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Inside Marketing: Snarketing 2.0 Book Review

January 2012 – Vol: 35 No. 1
by Mike Lawson

Ron Shevlin’s new book pulls no punches with today’s marketing ailments

Jan. 19, 2012

Credit Union Management’s online-only “Inside Marketing” column runs the third Thursday of the month.

I’d like to start off 2012 with a book review.
OK, some of you are hitting the snooze button already. Hold on, hold on; this is no ordinary book. It’s Snarketing 2.0: A Humorous Look at the World of Marketing in the Age of Social Media by Aite Group pull-no-punches Senior Analyst Ron Shevlin.

Shevlin’s Snarketing 2.0, which combines “snarky” and “marketing,” is a collection of marketing/social media posts from his popular blog where in most posts he teeters on biting flippancy to expose the droves of bad advice, poor research, and inferior analysis directed at marketers these days, only to conclude with calculated logic and common sense solutions. Credit union marketers reading this 123-page book are sure to garner some keen insight from Shevlin’s entertaining observations and sound advice – along with a few laughs.

Within the first few pages, you’ll discover Shevlin truly has a talent for making the reader think twice through his distinctive, humorous, yet spot on, view of today’s business and marketing world – which is still trying to find its footing in the ever-changing landscape of social media. His “finely-tuned BS detector” (as he calls it) consistently debunks many seemingly credible studies, articles and views by so-called experts. Check out the chapters: “The F-Word,” “Productivity Delusions,” “Which of These Fingers Should I Cut Off First,” and “Brand Flaws” as shining examples.

But Shevlin is not a marketing cynic. He does give credit where credit is due – and he gives proper recognition for a job well done. Snarketing 2.0 merely makes us aware of all the fraudulent data and lame ideas that overflow our email inboxes on a daily basis. Shevlin’s goal here is to really make us think about and question much of the information we receive.

Here’s a look at the first couple of chapters to give you an idea of what you’re in for...

Chapter 1: Snarketing Two Dot Oh No covers self-proclaimed experts “heralding the emergence of [Insert-your-field-here] 2.0” to make themselves sound more important or knowledgeable than they really are when discussing the next generation of something. Shevlin provides a snarky, yet fitting, example of what else could come from this ridiculous behavior: “Pretty soon we’ll be reading about Receptionist 2.0, where office receptionists will be creating social networks to engage the people sitting around in their waiting rooms.”

But Shevlin complements many of the chapters’ “snark” with a giant nugget of genuine, helpful advice. In this chapter, for instance, he advises readers to come up with a descriptive name for the changes they envision to help their audience understand what those changes are, instead of glomming onto something that sounds official but really isn’t. “Simply slapping a 2.0 label on it isn’t helpful,” he writes.

Chapter 2: Geniusosity is Shevlin’s homegrown term for people who drink their own Kool-Aid and are caught in “the act of being perceived as a thought leader in their field.” He brings up the new marketing field of “consultainers,” which, like “geniusosity,” is anybody claiming to be a management or marketing thought leader. Being a consultainer has a simple formula, Shevlin pens: Write a book, create a blog (or vice versa), and get hired to speak at corporate events. The barriers of entry are that low. He discusses a Harvard Business Review article on six steps to becoming a thought leader and, according to HBR’s criteria, Shevlin concludes that Snooki from MTV’s Jersey Shore can be considered a thought leader.

But once again, following his snarkiness, Shevlin saves the day with a practical pointer, telling readers that “clients and prospects want to do business with execution leaders, not thought leaders.” So true.

Like snarketing and geniusosity, Shevlin has created a number of very accurate acronyms and unique verbiage, such as:

  • SNITCH -- Social Networking Influencer, Thought Leader, and/or Consultant Hotshot;
  • SCAB -- Self-Certified Advisory Board member;
  • SMEGMAs -- Social Media Experts, Gurus, Mavens, and Aficionados;
  • SMAAP -- Social Media Accepted Accounting Principals;
  • GAAP -- Grievously Archaic Accounting Principals; and
  • SMubble -- Social Media bubble start-ups.

In chapters “Financial Diseases,” “Marketing Maladies,” and “Social Media Syndromes,” Shevlin has a bit of fun playing comedic corporate M.D., diagnosing common marketing ailments that afflict today’s organizations. Here are a few to chew on:

Delusions of brandeur
-- “A condition where marketers think that a branding effort will be the antidote to falling or stagnate sales.”

-- “Marketers display an intense dislike -- and even fear -- of trying to calculate the ROI on their marketing investments.”

Twitterhea -- “Most of us have a filter that prevents every thought that forms in our brain from coming out or our mouths. Twitterhea sufferers lack this filter.”

Redactile dysfunction -- “This condition afflicts those with no ability to edit or refine their social media communications. They just go on and on, and never know when to shut up.”

Setting aside his snark from time to time, Shevlin summons some seriously thought-provoking observations that are sure to stick in your brain for the foreseeable future:

  • Using social media for your organization -- “Having blind faith in social media is fine, but it’s no basis on which to make smart business decisions.”
  • Selling marketing ideas to the boss -- “What great persuaders and influencers do is tell stories. You need to learn how to tell stoROIes.”
  • ROI message -- “ROI doesn’t come from having a Facebook page that’s liked by a million people. ROI comes from the sales and behavioral changes that are influenced by a Facebook page that’s liked by a million people.”
  • Be a problem solver -- “Senior execs have problems and they love people who solve (or eliminate) those problems for them. Be one of those people.”

Other prized chapters include:

  • “Don’t Be a Piddlysh*t” (tips on presenting social media strategies to senior execs);
  • “A Letter to the Kardashian Sisters” (my personal favorite on the ill-fated Kardashian Kard);
  • “Personalized Billboards” (why “Ron Shevlin, your STD tests are in, contact us immediately. Lahey Clinic” won’t work on a billboard);
  • “Why People Refer” (very simple and, on another level, very complicated); and
  • “I’m Sorry for this Lousy Book” (the new marketing weapon -- sincerity).

Overall, Shevlin’s Snarketing 2.0 is balance of keen, entertaining observations loaded with educational and practical advice that doesn’t pull any punches. Shevlin’s honesty and periodic self-deprecation keep the content genuine and light -- but heavy on the thinking. No geniusosity here.

Mike Lawson, principal of the PR/marketing firm DML Communications, has two decades of journalism, public relations and marketing experience. His unique and robust knowledge allows him to meet the varied needs of editors, end-users and clients. Lawson's expertise enables him to enhance his clients' market exposure through media relations, social media tools, advertising efforts, target marketing strategies and more. He also speaks on PR, marketing and media issues to audiences nationwide. For more info, visit www.dmlcommunications.com.

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