• August 1, 2007
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Required Reading: You Just Got Punk'd!

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Move over, Ashton Kutcher: There are some new punks in town. In Punk Marketing, authors Richard Laermer and Mark Simmons take an irreverent look at the massive change in the relationship between sellers and buyers. They demonstrate that to survive in business you need a revolutionary approach, because the traditional divisions between commerce, content, and consumers are blurring ever more rapidly. CRM
's Colin Beasty spoke with Laermer. CRM magazine: You say the relationship between consumers and brands has gone through a seismic shift over the past few years. What changes have taken place? Richard Laermer: We noticed a trend since the restart of the economy in 2002; nearly every marketer we talked to said the same thing: "I can't imagine what I'm doing is really working. We're doing what we're doing because we were told to do it." From those discussions I realized that since cell phones, the Internet, social networking, blogs, etc., have gone into mainstream use, consumers are controlling every single aspect of how they're sold to, and marketers don't understand how to cope with that. Today, a company would be silly to tell a consumer that they're the cheapest or the coolest. The consumer already knows that. Marketers need to learn how to operate in an environment where they don't have control. CRM: What problems are marketers facing in terms of dealing with these new consumer technologies, like blogging and the Internet, and what advice could you offer? Laermer: Advertisers have to realize that just because an innovative kind of advertisement or marketing campaign on the Internet works for one company, that doesn't mean it's going to work for you. These days, thanks to an equivalent consumer playing field, advertisers are free to try anything with these new technologies because it's pioneering. In an age of digital recorders, branded entertainment, cell-phone TV, and online games, a coherent approach to marketing has never been more vital, and that approach can't be about the product or the price, it has to bash people over the head in a way where they say, "I didn't know that about your company." CRM: What will readers find most interesting about your book? Laermer: The one thing that gets the most attention is the message in this book about participation between companies and consumers. Marketing is a two-way highway, not a one-way road. The second thing, and the most controversial part of the book, is the chapter called The Captive Consumer, which talks about how most companies today don't care about their current customers; they spend all their time trying to acquire new ones. That's a huge mistake on the part of corporate America. Other Page-Turners:
  • According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, more than 70 percent of all businesses are small businesses. Nearly all of them face the same problem: getting their products in front of the paying customer. Operators Are Standing By! explains how to reach these customers. Author Michael Planit has filled his book with practical advice and inspirational success stories, as well as sample legal forms, contracts, order forms, and templates for contacting infomercial and television broadcasters.
  • Over the next few decades, two-thirds of companies will face the biggest challenge of their corporate lives: redefining their core business to stay competitive. Buffeted by ever-stiffening competition, shifting global dynamics, and accelerating change, companies face an increasingly uncertain future. In Unstoppable: Finding Hidden Assets to Renew the Core and Fuel Profitable Growth, author Chris Zook shows how to look deep within your firm to find undervalued, unrecognized, or underutilized assets--business platforms, customer insights, capabilities--that can serve as new foundations for sustainable growth.
  • The time pressures today on salespeople and clients are out of control. In a misguided effort to save their prospects' time, salespeople take on more of the work and shoulder more of the burden themselves. In Close Like the Pros: Replace Worn-Out Tactics with the Powerful Strategy of Interactive Selling, author Steve Marx doesn't offer just another rehash of sales basics; he provides B2B salespeople with lessons and tools to activate the buying process, and invest more time with prospects likely to buy and less with those who aren't.
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