Archive for December, 2013

2014 Business Book Reading List

December 30, 2013

In 2013, I read about how to lean in to the conversation, make content contagious, and most importantly open social media side doors that I did not even knew existed! Published authors during 2013 did not disappoint and I can’t wait to see what Simon Sinek has in-store with his upcoming release titled, “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t.”

With almost every thought leader producing their own version of the facts, I have started to think very strategically about the books I add to my reading list. Many of the books I read last year just seemed to fall into my lap and I did not have a plan of what I wanted to accomplish with my reading. As a result, I was disappointed by a few of the books that did not offer a unique voice. Many authors quote each other too much and the examples they provide become a he said, she said running dialogue of praise.

One of the exceptions last year was a book by Ian Greenleigh titled, “The Social Media Side Door,” which offered a distinct perspective on how to make social media work for you and how to seek out those with the social proof to help you achieve your goals. He provided action steps, tips, and tricks to his readers that even involved reaching out to him directly. His approach was transparent and honest, which rang true with the premise of his book.

Below are 15 books that have made my 2014 reading list (only one is published in 2014). If you have any other recommendations, I would love to hear about them in the comments section.

Special note:
If you attend Integrate this year, Gini Dietrich, one of the authors on my list, is going to be presenting topics from her new book “Spin Sucks.” In advance of attending, make sure you brush up on the material so that you have ample questions to ask during the Q/A discussion.

(The list below is in no particular order.)

“Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t” by Simon Sinek


Creative Confidence” by David M. Kelley and Tom Kelley


The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas” by David Burkus



“CTRL ALT Delete” by Mitch Joel


“Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown

“Spin Sucks” by Gini Dietrich


Spin Sucks


“Marketing in the Round: How to Develop an Integrated Marketing Campaign in the Digital Era” by Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston


“What’s the Future of Business” by Brian Solis


“Purple Cow” by Seth Godin


“Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less” by Joe Pulizzi


“Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success” by Adam M. Grant, Ph.D.


“Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind” (The 99U Book Series) by Jocelyn K. Glei launch_572x429


“APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book” by Guy Kawasaki ape-1667x2500


Step 1 in Marketing

December 17, 2013

MarketingIntegrated marketing communications is an elaborate concoction that requires skill, creativity, understanding, and confidence.  There is no easy 10-step process designed to guarantee results and answer all company problems.  If your marketing plan and company strategy are based off of a collection of step-by-step lists create by gurus and marketing scientists (probably selling $1,000 seminars), please….please back away from the computer.  No one, I repeat, NO ONE out there has a guaranteed quick fix for any of your social media, company, advertising, or marketing needs.  I can tell you this, the best thing, the very best thing you can do for your marketing and for your company is to hire good people.

It sounds basic.  It sounds like a no brainer, but as I progress through my degree program and my “early years” as a marketing professional I can tell you from a marketer’s perspective and a customer’s perspective, too many companies don’t get it.  Last week I had something installed in my office.  I was headed out to a program and couldn’t stay for the entire installation, but prior to leaving the installers admitted the item was damaged and there was debris between the background and plexi cover.  I provided them with tools to help remedy the situation.  I returned from the program (which they attended) to find the following: 1. Dust and drywall on the floor and desk 2. A chip in the corner of the item 3. Tools thrown on my desk haphazardly 4. Three cracks in the plexi cover 5. Uneven edges around the plexi 6. No note.  Now, I was a little surprised because we’ve used these installers in the past and have typically done a great job.  I emailed them asking their thoughts on some improvements that could be made and was shocked at their response.  They committed the worst business act imaginable (OK maybe not worst, but from a customer perspective it’s pretty bad).  They did a sub-par job, knew they did a sub-par job, and they were not going to do anything to fix it until I emailed them.  My jaw dropped.  Since when is it OK to not deliver on a brand promise?

In that same week, I had another issue with my eye doctor.  The experience with them so far had been a bit rocky, but as a marketer I understood they were trying to differentiate themselves from the competition and could cut them a little slack.  I had booked a time to drive an hour and get my new glasses fitted.  I had already talked to two different people and was surprised when I was contacted by a third.  She called to tell me the company that put the new lenses in my glasses broke them.   I called back the next day for clarification and was immediately transferred to a new individual.  The women on the other end explained the situation (which was not as bad as I was lead to believe) and even offered to drive them to a town closer to me so my drive was not as long.  In addition they are fixing the damage and included an additional pair of contacts.  ( I was also having contact issues which lead to me having an extra half of a contact in my eye for three days, but that’s another story.)  Now, the women I spoke with was not required to offer to meet me halfway to deliver my glasses or include an extra pair of contacts, but she did.  She knew that I was disappointed and she cared enough to fix it.  I am willing to bet that there’s no section of the employee manual that says, If you encounter a disappointed customer due to contact and eyeglass issues in the same week and they’re from Whitewater, Wisconsin – please see appendix B.  If that is the case, the HR department has far too much time on their hands.

The take away here is if you hire people that care and like their job, marketing is a whole lot easier.  I’ve encountered people internally that make it difficult to say nice things about a company I have worked for.  I worked there and didn’t want to say nice things because employees treated each other poorly!! Aren’t we all working towards the same goals?  Marketing is not the sole responsibility of the marketing department.  Marketing happens every minute of every day with or without the marketing department.  If you hire good people, they will market the company for you.  Customers and employees will talk about the fantastic experiences they had and that is more valuable than 100 direct mail brochures.

Capstone Survival Tips

December 5, 2013

Halfway up the mountain

WVU IMC students who attend the INTEGRATE 2014 conference will have an opportunity to attend an IMC 636 Capstone workshop and get survival/success tips from course professors and recent graduates. As a current Capstone student, I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to come up for air and offer some advice for students who aren’t able to attend the conference or will be taking the course next semester. You’ll notice that most of the points are things that students can do now. Don’t wait until the Capstone begins to get your act together.

Review the Student Portfolio page. The Student Work page of the IMC website offers a video overview with the IMC Curriculum Developer Kristen Wilkerson and a gallery of previous projects. Don’t neglect to click on students’ names to read the various Capstone Experience sections. Renny Zackman notes under his project, “Students need to approach the course with the expectation that they will be living and breathing the workload for nine weeks.” Sentiments like these are exactly right and will help mentally prepare you for the journey.

Organize your previous coursework. I’m a fairly organized person, but my biggest pre-Capstone regret is not having a unified system for all my lessons, assignments, notes, articles, and all those helpful links that professors and classmates share throughout the program. I started out printing everything and putting it into binders, jotting ideas onto notebook pages, and saving links in my browser Favorites folder. I credit my program experience with upgrading me to digital and cloud-based organization, and even my local folders are arranged more logically. However, I didn’t go back and “fix” the beginning, so I’m all over the place chasing down previous coursework. As you learn better organization systems, consider investing some free time to reorganize older notes and files.

Keep up with your books. This may be a no-brainer to some, but I think it’s worth mentioning. Know where ALL your IMC books are, and resist the urge to sell them back to the bookstore or to Amazon. I found one of my early IMC books packed away in my garage (what was I thinking?) and I still need to flip my house upside down to locate another. (Even as I write this I keep looking at my bookshelf ready to tear it apart to find that book!)

Brush up on Microsoft Word. I’m still working through this issue, but making a project look “pretty” using Word is a bit of a challenge if you’re used to using Adobe or other design software. So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised at what Word can do and how simple commands can make the project more visually compelling, but I recommend getting past that learning curve before the Capstone begins.

Clear your calendar. I admit that I’m a bit of a calendar junkie and like filling it up with stuff. As such, I probably went into the Capstone with still too many obligations, but I tried to be purposeful about clearing my social calendar. I did make allowances for Thanksgiving weekend and my son’s birthday, but I definitely felt the pinch (still no regrets, though). Don’t feel bad about being selfish over this last nine weeks. I blatantly pulled a Flava Flav on my side of the family. I can’t do nothin’ for ya, man. To add to the rudeness but to accomplish the survey research and a focus group, I even had to set an expectation for friends/family to help me. I can’t do anything for YOU for nine weeks, but I need everyone on deck to help ME.

I know that some of this sounds exaggerated, but you really do need to master time management for the Capstone. Reserve some free time to spend with your significant other and/or kids, and give your brain some downtime to rest and get creatively recharged. Remember that every extra commitment you make (other than work obligations) will take hours or even a full day away from your project.

Read everything upfront and make a project management schedule. Don’t wait until week 7 to read the Week 7 Assignment. When you start the Capstone, read through all the coursework and any extra documents from your professor. This will give you time to get over the shock, digest everything and plot an estimated timeline. Nathan Pieratt, a Spring 2013 Capstone student, notes, “To stay on top of the deadlines I had to create a set schedule to touch some aspect of the project every day.”

I’m still plugging away and have a little over 2 weeks (yikes) to become 100% enlightened, so if any other current or former Capstone students have any additional points for future students, please post a comment. I’ll also be happy to field any questions from other IMC students.