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Evangelist Marketing: What Apple, Amazon, and Netflix Understand About Their Customers (That Your Company Probably Doesn't) Hardcover – January 3, 2012
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--Eric Stang, CEO of Ooma
"I loved this book. I've often wondered why are there so few legendary marketing leaders? Alex Goldfayn tells the inside stories of the most brilliant campaigns, demystifies the magic, and reveals the first principles from these marketing giants."
--John Sculley, former Apple CEO
Alex cuts into the muscle of consumer electronics companies and identifies what distinguishes the beloved brands from the me-too brands. He challenges the assembly line orientation of organizations and details how to win avidity with consumers. This is a look-yourself-in-mirror book for anyone that wants to escape the sea of sameness.”
--Bob Stohrer, VP Marketing, Virgin Mobile
In Evangelist Marketing, Alex Goldfayn reminds us that technology is merely a means to an end and that while great products and great experiences are the ultimate drivers of demand, it shouldn’t stop there. To truly reach mass market status and not leave money on the table, companies must energize their marketing efforts to create evangelists’ for their product or service. Alex’ framework for reaching evangelist marketing nirvana is laid out in a clear step-by-step framework that if applied, will yield results.”
--Chris Dobrec, Senior Director Product Marketing, Cisco
Alex Goldfayn doesn’t pull any punches with Evangelist Marketing. Every high-tech marketer should read this book.”
--Tony Lee, Vice President of Marketing, TiVo Inc.
"Alex nails right on the head one of the big issues in tech companies today: The fact that too often engineers run marketing. This creates complicated products that people don't really want and therefore don't buy. I think everyone in the tech industry should read this book, highlight key points and share them in their next product development meeting."
--Brian S. Packer, Managing Director, ZAGG International, the creators of Invisible Shield
"If you work with consumers you should read this book. Alex demystifies the 'magic' that companies like Apple, Netflix, and Amazon tap into."
--Jon Dale, co-founder of Moolala
About the Author
He lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife and children.
Top customer reviews
This book is a must read for anyone involved in Marketing or the tech industry. The return on your investment is priceless.
Casemore and Co
Alex's book breaks no new ground, and even conveniently misses some key facts. It's not that the Emperor has no clothes here, he's just dressed just like every other book on this topic. Books that have been in publication for well over 10 years. Unfortunately, rather than standing on the shoulders of the authors that have worked hard before him, Alex chose to stand on their toes.
I don't think the poor quality is the result of Alex trying to deliberately mislead, I think it's the result of being a journalist that sees these companies from the outside in, then suddenly thinking he has a better idea, without really showing the evidence to back it up (or performing rigorous research). His catch phrase, that companies are "likely leaving millions or billions of dollars on the table," never gets quantified. More to the point, big companies walk away from "piles of cash" all the time, and so do some small ones. Good leadership comes from knowing when to walk away from the poker table, and that happens more often than many think.
I wrote copious notes as I was reading Alex's book, but I wanted to talk about two gross errors that I thought were interesting. The first was that engineers drive the marketing in the consumer electronics business, and the second that companies fail to engage consumers early and often in the design process.
At one point, Alex proclaims, "Most consumer electronics companies start their marketing process with their engineers--exactly the wrong people for this." - Um, no. Engineers don't build things out of thin air. There is a large process in place long before an engineer writes his first line of code or designs his first chip. The people that are involved formulate ideas that come from the experience that the creators want people to have. And, yes, marketing people ARE involved. But they're also involved in tens, if not hundreds of other projects. Sometimes, companies have a very narrow range of SKUs that serve a broad purpose. When this happens, more effort can be applied to iterating on how the product relates to their target audiences. This means that when Apple makes a phone, a lot of marketing and design people can operate in a laser-focus, because it's not twenty phones and form factors, it's one phone. Conversely, markets that depend on technology churn (telecoms in particular), cannot apply economies of scale, and many times a product launch might be left in the hands on one young marketing person who is given a "sink or swim" task of launching a product. Thinking that engineers drive the marketing process shows a gross misunderstanding of the complete design process.
Let's also cut to the chase on how marketing jobs really work out in companies: Whoever has the biggest ego wins. That might seem callous, but if an engineer, project manager, or "think tank expert" has strong passions about a product they are personally invested in, AND they have the opportunity to influence the marketing direction, it's gonna happen. The nature of launching products is driven far more by leadership (good, bad, or otherwise) than by rational logic. Marketing is, above all, a human process.
Marketing failures, like the Zune, can be found in abundance, but it sometimes takes more than marketing to create a failure. Alex cites the technical jargon in the PS3 material as poor marketing, but companies market to different segments, and it's perfectly fine to reach out to the "gearheads" and lay it on thick. They eat it up, and it's as much of an influence to their purchasing decisions as it is for others to couch the product in an "experience" viewpoint. In fact, this was Sony's best opportunity to lock in a new group of consumer evangelists for the PS3 - passionate game players that thrived on gaining the latest technology for their games. Sony's failures in marketing didn't lie in the technical jargon. To begin with, Sony's price point at launch was far out of line with the competing Xbox. This forced Sony to position their product as a premium purchase, justified by the presence of a Blu-ray player in the product (nevermind that the SCE president at Sony actually said the initial price point was "probably too cheap"). This didn't stand well with consumers for several reasons: 1) Blu-ray was still a new format, competing with HD-DVD. The price premium was seen as a deterrent, rather than an incentive to start buying Blu-ray DVDs, 2) The choice of SKUs was confusing, and only one model offered backward compatibility with existing PS2 games (which they would later remove), meaning two Playstation gaming systems would have to remain hooked up to their TVs, one for the new games, one for the old games, 3) Sony's approach to marketing the PS3 was extremely poor to both consumers AND game developers, resulting in a poor selection of games at and following the launch of the PS3, 4) Sony's executives continued to speak in contradictory ways, or even outright deny facts that consumers and journalists knew, further distancing their core gaming audience from the product itself. Technical jargon was the least of Sony's woes -- they were _willfully_ disconnected from the entire consumer feedback loop, and their core consumer evangelists (game players), weren't driven by the presence of a Blu-ray player. In the end, the PS3 managed to carve out space in the console market, but has often lagged behind the Xbox and the Wii. The PS3 didn't really gain traction, in fact, until Sony's massive studio holdings brought an inevitable end to the HD-DVD market.
The second area is even more interesting, Alex claims "Consumers are missing from your marketing: they should be the centerpiece, but they are almost never involved in the creation of marketing strategy in our business." On the other hand, he claims that consumer focus groups are a waste of time. So, his solution is that _everybody_ spend at least 15 minutes a day talking to customers. Admirable, but distracting and inefficient. Why? Because true innovation doesn't come from customers. Their frame of reference is only based on what they know, not of a unique future visualization. This is precisely why Apple succeeded under the helm of Steve Jobs. He knew the future of technology came from hiring the right people, visionaries that not only had a genuine passion for their craft, but also a passion for creating something they and their customers would love. But let's not get joyfully teary-eyed over Apple's success, because Apple, too, has had their share of failures and missteps. Look no further than the misguided application model of the original iPhone for an example.
Let's step back a moment and try to grasp the gem of what Alex wants to communicate throughout his book: Customers are important and should be a key element of the overall design and development process. If this is the core of Alex's book, that markets are, in fact, conversations, perhaps Alex should go back and read "The Cluetrain Manifesto." Crafted in 1999, it gives the same message - for free. Indeed, Alex's book reads like an expansion of the 95 Theses presented in that book, and yet he cites no reference to it, nor to any other equally useful book in this category, like "Naked Conversations." I'm not accusing Alex of plagiarizing here, but he certainly seems to have an abundance of hubris.
Alex's writing style certainly is captivating, and he has some cute graphs and diagrams, but overall this book breaks no new ground, and appears to ignore the many similar works of others before him.
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