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Book Reviews

Book Review of “Marketing: a love story”

By March 8, 2024April 1st, 2024No Comments

The title “Marketing: a love story” matches the simple appearance of the book: it’s short and delicate looking in it’s mostly white cover, with just a splash of color in the form of a denim envelope and heart. At first glance, this book gives an air of comfort. The author, Bernadette Jiwa, gives a brief bits of wisdom that all circle around a central theme – treat your audience like a loved one. With overlaps into business plans and sales, any reader will find value in this book and come away with a few tools to bring that to their own marketing efforts.

From Bernadette’s point of view, far too many marketers approach marketing as a collection of budgets, KPIs and numerical milestones.

The book’s plea is to look at your audience and treat them as if they are family, friends – loved ones that you wish to help through the product or service you provide. The message is split into two parts: strategy and content. She keeps the strategy simple and straightforward – get your customers to care about what you have to offer. In the content section, the approach is encapsulated in the opening page by going through the practice of writing a letter to your future customer. The lesson here is put less focus on the business plan and more on building a relationship with your prospects.

There is a quote in the ‘Strategy’ section of the book that really hit home:

“In a world of finite time and infinite choices, it’s easier than ever before to rationalize walking past. The only way to matter is to first determine what matters. You need to give people a reason to stop and listen to your song.”

This is spot on. Gone are the days of the need-based economy. We are now in a feelings-based one. People don’t buy food because they’re starving. They buy it to feel good about themselves and what they buy tells you what they want others to perceive about them. This makes every price subjective and each exchange dependent on stirring their feelings. If your prospect doesn’t care about your offer, if they don’t have any emotional investment in what you have to say, then you won’t keep their attention or get them to do an exchange of value (a.k.a. – buy something).

Another quote builds on the one mentioned above for when you actually do get to the transaction point:

“We mostly think of buying as an isolated act, something our customers do in the moment. But it’s probably more useful to think of buying as a behavior. A behavior is an action or reaction which is triggered and conditioned.”

Buying happens when something in us is triggered. Just like any lock, it’s a set of things that must take place for the triggered act of ‘buying’ to be unlocked. Referencing BJ Fogg and the Fogg Behavior Model is great here (something I was not familiar with before reading this): are the trigger, ability, and motivation all in place? Missing any one of these and there is no way for your audience to facilitate a sale with you. While delivering a sermon on the importance of building an emotional bridge with your audience, Bernadette slips in a few fundamentals to business, marketing and sales.

One other statement stood out to me as I read:

“The question for all of us (not just in business but also in life) is, how can we expect [attention] what we’re not prepared to give?”

Spending so many resources on getting your audience’s attention should be equally matched on the other end by giving them your attention. It’s a two-way street. There are a plethora of well made points in this book, but this is the one that resonates best with the title, promise and overall sentiment behind the book. This is how relationships are built. This is how you show respect to loved ones. This is how you let someone know you care.

You pay attention to them at least as much as you ask them to pay attention to you. Somehow, all things come back to the Golden Rule.

And that’s not the worst policy to follow when putting your marketing strategy together. There are almost infinite options for your audience to get what they need, competitors abound. Reach them emotionally, have the foundation for transacting built and don’t take their attention for granted. This message is concisely delivered in about 80 pages of reading – something you can get through in an afternoon. It has enough meat to it to come away with a new lease on your approach on how to treat your audience and a few ways to practice staying in that new mindset. I think readers with an understanding of business plans, sales, marketing and the lines in-between each will get the most out of it. It often skims the surface of powerful ideas and adds a floweriness to elements that need to be rock solid and are in an adjacent realm (i.e. – business plan and sales). For anyone stuck in the just-hit-your-numbers brand of marketing, this book is your wake-up call.

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