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Posts from the ‘Reviews’ Category

Your marketing sucks

zzzzz... what's that? You got something to sell? ... zzzzz

Before you come at me with pitchforks and torches, let me explain!

I’m currently reading a book by Mark Stevens entitled … wait for it … “Your marketing sucks.” and I thought I would share some initial thoughts.

First off, you have to admit, that’s a damn compelling title – it catches your eye and gets you interested. After all, what does this joker know about my marketing.

If you are like me, a part of you is quietly saying “dang, busted! How did he know my marketing sucked?”.

I’m about a third of the way through the book and my first impressions are mildly positive. The book reads really well and it reads quickly. To me, this is a big plus for a business book.

There are a lot of business books out there that are a chore to read.

As I’ve gotten older, I have less patience for these scholarly tomes. After all, I’m trying to improve – not punish – myself!

There are a lot of practical examples and ideas that you can implement immediately in the book. One example is the concept of effectively using swarming with your marketing – using several different mechanisms (email, telemarketing, PR, etc.) at once to deliver a message as opposed to linear approach of one after another.

I’ll leave it to you to determine if that approach would work for you or not. (Personally, I have a hard enough time coordinating a single marketing event.)

The fundamentals are also well represented such as:

  • Remember that marketing that doesn’t lead to sales is just spending in disguise.
  • Determine who your target market is and get a solid handle on them.
  • Understand your unique value proposition before marketing or you won’t get very far.
  • Keep your eye on the low-hanging fruit – go for the easy opportunities before you chase after the hard ones.

So far, so good.

The big downside that I’ve seen so far is that the book is definitely an extended sales pitch for his company and his marketing method which he calls EXTREME MARKETING!!!!!!!

Yes that’s EXTREME MARKETING!!!!!!!!

(ok … ok … I added the exclamation marks. And the capitalization. But “Extreme Marketing” is all the author’s doing – not mine)

I’m sure it’s just a personal thing but I think the term “Extreme” in front of anything is a little over-played and just a bit … cheesy.

How EXTREME is this caption?!?!?!?!!!!

I can understand the play – the author wants to have a unique name to call his program for branding purposes.

The problem is that I just don’t see anything too “extreme” about EXTREME MARKETING!!!!!!! It all seems fairly basic to me so far.

Now, I’m only a third of the way through. Maybe it picks up in the next two thirds of the book.

(Alas – based on the Amazon reviews, it doesn’t look like it does.)

And the part about using the book as a sales vehicle for his firm’s services? I’m actually ok with that.

Stevens proves he has a solid handle on marketing and the purpose behind marketing (making sales). He has written an easy to read, decent book that provides several real-world examples and guidelines that you can follow to improve your marketing.

He’s practicing what he preaches and putting together a marketing tool (the book) to  highlight his unique selling proposition (he can help you get your marketing in order).

The guy proves that he has the skills to help companies with their marketing and he has a clear, concise style which is a positive. So, if you are looking for that type of help, you could give him a call.

[If you are a Sage partner reading this and think you need this type of help, you should sign up for the Sage Fast Track for Marketing program. You will receive thousands of dollars of highly valuable resources to help your firm achieve its goals and one-on-one mentoring with a Duct Tape Marketing Coach. If it helps, you can think of it as EXTREME Duct Tape Marketing.]

I moderately recomend this book if you are looking for a basic, get started, primer on marketing that will supplement other sources.

Get out of IT while you can (ITA Fall Collaborative Mon morning keynote) a change a day makes. The “Shift Age” keynote from last night left me a bit cold but this morning’s presentation by Craig Schiefelbein on “Get Out of IT While You Can” was interesting and a worthwhile investment of time.

Most of the points covered during the keynote can be found at a high-level here.

There’s a common expresssion that goes “you’re preaching to the choir”. Well – sometimes the choir needs preaching to and, oftentimes, the choir is the most receptive to the message.

We might have that case here with Mr. Schiefelbein’s presentation. His entire message resonated with me – he’s preaching to the choir. Here’s some nuggets:

  • You don’t need to invent to innovate.  People that read my posts regularly know that Peter Drucker has a go to quote for me that spells out businesses have two purposes: innovation and marketing. Craig’s point is on the money – you don’t need to invent the next iPad to innovate with existing products and services to create value.
  • Play to win vs. play not to lose.  When you play not to lose, you are looking at cost containment, efficiency, risk mitigation, etc. This leads to pursuing the holy grail of efficiency which leads to fragility and extreme leanness. This makes it difficult to innovate and that’s a business killer in today’s climate.
  • IT cannot be successful as a cost center.  This draws somewhat from the Tom Peters school of thought and underscores Craig’s entire presentation. Stop considering yourself as the IT guys – figure out how to drive value, innovate, wow your company’s customers. That’s what it takes to succeed in today’s rapidly moving world.

All in all, this was a great presentation and drove home some very important points for anyone with an IT department or providing IT services.

Don’t take my word for it. Grab a copy of the book and draw your own conclusions.

Is the “Shift Age” upon us? (ITA Fall Collaborative 2011 Keynote)

Shhhh! The futurist is at work

To kick-off the ITA Fall Collaborative, author and self-appointed “futurist”, David Houle, gave a presentation detailing his thoughts on where we are as a society, how we got here and where we need to go in the future.

I will say up-front that the talk left me a bit cold.

I can’t put my finger on why exactly but it could have been the delivery, the difficult to read powerpoints, the time of day (it was a long day) but I think the bottom line was the message.

I just didn’t buy into a lot of the information being presented. Some of this is my personal biases and skepticism towards imposed patterns.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there were some nuggets of truth sprinkled in there but a lot of it seemed like Monday morning quarterbacking – where Mr. Houle imposed patterns on history to draw conclusions and organize thoughts to make predictions.

Ok … so maybe that’s what a “futurist” does.

Personally I am the type of guy who needs more concrete facts and evidence instead of a couple of powerpoint slides. In all fairness, he might have access to this information and it is simply impossible to present it all in a one hour long presentation.

Even if we go along with this thought and make allowances for the difficulty that all “futurists” have in coallescing their thoughts into a concise and convincing presentation, the patterns that he overlaid on historical events and the conclusions that he draws don’t jibe with me on several levels.

His main thrust is that we have entered into a new age – which he has coined as the “Shift Age”. During this Age, we will experience many needs to survive as a business. (He outlines them in his book.)

Well … personally I don’t believe.

I think we are still in the Information Age (which he contends started in the 1970s and ended a few years back to usher in the Shift Age) and the reason for the current upheaval is not because we have entered a new Age but rather the disruption presented by the Internet.

To me, it seems that the Internet is a tool that is accelerating the Information Age – much like advances during the Industrial Age accelerated those periods (think the steam engine, the assembly line, etc.).

There were other points and conclusions that he has drawn that I disagree with but when you disagree with the core argument – the very existence of the proposed Shift Age – there is no need to break down the conclusions derived from the theory.

It’s like arguing how fast the sun moves around the Earth. It just doesn’t work that way.

This is just my opinion. Mr. Houle has obviously been very successful as a “futurist”, selling his theory and management speaking engagements, so what do I know? I can see how it appeals to some to have patterns on things and give a decisive direction for the future.

Who doesn’t want that? I encourage everyone to read his book yourself and draw your own conclusions. Report back here.

(Yes – some might say that “futurist” doesn’t need quotes around it just like “psychic advisor” doesn’t need quotes around it.)

I’m an experienced professional – why should I attend Sage Consulting Academy?

Kicking myself for not attending the Jamaica Academy!

The new certification process required by Sage to ensure consistent, high-quality customer experiences across the channel requires partners to attend the mandatory Sage Consulting Academy. Now this may initially be seen as an unnecessary burden to many firms that have been in the channel satisfactorily serving clients for ten, twenty even thirty plus years.

Yeah … I feel your pain. We can sit around and gripe all day long about the injustices in the world and the foolishness of such a session for individuals as well-established and seasoned as you and I, dear reader.

Or … maybe we can look at this as an opportunity?

An opportunity to revisit our practices, routines, methodologies that we have built over the years (either explicitly or by default) to serve clients. After all, the reseller and professional service firm industry is undergoing huge transformations right now alongside the software publishers (and, frankly, almost every other industry out there as well).

Isn’t now a great time to review these things? Before it’s too late and you find yourself in an untenable position?

It’s good to keep this thought in mind:

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”  General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U. S. Army

You can read about one partner’s experiences here and how she (Susan Cardoza at Sysera) changed her mind after attending. I’m sure others have similar experiences to share.

One apparent hit with the Sage Consulting Academy was recently written up by Wayne Schulz on his channel-focused site, Read about here.

In the meantime, feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

What exactly is Klout?

A lot of people apparently look to me for Academy Awards info

You may be seeing people talking about “Klout” more and more these days. Lately it might be in a negative context as the people behind Klout have apparently adjusted their ranking system recently which caused quite a few people to have a horrible dip in their Klout.

(Kind of reminds me of back in the early Google days when page ranks would swing wildly after a new algorithm but read on … there is no real comparison between Klout and Google in terms of significance.)

What exactly is “Klout” and why should you care? 

First things first … Klout is a company that bills itself as “The Standard for Influence”. They provide a “Klout Score” from 1 to 100 to each person by using a super-duper top-secret formula (they use the 10 cent word “algorithm”) that monitors the individual’s social network traffic (tweets, updates, postings, etc.) and how others respond to that individual across those social networks.

By feeding your tweet machine, your Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms and building your networks and engaging in dialogue and generally being active on social media, you can see watch your Klout go up, up, up! How exciting.

Let me repeat: how exciting.

To make it even more exciting, the powers that be at Klout provide badges for achievement levels reached so you can brag to your friends when you’ve hit a Klout score of 20, 30, 40, etc or are rolling in +K (don’t ask … really … please don’t ask).  It kind of reminds me of computer games that give rewards for hitting certain acheivements. And that’s exactly what they are going for.

They want to create an addicting experience that keeps you coming back for more to feed the beast and “get to the next level”. In my opinion, they do a mediocre job of this and they really need to study Kongregate to learn from the masters. (Do yourself a favor and don’t click the link back there if you have even a semi-addictive personality.)

You might be asking at this point: what is the purpose of Klout? Well, my friend, *that* is the essence of the matter and sadly the answer is ambiguous at best.

According to the Klout FAQ page, Klout “measures influence online” and can be used as follows:

  • Klout helps you understand your influence and how to leverage it.
  • Benchmark your success, understand who you influence, and discover who to trust in the topics you care about.
  • Earn Klout Perks: exclusive access to products and experiences from top brands.
  • Put your Klout Score on your resume to land a sweet job or use it to get better customer service.

(don’t mind the fact the bullet points don’t use consistent style … I guess it’s part of the exciting Klout mystique)

After reading those four fluff-laden bullet points, you might STILL be asking yourself: what is the purpose of Klout?

Are you jelly?

My opinion is that it is primarily a game for professionals to use to brag about how influential they are to other professionals. I don’t know a single person who uses it for anything other than to state the equivalent of “my Klout is bigger than your Klout”.

It’s a silly – and, for some, addicting – game.

For now anyway. It might change as they continue to evolve. I would certainly expect that if the people behind Klout want to make money with it in the long run, they will need to find it a true, value-add purpose fairly soon.

Maybe you disagree and have some examples of how Klout can be used for something valuable? Please post a comment and let me know – I’m sure a lot of folks would love to hear it.

In the meantime, I’m going to go back to interacting with folks on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn that post and tweet interesting things – irrespective of their Klout score.

PS. For anyone applying to a job at my company, putting a Klout score on your resume will get it tossed in the circular file immediately. Consider that a friendly heads up.

Baker’s Dozen Best Business Books (Plus A Few)

Today I was in one of the most interesting Sage Summit sessions I’ve been in. Interestingly I don’t think it was one where I actually directly learned anything. Rather it’s one where I’ve managed to pick up a great deal of potential learning or stated another way I’ve learned about a few more books to add to my unlibrary.

Note: All links on book titles are links back to

This is a list of Ron Baker’s thirteen (give or take) favorite business books. In order for a book to make this list, Ron Baker’s criteria are: Does it change your world view? Or does it change how you act? To make this list these books had to do both for Ron.

Read more

Listen to Mahan Khalsa’s Let’s Get Real Or Let’s Not Play For Free

Apparently I’m all about the free (or cheap) lately. The Stephen Covey organization has released Mahan Khalsa’s Let’s Get Real Or Let’s Not Play on audio for free via a podcast on iTunes.

“How does this relate to Sage’s Summit Conference?” you may ask. Well, if you’re going to attend any of Ed Kless’s sessions this is an old favorite of his going back many years. Mahan Khalsa does a great job explaining modern day sales processes.

Plus it will give you something to listen to on the flight or train as the case may be.

On iTunes via Ed Kless

Image via The Marmot


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