Book Review: The Book of Business Awesome

Scott Stratten. The Book of Business Awesome: How Engaging Your Customers and Employees Can Make Your Business Thrive. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, 2012. 250 pages.

This is actually two books rolled into one, and issued with double covers: You can either start on the “Awesome” side or flip the book over and start on the “UnAwesome” side. The “Awesome” side features Stratten’s thoughts on how to market your business right; the “UnAwesome” side collected the amusing trainwrecks and failed attempts to go viral that show what happens when you market something the wrong way. Both are of value; it’s good that Stratten can explain, in simple, easy to follow language, not only what to do right, but why it’s the right way, and the negative examples of unawesomeness both let the reader feel a little bit smarter than some of the people behind the fails but also provide valuable object lessons. It’s one thing to pontificate to the reader about why your system works, but it’s infinitely more enjoyable to see what happens when it doesn’t work.Business Awesome

Stratten has a decidedly common-sense approach to marketing in the age of social media; he isn’t an advocate of jumping to the newest platform simply because it’s new, but he isn’t a Luddite. The best example of this is his look at QR codes. These are those little barcode-looking things that, when scanned with a mobile device, take you to a website. Stratten talks about the ridiculousness of putting a QR code a billboard, where, quite obviously, no one will be able to scan it with their phone, or in emails–those emails are often opened on a phone, which can’t (yet) scan itself. And, he warns, when using a QR code, you need to make sure the site the user is directed to is optimized for mobile. But he’s not totally anti-QR–Stratten’s paper and ink book is full of them, though in the ebook version they are replaced with simple links.

Some of the book is strictly for professionals–like the discussion of ROI, which will be dear to the heart of any marketer justifying a budget–but Stratten also helps the reader who isn’t involved in marketing by revealing some of the tricks that less-scrupulous marketers use and in general explaining how the gears in the PR/Marketing/Social Media black box turn. As such, this book is also of interest for those who just want some insight into how companies (and non-profits and individuals) market themselves.

Both the Awesome and UnAwesome sides of this book are written well, giving you enough “case study” material to prove the bigger point of the chapter without bogging the book down with padding masquerading as excessive detail. Despite being a quick read, this book(s) covers an incredible amount of material–and does it all justice. This should be required reading for anyone who does marketing, and, more importantly, anyone who supervises a marketer and/or controls their budget.

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