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Tuned In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities That Lead to Business Breakthroughs Hardcover – June 30, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
This well-reasoned and useful guide argues that successful innovators can develop products that resonate by connecting deeply with consumers. This simple idea is delivered in a conversational tone and illustrated in well-structured chapters laying out a six-step Tuned in Process and examples that span borders and industries. From anecdotes about countryside hotels that sprouted up to provide respite for Japanese salarymen to Nalgene plastic bottles, which escaped the laboratory to achieve cult status and ultimately mass market consumer appeal, fascinating case studies abound. However, as appealing as the concept and the many examples are, the enthusiastic presentation begins to grate; the repeated invocation of the Tuned in Process may tire readers looking for more subtlety and fewer sound bites. Still, there is sufficient fodder for anyone who wants to shake the sleep out of an organization and renew a focus on creating the kind of value that customers are willing to pay for. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This well-reasoned and useful guide argues that successful innovators can develop products that "resonate" by connecting deeply with consumers. This simple idea is delivered in a conversational tone and illustrated in well-structured chapters laying out a six-step "Tuned in Process" and examples that span borders and industries. From anecdotes about countryside hotels that sprouted up to provide respite for Japanese salarymen to Nalgene plastic bottles, which escaped the laboratory to achieve cult status and ultimately mass market consumer appeal, fascinating case studies abound. However, as appealing as the concept and the many examples are, the enthusiastic presentation begins to grate; the repeated invocation of the "Tuned in Process" may tire readers looking for more subtlety and fewer sound bites. Still, there is sufficient fodder for anyone who wants to shake the sleep out of an organization and renew a focus on creating the kind of value that customers are willing to pay for. (June) (Publishers Weekly, April 7, 2008)
"...helpful summaries...lively read for sales and marketing departments" (Training & Coaching Today, September)
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Top Customer Reviews
At the end of Chapter 4, I was going to drop the book, but the examples kept me going. There are at least 50 examples of Tuned-in companies from Disneyland to the Maganavox remote control that locates itself to the ubiquitous iPod. These examples are interesting by themselves. They are spread through the book to illustrate each step and to validate the entire tuned-in "process".
I keep putting process in between quotes because what the authors present is not really a process. It is more a framework. In addition, it seems that not one of the examples was actually the result of applying the authors' framework under their guidance. So the whole edifice is an after-the-fact analysis of successful innovations that serves to justify the author's framework. I would have liked to see at least one example of a product that the authors actually helped develop.
The book itself is an example of the framework the authors propose, and in particular of "Step 5: Articulate Powerful Ideas". This chapter develops the idea of establishing "memorable concepts that speak to the problems the customers have". The authors here eat their own dog food, and it is clear that they spent time thinking about how they should name that book and what memorable concepts they should articulate it in. "Tuned-in" is a sgood and simple concept that is repeated over and over throughout the book so that it sticks in your mind. There is an other one that is used over and over; it is "resonators" to designate successful products that resonate with customers.
In summary, the value of this book is probably in this Chapter 5. At least it is for me. We typically underestimate that the least number of words a concept can be described in, the more powerful it is. "Tuned in" is a useful concept to keep in mind to designate that idea that we need to be "tuned in" to the market and the customer. But you will need many other books and workshops to know how to do it. But, that's what the authors' core business is: delivering seminars! No doubt that they will have demand.
It stands to reason if an organization wants to develop products and services that resonate with people, the first step is to ask people what they want. Simple as it sounds, authors Stull, Myers, and Scott, each of whom has extensive experience working with large firms and non-profits, observe that many of them simply don't do it. Those that do often lack the right processes to gather and act upon the information they receive. As a result, they roll out products and services that fall absolutely flat, squandering their resources and completely missing golden opportunities.
The authors contend the solution is to tune in. Instead of selecting new product initiatives in ivory tower executive suites and developing them in the lab, get to the grass roots. Talk to actual people, uncover their most urgent needs, and craft solutions. This strikes me as an incredibly sensible approach; perhaps that is why big companies are apt to overlook it.
The book focuses on the why and how of tuning in, with emphasis on the how. The authors lay out a 6-step process for tuning in, very detailed yet written in plain English every reader will understand -
1. Find unresolved problems
2. Understand buyer personas
3. Quantify the impact
4. Create breakthrough experiences
5. Articulate powerful ideas
6. Establish authentic connections
Even though it is simple and straightforward, the tuning in process, like any other, has its share of pitfalls, problems, and subtleties. Here's where the authors' impressive consulting and training experience really distinguishes this book from others I've read on similar topics. These men are able to identify the hazards organizations will encounter in the trenches, and explain - largely through the use of real life case studies and their own war stories - how to handle (and not handle) them.
I like the emphasis on real life stories. They give the whole book the flavor of authenticity books like this need. The procession of examples is what makes tuning in seem implementable, rather than being just another cool-sounding new marketing theory.
Any organizational leader, marketing specialist, or sales executive will profit from, and probably be challenged by, "Tuned In", since tuning in involves jettisoning conventional wisdom (for instance, making new product decisions based strictly on what current customers say), and engaging in new forms of communication such as blogs and social networking communities. Still, this is one of those books you're better off reading sooner rather than later. As more and more companies start tuning in, those that don't are going to start looking worse and worse in the marketplace.
The authors of Tuned In give us encouragement that we can not only return our culture to one that is truly "Tuned In" to our customers, but they also give us a blueprint to sustain that focus. Most companies start with a great idea that comes from an entrepreneur that is listening intently to the marketplace, and creates a company around a solution or product. If they are lucky, those companies grow and prosper around that ability to solve the market's problem or fill a need. More often, though, the market changes, and if we dont change with our customers needs, we will be left to guessing what those customers need, and we will spend enormous amounts of money in advertising trying to convince our market that they need our product.
This book brings us face to face with that reality, provides a process to begin to move back in line with our market, and gives we as business leaders a renewed focus on that aspect of our culture. Solving a problem or providing a product that our customers want is our sole reason for being, is it not? Tuned In will take it's place as one of the great books that brings us back to the basics in business, and it will be a must read for any entrepreneur, business leader or marketing exec for years to come.