Mitch Joel Says Reboot, a Book Review

  |  May 23, 2013   |  Comments

Do not throw the baby out with the bath water. Do not drop everything. Do not reinstall the operating system - just reboot.

ctrl-alt-deleteNothing's impossible I have found,
For when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up,
Dust myself off,
Start all over again.

- "Pick Yourself Up," from the film "Swing Time," 1936

Mitch Joel is a masterful public speaker about this whole Internet thing. I keep him up on the pedestal alongside of Avinash Kaushik, Clay Shirky, and Ze Frank as the people I most like to see speak in public about almost anything. These are people with whom I am in violent agreement.

Mitch is on my list due to his seminal book, "Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone," wherein he proved that he totally gets the intersection of social media and marketing.

And now, he's written another.

ctrlaltdlt-book"Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends on It" is a call-to-action.

Rather than just another tome about the marvels of the new world and what everybody could be doing or should be doing, this is a guidebook on what to do. And the first step is reboot.

Do not throw the baby out with the bath water. Do not drop everything. Do not reinstall the operating system - just reboot.

In a nutshell:

  1. Create a direct relationship with your customer. Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, and Tumblr have a relationship with your customer. If you're sending people there to interact with your brand, you are ceding some of your brand juice to them and making it that much easier for them to like your competitors as well. Instead, use those platforms to bring customers to you, in space that you own rather than rent.

    What to do: Make your own space, be it an app, a website, or a physical location. Whatever it might be, own it.
  2. Use data to understand and relate, not just to sell. You can optimize every ad and every click if you want to sell one thing to every person and then never see them again. But word will spread that you are not worthy. Instead, use all the data you can - including unstructured, social sentiment, and social graph data - to figure out what your customers want (not just from you) and help them achieve their goals.

    What to do: Use any and all data (big data, small data, doesn't matter) in order to segment, personalize, and cater to individuals as best you can. Or at least better than your competition.
  3. Create something useful. You want to be remembered? Be shared? Be viral? Of your three choices, being fun takes talent and is a hit-or-miss proposition, being interesting is harder and harder in a world so full of interesting things, but being useful is a surefire strategy. Throw an ad at me and I won't even see it. Make me laugh until my sides are splitting and I'll have a happy association with your brand for a split second. Pique my curiosity and you'll have my momentary attention. But give me something useful and you'll be rewarded with my gratitude.

    What to do: Create an app that benefits your customer in some insanely utilitarian way. Help them be themselves and your brand will become part of their life.
  4. Get interactive. Passive media is just so...passive. Yes, it has its place. Yes, you can encourage people to associate your company with particular brand attributes, but they are going to think what they will about you no matter how many colorful, glossy, warm, and fuzzy images you throw at them. You can no longer advertise your way into the hearts and minds of a target audience. When they interact with your brand, it is your brand.

    What to do: Be programmatically responsive, socially responsive, and personally engaging. Think "human relationship" rather than just making another sale.
  5. manyscreensCommunicate in context. Looking at the world as a multi-screen environment is the corporate perspective. The customer perspective is contextual: there is only one screen, the one I am looking at now.

    What to do: Create a direct relationship to help your customers, in a useful way, interactively, in a way that is situation-ally appropriate for the screen of the moment. Communicate differently in each channel, but ensure the message is always in keeping with your brand.

We've moved from the promise of, to the reality of the Internet. It's really time to up your game, and Mitch has written a book that will give you a better understanding of what it means to do business in a hyper-connected world and make you feel better about your options for maintaining marketplace relevance.

Fun fact: chapter seven is called "Sex With Data." Reason enough to read this book.

Images on home page via Shutterstock.


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Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne is an international consultant who focuses on measuring the value of the Web as a medium for creating and strengthening customer relationships. Sterne has written eight books on using the Internet for marketing, is the founding president and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association and produces the eMetrics Summit and the Media Analytics Summit.

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