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HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERon February 3, 2008
In this volume that is accompanied by a CD containing an 80-minute video seminar, Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg with Lisa T. Davis explain how to persuade people to purchase what you sell at a time "when they ignore marketing." That is, emerging media have redefined "the rules of the game" in the competitive marketplace. First the bad news: traditional mass marketing models are no longer appropriate. Now the good news: businesses now have an unprecedented opportunity to communicate effectively with customers by leveraging the power of increasingly interconnected media channels. The authors suggest a number of strategies and tactics by which to do that.

Throughout their narrative, they answer questions such as these:

1. How and why has marketing permanently changed?
2. Why do customers now respond differently?
3. How to anticipate what they now require?
4. How to respond to those requirements?
5. How to bridge the gap between "old" and "new" marketing?

In response to the last question, they offer "Persuasion Architecture" and then explain how to implement it in Chapter Twenty-Nine.

Over the years, I have owned dozens of dogs and cats, and agree with the authors that there are significant differences between them. A source I am unable to recall suggests that a dog's idea of God is man; a cat's idea of God is another cat. The pets I have owned certainly gave me that impression. The authors suggest that "old" marketing follows a recipe that they characterize as "Customers a la Pavlov." Over time, their responses can be conditioned and, through certain repetitions of influence, controlled. Not so with "new" marketing which assumes that customers resemble cats. Unlike dogs that are so eager to please, cats could not care less. They are aloof, indifferent, self-indulgent, independent, solitary, and act in ways that benefit only themselves.

It is worth noting that, given all the major changes in the American workplace, Warren Bennis suggests that managing people is like herding cats and wrote a book bearing that title.

This book's title may state it but, obviously, cats do not, indeed cannot bark. And even if they could, they probably would not because that would be - as they see it - beneath them. The first objectives with cats as well as with customers is to get their attention, then convince them (somehow) that what you have in mind is in their best interests. To the authors' credit, they devote most of their attention in the book to the "how" and "why" of mass marketing rather than to the "what."

Whether or not Persuasion Architecture makes sense and would be appropriate for the needs of the reader's own organization is for her or him to determine. My own rather extensive experience suggests that a transition from "old" to "new" marketing (or from "old" to "new" anything) invariably creates significant challenges, especially in terms of cultural barriers. Change agents are certain to face resistance because of what James O'Toole aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom."

Persuasion Architecture offers a comprehensive, cohesive, and cost-effective methodology by which to launch and then sustain profitable mass marketing. There are others worthy of consideration. Whatever the eventual decision, decision-makers should commit to a methodology (rather than to a bromide) and keep in mind that the transition from "old" marketing to "new" marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Also they should keep in mind, as they begin a lengthy and difficult but necessary process, what Peter Drucker observed (in 1963) in an article published in the Harvard Business Review: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all."
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