Book Review: Small Message, Big Impact

I was recently given an advanced reader copy of Small Message, Big Impact by Terri L. Sjodin.  It’s a book on crafting an effective and persuasive elevator speech.

Small Message, Big Impact

Small Message, Big Impact

An elevator speech is, according the the author, “a brief presentation introducing a product, service, philosophy or an idea. The name suggests the notion that the message should be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride, up to about 3 minutes.  Its general purpose is to intrigue and inspire a listener to want to hear more of the presenter’s complete proposition in the near future.”  It’s a 3-minute speech you give to intrigue someone enough that they will let you give a real presentation.

A lot of people–probably most–use their 3 minutes of unexpected access as an “information dump”.  They pour as much data as possible into their audience.   According to Sjodin(and I agree!), and elevator speech needs to be primarily persuasive, not informative.  You need to include enough information to back up your persuasive arguments, but too much information is at least as bad, if not worse, than too little.

An elevator speech is either a sales pitch or a waste of time.   You are selling the right to give more detailed information at a later time.   The elevator pitch is not about making the sale.  It’s about advancing the ball toward the eventual sale.

Who needs an elevator pitch?  You do.  Everybody sells. Even if you don’t have a product, a service, or a business, you have yourself.  Can you pitch your boss on why you deserve a raise or a promotion?

The author walks you through creating an elevator speech that takes advantage of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence to advance your goal, whatever that is.   She’ll teach you how to grab your audience’s attention and make them recognize a need for change.   You’ll offer a solution, help them see the super-ninja-awesome future you’re offering, and give them a clear call to action.   All in 3 to 5 minutes.   Small Message, Big Impact will also teach you  to provide a clear progression through those steps, making it easy for your target to say yes.

You’ll learn the basic outline of an elevator speech, including how to grab your target’s interest, build a persuasive case, and establish credibility when you’ve been surprised with a few moments of access.  The three pieces of any successful presentation, from an elevator speech to a full-day presentation are

  1. Case.  If you can’t make your case, nothing else matters.
  2. Creativity.  You won’t win by being the same as everyone else.  The same product, the same service, the same buzzwords won’t differentiate yourself from the competition.
  3. Delivery.  Stumbling, stammering, and talking to the wall will make the the best product and the most creative presentation sound like crap, every time.  You need to build your presentation and practice it, so you come across and smooth an knowledgeable.

One of the best ways to sound credible, which will assist your delivery like nothing else, is to use an authentic voice.  Be sincere and sound it.   Believe in the material and yourself.   Know the material–inside and out–and practice it until you can deliver it smoothly, even if that means enlisting a friend for speech practice.

Of the books I’ve reviewed, I think this is my favorite.  If you need to design an elevator speech or improve the one you’ve been using, you should read this book.   Even if you don’t care about an elevator speech, the book provides a decent education on persuasive selling that easily carries over to the written word.

How would you(or do you) use an elevator speech?

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Book Review: Social Nation

I recently had an opportunity to read Social Nation: How to harness the power of Social Media to attract customers, motivate employees & grow your business by Barry Libert.  Heckuva title.

Libert is the the CEO at Mzinga, which is a company that connects other companies–and their customers–using social media to collaborate and communicate.  Social media is, quite simply, using the internet to drive interactive communication.  This includes Twitter, Facebook, and forums.  Sometimes, it’s just discussion, sometimes, it’s sharing user-generated content.

Social Nation “will show you, as an employee, customer or partner, how to use new social technologies, make yourself heard, and produce better products and services.”   It bills itself as a “complete toolbox” for social media.   Does it match the hype? Let’s see.

The book is broken into three sections.

Part 1: The Future of Business is Social

Libert asserts that the future of business is social.   That is obviously true, to a degree. A solid viral marketing campaign can drive more eyeball to a product than a full-page spread in the New York Time or a 30-second spot during Super Bowl halftime.  However, there are a lot–possibly a majority–of business-to-business companies that will gain no value from a social media campaign.   Would a regional supplier with an exclusive distributorship for a top-name line of faucets benefit from being on Twitter?  No.  On the other hand, 17% of our time online is spent on social applications and the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is 35 years old or older.  There is certainly some value to be gained by have a social media presence in some markets.

This section(all of chapter 3!) also contains a link to a test to determine your social media skills.   I haven’t taken the test, mainly because I don’t feel like registering for another site.  This struck me as nothing more than lead generation, which is a shame.  It could be a useful tool.

Part 2: Seven Principles for Building Your Social Nation

This section has seven chapters, containing 7 case studies that detail the 7 principle of social media, as defined by Libert and Mzinga.

The principles include:

  • Let the culture lead the way, as demonstrated by Zappos.com.
  • Involve your fans.  The big takeaway from chapter 8 is that, when you create a community, your job is to facilitate involvement, not to control it.  If you try to run it with an iron fist, it will choke and die.
  • Reward others and you will be rewarded. Apple lets developers keep 70% of the money they make in the app store.  That encourages developers to develop, making everyone more money.   Give.  Karma will take care of the rest.
  • There are 4 other principles, but some are just common sense, and I don’t want to give away the contents of the book.

Part 3: Start Today and Create Your Own Social Nation

aka

Chapter 11: How to Get Started and 10 Pitfalls to Avoid

Section 3 has just one chapter, but it’s a good one.    It explains the difference between followers and fans, the value of each and how to bond with each.   The difference?  Fans are actively involved.   Followers are far more passive.

This section/chapter also goes into some things to avoid, like abandoning a social media strategy too early, failing to market your business, underestimating the power(positive and negative) of a social network.

Is it worth getting the book?

Social Nation bills itself as a complete social media toolbox, but it falls a bit short.   The book tackles social media from a purely strategic point of view, ignoring the tactical concerns.   It’s clearly geared toward helping a company plan its social media strategy from a 10,000 foot perch.   For the people in the trenches, or anyone with a grasp of strategy that’s looking for the details on running a social media campaign, it’s not enough.  That said, if you are trying to plan a social media strategy, or you have no idea where to start, this is a great book for you.   It holds a lot of value, but stops some distance before “complete”.  Definitely worth a read if you are involved is social media planning.

Giveaway

I’m giving away Social Nation.   If you’d like to have a chance to get it, just leave a comment, telling me how you like to see companies use social media.  Fair warning, this is the book I read, so it’s “used”.   I take care of books, so you can’t tell that it’s used.

Publishers, Publicists, and Authors

If you have a book you’d like me to review, please contact me.

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Book Review: The Art of Non-Conformity

The Art of Non-Conformity

The Art of Non-Conformity

We grew up in a world of expectations: Eat your vegetables, don’t poop on the carpet, do your homework. It continues right up to “Go to college”, “Get married”, “Having a dozen kids”. Are those the expectations you want to use to guide your life?

Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity (the blog and the book) puts the question like this: We we were younger, we heard “If everyone else was jumping off of a cliff, would you do that too?” In theory, that meant we were supposed to think for ourselves. Yet, as adults, we are absolutely expected to conform and do the things everyone else is doing. Work your 40, take a week’s vacation once a year, and repeat until retirement or death.

Is that our only choice?

The Art of Non-Conformity attempts to be a guidebook, showing you how to live the live you want to live. Chris has made a lifelong series of decidedly unconventional choices, from dropping out of high school to attending 3 colleges simultaneously to spending 4 years as a volunteer in Africa. For the past few years, he has been working his way through visiting every country in the world. He is an expert on non-conformity.

The books tells a lot (a LOT) of stories of people who have either made the leap into a self-defined life or people who have done nothing but talk about taking that leap while staying comfortable in their soul-numbing careers.

The Good

The Art of Non-Conformity is an inspirational book. It spends a lot of time explaining how to break through the wall of fear to take control of your like. More important, it explains why you’d want to. It does not pretend to define how you should live your life, it just provides the framework for the mentality to help you make that decision for yourself.

The Bad

If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide, complete with a list of possible work-alternatives, this isn’t the book for you. This book approaches lifestyle design from the conceptual end rather than the practical. If you want a practical manual, I’d get the 4 Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris. Ideally, you should get both. They complement each other well.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. If you’re considering taking a non-standard path or just hate the career- or life-track you are on, you should read The Art of Non-Conformity. I’m planning to read it again in a couple of weeks, just to make sure I absorb all of the lessons.

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Bonding Relationships

People can’t be happy in a vacuum.  We are social creatures.  Even the most anti-social among us needs some human contact.  How can you make that contact happen in a meaningful way?  How can you connect with other people beyond some superficial meaningless chatter?

According to Keith Ferrazzi in his book, Who’s got your back, there are four mindsets necessary to build lifelong relationships.

1.  Generosity. This is your promise to help others succeed.  If have a skill that can help someone you know, why not give them a hand?  when you help others, you are building social capital, which is a currency that cannot be bought.  Since our lives are not ledger books, you can’t do favors with repayment in mind, but it is reasonable to assume that the people ou help will want to help you some day.

An often overlooked generosity strategy is to give away 90% of everything.  I’m not suggesting you give away 90% of your wealth or possessions.  I’m suggesting you give away 90% of your personal product.   Plan to give away 9 times more than your receive.  This will not only keep your from being disappointed, but it will also leave you feeling very fulfilled.

2.  Vulnerability. It is important to let down your guard and let the world see your humanity.  It’s almost impossible to truly connect with someone who’s shields are always up: the guy who seems to be invulnerable and unapproachable.  The people you spend time with know your flaw anyway.  If you pretend they don’t exist, you are only fooling yourself.  I have a lot of problem with this one.   Letting down my guard is incredibly difficult, in almost every circumstance.  It is far easier to be strong than to let myself be vulnerable.

3.  Candor. Total honesty is vital to establishing–and maintaining– lifelong relationships.  Even the white lies can destroy your connections.  If you can lie about the little things, you are planting doubts on everything else you do and say.  Who can trust you then?  Lying is inappropriate in almost all conceivable cases.  I was raised that a man’s word is his bond.   Almost everything you have can be taken away from you, but not your honor.  That can only be destroyed by you.  Without it, what do you really have?

4. Accountability. You need to follow through on your promises.  Be Mr. Reliable(or Mrs!).  If you say you will do something, do it!  Nothing builds resentment faster than disappointing the people who are counting on you.   If you can’t meet a commitment, let the soon-to-be-let-down know as early as possible, so other plans can be made.  If you have a hard time keeping promises, then make fewer of them.

If you embrace these principles, you will be well on your way to building–and keeping–strong, satisfying relationships that benefit everyone.

How do you build your relationships?

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