- File Size: 1075 KB
- Print Length: 53 pages
- Publisher: Marketing Consultants Press (January 17, 2018)
- Publication Date: January 17, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0793YDJ8K
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- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,770 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Four Step Marketing Blueprint: The Marketing Guide Your Competition Hopes You’ll Never Find Kindle Edition
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Mr. Law’s work is also a must-read for all agencies and other communications representatives of such businesses. A quick overview to inform my lengthy comments: the book lays out a start-to-finish four stage marketing program that entails (1) identifying unique selling points, (2) platforms and offers, (3) the marketing arsenal and (4) marketing automation.
Your typical business, as the book wisely notes, doesn’t have a fully staffed marketing department. It may not have a CMO. It can’t necessarily commit the financial resources, the time commitment or both to attempting to construct and then execute the kinds of “marketing plans” you’ll see on the desk of S&P 500 companies (as the author of a couple of those, I’m not knocking them, just living in reality - such a document wouldn’t do most of our agency’s clients any good at all and presenting hundreds of detailed slides to most companies is a disservice).
If you’re not feeling great about your present marketing efforts, chances are, you’re going to have to hang in for the whole book. Because Mr. Law isn’t shy about saying some things you won’t want to hear (but do hang in, help is coming): namely, that your average firm is probably wasting two-thirds of its marketing budget. As in earning no return on investment at all. Just think about that. On a tight budget, the marketing function, by and large, may not only be doing nothing to enlarge and optimize a firm’s revenue funnel, it’s burning valuable cash at the same time. To the book’s great credit, this isn’t introduced as a scare tactic. It pivots perfectly to the importance of being able to measure your marketing results which even the world’s best brands continue to struggle to do.
Also made so refreshingly clear: virtually (again, there will be exceptions) all companies develop their elevator pitches in a manner that accomplishes exactly the opposite of what is intended. If the goal is to differentiate in a manner conducive to attracting prospects, most firms and agencies fail miserably, falling back on the same trite buzzwords that the majority of the competition - indeed, industry at large - is using, e.g. “best, most innovative, hardest working, best team, longest time in the market, etc.” That’s not to say those things aren’t true. And it’s not to say they’re irrelevant in a marketing campaign. Where they do damage is when they become the central guideposts of the marketing plan itself and allow a firm the false confidence that it needn’t drill deeper on its unique selling propositions.
Even as a practitioner who spends time with brands, and has reviewed positively books on branding, an incredibly refreshing element of this book is that it wastes literally no time on branding theory and precious little time on “branding” generally. I think that the author is wise here in that he implicitly recognizes that most businesses don’t have the time or resources to think of their marketing in the sense of, over time, shifting perceptions from a carefully tested “current state brand” to a highly developed and curated “desired state brand” which is ultimately defined by others’ perceptions, not the firm itself. Rather, in the system the book lays out, much of the central work of branding – what many would call the brand messages – gets done through the prism of “unique selling points.”
It’s a great distinction. When folks hear or see the word “brand” their tendency, in my experience, is to think more grandly or abstractly than is helpful Folks will think about what they wish their brand were, not those unique propositions that actually define the firm in the eyes of the relevant stakeholders. The chapter setting out how a firm goes about creating its unique selling points will sound to experienced practitioners not far off from a branding ideation sentence. There are certain elements in common but in my view, the selling points begin an important, efficient step – even if a small one – further down the road.
The book is NOT saying that customer interviews, market research, surveys, etc. shouldn’t be conducted. Indeed, in the summary, it lists such as among the best practices in “saying the right things with your unique selling points.” But the book recognizes that it’s written for a diverse audience and so it’s not insisting that one size must fit all, nor that a marketing initiative is static and never changes. Use the resources you have as efficiently as possible to develop the most effective – and accurate – unique selling points as reasonably possible given your circumstances.
The book does a great job of staying clear from any impulse to write twenty paragraphs on the theoretical question: “what is a platform?” Instead, it simply defines platforms as the spaces and places where a business come into contact with its customers, online and offline. Such a definition allows for an inclusive approach but it doesn’t force it down a firm’s throat. If the firm is attracting prospects and converting them like crazy using just a website and email marketing, the book isn’t going to force it into endless experiential in-store marketing plans, for instance.
One of my favorite aspects of the book is its notion of “offer.” Essentially, the book posits, platforms, where firms interact with prospects and customers, are the opportunities to grow a database and in order to entice prospects, the firm must have a free, value-adding “offer” to use as the hook. Not revolutionary, but too often overlooked.
While the book doesn’t get into content marketing in any detail, note well that free content is the epitome of an inbound “offer” – though hardly the only example of one. It’s much appreciated that time isn’t wasted on semantic debates of, e.g. “yes to content or no to content?” There’s simply not time for those theoretical exercises (there may well be a good time and place at some point for those discussions further down the line). The concept of “offer” lives in reality. Your marketing program requires an offer to remain competitive. That doesn’t mean the offer itself, whether it’s an article or a coupon should be hastily thrown together. But there’s no debate over the necessity.
Re: the marketing arsenal, I’ll simply say that this book manages the best, most complete and relevant list (categorized as online or offline) of marketing channels that I’ve seen. It’s thorough, sensible and reality-based. It’s no mistake, by the way, that “reality” keeps popping up. It’s where this book lives and it’s a delight.
Lest this review run as long as the book, I’m probably going to give short shrift to what may be its best and most standout section on automation. Here, the book isn’t giving the technical details of what software to have in your marketing stack. It’s addressing, frankly, the more primal and important questions in respect of following up with customers/prospects – who should marketing messages be sent to? When? What should they contain? And how will they be delivered? The book asks the firm or agency, in respect of each of its major target audiences, to develop what amount to personalized, timely messages delivering the firm’s unique selling points to prospect classes in a systematic, repeatable fashion. For the record, there is no internal tension between systematic and personalized. The author walks through a rock-solid example and without lecturing makes the case that this sort of repeatability allows for an efficient scale even if resources aren’t unlimited. It’s very much maximizing the marketing function and it’s a requirement to do it as well as possible.
Throughout, the reader is aided by simple yet powerful visuals, and by logical, intuitive and reality-based sub-concepts such as an “A-Z” marketplace (a simple method of what might be known as “scoring prospects” except it doesn’t make a business owner, I don’t think, want to run from the book, and it probably works about as well as more complicated systems). Concepts are reviewed and tied together. Folks, often myself included, will frequently speak of an integrated marketing plan as the panacea. While it’s not in and of itself a plan, this book is beautifully – really, perfectly - integrated and reinforced.
There’s no one I wouldn’t recommend this work to. I think it’s a call to action, but it doesn’t waste time “motivating” while saying nothing. Every sentence is power packed.
I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Mr. Law a bit on Twitter on this topic, ultimately concluding that my initial reaction was too strong, but know in advance, agencies don’t come across well here. And by and large they shouldn’t. But if you’re at an agency that really does things differently, that forms partnerships with your clients, that delivers real metrics and legit measurable ROI and can speak the language of the business as well as the client, among other attributes, there’s nothing to fear here. To the contrary, there’s much to love.
Is it the case that a business owner will be able to read this book and immediately go to market with a comprehensive plan? No, and the book wouldn’t make that claim. Certainly, as the author notes, each business is unique, and the specific unique selling points, as well as the particular platforms and offers, elements of the marketing arsenal utilized, and system of automation are going to differ, and some outside research and consultation, as well as in-house thinking and clear-eyed decision-making are needed. Part of what makes this book so special is that as one searches for additional resources, there’s a marvelous framework informing the process. That research isn’t being done ad hoc or in a vacuum, it follows the simple yet powerful path laid down by the author.
By doing all this in 53 pages, Matt Law offers a classic that’s not only a pleasure to read, but also a pleasure to re-read. Which is important, as I suspect folks will want to take multiple passes this through gem. Remarkably well done!
- Very high-level, no practical steps
- Not unique, mostly paraphrasing of other books and articles
- One-sided, not a blueprint by any means
- Not intended to be an educational material but is a sales channel to advertise author's consulting services
- Not worth the time
- A couple of interesting points
have resulted in huge changes for marketing in recent years.
The author, Matt Law, concisely states the current problems in business marketing. He then presents the solution for these problems; Four Step Marketing. His explanations of each of the four steps in Four Step Marketing are logical and easily understood so the reader understands the objectives of each step and how they work together as a system.
Any skeptics of Four Step Marketing should look into the author, Matt Law's success and that of the FSMC Community, in using Four Step Marketing.
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