BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

80 things you should know ...

This title came to me via the “early reviewers” program, but, given that it's from Wiley, I might have been seeing a copy eventually (as they're very generous with sending me books to review). I've had a lot of success of late with the LTER, “winning” books almost every month this year, but many of those books have been disappointments, or worse. This one, however, was interesting, engaging, and even useful (as witnessed by the dozen or so slips of paper bookmarking things I need to get back to in it), and I'm a lot more enthusiastic about Patrick Schwerdtfeger's Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed: Leverage Resources, Establish Online Credibility and Crush Your Competition than I have been about anything from that program in quite a long while.

However, I find that this is an update of a previous book (2009's Webify Your Business, Internet Marketing Secrets for the Self-Employed ), which always confuses me … was the first book wrong? Has it become outdated in two years? Why the new manifestation? The difference in the titles also leads me to the one “caveat” that I have for the book … the focus is odd, and “Webify Your Business” is a lot more accurate for most of this than “Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed”. I don't know what the author's specific vision is of the “self-employed” audience he's writing for, but it seems to be more along the lines of a pizza parlor or beauty salon than a writer, a coder, a graphic artist, etc. which would come to my mind when encountering that phrase … and a lot of this falls “on the other side of that fence” for me. This is not to say that the material in the book isn't VERY handy and to the point, it's just occasionally apples to the oranges that somebody (like myself) is dealing with!

One of the best things about the book is its structure … its 250 pages are broken into 7 sections comprising 80 chapters, with each chapter closing with a half a dozen to a dozen “action points” in a checklist. Needless to say, this forces the author into being to-the-point on each of these (having only an average of 3 pages to work with on any topic). The book is another “soup to nuts” presentation (somewhat like Joel Comm's KaChing) which takes the reader through an entire arc of business activities, with the sections here being “Define Your Business Model”, “Plan Your Internet Presence”, “Build Your Website and Blog”, “Populate Internet Properties”, “Attract Qualified Prospects”, and “Leverage Social Media”. Again, those sure sound more like “webifying” one's business than offering “marketing shortcuts” … but that's a quibble, not really a complaint!

To give you some idea of what I ended up bookmarking, he had resources for Market Research with which I was unfamiliar, “expanding the frame” - which he has defined as intentionally adding higher-priced items to one's web offerings, improving your SEO “page rank” with inbound links from an array of sites set up on various platforms, a number of SEO diagnostic tools that I'd not encountered, some tricks on interpreting analytic data, a few ideas about event marketing (that I've already taken action on for one of my consulting clients), and several things to use with LinkedIn that I wasn't aware of. All of these are very helpful to me and I'm not (as noted) in the “sweet spot” of what I'm assuming is his target audience.

This, of course, brings me back to the problem I have with the book … it keeps drifting from being for “the self-employed” and back into (the previous version's) “your business” … and this is evident right off the bat. In Chapter 2 – Develop Expertise, he has this somewhat less than helpful (especially in a book of “shortcuts”!) to-do list:
  1. Pick a narrow specific topic.
  2. Acquire massive expertise.
  3. Present yourself as an expert.
Is it just me, or doesn't step #2 there sort of imply a decade or more of working on something? Essentially everything else in the book is based on completing this three-step process … and I sure can't see any work-around on that second point. THEN, as quickly as Chapter 4 - “Problems + PAIN = Profits”, the first two items of the action check list are:
  • Identify the problem your product solves.
  • Describe the pain caused by the problem.
Uh … product? What product? And, frankly, what pain? Last night I had a client ask me to re-work a page on his website that he'd been trying to set up using the WYSIWYG editor on the Ning platform. Obviously, his “pain” was that he wasn't able to get it to look the way he wanted it (he was pretty frustrated when he contacted me), but is my “product” knowing a bit more HTML, CSS, etc. than he does? That's a mighty slippery “product” to be pitching (especially as coding is a secondary skill set for me, and I'm not a “Ninja/Rockstar/Guru” web guy). I've encountered this concept of “pain” in other books, but I've always had a hard time wrapping it around my situation as a basis of marketing.

Again, this may be me wearing my “editor hat” here and wishing that Schwerdtfeger had started with a clean slate here for addressing the marketing concerns of the “self employed”, but it was a point of recurring dissonance as I went through the book, and figured that others who are in the “knowledge worker” fields might have a similar difficulty figuring out what “their product” might be in this context.

Anyway, don't let these minor gripes take away from my over-all enthusiasm for Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed, it's sufficiently jam-packed with both top-notch info and practical action lists that I'm convinced that anybody who's looking to expand their marketability would benefit from picking up a copy. This has just been out a couple of months at this point, so is likely available at your local brick-and-mortar book vendor which carries business books, but the on-line guys currently have it at 35% off of cover, which is probably the best deal you'll find on it (heck, even used copies of Schwerdtfeger's previous book are going for more than that!). Highly recommended.

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Tags: book review
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