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Speak Human: Outmarket the Big Guys by Getting Personal Paperback – October 31, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


"This is a wonderful book, full of important insights not only about design and marketing but about the ways in which people interact with the objects, communities and environments they share. Marketing is its thematic, but not in the traditional sense as Karjaluoto searches for new strategies to better understand the relationships among people's needs and the world they live in." --Dr. Ron Burnett, President, Emily Carr University of Art + Design

"Eric is a wonderful storyteller. I've been a fan of his blog for several years so I naturally was eager for his new book. Wow! In Speak Human, Eric shows you how to engage with your marketplace in the ways that will resonate. Forget hype, tell stories the way Eric does and your communications will come alive." --David Meerman Scott, Bestselling author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR

"Here on the threshold of the new marketplace era the shift is complete: The customer is now in total control of the relationship. The good news is Eric Karjaluoto's book, Speak Human, is a blue print for building a successful 21st century strategy for connecting with customers on their terms. Goodonya, Eric." --Jim Blasingame, Leading small business expert and host of The Small Business Advocate Show

"Speak Human is a really, really good book. It is a must read for anyone looking to make a big difference with a big dream, a big idea and a small budget. Whether revealing classified secrets of social media, the impact of nerdy storytelling or the power of being polite, Eric Karjaluoto engages our curiosity and delivers insight and artistry with aplomb." --Debbie Millman, President, Design: Sterling Brands and AIGA President

"Loaded with examples, both good and bad, that demonstrate how small companies can effectively compete with the big guys. Interesting, well-written and compelling." --Laura Ries, Leading branding consultant and best-selling author: War in the Boardroom

About the Author

Eric Karjaluoto is a founding partner of the digital agency smashLAB. He has directed projects for groups including CN, Tourism Vancouver, and Canadian Heritage. He is a strong advocate of strategy and pragmatism in design. In 2007 he spearheaded Design Can Change, an effort to unite designers and address climate change. The team at smashLAB has also launched the online community MakeFive and a crowdsourced design and marketing site called undrln. TIME, the Lotus Awards, and ICOGRADA have recognized his work; meanwhile, the agency has been featured in The Globe and Mail, The Vancouver Sun, and Studio 4. Eric writes about design, brands, and experience at and has spoken at events for the AIGA, SEGD, and GDC. Eric studied at the Emily Carr Institute and lives in Vancouver with his lovely wife and two delightful little boys. (He still talks to his mom and dad almost every day.)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: smashLAB Inc (October 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981348203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981348209
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #686,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eric Karjaluoto is Creative Director and a founding partner of the creative agency smashLAB. Since 2000, he has helped a broad range of clients, including CN, The Vancouver Aquarium, The Nature Conservancy, Canadian Heritage, ThoughtFarmer, lululemon athletica, Crescent Spur, WWF Canada, BC Film + Media, Tourism Vancouver, and the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment with their strategic, design, and communication challenges. This work has been recognized by The Adrian Awards, TIME, Communication Arts, The Advertising & Design Club of Canada, The Lotus Awards, Applied Arts, Graphis, Icograda, and others. In 2007, he spearheaded Design Can Change to unite designers and address climate change. Eric writes about design at and and has spoken at events for AIGA, SEGD, and GDC. He is the author of Speak Human (smashLAB, 2009). His second book, The Design Method (New Riders, 2013), was released in August 2013. Eric lives in Vancouver with his lovely wife and two delightful boys.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Loren Woirhaye VINE VOICE on April 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
It's going to be hard to do this book justice in a review. It certainly wasn't what I was expecting, which was some chearleading about social media.

Instead, the book is a frequently philosophical tract on the inherent challenges of how the little guy goes about marketing anything well in today's super-noisy marketplace.

What surprised me early on was how adroit Karjaluoto is with language. You can get a taste of it on his blog, but the book is structured in generally longer chapters where he really gets going. Even as a blogger Karjaluoto is given to long-winded screeds, but in this book he really lets loose.

Karjaluoto deconstructs our expectations from page one. Throughout the book he's challenging why we expect blah-blah tactic or approach to work to build our businesses. Fundamentally he's asking why we expect a method of marketing or presenting our businesses to succeed and if the way we are marketing is actually aligned with what we are about. This is an important question and it has been asked before but Karjaluoto gets real specific.

I don't know if the author's full intent was to have a book to present to prospective clients, but this is one helluva calling card. If a prospect doesn't read the book and agree with most of it, that client would be a poor match for Karjaluoto's services (and mine as well I'll add).

The honesty here is brutal and discouraging to those people looking for quick fixes and easy ways to make money on the 'net. Marketing well has costs and usually requires significant analysis of problems and prioritizing before the creative work even starts.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steven Chambers on October 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm giving Speak Human: Outmarket the Big Guys by Getting Personal five stars because it is a business book every marketer and business owner should read. It's an appeal to getting back to business on the human level where people are treated not only as individuals, but as someone the people running the business truly care about. The book is also a celebration of small business. Being a small business is an advantage in today's impersonal and busy world so, rather than rue the fact that your business is small you should celebrate because you have distinct advantages in the marketplace. Small businesses are more flexible, can focus better on a target niche and get much, much closer to the customer.

Let's sum up the key message of the book - Deal with people on a human level.

The title of the book confused me at first. What exactly was the book about? What did "Speak Human" mean? Was this a book on body language or some esoteric communication method? No, this is a solid book about business and marketing that advocates connecting and communicating with people on a human level. Connecting with people, dealing with them like they matter and using new technologies, like social media to stay connected is what this book will teach you. The whole point of the book is that you need to build and manage your business' relationship with your customers and clients. As the author states on Pg. 147 - "People like to feel special."

Kurjaluoto is clearly a cheerleader for the small business person and beats the drum throughout the book that it is small business that has the advantage when it comes treating people like they matter.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ian Alexander on December 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The marketing section of the bookstore (online or bricks & mortar) is a usually a painful section to navigate, full of rehashed messages and hire-us pitches. Eric Karjaluoto's, Speak Human is none of that. It is personal, yet practical. Honest but bereft of piousness. Funny and rewarding. There are only a handful of marketing books I would dare recommend to anyone. Speak Human is at the top my list. Really superb.

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Format: Paperback
"Speak Human". Those are the simple instructions offered by Eric Karjaluoto in his marketing book of the same name. In his book, Karjaluoto offers guidance to small businesses on how to more successfully market by dealing with customers and prospects like they were real, living, breathing human beings. (Actually, the suggestions are useful for all sizes of companies, but big companies are usually too stupid to pay attention).

The essence of the book is contained in a quote on page 271 from a Gaping Void cartoon. The quote reads, "If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they'd punch you in the face." Unfortunately, when one stops and thinks about it, this statement is all too true. As Karjaluoto discusses, most advertising is about as humanity-oriented as Darth Vader. Most advertising talks 'at' people, not to them.

Small businesses, especially those which have the opportunity to interact with customers either on the phone or face-to-face, have a tremendous advantage over their bigger competitors. Big companies look for ways to automate interactions with customers -- the dreaded automated answering systems being the perfect example. Small companies can exploit this 'humanity' gap by speaking directly to the customer whenever possible.

Unfortunately, technologies like the 'social media' craze attempt to replace direct interaction with the customer (where we actually speak to them by voice or in-person), with words on a screen. As Karjaluoto astutely discusses, those companies that use social media as just another way to talk 'at' their customers will find their efforts failing just as quickly as previous 'advertising' fads.

If you are a small business owner, manager or marketing person, this book provides a reality check on how to more effectively use your advertising budget, how to connect more authentically with customers and prospects, and how to beat your competition by simply 'speaking human'.
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