Interview with co-editors of new book on future of business education | Inside Higher Ed

This book is also available on Kindle and is Text-to-Speech enabled.

Interview with co-editors of new book on future of business education | Inside Higher Ed.


I did not write this particular review, but read it on the Inside Higher Education website and thought it was worth sharing. I used the WordPress icon on the Inside Higher Ed. site to share the above link.

A Review of Buyology – Insights from Neural Marketing

buyology-bookIf people were completely predictable,  then the National Enquirer would be out of business, all smokers would quit, New Coke would have been the biggest business success of the 1980s and every single one of us would have a Segway in our garage for quick trips. None of these are the case… and that’s whatBuyology is all about.

Using a variety of brain imaging studies as well as existing research, Martin Linstrom’s book,Buyology, creates a compelling case for “neural marketing.” This is the use of technology to gauge the brain’s reaction to stimuli and then predict purchasing decisions based on these reactions. Stimuli that have a particularly strong and consistent effect on purchasing, he labels as “somatic markers.”

The reason this research is conducted based on brain monitoring versus good-old fashioned survey forms is simple. People, no matter how honest, are hardwired to give the answer based on how they see themselves or how they wish they were.

As a result of this research the author makes some rather compelling claims, for example logos, good or bad, may in fact be the least effective part of a company’s advertising. Logos put the brain into a less than receptive this-is-an-ad mode and undermine any intention to buy.

Also, according to this research, sex does not sell—it distracts. Sexual images are more likely to draw the attention of a customer to the ad, but also away from what’s actually being sold. Product recall tests show that the product recall of sex-sells ads was less than half of the product recall of other ads. However, according to the book what does sell is controversy. It claims that this is the actually selling-stimulus of the famous Calvin Klein ad campaigns that often result in consumer protests.

Another claim is that product placement can be either highly effective or the worst waste of money possible, depending on how well the product is actually integrated into a program. For example, while both Coke and Ford spent millions on their product placement contracts with American IdolCoke’s integrated imagery and use make this placement a winner in the mind of consumers. However, for all the tacked-on, placement tactics to bring Ford into American Idol, Ford might in fact have been better off putting all that money in a big pile and setting it on fire. At least that would have produced some heat.

What is shown to work is giving customers something in which to believe, like a well-crafted tag line such as “Choosy Mom’s Choose Jif” and appealing to their other senses. Even new terminology and completely made-up ingredients can hit the decision sweet spot.

Also, the use of subtle cues is shown to be highly effective. Rather than the use of progressively larger images and brighter visual stimulus, scent and sound alone or in combination with images are shown to be far more effective.

To give the author credit, he does have guts. He presents his predictions with crystal-ball clarity, giving himself no where to hide if they don’t come to pass. Specifically, he predicts a growing spiritual element entering marketing and the rise of fear as a prime tool of advertising. In the world he presents, marketing efforts that once relied upon humor or nostalgia will now offer either spiritual insights or scare the pants off you… maybe both.

The biggest reservation I have about the book is its assertion in the final chapter to take the guesswork out of marketing and advertising with hard quantifiable data. Having worked in advertising and marketing for more than a decade I recognize it as a field where the artistic and the commercial come together in a unique and powerful and each potentially gain from the other to inspire positive actions benefiting the client. I can easily see how the finding of this book might be twisted to try to replace artistic insights with brain scan data. While this data could be helpful to inform the creative process, I doubt even the author would advocate using the data to replace or undermine the important role that artistic insight plays in marketing.

All in all, Buyology is an interesting book and I personally agree with many of the findings, especially when dealing with impulse purchases. However, I would be even more enthusiastic about this if theMartin Lindstrom had also invested effort into investigating the role and importance of these influences on larger purchases or committee decisions, where psychological group dynamics also come into play. This is the case for many of the decisions made in Business-to-Business environments. Until that day comes, I wouldn’t throw out those logo files just yet.

(This book review was originally posted on the website of my former employer, Creative Energy. Founded by Tony Treadway,  Sam Barnett, and Teresa Treadway, Creative Energy is a full service marketing agency and a leading national  authority on Business-to-Business Foodservice Marketing. )

A Strange Worthwhile Trip – A Review of the Marketing Lessons of the Grateful Dead

marketing-lessons-from-the-grateful-deadFirst off, I have to admit I am not a Grateful Dead fan. My iPod does not have a single song by the band or any of its post-Garcia incarnations. I may have eaten Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream once as a sophomore at U.Va., but that does not qualify me as any shade of Deadhead.

In fact, on my iPod, aside for a good number of audiobooks, the dominant artist is Billy Joel. That said, this book, the Marketing Lessons of the Grateful Dead is so good that I’ve actually been listening to a few iTunes 30-second samples from the band.

Written as collaboration between the renowned David Meerman Scott, author of the New Rules of Marketing and PR 2.0, and Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot, the book clearly describes what sets the operations of the band apart from any other band or organization in the music industry.

While I was expecting labored analogies to try and substantiate some kind of business relevance, what I found instead were clear examples of brilliant business moves. They are related to management, marketing, customer service, personal motivation, social networking and public relations.

Among the many questions the book answers are:

• Why in an industry so obsessed with copyright, the Grateful Dead actually encourages its fans to tape its music?
• Why in a here-today-and-gone-tomorrow industry, the band survives in various incarnations even after the passing of one of its key members?
• How the band is able to offer such a wide array of logo products without compromising its authenticity?
• Why rewarding your current customers must always take precedence over recruiting new ones?
• How to partner with mutual respect and benefit?
• How to avoid letting someone else’s monopoly get between you and your customer base?
• How human imperfection and variability can be turned into a positive selling point?

The audiobook version is almost as much as demonstration of these principles as a discussion of them. Rather than bringing in professional narrators, the authors opt to read it themselves. While this doesn’t come across nearly as perfectly polished as Walter Dixon’s narration of the World Wide Raveor Sean Pratt’s narration of the New Rules of Marketing and PR 2.0, opting to read this book themselves was the right choice to authentically present these principles and this material.

In conclusion, to paraphrase liberally from the Entertainer, a song by my own troubadour of choice, if you want to be more than just a serenader in another long-haired band and avoid being commoditized, a.k.a. “put in the back in the discount rack like another can of beans,” read or listen to this book. While I may never be a fan of the Grateful Dead, any doubt that I had about being a fan ofHubspot or David Meerman Scott is gone. Rock on!

(This book review was originally posted on the website of my former employer, Creative Energy. Founded by Tony Treadway,  Sam Barnett, and Teresa Treadway, Creative Energy is a full service marketing agency and a leading national  authority on Business-to-Business Foodservice Marketing. )

The Not-So-Little Little Thing – A Review of the Checklist Manifesto

6a00d8341c909d53ef01287778636a970cWe’ve all done it. It’s that thing we do 95% of the time, but forget that 5% when it matters the most. It’s the umbrella you left in your hall closet on the day it rained. It’s that time you left your cell phones on the charger when you really needed to make that client call. It’s forgetting to take the power cord to the overhead projector on the day of the big presentation.

That’s what the Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right is all about. Written by Dr. Atul Gawande, the book makes a compelling case for the importance of a checklists— a tool most professionals routinely rebel against.

Far from being a tool for rigid micromanagement or formulaic response, Dr. Gawande makes the case that an effective checklist is short and to the point. Used properly, a checklist is a preparation tool and, in some instances, a ready suggestion for worst-case scenario situation, such as the so-called Miracle on the Hudson.

If the book has a flaw, it’s the first chapter. In it Dr. Gawande, discusses many medical mishaps that arose from otherwise brilliant medical professional missing one detail due to pressure, timing or the rapidly growing complexity of multiple procedures.

Unfortunately, he does so much of this, without making his point, that if one were to read only the first chapter, you might assume that this book is some kind of chronicle of medical malpractice. For those of you, who like me, do much of their reading with audio books from, this translates into just under an hour of example after example. I have to admit I was tempted to stop listening, but the second chapter is extremely compelling—as is the remainder of the book.

The second chapter opens with the story of the original flight checklist, specifically the story of the B-17 bomber. It tells of how a minor oversight by one of America’s most experienced test pilots resulted in a tragedy and the bomber almost being scrapped. Instead of accepting the Army’s verdict that the B-17 was “too much plane for any pilot,” the test pilots created the first flight checklist and one of the most important tools of aeronautical safety was born. From this point on, the book soars.

Dr. Gawande then discusses in depth the proper use and utility of checklists with examples taken from multiple sectors, including construction, aeronautics, medicine, technology and finance. Perhaps his most compelling point is when he discusses the resistance surgeons voice to using so simple a tool. While slightly less than 30% of surgeons say they don’t see a need for themselves to use a safety checklist, over 90% of that same community would want a surgeon working on them to use one.

In conclusion, the Checklist Manifesto is a brilliant piece of writing with possible application for any industry. This is one book worth putting on your short list.

(This book review was originally posted on the website of my former employer, Creative Energy. Founded by Tony Treadway,  Sam Barnett, and Teresa Treadway, Creative Energy is a full service marketing agency and a leading national  authority on Business-to-Business Foodservice Marketing. )

Why I have NO Faith in Popcorn!

$T2eC16N,!w0E9szN(m,jBRZR7PKoGw~~_35(This review was originally posted in January of 2011 on the website of my employer at the time, Creative Energy. Creative Energy is an award-winning, full service marketing agency and a leading national authority in business-to-business foodservice marketing. Unlike other reviews this review is more focused on a body of work, than a specific book.)  

Welcome to 2011! Isn’t it great. It’s a new year! Being a new year, there is no shortage of marketing futurists ready to trot out their crystal balls, poke through tea leaves and promote their latest books.

Take Faith Popcorn, the founder of BrainReserve, for example. She is perhaps the best known of the marketing futurists…and why not? After all she is the author of marketing trend best sellers like EVEolutionThe Popcorn Report and Clicking.

This year (2011) her predictions are all about “EN-GEN.” This is her catchy name for the end of gender roles and how these changes in behavior are likely to impact society and business.

However, before you run out and convert all your bathrooms to uni-sex facilities, let’s consider the track record of past predictions, for example the university study, Burned Popcorn and Broken Crystal Balls, performed by St. Norbert College. This study found that only 50% of the predictions made in The Popcorn Report actually came to fruition during the 90’s as predicted.

Years ago, professional debunker and entertainer, James Randi, did a pretty great job showing that a fortuneteller only needs to be right 30% of the time to impress most people. It all boils down to the fact that people want to believe and 30% gives them just enough to hold onto to say, “See they were right, and I wasn’t an idiot to pay to listen.”

By this 30% standard to reach credulity, Faith Popcorn’s 50% is an outstanding achievement. True, 50% does sound impressive… unless you bet on the wrong half…unless you say ask anyone who invested in

Based in Boston, was the wave of the future, a company that would deliver groceries to your home. In fact, much of the fifth chapter of Faith Popcorn’s book, EVEolution, is devoted to praising the concept and execution of this business of the future. Far more than just an advocate, Faith herself was on the board of directors beginning in June of 1997, as is reflected on page 52 of these NASDAQ IPO papers.

Launching with a reasonable 4.5 million shares at $10 a share in June 1999, eventually climbed to $14.69 a share. Unfortunately for investors, the stock had fallen to 16¢ a share by November 2000, when the venture closed its doors. It’s kind of hard to have a bright future, when the firm closes its doors less than two years after its IPO. (By the way, the URL,, has since come into the possession of an European credit card processing firm.)

All of this is not to say that one should disregard trends or necessarily those who claim to forecast them. However, in a business culture so focused upon cutting to the bottom line without necessarily reviewing the processes used to arrive at such conclusions, well it might be time to rethink, especially in regard to such forecasts.

When it comes to forecasting and implementing trends analysis, the key is to work with an informed marketing partner. Such a firm should have a proven track record of insights into your field and offer the transparency to show you how its conclusions are reached.

In other words, they should deliver the sausage and, if asked, have no hesitancy whatsoever when it comes to showing you how it was made. After all a streamlined decision making process is not necessarily a good one.


The Deviant Advantage lives up to its name.

deviants_advantage_225x342Why do so few of the cool kids stay cool? Why are so few innovators capable of bringing their vision to fruition?

How do even the most innovative firms, once established, find themselves scrambling to keep up in fields they once dominated?

These are the questions that The Deviant’s Advantage tries to address. Watts Wacker and Ryan Matthews present an interesting analysis and systematic picture of innovation as a force in society.

The authors present a linear progression. By this system, a successful concept or innovation progresses through the following stages:

• The Fringe – This is the land of the true pioneers, those who develop, create and invent on their own terms without worry about acceptance.

• The Edge – These are the ones who are the first to see the application and usefulness, but there is no concern about general appeal.

• The Realm of the Cool – The bandwagon is starting to quietly roll. Venture capitalists might begin to show up at your door.

• The Next Big Thing – People are now trying to climb on the speeding bandwagon. Venture capitalists have been replaced by large companies trying to buy you, compete with you and/or sue you.

• Social Convention or Cliché – The bandwagon has collapsed under the weight of its passengers. The once distinct innovation is just part of the way things work. At this point, the innovation is either an established icon or has fallen into cliché and oblivion.

In this way, the authors make a compelling case. To illustrate their points they use the areas of art, sex and language before getting to the more clear-cut business and marketing applications and examples.

In doing so, The Deviant’s Advantage manages something that to my knowledge is rather unique among business books. It is my sincere belief that The Deviant’s Advantage may be the first business book I’ve ever listened to that truly and fully merits an NC-17 rating.

While any book that discusses consumer behavior and psychology is likely to touch on issues of sex,The Deviant’s Advantage hits a new high… or should I say low. Its protracted descriptions of fringe and edge sexual activities do not bear repetition here.

Ironically, for all of its descriptions, The Deviant’s Advantage, much like Buyology, predicts a decline of sex as an effective marketing vehicle—although for very different reasons. Where as Buyology points to the likelihood of sex to actually distract the target market away from the product or service, The Deviant’s Advantage sees sex as becoming so visible and omnipresent as to fall into the category of white noise, where customers only pay any attention to their ideal type.

Hence, according to these scenarios, to attract any customer’s attention using sex, a marketer would have to invest in a nearly impossible degree of specificity to hit that potential customer’s type or else be completely ignored.  However, once the attention is won, there is no guarantee that the customer is paying attention to what’s actually being sold.

Also, much like BuyologyCrush ItThe New Rules of Marketing and PRThe Marketing Lessons of the Grateful Dead and Trust Agents, the real hero of the book is authenticity. It is authenticity that defines success versus failure.  All of these books agree that gradually losing authenticity through compromises and concessions to make something more marketable and broaden its appeal is far more likely to destroy success rather than create it.

In conclusion, The Deviant’s Advantage does an excellent job of presenting the role and challenges of futurists, cool hunters, trends spotters and the like in modern business. Its findings do not add up to a crystal ball by any means, but they do make for perhaps the most accurate and effective weather vane in modern business. After all, it never hurts to be the first to know the direction that the wind is blowing.

(This book review was originally posted on the website of my former employer, Creative Energy. Founded by Tony Treadway,  Sam Barnett, and Teresa Treadway, Creative Energy is a full service marketing agency and a leading national  authority on Business-to-Business Foodservice Marketing. )

Giving Creativity a Bad Name – A Review of Lehrer’s Imagine

book-articleInlineBack in 2012, I listened to Imagine: How Creativity Works. About a month later I learned just how CREATIVE Mr. Lehrer had been.

That Mr. Lehrer falsified quotes calls into question EVERYTHING he has done in this and his other books!  That these falsified quotes were attributed to Bob Dylan makes these actions grounds for questioning his judgement and possibly his sanity. The next question becomes if he got caught on this, so what else did he falsify in this work and others!

Part of what makes this all the more personally irksome, is I listened to the unabridged audiobook and bought a hard copy as a part of research I performed for an important paper. Now not only did I lose that initial investment of time and money, but I’ll lose still more time excising any mention of this book from my paper.

In short, if I want to read fiction I’ll read fiction and from now on when I want facts related to human creativity and cognition, I WON’T READ JONAH LEHRER!


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