Posts Tagged Books

Book Review: Digital Branding

Posted by on Monday, 3 March, 2014

Digital-BrandingDigital Branding by Daniel Rowles is exactly the digital marketing book I would write. It’s current, relevant, very practical, honest, and topical. Perhaps a little too much so. I can see some “old-timers” being intimidated by the practices Rowles demands.

The book is divided in three parts. The first is an introduction to digital branding with some great definitions. This is where the “love” count started early. Yes, most digital communications about a brand don’t directly include the brand. Yes, it needs to be measurable. And my favorite, verbatim, “brand awareness is a phrase that is often used to justify digital activity that doesn’t have clear objectives”. I’m not telling which early project I worked on where this was a common management line.

Digital Branding’s value is in the second part: The Digital Toolkit. It’s practical and realistic, suggesting free tools, and acknowledging the top end of the market, like Google Analytics Enterprise. Intermixed are case studies and advice, with gems like only doing something if you have something to say, and that social media is essentially PR.

Part three, Strategy and Measurement, is the weakest, but only in parts. The strategy chapter is less tangible fluff. This is made up in the next chapter. Analytics describes useful reports in Google Analytics. I love (yes, love count was high) the reminder that a high bounce rate isn’t bad if the customer got what they needed.

Who is Digital Branding For?

I think my annotation here was perfect: “Am I loving this because it reinforces my ideas and it’s actually too basic? Who is this for?”

It’s detailed enough for experienced digital marketers, but clear enough for marketers new to digital, or even non-marketers. Of course, the newer you are the more you’ll get from Digital Branding, but I picked up some tools from the kit and a couple of tips.

This book isn’t release until April, but I recommend it. In fact, I’m buying a copy. My ARC was produced too early for all the tables to be included.

Book Review: Pioneers of Digital

Posted by on Thursday, 13 February, 2014

Pioneers-Of-DigitalWhere was this book when I was in grad school?

Pioneers of Digital (Paul Springer and Mel Carson) is a collection of 20 interviews and case studies looking at the founders of digital marketing, the ones who did it by design and those by accident.

In grad school one of my assignments required analyzing a case study from a book. Unfortunately the RMIT library’s marketing and PR section hadn’t been added to since 1990. Small exaggeration. Pioneers of Digital would have been my go-to.

Most of the interviews are essentially case studies of their careers. I loved reading what lead June Cohen to put Ted Talks online, discovering how many people started their careers in totally unrelated areas and fell into marketing and technology, and how success comes from making a difference, not by trying to make money. Two case studies told the story of hugely popular campaigns. I remember wasting a lot of time with Subservient Chicken without knowing it was a Burger King promotion. Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty has continued to inspire women 10 years after its launch.

My favorites were Kyle MacDonald’s One Red Paperclip and, the surprising inclusion, Stephen Fry. Both chapters had more storytelling and feeling than the others, and that’s taking my bias aside. I’m a sucker for great marketing from outside the industry.

Pioneers of Digital closes with a statistics-filled summary of the up-and-coming digital marketing cities, and lessons from the pioneers interviewed. If the initial chapters are a bit hard to get through, the book is worth it for these two chapters.

What’s your Passion?

Posted by on Tuesday, 7 January, 2014

What's Your PassionBeing a generalist digital marketer, I get told frequently that I need to specialize. I consider it, but my passions include learning, helping others, and discovering new things. Not conducive to a narrow-focused marketing career. I can say this because I know and understand my passions, but how can you discover what’s your passion?

Luckily, Jag Randhawa has written the Bright Idea Box. It’s a book about employee engagement and innovation that’s being released later this month, and I thoroughly recommend it for anyone leading a team or organization. As well as some great ideas and examples for engagement, Randhawa includes a brilliant exercise for discovering your passions and ambitions. It’s not central to his book, so I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing it here.

Step One – Take a piece of paper and divide the paper into three equal parts using two lines.
Step Two – Name three individuals, dead or alive, whom you admire the most. These individuals do not have to be related to your work. Write down these names in three separate columns on the paper.
Step Three – For each name, in each column, write three or more qualities you admire in these individuals. These should be qualities, not attributes like money, fame, or title.
Step Four – Analyze the overlaps in qualities among these people. Highlight the similarities, including those that might influence or cultivate the related qualities.

The overlapping qualities you highlights are also your own personal qualities. To recognize readily traits in others, you must share a deep interest in those traits. These qualities may not be as developed in you, but recognizing your interest in these qualities is the first step toward developing them.

Right now, you may not be recognized for those qualities or may not have accomplished as much as your idols, but if you follow your passion and develop these qualities, there is no limit to the amazing feats you can accomplish.

Book Review: Klout Matters

Posted by on Sunday, 22 December, 2013

Klout_MattersKlout Matters (Gina Carr and Terry Brock) is as close as you can get to a book-sized advertisement for Klout, without it being written by Klout.

If you’re wanting to know how to game your Klout score, then this is the book for you. Yes, I went there. Despite how many times the authors claim you can’t and they’re not instructing how to game Klout, this is a book how to game your Klout score.

The authors want this book to be a fair, definitive guide to Klout. There’s even an entire chapter on Klout’s shortcomings. It’s towards the back and positioned as their wishlist for development. Despite my personal dislike of Klout, I’m trying to be fair in this review. Author bias aside, there’s one major flaw with this book, the editing. I’m not sure any was done. My copy was a pre-release from NetGalley, a few days before its official release, so I can excuse the switching between podcast and pod-cast. I can’t excuse the inconsistent claims and weak narrative.

With some editing, this could be great. I’m afraid many would put it down before getting to chapter four and discovering why a Klout score is important or relevant. Also, mid-way through we’re told we must be content creators, but later we’re told to be expert content curators. Which is it? Personally, I think a mix. I’m also not sure who the book is targeting. It’s 90% at individuals for personal branding, but then a random corporate reference appears.

The marketing concepts are also a tad dated. Audiences and targeting are rarely mentioned, even within the tips on using social media to increase your Klout score. Chapter ten is definitely the most useful. It discusses getting to know your key influencers, putting value first, and, amusingly, that it’s not all about your Klout score.

Who is Klout Matters for?

This is tough. Probably people who are wanting a numeric score as a trophy, and are trying for freebies from companies. Not marketers who are wanting to see if Klout is relevant for their brands.

If there’s a second edition, with some strong editing, Klout Matters can be a useful book. Assuming Klout still has clout.

Book Review: Promote Yourself – The new rules for career success

Posted by on Saturday, 2 November, 2013

Promote Yourself Dan SchawbelIt’s hard to work out exactly why I don’t like Promote Yourself by Dan Schawbel. I’ve written many introductions and deleted them, all trying to find an objective reason.

I think it’s because there’s no clear audience identified.

There are many other reasons too, but they’re all subjective. The focus on millennials, the “it’s all about me” attitude, the instructions to do A and B to receive C. But these are disagreements, not reasons for it to be a bad book.

I know Dan Schawbel intends this book to be a career guide for millennials. I’m not convinced that’s who’ll get the most out of it.

I see the primary audience as early gen X and baby boomers who are struggling to relate to the younger members of their teams. The secondary is audience is millennials, but those who do well on tests, but struggle to make friends. The ones who want to be rich, famous and have an MBA, but lack an understanding of creativity or how.

Let me explain.

The first half of the book focuses on building your personal brand at work with the aim of getting promoted. Dan explains the need to network with the right people. He also explains how being a social media guru will make you indispensable, because no one older than “you” understands or can use the internet and computers. You can help them learn. But he also feels the need to explain what Twitter and Facebook are. By his reckoning, shouldn’t millennials already know that?

All through the book are to-do items. Take on an extra project, promote your wins, set up a personal website and you’ll be promoted. Sure there are caveats about over doing it and looking like a jerk, but I think the book (and its readers) would benefit from being told how and why. It’s there on a surface level, but reading this brought back memories of some jerks I’ve worked with. They knew how to tick boxes, but lacked the understanding to know which boxes should be ticked. One thing these jerks had in common was an MBA, giving them a great theoretical knowledge, but not the wisdom to apply it.

Which made me laugh at page 229: Should I Get an MBA? It’s probably the page I agreed with the most. No, an MBA isn’t mandatory, and is more useful in some companies than others. However, I’m not sure the entrepreneurs Dan used as examples of successful people without MBAs were the best to use. They each built their fortunes by making ideas happen, not by playing the game for a promotion large companies.

Promote Yourself isn’t all bad. Pointing out need to excel in your current job first is essential advice, dealing with job hopping and self-directed learning were other gems.

I’d love to give recommendations of alternative career books to read instead of this one, but it’s a sub-genre I tend not to read, so cannot. If anyone can, please add it to the comments. In the mean time, I’m sending this book to a millennial for his perspective.