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Customer Review

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Secret Weapon to Your Business Success, December 2, 2008
This review is from: Startup Guide to Guerrilla Marketing: A Simple Battle Plan For Boosting Profits (Paperback)
I accidentally found this book in the airport, when I was looking for reading material for a long flight, and I am glad I did. The cover is a little lame, with the sub-title "A Simple Battle Plan for the First-Time Marketers." It probably should have read "It's the phone stupid! You've got to track what's going on or you're out of business!", but that probably wouldn't sell or would not have been P.C. enough for the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

All kidding aside, it probably should have read "The Secret Weapon to Your Business Success"

What the book did do, was illustrate the building blocks for any successful marketing plan, where your business doesn't rely solely on the Internet, shopping carts or walk-ins - which is just about 90% of all businesses I can think of. The book forces you to ask a lot of tough questions about your business - questions that, in my experience as a business consultant, are going to make you geometrically more money and reduce your stress.

Instead of trying to scam you into buying something that is not going to help you, the Levinsons offer "common sense" ways of improving your business and they help prevent you being ripped off by expensive or time consuming leads.

Chapter 4, entitled "The High Powered Weapons in Your Office", is where the book really starts getting into the meat. "What is the weapon they are talking about?", you might ask - it's the telephone!
The Levinsons go on to say "there will rarely be as intimate a moment as those you spend on the phone with your customers and prospects." They then offer some no-brainer advice on taking control of your phones - advice, by the way, that I have found to be very true - and also offer excellent worksheets to help you. I can't tell you how many incoming sales calls I have listened to, where the operator did not even ask the prospect their name!

Among other topics in the chapter :
Use the person's name
Analyze yourself
Working with a script, or no script.

Chapter 7, entitled "The top Ten Attitudes of a Guerrilla Marketer", gives Attitude 7: Telephone Demeanor. "Of all the minority groups on earth, the most special to you are the people who call your business on the telephone?" - Incoming calls. The Levinsons go on to tell the story of how they saved Midas $10 Million dollars in six months, with negligible costs. Who wants to know how they did that? I did!

The Levinsons then ask the important question "Are your customers made to feel like interruptions of your business or like the reason you're in business in the first place? All too often, potential customers call a business and are treated discourteously by a busy operator.." What happens? No-brainer - the customer goes to your competitor.

In Chapter 8, the Levinsons define "Guerrilla Marketing" and talk about how to measure it - hint, it's not impressions, hits or sales, it's profits. On page 96, the book then goes into how you should also count up relationships. This is the key to long term profits. "Points of contact are rarely found in big biz marketing strategies". Think about how your telephone is answered. What are your outgoing messages? What message is your customer receiving? And other tough questions.

The book also makes you think about whether you are selling the product or the experience? Selling the experience is something Starbucks knows well, but this frequently gets ignored by most other companies, especially when business is good.

Chapter 18, entitled "Maintaining your Campaign", says that "the toughest part of your guerrilla marketing program will be maintaining it" and "Creating it and launching it are relative pieces of cake". The Levinsons refer to that as the "glamorous" part. In my experience I have also found this to be true - most businesses use marketing which goes something like this: create ad, run it in the paper, TV or radio, wonder what happened, reflect on whether the marketing people are good (even if it's they themselves who did it), blame the economy or competitor for the failure of the campaign. It all goes back to transparency and accountability, and whether you embrace it or not.

Chapter 18 also lists the Levinsons' "17 Secrets of Guerrilla Marketing that help you Maintain Your Attack". Number 10 is golden "Measurement. You can actually double your profits by measuring the results of your marketing. Some weapons hit bulls eyes. Others miss the target. Unless you measure, you won't know which are which." Based on my research of my customers' off line marketing, this is definitely true.

Secret 13 of 17 is "Armament". Armament is defined as "the equipment necessary to wage and win battles." The armament of guerrillas is technology. The fact that many business still ignore this advice is probably why they have devoted Chapter 19 to tracking.

In Chapter 19, entitled "Keeping Track", the Levinsons talk about the importance of tracking what marketing succeeded and which failed. "Without (tracking) it's just another period of groping and praying, which has not been proven to be the right approach." They emphasize how important it is to track, even though you are going to hate it. This chapter is where I felt a bit let down. It kind of makes me think about dieting - you know you should be losing weight, but what's the best diet? You need to know. The Levinsons never go into any truly workable solutions. This is a shame and is probably why the one other positive review on Amazon.com, rating this great book, had the following comment by Maximus:-

"Can you elaborate and give a better review rather than just say it's a great book, and give it 5 stars? I bought the book and it is the complete opposite of what you said. Have you even read it?"

Ouch! That was harsh.

Firstly, I think to even mention "off-line tracking of marketing campaigns" is something that the authors should be complemented on. This is usually a totally neglected subject. But, here are my two problems with this chapter:-

(1) The Levinsons advise businesses to train all employees to ask prospects "How did you hear about us?", asking the customer to be specific. This advice is inherently flawed for several reasons:-
(a) When you ask most customers how they heard about you, they will quickly say, "over the TV". The propensity for people to answer that way throws off the validity of that type of data. (b) It take a lot of time and complex processes to compile this flawed data. (c) As any commissioned sales person will tell you, the longer that you spend getting talking about things that are not relevant to the customer's needs - the lower the probability of you closing the sale. In other words, making the interaction ought to be about solving the customers needs. I know of one auto dealership that tracked their advertising with the Levinsons' method, by recording the information in their "own" notebooks. The employees were then supposed to enter that data into the dealership database, but that rarely happened. This was one of the biggest challenges for the General Manager and something the company really struggled with. So, that to me was flawed.

(2)The second thing that bothers me about this chapter is that when they say "track", what they are talking about? What do they mean? Pulling out a note book, like my example above? Creating spread sheets for all the sales people? Does that work? Yes, this why they probably spent so much time trying to convince the reader to do it. Yes, if you smoke you should quit. But How? That question is never answered. Readers need to know how to implement this strategy.

On Page 212, the Levinsons talk about "Testing". You must test all of your communications. A strategy here is to place the same ad in two publications. One will pull more than the other, but you need to know why. Testing is the answer. Test photos, sizes, fonts, colors, timing, headlines etc. Obviously, if you are not tracking then you certainly are not testing. So, the Levinsons had to add one more chapter and it's got great ideas, but again it's missing the "how".

Chapter 20, entitled "Improving your Marketing", is devoted to different things to test and how your marketing has to be "flexible because of the speed of change". Another great idea, but how do you test? Again, the Levinsons don't fully tell the reader.

The last chapter 21, is putting it all together. But again, my problem here is that they never address the biggest challenge of Guerrilla Marketing - how do you manage this process using the main armament of Guerrillas, technology? How do you get your people to do it, when they are busy concentrating on doing their job or selling?

Summary: All in all, this book is thought-provoking and definitely worth the price and the time spent reading it, despite the fact that a couple of important details are left out that would have completed the Levinsons' very logical plan.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 19, 2009 11:11:23 AM PDT
I. Young says:
This is an excellent review. Thank you for taking the time to really point out what specifically is helpful about the book and notjust giving vague generalizations.
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