Understanding Marketing & Technology Without Losing Your Mind: A Practical Guide for Managers and Leaders

Dave Tedlock (2013)
Review date: August 2013
Summary

This book is a collection of columns from business newspapers written by a single author. It's divided into roughly twenty topics. Some of these topics are covered by a single article, some are covered by several. Here are some of the topics: Blogs, cloud computing, managing geeks and IT staff, mobile marketing, and tech support. That's just a pick.

Opinion

This book contains roughly 40 articles (previously appearing as columns in newspapers), which makes it an anthology. As such, it's hard to review as a whole. The quality of forty texts and the level of interest to a random reader should follow a normal distribution; at least it did to me. I simply found some of the articles better, and some worse, from a quality and interest point of view.

Before dissecting some of them, I can say that the author delivers on his promise. The book's intended target audience are non-technical people working in communication, advertising, PR, marketing, or leaders of smaller companies. To such people, this book provides a charter and a good battery of keywords; topics they may want to study further. The author also acknowledges that "IT people" may find some topics simplistic, and sometimes not agree with him. But they may also find articles outside their area of competence, which was true for me at least.  

As a whole, I found this book very reading-friendly. It's easy to make progress (40 articles/230 pages) and the articles can be read in any order. In the majority of the articles I found some good points and punch lines, especially after reminding myself that the target audience may have a different view on things than I do. Many of the articles trigger an emotional response, which should be a trait of a newspaper column.

As for the contents; sometimes I found a topic being covered almost twice, while some topics were treated too lightly. I found the book unbalanced. Going for breadth is a strategy, but I'd go for roughly the same depth, if I were the writer. As an example, cloud computing is covered by one article, which misses some very important aspects of it (in my opinion), while mobile marketing gets six articles. This could simply be a projection of the author's own area of expertise, but if I were the editor, I'd point that out.

Another thing that got my attention was this: From time to time the author refers to research to support a claim, and while I'm not a nerd when it comes to facts and sources, some of these claims were counter-intuitive to me, and also quite sensitive to dates. Being newspaper columns, the articles don't need to refer to sources, but in a book some references wouldn't hurt.

That's my "holistic" view on the book, but to be honest, I'll probably remember it by the articles that struck a chord.

Free Advertising on Google, Yahoo! and  Bing Is Neglected, Even Wasted - This is the first SEO article and it contains some interesting numbers and covers the basic basics of SEO. I didn't pay much attention to SEO before reading it, and it will make me redo some stuff on my own pages.

What The Cloud Is And Why You Should Care - I don't know what non-technical people know about the cloud, but this article misses too many points in my opinion.

Choose Domain Names The Indiana Jones Way - A well-written, simple and practical article that should get pretty much everybody going in domain registration.

Smart Marketing Makes Email Campaigns 'Responsive' - The title is the giveaway. Obvious, but I normally don't lose sleep over such issues.

Blur: How Technology Confuses an Organization's Decision-Makers - I found this to be one of the most interesting and thought-worthy articles in the book. It's based on a book on the topic, but I bet it picks up the key points in it and it made me want to read it.

What Type Of IT Person Do You Have - This article divides "IT people" into categories, like "the theorist", or "the resume builder". I'm uneasy about this. The categories are stereotypical and may produce a chuckle in a business paper, but one could easily write an equal article about "business people", "marketing people", or just about any kind of "people".

Anton Chekhov and Act 1 of Website Development: The Conference Room Meeting - It's about people with different background not speaking the same language. Is this still true? Don't we know better by now?

Legal Words Of Caution About Social Media - My key takeaway: the advertiser is responsible for the contents of blogs, tweets, and alike if they endorse a product. This will make me write some clarifications on the very site where this is published.

13 Steps to Success in Calling Tech Support - Kind of like the article on IT people. A little funny, but why on earth write a manual on how to deal with support staff? I do have some bad experiences myself, but they wouldn't be solved by step-by-step instructions.

Wow! That's a long review. As I said; I'll remember the book by some of its articles. Read my reflections on some of the articles and decide whether this is a book worth reading.

Who should read this book

Managers or marketers far, far away from technology will get a quick overview of what's going on in the land where marketing meets technology from this book.




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