Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Nice Buzz for "Absolute Value"

It's been a week since the publication of my new book with Itamar Simonson: "Absolute Value" and the book is getting a lot of attention: James Surowiecki wrote Twilight of Brands in the New Yorker. Andrew Hill wrote about the serial adultery of the modern customer in FT.com. David Vinjamuri reviewed the book on Forbes.com, and Paul Marsden wrote about it on Digital Intelligence Today. We were also interviewed on Fox Business, the Street.com, NBC, NPR, MSNBC and other media outlets. The nice thing is that all this media coverage gets people talking on Twitter, Facebook and beyond. When we wrote the book, we were hoping it would generate a lively discussion, and this indeed seems to be happening! The book's web site is www.absolutevaluebook.com

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Coming Soon: Absolute Value. My new book with Itamar Simonson

We've been working on this book for several years and it's coming out soon! (February 4th to be exact). If you're looking for information about our book, here are several resources: The book's web site is AbsoluteValueBook.com. A good way to get updates is to follow us on Facebook or Twitter. The book will be published by HarperCollins and you can pre-order it from your favorite booksellers. We hope you enjoy it and find it helpful!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Report Regarding Online Health Information

Try to guess: What percent of adults in the U.S. have...

  1. Posted comments, questions or information about health or medical issues on a website of any kind?
  2. Read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group, website, or blog?
  3. Watched an online video about health or medical issues?
  4. Followed their friends’ personal health experiences or updates on a social network site?

A new report from The Pew Research Center provides some insight into this. Scroll down to see the answers...

1. 4%
2. 25%
3. 19%
4. 11%

How did you do? As someone who spends too much time online, I was surprised by these numbers. As much as I remind myself that not everyone is like me, I sometimes overestimate online activities. So this study is a good reminder. Don't get me wrong: online resources are a significant source for health information (59% of adults have looked online for health information), but even with the proliferation of mobile and online opportunities, "most adults’ search for health information remains anchored in the offline world. Most people turn to a health professional, friend, or family member when they have a health question; the internet plays a growing but still supplemental role – and mobile connectivity has not changed that."

Lots of interesting numbers there. To download the full report use this link (pdf)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Five things I like about Enchantment

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading Guy Kawasaki’s new book Enchantment, but now that I want to write about it, I can’t find it anywhere. I may have left it on a flight or in a hotel. Maybe it’s somewhere around the house. Anyway, it occurred to me that reviewing a book from memory might actually be a good test of the book (and of my brain). The bottom line is that I like it, and here are five specific reasons:

1. Guy knows what he’s talking about. This is a book about influence, motivation and engagement, all concepts that are difficult to put under a microscope. What gives this book extra credibility is the fact that Guy Kawasaki has always had a nice following and knows how to engage and motivate people. He did it when the tools were relatively primitive (newsgroups, etc.) and he does it today using Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools. It’s not a coincidence that Enchantment went on several best seller lists in the first week.

2. Lots of lists. Guy is a great believer in lists, and he has a point. Checklists make it easy for readers to find out what’s relevant and manage their time. As long as you don’t lose your copy, Guy’s checklists make Enchantment perfect for travel. I’m sure you’re busy and chances are that you’re familiar with some of the ideas in the book. Lists allow you to focus on the new stuff, which you will surely find.

3. Research + Common sense. Guy cites lots of research but he doesn’t adopt it blindly. For example, he discusses the famous jam study (at Draeger’s here in Menlo Park) that suggested that giving people fewer choices can increase sales. But he also points out to real-life examples where giving people lots of choices can help sales (e.g. at Miyo, one of my favorite frozen yogurt stores). For a possible explanation of this, see discussion by Leilei Gao and Itamar Simonson here.

4. Clear like a bell. Guy writes well. He’s personal, conversational and sometimes funny (I remember something about him using Cialdini’s books as a source for bedtime stories for his kids. There’s also a section where he teaches you how to swear!) This accessible style makes Enchantment perfect for people with a short attention span (like me).

5. Good stories. The one with Richard Branson polishing Guy’s shoes stuck in my mind, probably because it comes with a picture. (I have to admit that I don’t recall the point he was trying to make, but it’s still a great story). Another good story is how Guy motivated a bunch of kids to recycle by providing a trash can with a hole the size of a bottle. Here the message is clear: make it easy for people to follow your guide and provide visual cues.

P.S. Good news. I found the book in my car. It has lots of notes and underlines. I could add some stuff, but I probably covered my main points. Enchantment is certainly worth checking out. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

TOMS Shoes Gaining Momentum

I've written before about how this company builds buzz (both in my book and here: Seven Elements in Toms Shoes Buzz). In September they gave away the one millionth pair of new shoes to a child in need. They are also growing nicely on Facebook and keep building buzz offline. Here's a small example: Like other supporters, I recently received this envelope from Blake, the company's founder (his official title is Chief Shoe Giver). It's a CD with some music and a bracelet to celebrate their 1 Millionth Milestone. This bracelet, of course, increases the chance that supporters will tell their friends about TOMS. I guess I just did.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I haven't read this book, but...

About 30% of negative word of mouth comes from people who never owned the product that they were talking about. If you’re a marketer, I’m sure this is pretty upsetting: you’re working hard on developing a product, and people are badmouthing it without giving it a chance. But consumers should be annoyed by this too because secondhand buzz is not very helpful. Word of mouth is a filtering mechanism that we use in order to find good products. In a society where every person recommends only products that they personally tried and liked, good products will quickly rise to the top. When people simply relay information that they heard, you get something that could be best described as a buzz bubble, as depicted in this review: “I haven’t read this book but judging from the online reviews below, I don’t think it’s a very good book” (one star). See slide show with some of these reviews here

Friday, October 22, 2010

Three Worst and Best Predictions I Made

This week is the 10th anniversary of "The Anatomy of Buzz" and it's a good opportunity to look back at some of the predictions I made in that book.

Worst predictions

1. "Amazon.com makes finding information about books extremely easy, but can the on-line reseller create buzz about a particular title? In their present state, on-line channels involve very little person-to-person interaction and therefore have a limited ability to push a particular product through 'hand selling,' to borrow a term from the brick and mortar world." (p. 221)

2. I still kick myself for missing this one: In January 1999 I attended a demo by a company called Quokka Sports which offered a glimpse at the potential of video on the Internet. After the event I talked with a friend about how one day perhaps everybody will be able to post videos online and consumers might even use this to share their product experience. I played with the idea for a couple of days, but it looked too crazy at the time.

3. "Viral marketing still has the strongest effect if your product can be somehow incorporated into the communication between two people. This includes phone systems (MCI), electronic postcards (Blue Mountain), free e-mail (Hotmail), and the communications tool that someone is inventing in his or her garage as you’re reading this chapter." (p. 196) I still think it's true. I was just wrong about the garage. He did it at his dorm room.

Best Predictions

1. "As more customers will spend more time on the Internet. As an explosion of wireless communication devices will increase customer connectivity even further. As these mobile devices will tap in to the Internet, customers will get even more connected to this vast depository of opinions, often right at the point of purchase." (p.20)

2. "In the same way that regional dialects continue to live on in the United States despite decades of national TV, local and regional influences remain important, despite the Internet. [...] This means that traditional marketing focused on zip codes, database marketing, and brick and mortar sales outlets are still key in spreading the word. The networks are still (and I believe always will be) pulled by social gravity to the ground around us." (p. 71)

3. "We can expect it to get worse. As with other tools, there will always be those marketing people who will use a new concept ad nauseam. Viral marketing is a hot concept as I’m typing these words, but I won’t be surprised if by the time you read this, a backlash is being felt." (p. 201)

The Jury is Still Out:

"Overall, aggregated buzz tools are good news to companies with high-quality products and excellent service and bad news to companies that try to get away with less than the highest standards. This doesn’t mean, unfortunately, that bad companies will disappear. But the rise of democratic measuring tools is likely, over time, to improve the quality of products and services we use." (p. 19)