As an advertising major in college turned off from the profession's focus on selling of products people don't really need, as a consumer all too often exposed to screaming car dealership commercials and bait-and-switch tactics, and as a new business owner... I was definitely interested in what Shel Horowitz had to say in this book!
The very first sentence, on the very first page, was sheer delight. As it happened, that page (and the five pages following it) contained endorsements and blurbs by the very well-known in the marketing field... and here's how the author introduced them: "Many of these blurbs are shortened for space reasons... The complete versions are posted at <http://www.principledprofits.com/blurbs.html>." My goodness! How many times have I, as a movie and book consumer, been deceived by three words taken completely out of context of a review? Not this time! This first sentence promised an entirely new approach.
The book includes practical advice ("Run your business in alignment with your core values; don't try to be something you're not") as well as practical statistics (i.e. "Gay and lesbian purchasing power is about $400 billion"), both of which a business owner can certainly use. While the practical advice may sometimes seem simple, in reality it is not. Using the example above, how many times, purely in a social setting in which literally nothing is at stake, are people tempted to try to be something they're not? How much more so when one's livelihood is on the line? The author's reminder is both apt and profound, and something to be taped to the top of one's computer monitor.
The author's marketing strategy is also both strong and logical. "I create marketing that has the prospect calling me!" is a typical example. Again, on first approach it seems simple---but few marketers take the time to really create the draw or pull that will create action in a consumer who really does need the product or service. Instead, we have announcers shouting to us over the radio that they will not be undersold! What difference does a car dealership's competitive ambition not to be undersold make to me as a consumer? Nada. On the other hand, last year while I was half-mindedly watching mortgage rates dive even lower, I received a simple, thoughtful letter from a mortgage broker giving me concrete information on how much I could expect to save at a certain interest rate compared to my current interest rate, how I could pay for the refinancing closing costs, and the steps to take to contact him to do it. I did refinance with that mortgage representative.
Some of the advice given in the book is fairly standard, but many other suggestions are both practical and new. And it's refreshing to see an author writing about turning down a sale when it's not right for him---and not necessarily for the reasons one might think.
CONS (1) Initially, I wished for less examples from the author's career and more from other companies. I did get that wish later on in the book (he cites some very interesting examples, in fact, such as Rosenbluth International, which "will go so far as to open a new branch office, just to serve a new account"); it just can take patience to get there. (2) The author extols two techniques which just did not ring right: flattering a prospect/playing into that person's ego, and putting time pressure on a person when it might not be the right time for the person to buy the product. These stood out all the more because the rest of the book is not like that. (3) One begins to wish the author would stop mentioning his other book, as one begins to feel that one is a sitting duck for a repetitive sales pitch. Enough already!
PROS (1) This book led me to question things I never thought to question, but should have; for example, the sentence "We need to gain market share" (read: we need to take some market share from a competitor). (2) The book serves as a great reminder where to put one's priorities. Beyond integrity and personal satisfaction (which is, after all, why we live life), for instance, the author quotes the CEO of Southwest Airlines, who reminds us, "Market share has nothing to do with profitability. Market share says we just want to be big; we don't care if we make money doing it. To get an additional 5 percent of the market, some companies increased their costs by 25 percent." (3) A balanced approach to many issues; I respect an author who gives both sides of the story or both pros and cons to an approach. (4) The book uses examples with which everyday consumers and readers will be familiar; for instance, a grocery store chain that pioneered the reservation of parking spaces for pregnant customers, and the office supply chain which rearranged its stores to steer its customers to the right technology for what they needed (I believe that's Office Depot).
(A note on the rating: The lack of half-stars on the rating scale didn't give me a good option for an accurate rating. At the time of this review I have only given 5 stars to one book, and not many four-star reviews, either. This book is above average. If I could have given a rating on a scale from one to ten, I would have given it a 7.)
The author makes a bold statement in Chapter 3: "Does the last chapter mean there's no place for salespeople anymore? Not at all---but it does mean that some businesses don't need a sales force if their marketing is properly effective." Bravo!