive advertising, we must try new methods to get their attention. Through free samples or free services—meaningful marketingwe can break through the clutter and begin a dialogue that can effectively lead to sales.

For example, by creating a tool that lets people create their own Simpsons characters, the franchise wins viewers for its programs and movies. By providing live lunchtime entertainment, Healthy Choice has a chance to share information about its new line of Fresh Mixers. And by providing free education for you, dear readers, through this educational blog for more than a year, I have earned the chance to tell you about my upcoming book.

Imagine if the $500 billion in annual global advertising spending was completely diverted away from unwanted, interruptive advertising and toward marketing that adds value to people’s lives. It’s not a utopian dream; rather, it’s the simple economics of a world where the most scarce resource for business is consumer attention. If you’re not giving them something valuable through your marketing itself, then you have little chance to win them over. But win their attention through meaningful marketing, and you have the chance to achieve short-term sales and loyalty for life.

The Next Evolution of Marketing: Book Cover

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

One of the things I love about this blog is that it offers a chance to share progress on my upcoming book, The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect with Your Customers by Marketing with Meaning. My hope is that regular followers of this blog and believers in the overall concept enjoy seeing a little bit behind the curtain as we work to make this an industry-leading idea. Today I am excited to share the final book cover!

Just as I was warned by many authors before I started the writing and publication process, aligning on a final cover was not easy. The biggest challenge is that, despite the old adage, everyone DOES judge a book by its cover. The first impression at the buying moment of truth is critical. The challenge is that there are many conflicting priorities that go into the process. You want to stand out on shelf, but your customers don’t want something that scares off customers. You need something with lots of selling points, but the more words on the page, the less someone wants to read any one of them. Oh, and it needs to look good on a tiny piece of a screen on There’s also the natural tug of preferences between my team at Bridge Worldwide and our publisher, McGraw-Hill.

Despite some stress, I’m very excited with how the book cover turned out. The final book is a combination of work by McGraw-Hill designers and a team at the branding and design firm of Landor Associates, and specifically Richard Westendorf and Joe Napier. They created a cover that stands out on a crowded shelf and catches the eye thanks to interesting color and the turning title words. While at first I was just happy to be finished with the cover, I’m really loving it now.

Another thing you might notice is the endorsement by Seth Godin at the top of the book. I am incredibly honored to receive his kind words; it means a lot to me to get such positive feedback from a guy who has inspired me for my entire marketing career. I was lucky enough to land several other very strong endorsements from a collection of friends, acquaintances, friends of friends, and complete strangers. As a first-time author, I believe these words of support are important positive signals for prospective buyers as they consider shelling out $27.95 for a copy. And I can’t say enough about how great it feels to have this cast of all-stars support my writing. Here’s a full list of endorsements that will appear on the back cover and inside pages:

  • “Bob is one of the marketing industry’s young bright lights. The Next Evolution of Marketing is a true beacon for all brand builders—many books claim that; Bob’s book delivers. It is part inspirational stories, part handbook for change… change we must embrace if we are to grow brands into the future.” Jim Stengel - Former Global Marketing Officer, Procter & Gamble
  • “Some timeless truths restored for modern marketing—and many new ones added. An inspiring reminder of the value of brand behaviour and how to make it happen.” Sir Martin Sorrell - CEO, WPP
  • “In the always on, text-messaged, TiVo-infested, social media driven world of today, traditional advertising has been rendered virtually meaningless. Bob Gilbreath brilliantly shows why we’re no longer living in our fathers’ marketing era. Better yet, he details how marketing works best when it adds value to people’s lives and he provides a playbook for success.” David Meerman Scott - Best-selling author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR and World Wide Rave
  • “Advertising is changing rapidly and the old formulas don’t work anymore. Bob Gilbreath’s new book is loaded with ideas and concepts that will help you deal with the new realities in the marketing arena. Well-written, too.” Al Ries - author of War in the Boardroom
  • “The world has changed, consumer expectations have changed, and, as a result, traditional, interruptive marketing is significantly less effective. In his book, Bob Gilbreath not only defines and makes the case for the evolution to Marketing with Meaning, he provides a strategic framework, excellent real-life examples, and a clear road map to deliver, all in an insightful and engaging way.” Brian McNamara - President Europe, Novartis OTC Business Unit
  • “As the world becomes more immune to “advertising as usual”, the urgency for finding new and better ways to connect with consumers is rapidly increasing. Recognizing the need and responding with a solution, Bob Gilbreath introduces Marketing with Meaning, a fantastic way to earn consumer attention and make the world a better place in the process.” Kevin Doohan - Director, Digital Marketing, Red Bull North America
  • “One of the many illuminating insights in Bob Gilbreath’s important new book is that many marketers are finding success in social media because they’re rediscovering their generosity. Persuasion has given way to sharing and marketing will never be the same.” John Gerzema - Chief Insights Officer of Young & Rubicam and author of The Brand Bubble
  • “This immensely important book presents a new marketing model in sync with today’s new consumers hungry for meaning in their lives. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at how the greatest brands are leveraging their power and an essential read for anyone looking to add value to their business, career and life.” Jim Heekin - Chairman and CEO, Grey Group
  • “I thoroughly recommend this book. Bob Gilbreath demonstrates how marketing can go beyond interruption to add value for both consumers and brand owners. He illustrates his case with a rich and diverse set of case studies complemented by guidelines designed to help others create marketing with meaning.” Nigel Hollis - Chief Global Analyst, Millward Brown, and author of The Global Brand
  • “At The Coca-Cola Company we believe that nurturing brand love and advocacy is critical to building brands in this age of social media. This book provides a framework and compelling examples for creating the next generation of culture- leading brands.” Mark Greatrex - Senior Vice President, Marketing Communications and Insights, The Coca-Cola Company
  • “Today’s technologies have shifted power to consumers. The Next Evolution of Marketing shows how companies can leverage that power to benefit both their customers and themselves.” Peter Golder - Professor of Marketing, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and author of Will & Vision: How Latecomers Grow to Dominate Markets
  • “Bob Gilbreath has written an exciting and articulate guide to the future of marketing in the new media environment. Kudos!” Bruce Owen - Morris M. Doyle Professor in Public Policy at Stanford University
  • “Tell and sell was never authentic. Smart companies have watched their products soar by adopting a more meaningful approach, but no one has named the new model, codified it, or provided any guidelines for implementing it. Until now, right here in this book, where Bob Gilbreath does all three.” Pete Blackshaw – EVP, Digital Strategic Services, Nielsen Online, author of Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell Three Thousand
  • “Gilbreath is onto something important with The Next Generation of Marketing. I can’t recall a book that contains more actionable, real world examples.” Tim Kopp - CMO, ExactTarget
  • “This is a comprehensive and practical approach to marketing connectivity. With media no longer ‘dumb,’ marketers must truly connect their brands with their key customers. The plethora of new media vehicles fragments the marketplace, but also creates a tremendous opportunity. Bob skillfully uses real-time examples of how we can capitalize with richer and deeper connections.” Mark Chmiel – Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer, The Denny’s Corporation

    The official launch date for the book is October 2, but you can pre-order it now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, dear readers, for all of your kind words and helpful comments in the past 15 months that I have been blogging away here. As anyone who has put their heart and soul into creating content would agree, there is something incredibly special about having others enjoy and learn from your original work.

    But just writing and selling books is not why I started on this journey years ago. Instead, I hope to spark a movement in the marketing profession—one that will elevate the importance of the work we do and make the world a better place in the process. A book is only one “chapter” in the story. The next chapters will be written by you, and I’m happy to say we’ve got much more planned to help you make meaningful marketing in your companies and careers. Stay tuned…

    What Not to Do for a Blogger Book Review

    Friday, July 10th, 2009

    As most readers know I’ve been gearing up for the launch of my book, The Next Evolution of Marketing, which will be published in October by McGraw-Hill. For more than a year now I’ve not only been writing furiously but also going to school on best practices in book marketing. One of the obvious and growing keys to book marketing is reaching out to influential bloggers in hopes of positive reviews and word of mouth. Interestingly, as a blogger with a good amount of traffic, I have now been approached a handful of times by authors and publishers who would like me to review their books. This has given me a hands-on, customer-based view of what works and what doesn’t. Yesterday I received an offer that misses the mark, and I thought it would be interesting to share here.

    (NOTE: I have chosen not to mention the book or publisher that reached out to me in this case, because I have no desire to negatively impact their sales or business, plus naming names is really not necessary to make my points.)

    The Approach

    A representative for the publisher in question emailed me with a note saying that he is “reaching out to bloggers to ask if you would help us spread the word about a new book…” This followed with a short paragraph summarizing the book and its target market. The publisher representative also attached the “pre-press page proofs” of the book—essentially a PDF of the almost-final book itself. He ended with the line, “Anything you can do from a Tweet to a full book review on your blog would be appreciated.”

    My Analysis

    As a target blogger in this case, I felt very little motivation to give attention to this offer. There are several issues and negatives that come through here. First, it is a general message that is likely copied and pasted to hundreds or thousands of other marketing-related bloggers. The only thing personalized is my name in the opening. It is clear that this person has not read my blog. Second, there’s nothing here to make it easy for me to act on the request. If the publisher representative had spent 5 minutes getting a feel for my blog topic and then added a sentence that suggested how this book was relevant for my topic and audience then I would have been much more compelled to pay attention, and it would have given me an idea of where to go with it. But the biggest issue to me is that I’m only getting a 380-page PDF of the book, rather than a real copy. There’s no way I’m going to read through this type of document on my laptop. Frankly, by making your target audience do more work, I believe you actually bias them against your product—or at minimum fail to take advantage of human nature to reward a free gift.

    A Better Way

    A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post in praise of the book Content Rich, the result of another example of blogger outreach that worked much better—obviously because it motivated me to spend hours reading the book and writing a (positive) review. In this case the author, Jon Wuebben, sent me a personalized email that specifically mentioned how his book was a fit with my concept and audience. He offered to send me a free copy of the book if I would be interested in reading and writing about it. This helped him ensure that books only went out to interested people. I agreed and the book arrived a few days later in the mail. It took me longer than I hoped to actually read the book and write the post, but it kept sitting on my desk as a constant reminder that I promised to review it. I didn’t want to let down the author, who had invested time and money on me and my commitment.

    I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad idea to make a free version of a new book available broadly, as the publisher in this example did. Another example of this happening right now is Wired editor Chris Anderson’s new book Free, which he is releasing widely in digital file format at no cost. However this approach is unlikely to get many influential bloggers to quickly put out a positive review.

    I’m still working on my own strategy for blogger outreach in the coming months. I want to make sure to personally touch bloggers with large audiences with a free copy, but I also plan to offer some incentive and/or reward for “the long tail” of bloggers with smaller audiences who write book reviews. I would appreciate your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!

    Book Review: ‘Content Rich’

    Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

    A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by Jon Wuebben, Founder and Managing Director of Custom Copywriting, to review his new book Content Rich. I took Jon up on the invitation both for curiosity as a blogger and digital-agency leader. I also thought it would be interesting to be in the role of a review requestee, as I am currently sharing a handful of advance copies of my book with folks who might provide an endorsement blurb.

    Overall, I found Content Rich to be a very strong introduction to the business side of writing good copy for small businesses that are creating their own content on websites and blogs. Businesses are beginning to realize the benefit of offering online content that is valuable to prospective customers—in other words, Marketing with Meaning. They are starting to learn that position in search rankings is like shelving at the store: the better your placement, the more likely you are to attract attention and close the sale. Small businesses also see an opportunity to rise higher in the search rankings than the size of their business would suggest. The “little guy” can even beat the big boys with search rankings.

    Great content drives search results, but there is a specific skill around writing well for Web readers and the search algorithms. The primary purpose of Content Rich is to help people write content that drives search rankings, itself an art with a very big business potential. I enjoyed reading Wuebben’s personal stories of discovering this skill, and he does a good job making a very complex story fairly simple.

    Content Rich delves into all of the details you would expect: how to write AdWords copy, making landing pages search-specific, press-release tips, and suggestions for social media. Throughout the book Wuebben uses case studies to bring his examples and training to life.

    I feel every good review must include some opportunity areas and wish-fors as well. In this case, my biggest complaint is that Wuebben can be a bit too conversational and informal in his writing style. It is a serious topic that takes concentration; Wuebben tries to liven this “training,” but sometimes there are six or seven exclamation points on a page!

    So if you are in charge of writing search-friendly content for your company or clients, I highly suggest that you read Content Rich. I can’t promise it will make you rich, but I guarantee you will learn something that you can put into use tomorrow.