Posts Tagged ‘review’

Book Review: “Linchpin” Our Needed Wake-up Call

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Way back in December 2009, Seth Godin offered his blog readers a chance to get an advance copy of his new book, Linchpin. The first 3,000 folks who were willing to donate at least $30 to one of his favorite causes, the Acumen Fund, received a book. I jumped at the chance to do so, both because I enjoy Seth’s books and I wanted to participate in this novel form of meaningful book marketing.

Godin’s plan was to get a flood of positive reviews and word of mouth in time for Linchpin to hit bookstore shelves. He even followed up a few weeks later by sending an additional book to people who accepted the original offer. I’m a little more than a year late to the party with my own blog review of the book, but I would be doing my readers a disservice by ignoring the positive impact of reading Linchpin—and I hope Seth benefits from new long-tail sales.

Simply put, Linchpin is a motivational tool for businesspeople who are seeking a new path and need a loving kick in the pants. For years Seth Godin has given us books to help us think about marketing and business positioning in a different, evolved way. But this time he sets his sights on providing individuals with the mentality they need to become “linchpins” in whatever they do. Here are a few of the key points that I underlined in my copy of the book:

  • The “factory contract” of the economy is going away; we can no longer expect to plug into a job, follow the rules, and be taken care of. The future will belong to artists who create something original, interesting, and meaningful. “…History is now being written by the artists while the factory workers struggle. The future belongs to chefs, not to cooks or bottle washers.” “Art” can mean whatever you uniquely bring to the world—a skill, knowledge, experience. It can come to life in a painting, a business idea, or a blog like this one.
  • Education is ripe for an overhaul. “The launch of universal (public and free) education was a profound change in the way our society works…. We trained millions of factory workers.” We need to transform education to teach children two things: (1) Solve interesting problems; and (2) Lead.
  • We must think differently in how we look at success in the workplace or hunt for jobs. “The problem with meeting expectations is that it’s not remarkable…. A resume gives the employer everything she needs to reject you…. Having a resume begs for you to go into that big machine that looks for relevant keywords, and begs for you to get a job as a cog in a giant machine.” It is your visible results that matter in today’s economy: “Projects are the new resumes.”
  • “Real artists ship.” (‘Nuff said.)
  • We must continually learn about the world and ourselves, and have strong opinions but be ready to shift them. “It’s not an accident that successful people read more books.
  • “One of the fascinating aspects of business and organized movements is that there’s some correlation between the passion and effort that people bring to a project and the outcome…. In great organizations, there’s a sense of mission.”
  • A new model for success is to create valuable art and share it broadly (especially thanks to the power of the Net), and if helps others they will repay you in many ways.

Even if everything here seems that it has been said somewhere before, it’s worth the time to read Linchpin. I know you will find something that inspires you, gets you out of bed in the morning, or refocuses your best efforts. I personally was most moved by Godin’s ability to distill the work I have done around the concept of Marketing with Meaning for nearly three years. It is my passion to help others succeed, and by giving  knowledge and assistance away as much as possible, I have benefited from seeing our company enjoy better business results—but I also get the pleasure of hearing how a blog post, book chapter, keynote speech, or email with advice has helped others.

Sometimes it is difficult to trust that “giving the gift of your art” will allow you to continue to grow your business and yourself. I thank Seth Godin for giving us the manifesto we need to keep creating a new and better future of work.

Healthy Choice Offers “One Little Review”

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

healthy choice review

(Today Megan West, one of our rising star strategic planners, takes over for a guest blog post about a program that she and our ConAgra Foods team at Bridge Worldwide led for the Healthy Choice brand. I think this is another example of how social media is not a strategy, but rather offers many tactics that can help deliver better results on a strong overall marketing strategy. For more examples see my previous posts on Golden Tee, Estee Lauder, and MoMA.)

In September 2009, Healthy Choice launched a new TV spot featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, in which the main call to action was to drive consumers to the brand website to print a high-value coupon. This was a first for our Healthy Choice team, and the number of people who would actually visit the site was a complete unknown. To be clear, this wasn’t just a 3-second tag or 10-point font callout at the end of the spot, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus herself telling people to go print a coupon online.

This was big. We were going to give away massive amounts of $2 printable coupons for two Healthy Choice products. And we also saw an opportunity to capitalize on this influx of visitors by giving them an opportunity to register for the Healthy Choice relationship marketing program after they printed, which offers a promise of more offers and goodies in their inbox.

Because this campaign was about trial of the new Healthy Choice products, getting a bunch of new registrants into the database was a tertiary benefit for many of the key stakeholders on the brand. But the digital team challenged itself to make sure these new people stayed active and engaged with the brand far beyond a commercial message and coupon redemption.

The Idea: Bite-Sized Reviews

We saw an opportunity to hit our trial goals and build long-term loyalty by implementing a “Bite-Size” review program. Here’s how it works:

  • Two weeks after printing the coupon (i.e., enough time to go to the store, redeem it, and try the meal), consumers who registered for the Healthy Choice newsletter are sent a welcome email.
  • The email invites them to come give a mini-review of what they thought about the product in exchange for another coupon. We offer $1 off any two products to encourage repeat purchase of different varieties.
  • At the review site, consumers choose the product they tried, rate it, and post a 140-character or fewer review of what they think.

healthy choice review 2

They then get a preview of the review and the opportunity to share their review in real time by pushing it out via their personal Twitter or Facebook accounts. The tool makes it simple for consumers to sign into their account and update their status.

We put a lot of thought into what information we want them to be able to share via Twitter. As marketers, our immediate thought was, “Make sure to get the URL in there,” but after really thinking about the true objective of pushing out reviews (awareness for the products), we decided to leave it off to give consumers more space to write their review.

Why It’s Meaningful for Consumers:

  • It sends them an email soon after signing up, showing that the brand is going to deliver on the promise of “More Offers” and validating their reason for signing up.
  • It gives consumers a chance to post their actual thoughts about the products they tried, with no content censorship by the brand. This lets people know that the brand believes in its products and really wants to know what people think about them.

How It Delivers Marketing Results for the Brand:

  • It leverages our consumers’ social-media networks to build awareness of the brands’ products in the form of actual consumer language.
  • It keeps news registrants active and delights them with additional offers and a chance to share their thoughts, hopefully turning them into brand advocates.
  • The brand soon hopes to launch a Rating and Review section for all of the products on (because they have recently re-launched the brand with all new food formulas and tasty new dishes!), and this helps us to build a repository of “seed” reviews that can pre-populate that section. We planned for this by asking consumers who submit reviews to agree to let Healthy Choice publish them for marketing materials later.

It’s far too early to report in results of this campaign and the specific review tool, and this gets into the area where we want to keep data confidential, anyway. But you can see for yourself the amount of reviews posted to Twitter by checking out the responses to @Healthy_ChoiceAs you can see, the reviews are starting to come in nicely in terms of amount and reaction. Taking just one example, @debbiemekler says: “Tried @Healthy_Choice Grilled Chicken Marinara. Tasty and well-seasoned. Would try move in the future.” This great, personal review went out to her 50 followers, who trust what she says as word of mouth, not advertising.

This goes to show that brands can benefit by finding ways to turn traditional marketing programs such as coupon offers into a way to tap into consumers’ growing desire to share socially.

healthy choice review 3

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!