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VINE VOICEon April 21, 2011
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. If you're a web marketing consultant you know too well how often clients want champagne on a beer budget - it doesn't matter how much you want to help them, you can't pay your bills and deliver the result they want on what they want to spend.

The author sent this book to me as a review copy. I think in a way it covers the same topic as Guy Kawasaki's recent, "Enchantment" (also sent to me as a review copy), but in a substantially deeper, more challenging way. While "Enchantment" is a pleasant airplane read type of thing "Speak Human" is sincere, authentic and challenging.
If the Karjaluoto wants to become a big-shot pop-marketing author/speaker dude, he'd do well to dumb it down... But as written, I'm thankful. The thinking is critical and the way he expresses his doubts and wrestles the issues give real credence to just how hard these real world marketing problems are to solve in a lot of cases.

Honestly, just awesome.
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on October 3, 2010
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. Small businesses operate close to the customer and have the knowledge, or the means to acquire the knowledge, to relate to customers on a personal level. Large businesses often are too far removed from the actual customer to deal with people on a individual or "human" basis. The bigger a business gets the more they are forced to deal with a demographic representation of that customer instead of the individual.

We like people that treat us special and, given the choice, prefer to deal with them. Large businesses, along with businesses that are unfocused, dilute their appeal and product offerings in an effort to please the mass of people instead of focusing on a small, clearly defined segment of the market. Let's face it, they have to in order to support their larger staff's. What they end up with are homogenized products and services that are nothing special and that tend to be bland and "simply OK". When there is there is nothing to separate you from competitive "me too" offerings other than price it's easy to fall into "commodity hell", where no business wants to be. How to avoid this? Be different and, as the author explains, your business can be different simply and easily by relating to people on the human level.

The book is chock full of fun, educational stories that drive the authors points home. "Speak Human" reads different than your traditional marketing tome - it is actually engaging and fun to read rather than a boring academic-like text. The tone and language of the book is conversational, which appealed greatly to me. People learn best through stories and Karjauoto (the author) communicated his message well with engaging and entertaining ones.

This book reached out to me on several levels. Personally I love the type of personal interaction recommended in the book when I deal with any business or service. (Come to think of it, we would all benefit greatly if the Government would read and follow this advice. Imagine a Government office that really cared for you as a person instead of merely another number to be serviced as fast and efficiently as possible!) Taking that little extra effort to connect with me on a personal level makes all the difference in the world and is the deciding factor in my decision whether or not to re-patronize an establishment. I am sure others feel the same way.

Following Karjaluoto's advice will position any small business well with their customer base and go a long way towards making your business the preferred customer choice. I highly recommend this book to every marketer,small business person, or the person simply interested in bringing business back to the personal level.
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on December 21, 2009
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.

--Ian
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on December 16, 2010
A Vancouver marketing firm SmashLAB was started in 2000 by Eric and his partner Eric Shelkie. This book is a compendium of lessons learned (perhaps ordeals by fire) working in the industry. What results is a very human book that contains his unique views on the communication business. His comments resonate well with what Rocket Builders has found over the years, as we seem to share a common world view with the author. Good phrases that stuck with me (likely I have mashed them together in my memory) :

positioning means...to get known for one thing
selling is all about numbers and sincerity
social networks give you access to a broader set of great individuals with different and unique skill sets
marketing is a long haul endeavor
Unlike many younger authors, Eric creates a very good set a of chapter notes that provides good "proof" to what he is saying. It speaks to a thoughtful work that is worth you taking the time to read it.
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on April 16, 2011
Karjaluoto writes in a way that makes it easy to understand why the consumer landscape has been declining in quality over the years. What's more, he takes both sides with ease: that of the consumer, and that of the businessperson who understands how to make things right. During a time when magazines like Fortune, Forbes, and Fast Company taut the value of design and the importance of the creative class, Karjaluoto digs deep and lets us know why those attributes are only one part of the equation.
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on March 4, 2011
My employer gave me Speak Human to read - I must admit, I wasn't exactly enthusiastic at the idea of reading yet another marketing and branding book. It was however my favourite read of 2011, by a good mile. It's honest, entertaining, easy to read and really, really engaging.

Speak Human doesn't offer new gizmos, techniques or gadgets for snagging an audience but rather reminds that mutual respect, care, thoughtfulness and direct communication are just as valuable in business as they are in our private lives. Speak Human didn't necessarily tell me anything mind-blowingly new, it's value lies in that it is an excellent, and required reminder, to well, communicate in a language (action, words, visual messages etc.) that everyone can relate to, 'human'.

To top it all off, the Speak Human folk seriously practice what they preach! It's astonishing and commendable. I'm a fan.

If you buy one book this year, especially if you're a small business (but big guy's, you'll most certainly benefit too), buy this one.
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on September 22, 2010
"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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on March 25, 2010
I must say straight up that Speak Human is by far one of the best books on marketing and operating a business that I have read.

Generally when I go to read any type of marketing or business book, I really don't expect anything that will excite me. But Speak Human is different. It's brutally honest, fun, and entertaining. Eric focuses specifically small businesses and the great things which small business can do really well such as being personal with their customers. While many books will focus on how you can grow and become some large multi-national corporations, Eric's pure honesty forces him to deliver the brutally honest truth that it won't happen to everyone but that not turning into a large companies can be a really good thing.

He starts out by explaining the story of Starbucks and how they started off as a small coffee shop with a specific focus on espresso but grew into a company that has struggled to keep its culture because of its sheer size. The book is riddled with many similar case-studies of companies that have gotten it wrong but also those which get it right. Not only is the content great but the writing style throughout makes the book feel like you are sitting down and having a conversation with someone who is incredibly passionate about people and who knows from experience. This kind of passion stems from how Eric operates his own business and he uses much of this experience throughout the book as example.

Speak Human really celebrates what is great about owning a small business and every person who owns a small business could do well by reading it. CEO's or larger companies could also learn a lot by reading the book and applying some of the practices to their businesses. Maybe then I would be be able to call up for support with my internet and actually speak to a real person who cares.
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In "Speak Human" Karjaluoto does a wonderful job teaching small business managers how to approach marketing on their own terms using both new media (like social networks) and traditional media. He approaches the subject of branding and marketing in down-to-earth fashion using a very approachable, conversational style. He shows small business managers how to use their nimbleness, speed and lack of large organization inertia to successfully master the marketing function of their businesses.

The stories are quite engaging and often highly entertaining and the reader is taught modern marketing by being reminded of some of the most basic rules of human interaction. Master the little things and before you know it you will be way, way ahead of the larger businesses who often must strip the 'human-ness' out of their businesses in order to achieve scalability, uniformity and replicability.

Bring the human touch back to business and treat your customers the way you treat your best friends. Once you master these basics the modern marketing tools available to speak to your customers are almost immaterial. Don't let the tools drive your message. This book will show you how to craft your message and target your audience first and only then use the various marketing channels of communication to deliver the right message to the right people in the right way.

I recommend this book to every marketer out there.

~~Review by the author of the e-book, "How to Build and Manage Your Brand (in sickness and in health)."
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Eric Karjaluoto really does "speak human." The new marketing is all about telling stories that resonate with your target audience. Eric is a master at this. The book opens with Eric's wonderful experience with espresso at Starbucks and how his experience became not as wonderful as Starbucks became bigger. The book is filled with vignettes from Eric's life, as well as other examples from other companies.

The book's premise is that small companies have big advantages over big companies because they are closer with their customers.

The key points in the book:

**small can be powerful
**find your voice so you can be authentic
**build and foster real relationships
**connecting to customers using trust
**how to do all this.

I especially enjoyed these parts of the book:

**how to create a simple marketing plan, using an inverted pyramid approach. Even small companies may spend too much time on fancy plans and not enough time actually implementing a plan, or they may not plan at all. This approach enables companies to create a plan that they can use.

**the 10 examples of successful companies that have used the principles in the book. There's nothing like real-life examples to show something works.

**ways you could mess up and what to do about it. The new marketing can appear deceptively easy, but you can still overdo it.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to build close relationships with their customers and potential customers.
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