Reading Fanatic ReviewsMarketing
Minimum Viable Marketing by Brandi C. Johnson
Minimum Viable Marketing*
Solid Marketing Information for Business Owners
In the currently wild-and-crazy publishing field, so often nonfiction books have little substance, seeming to be cobbled together from a variety of websites and other sources. I am pleased to say that this book is not one of that ilk. The author has worked in marketing at a corporate level for a long time and has been coaching private clients as well. She brings her expertise and knowledge to this book that does offer incredible value even if it is clearly meant to be a lead magnet for her mailing list and services. The book is just chock-full of information.
First she defines marketing and what she considers to be the critical components of it these days, namely your website, email marketing, and what she calls amplification channels (like social media and other platforms); she suggests picking two of the latter to focus on. The book covers a broad range of topics. Even a brief glimpse at the table of contents makes you think, how minimum is this, really? There are so many pieces to the puzzle, and I actually do believe marketing is overwhelming these days for a small business owner or entrepreneur who doesn’t have a dedicated marketing staff.
For some topics, she goes into greater detail than others. She relates a fair amount of information about email marketing throughout the book, including down-to-brass-tacks ideas for your welcome series of emails. But even on topics that she doesn’t discuss at length (like YouTube and Pinterest), she gives solid tips and strategies. There’s a lot of talk about branding, niches, and other hot buzzwords in marketing these days. I will have to admit that as a struggling entrepreneur, I wish modern marketing wasn’t quite so complicated as it seems to be in these days of human-to-human marketing. If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, you will most likely find many nuggets of wisdom in this book that will help you level up your marketing game.
What Is Wrong with Twitter by Kurt Seapoint
What is Wrong with Twitter*
If You’re Really into Twitter, Read this Book
I will admit that I find myself surprised at all this book contains. I have been a member of Twitter for a couple of years, but I’ve only used it sporadically. This book reveals a world of tweetdom that I had no idea existed. If you want to use the platform to your best advantage, you might find this book, which details both recent changes in Twitter and how to best leverage the platform while staying compliant and community friendly, a helpful and engrossing read.
Affiliate Marketing by Ankur Agarwal
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Bol.de
Bare Bones Blueprint for Affiliate Marketing
It’s kind of funny, but just the day before this book became available on my favorite book review site, I actually bought access to some software produced by the author. So he does know affiliate marketing from the inside because he actually creates products that affiliates can buy and use, sell, and license. Unfortunately, in this book, he has oversold in the subtitle what he’s going to share. As someone who has done affiliate marketing in the past and is beginning to increase her efforts again, I can tell you that what he offers in this book is a solid, though bare bones, way to approach affiliate marketing in 2019. Everything he talks about in this book is indeed things you need to think about currently if you want to become an affiliate: niches, branding, products, lead pages, bonuses, email lists, social and other marketing, et. But the amount of information he gives in this book is really only just enough to get you started. In some of the areas he discusses, there is not really enough for you to truly get started; it’s more like he’s letting you know the parameters of the game but not giving the game away completely. You would still need to do quite a bit of research to get yourself up and running as an affiliate. I would call this a blueprint for affiliate marketing, but nothing beyond that—not even the rough frame, so to speak, to carry the architect metaphor further. But if you are interested in affiliate marketing, this book will definitely give you insight into what you need to consider if you are thinking about venturing into affiliate marketing.
Dominating with Content Marketing by Michele Da Silva
Dominating with Content Marketing*
Some Information, No Dominance
I have been marketing various businesses for over 20 years, so I’m always interested in different books that come out about marketing. I know that content marketing is a buzz phrase that is used a lot right now, so I wanted to delve more deeply into the topic. I’m a big nonfiction reader, and I will admit that I hold nonfiction writers to a rather high standard. I believe that a nonfiction book needs to deliver on the promise of its title and subtitle. The author has given herself a rather large task with both, as the titular idea of dominating a particular field requires a very high level of expertise and work; the subtitle, too, promises a lot: that you will gather more leads and sales for less money.
Setting such a high bar for herself, the author did miss the mark with this book. You will definitely learn about content marketing as well as more specific information about six particular types. But I don’t get the sense from this book of how one can dominate with content marketing, or you can how you can actually get better results, leads, or make more sales. That connection wasn’t truly drawn in the book. I thought that some of the examples given of fictional people went on for too long and didn’t really add much to the information provided. The book is good with definitions and descriptions, but the tasks given in the chapters fall short of truly aiding the reader to create these pieces of content marketing because the details are too sketchy for someone who has never made them. In the introductory chapter on content marketing, the author talks about quite a few different types that she doesn’t address, some of which could have at least been explained briefly, with perhaps resources given if that interests you. The author also missed several different types of content marketing. At best, this book will whet your appetite to learn more about marketing-based content creation, but it won’t truly help you create it. Therefore, you cannot dominate your niche with the knowledge that you will glean from the contents of this book.
What Million-Dollar Brands Know by Lisa N. Alexander
Available at Amazon (eBook, paperback), Barnes & Noble (paperback), Thalia (paperback)
Free with Kindle Unlimited
What Million Dollar Businesses Know*
Mostly Meant for Medium- to Large-Size Businesses
Perhaps because I work with so many entrepreneurs in my own entrepreneurial business, I tend to think about creating personal, solopreneur brands. This book does have some information that will help very small or one-person businesses with their branding and marketing, but the bulk of the book is truly about marketing for medium- to large-sized businesses. There definitely are nuggets here for a business of any size, and certainly, small business owners will find ideas that they can use as they scale their business to include more people. I think the author depends too much upon the words of other people, making the book seem like it is not her own insights or conclusions but rather a compilation of others’ business and marketing ideas. At times, this makes the book not as readable as it could be; there are lots of quotes–some of the long–that aren’t really pulled together by a topic sentence or framed for easier digestion. I think ideas could have been summarized better. Some content seems like generic marketing ideas that you could find anywhere. I do like the million-dollar questions at the end of each chapter; they are meant to get you thinking and working with the ideas of the book.
Homepreneur by Amanda Brown
Good Information, But Subtitle Doesn’t Match the Content
This book has some reliable, straightforward information about becoming an entrepreneur who is based at home rather than having an office or a store to conduct business. I found the subtitle to be misleading, though, as it states that the book will be about running a home-based business for optimal work-life balance. Very little is actually said about work-life balance. There is a chapter that’s specifically about that, and within a few chapters, there are a few nuggets that could be seen to be about that topic. Really, the book is about setting up a successful home-based entrepreneurial business. I do think that informational nonfiction needs to be super clear and on point; the title and subtitle should actually reflect what is in the book. In this case, it does not, but the book does still have useful information. There were some issues with grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage, the one jumping out at me at first was a mix-up of waiver and waver.
The book is split into four parts, and the author uses a construction model as a framework for the book. So, the Blueprint section discusses being a home-based entrepreneur in general, the Foundation section goes over key points like finances and routines, the Build section looks at ideas about marketing in a networked world and coping with change, and finally, the Interior Design section has topics that cover mindset, isolation, and habits. All in all, this book is full of good information, but it does not adequately address what it is promised in the title and subtitle.
Copy Cocktail by Kerrie Legend
Available at Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Indigo (Chapters)
Solid Information but Bad ToC and Annoying Theme
As I have several businesses myself, I am definitely interested in creating better copy, so I was drawn to this book. The author does have enthusiasm for writing compelling copy. In this book, she discusses good and bad copy with a lot of examples, both made up and real world. If you’re relatively new to marketing, you will find a lot of useful information that will help you on your path. She even goes into a little about which English rules you can (and should) break and effective use of language in copy. There are lots of numbered lists to give you ideas from topics about figuring out your optimal customer to how to best target them, whether in a headline or on a sales page.
The biggest drawback to this book has nothing to do about its information but its organization. For whatever reason, the author has built up this whole book idea around alcohol and cocktails. I think the metaphor is stretched far too thin and actually becomes a bit tiresome. But it created a bigger problem. To me, the best non-fiction books are very transparent at several points, like the blurb and table of contents. The clear blurb gets me to buy, but well done table of contents not only preframes me for what I’m about to read but can also be the signposts needed when I want to refer back to a particular book topic. It is part of the old “tell him what you’re going to tell him” that is crucial for a non-fiction reader. Unfortunately, the author instead chose to make a table of contents that was more cutesy than practical, with chapter headings that tell you nothing about the content like Mocktail Style Writing and Magic Cocktail Syrups.
That said, I think the book has solid information that can help you with marketing and better copywriting. Just be sure to bookmark the pages that you might want to refer back to because the table of contents will not help you at all in that regard.
The Book Marketing Audit by Kilby Blades
The Book Marketing Audit*
Knowing Yourself and How to Tweak a Book Retail Page Key to Marketing Success
If you are an author or want to be one, this book gets you thinking about marketing in terms of your personality and author type, goals, existing books, and limits in the first section of the book. The next section goes over the most important pieces of your retail page of the book: your cover, title and subtitle reviews, blurbs, and pricing. The final section discusses which parts of the marketing plan you would like to do yourself and guidelines for working with others the things that you do not want or are unable to do.
I think this is a great book for any author or would-be author. The book is supportive and compassionate, and you can tell that the author has walked the talk. What do I mean by supportive? In that first section where she has you examined your goals and limitations, a key part of her strategy is forgiveness. She stresses that we should forgive ourselves for what we cannot or do not want to do in terms of our book marketing..
I’ve looked at a lot of book-marketing books as I have a few cookbook titles published myself, and I think this is a unique one amongst the thicket of book-marketing books out there. What makes it unique? It’s very practical. First, you look at yourself, your library, your goals, and what you do and don’t want to do to move your marketing plan forward. Once you understand yourself and your needs, you can start creating a marketing plan for your future. And then she goes into the details about the things that matter most on a retail book sale page, giving very practical advice about each component.
I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to other authors and would-be authors.
Advertising, Branding & Marketing by Dixie Maria Carlton
Advertising, Branding & Marketing*
May Help New Small Business Owner with Lack of Marketing Knowledge
This brief guide’s original subtitle suggests that it will help a small business owner make their branding, marketing, and advertising more effective. However, in my reading of it, I didn’t get the sense that this book was about effectiveness; the author must have agreed because the subtitle was changed to say that the book is a “quick and easy guide achieving great marketing outcomes in a small business.” I think both subtitles overstate what the book can offer. It is more like a rough sketch describing aspects of marketing including, but not limited to, branding and advertising. Some topics she touches on include targeting your market, positioning your business, customer service, networking, promotions, and online marketing. The author’s goal is to help you understand the basics of these so that you can grow your business through a good marketing plan.
Just to be clear, this guide is aimed at small business owners of actual brick-and-mortar establishments. While some information may be relevant to online businesses, it is mostly about local, walk-through-the-door businesses.
As I stated, this book is very short, just around 120 pages. So if you are looking for an in-depth discussion of the book’s topics, you won’t find that here. Within each topic, though, the author does provide definitions of key concepts as well as what the topic means to your business. Nearly every chapter could be a book itself. Some chapters are very short, positioning your business being only 5 pages and increasing your market share only 3!
Some ideas in this book seemed to harken back to business ideas that were more suited to business in the last millennium before the internet became such a prominent feature in our lives. I wonder at the efficacy print, TV, and radio advertising in the modern age where many get their news online and stream or read content that used to only be available through traditional media sources. I actually ran a brick-and-mortar small business in the early 2000s, and even back then, marketing and advertising were rapidly changing. While there is some mention of online marketing and social media in this book, it is a very small portion of the contents. I’m wondering at the relevance of some of what she talks about regarding advertising and promotion.
I think this book might be of value to a brick-and-mortar small business owner, or someone who is considering becoming one, so long as they understand its limitations in scope. The book gives a glimpse of critical factors that are important to the success of your business and does provide some idea of what needs to be done for each. Don’t expect to learn enough about, say, promotion or networking to fully execute a strategy. You will need to look elsewhere for more actionable ways to implement them.
From Idea to Author-ity by Dixie Maria Carlton
From Idea to Author-ity*
Thumbnail Sketch about How to Publish & Promote
As I have in the past published cookbooks as well as written some unpublished fiction and nonfiction books, I’m always interested in books that discuss writing, publishing, or book marketing. I was drawn to this title right away. The subtitle made me even more interested in reading the book, as I have been contemplating this exact idea: to use a non-fiction book to help promote my business.
The author starts at the beginning, first discussing writing your manuscripts and getting that first draft together. While eBooks are mentioned throughout, she emphasizes printed books, whether self-published or traditionally published. She has several chapters about getting your book ready for production, book options, and the publishing industry. The bulk of the book talks about how to market your book in a variety of ways, from publicity and distribution to online marketing options including social media. There’s a bonus chapter at the end about using WordPress as your website platform.
What I liked: Early on, she has a layout plan to help structure a non-fiction book. It is straightforward, but I could see how it could be useful in helping a writer organize thoughts before writing. She also breaks down the basic front and back matter components of a book; if you haven’t written one before, you may not have paid attention to these sections in the books you’ve read. In the book design chapter, I liked her bulleted list of things to think about to have a good internal format. The production and quoting lists are helpful. I thought the chapters on marketing gave a broad range of ideas.
What I didn’t like: Her discussion about getting a good editor, which happens in different parts of the book, wasn’t quite all it could have been. I am a freelance copyeditor and line editor myself, so I understand from a professional level that what she describes as editing may not be how a particular editor edits. There are levels and different types of editing, and the editors or proofreaders you may work with may not do what she says they do. Be prepared for variation in the real world.
The author does stress the importance of getting a book edited. I find it ironic, therefore, that this book has a significant amount of errors in grammar, punctuation, and formatting, particularly with commas. Specifically, they are often missing between independent clauses in a compound sentence as well as after the second-to-last verb phrase (predicate) before a coordinating conjunction in a sentence with more than three verb phrases. Some other punctuation in the book is unusual to American eyes, but I understand that she is Australian and believe these differences are okay by Aussie standards. However, I believe those comma rules I just mentioned hold true in either variant of English. I did receive an ARC of this book, so I may have read a pre-edited/proofed version. Some words were inconsistently spelled. Sometimes spaces were missing between words or were added before punctuation.
Each chapter is rather short and concise. If you’re looking for detailed information about how to put what she says into action, you won’t see as much of that here as you might like. She points you in the right direction (usually), but there are a lot of details you will have to figure out on your own. By the way, most of what she says could be applied to launching ANY book, not just non-fiction meant to help your business.