Despite it’s ambitious title, The Perfection of Marketing is a surprisingly accessible and fast-paced read. The book is written in case study fashion, taking the reader through a realistic scenario of a midsized company struggling to build on its past success and take sales to the next level. The style is engaging, drawing the reader into the story. Author James Connor keeps the story moving forward at a brisk, but not hurried pace. In addition, each chapter ends with a quick summary of the key points presented, a nice touch that helps reinforce and retain the most important information.
The book walks through three major steps in the author’s perfection of marketing process: positioning the brand through the sales moment; rolling out the brand consistently; and return on investment marketing. In the author’s parlance, the “sales moment” is that key value proposition that makes a prospect say “yes.” They’ve done their homework. They’ve identified several alternative products or services that will solve their problem. What is the key point that makes them choose to buy from your company above all others? That’s Connors’ key sales moment, and the value proposition around which to build the brand.
The first section walks through the four main elements of branding: a company’s name, logo, tagline, and campaignable image. Nike is used an example. The name Nike comes from the Greek goddess of victory (not a bad association for a company that produces sports apparel for competitive athletes at all levels). The swoosh logo invokes motion and speed. The tagline (which former spokesperson Tiger Woods clearly took a bit too literally), “Just do it,” is both immediately relevant and highly memorable. And the image—an athlete running—reflects the aspirations of the company’s target market. Few companies tie all the elements of branding together that ideally, but its a goal every company can pursue.
The second section, rolling out the brand, properly focuses on building the brand internally first, before taking it to the market. Before a brand image will be believable and accepted by prospects, it must be internalized by employees and partners. Messages must be consistent imbued into the company’s culture. Branding is next extended to the organization’s website and communicated to the media and other key influencers through PR and social media marketing, then to prospects through advertising and promotional activities.
The final section, one sure to be dear to CEOs and CFOs (and the marketers who need to communicate with them in the language of business), explains return on investment marketing. The first key is understanding the lifetime value of a customer; from this, ROI calculations can be performed on any marketing activity to help set budget levels appropriately. Two different strategies are presented: a slow growth strategy focused on conservative and modest marketing investments, and a more aggressive fast growth strategy, “spending ahead of sales” to gain a competitive foothold in the market or launch a disruptive new product.
The book is aimed at a wide audience; C-level executives will gain a greater understanding of the role of marketing and the business justification for various levels of investment. Corporate marketers will come away with clear guidelines for an over-arching strategy, and how and when an outside agency can be most helpful. And marketing agency people will get key insights into how to speak with clients at all levels of management, and position their services within a coherent and unified strategy for marketing success. (Incidentally, The Perfection of Marketing is actually highly aligned with the business practices of the agency I’m part of, KC Associates, though with some helpful enhancements.)
So does the book live up to it’s title? For the most part, yes. My only criticism of the book, albeit a minor one, is that in its brevity, the book does a much better job with the “what” of marketing than with the “how.” This relatively slim volume would have benefited from a bit more detail on specific steps or actions to accomplish some of the objectives presented. Readers will have look elsewhere, or fill in some of the blanks using their own creativity, in order to incorporate the overall strategy presented here.
Still, The Perfection of Marketing is a highly approachable and valuable book for corporate and marketing agency executives alike.
Other reviews of this book:
My Marketing Book of the Year