In their anticipated and now acclaimed book, Social Marketing to the Business Customer, Veteran communicators Paul Gillin and Eric Schwartzman have hit the social web nail on the head. The product of years of consulting and conversations with industry insiders and luminaries in Gillin’s columns and Schwartzman’s popular “On the Record” podcast, the book is as fire-side-readable as it is cube-jockey-referenceable, and is IMNHO a ‘must-have’ for today’s marketer. And this is from someone who NEVER buys business “how to” books.
Why then, you might ask, have you found the exception with a title that so screams “best before Q4 2011?” Read on…
While the subject matter is as dynamic as a social channel gone viral, the real appeal of Social Marketing to the Business Customer, is precisely not as a ‘how to guide’. Though there are plenty of tips, tricks and tactical gems here, including illuminating case studies and more than a cursory dive into the Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ quartet, the book’s value lies in the philosophical underpinnings that would help drive good marketing decisions. Published well before the panda update – the Google patch that amoung other things, promised to render all web marketing books instantly obsolete – the book answers this issue before it’s even begged by providing an extensive list of recurring edition guides in the rapidly evolving space of SEO, an area the authors eschew any responsibility for seriously addressing.
Much like that communications degree I got, that I questioned at the time, what I found most valuable in this book, was the conceptual framework it provided – the writers’ ability to capture the core principles of marketing communications and present through the lenses and layers of the social web. This comes as some comfort to the more mature marketers amoung us who refuse to hang up our slideware in resigned belief that the rules of the game have so radically changed.
The truth according to Schwartzman and Gillin is, they have and they haven’t. Yes, marketing is still about winning hearts and minds, and, most importantly wallets. But no longer do we tell the market what to do. Rather the market will tell us, and we will listen. Or more correctly, our success or failure will be determined by how well we have listened. This may be a tall order or for a class people so firmly accustomed to doing all the talking. But maybe that’s just exactly where the more mature (read:older) marcom pros have the most to give. After years of talking, maybe we’re more than ready to check our gut instincts at the door and really listen to our markets, our prospects and our customers. Maybe then we’ll be given them more than just the right message at the right time, but the right product aswell.