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December 18, 2014

Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (3rd Edition) by Bill Hunt and Mike Moran: Book Review of the Week-ish

December 18, 2014 | By | 3 Comments

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You know why Google names all its search engine updates — Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, etc. — after animals? Because keeping up with search engine marketing is a frickin’ zoo. Just when you think you’ve figured out how it all works, Google goes and changes the rules. Again.

Happily, Bill Hunt and Mike Moran’s newly updated “Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company’s Website (3rd Edition)” can really help you stay on top of not just the latest changes, but also the underlying logic behind what really makes pages perform well in search. This updated classic provides the right mix of search engine marketing fundamentals, strategic insights, and practical knowledge to help you think about how to make search work for your business no matter what changes Google makes.

If you’re just starting out with search engine marketing, you’ll appreciate the easy, conversational style and clear explanations Hunt and Moran offer, laying out a straightforward, yet scalable framework you can apply to your marketing activities. At the same time, those of you who’ve been around the block a time or two will find new insights into how to increase the value of your search marketing efforts for your business.

I’ve known Mike Moran for a number of years and consider him both a friend and mentor. The same traits that make him a great guy to know — intelligent, funny, and genuinely interested in helping people grow — shine through in this latest edition of “Search Engine Marketing, Inc.”

You can expect Google to continue to change its algorithms and enhance the features of its signature search engine all throughout 2015. But with knowledge as valuable as what’s offered in “Search Engine Marketing, Inc.” in your hands and in your head, you’ll be able to handle Google’s zoo next year and beyond. Grab a copy today.

Interested in learning more about search engine marketing, e-commerce, and digital marketing overall? Check out some of our past posts on those topics, including:

Plus, don’t miss these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

Finally, if you want to learn even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

Tim Peter

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March 27, 2014

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies (Book Review of the Week-ish)

March 27, 2014 | By | No Comments

I’ve spent the last few days working my way through the fascinating The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.

First, it’s worth pointing out that this is not — emphatically not — a marketing book, at least not in the sense most people think about marketing. Brynjolfsson and McAfee are big thinkers in the truest sense of the word, exploring the implications of increasingly cheap (if not free) technology on people’s everyday lives and livelihoods. They look deeply at the exponential growth of computing power and how that growth has shaped, and will continue to shape, our world.

Second, this is by no means “light reading.” But, it remains highly readable nonetheless. Brynjolfsson and McAfee tell a compelling story that ties together the work of many leading economists and economic thinkers. Their examination of the economic effects brought about by the computer revolution — the “Second Machine Age” of the book’s title — leaves few stones unturned in its examination of the rapidly shifting landscape brought about by unprecedented technological change.

Given that this isn’t a marketing book, why review it on a marketing and e-commerce blog? Simple, the authors’ comprehensive look at how digital products and services — apps, games, and media — create a “winner take all” environment matters to anyone working in those fields. Even more interesting, though, is their explanation in Chapter 10 of how ratings and review sites create similar effects for all products and services, digital or not. While I’ve long talked about the important role ratings and reviews play in digital marketing today, I’d never seen the long-term effects spelled out so clearly before. Incredibly useful stuff.

Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s world-view may appear utopian (or, at the very least, very optimistic) to some. But they don’t shirk the hard questions, such as the effects technological change has on the job market now and in the future. And this hard look at the world we live in matters. It offers tremendous insights into the challenges and fears your customers may face in the coming years as automation and a changing business environment affects not only consumers’ work opportunities, incomes, and purchasing power, but also their feelings, hopes, and dreams for their lives, and those of their children.

If marketing represents the act of creating customers, understanding their needs, and offering products and services that help them in their lives, then The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies represents an important book for all marketers — and for businesses generally. I highly recommend you pick up a print copy, or perhaps more appropriately given the subject, the Kindle edition. Great information, well presented, and well worth your time.

Interested in how these changes affect your customers in a more day-to-day sense? Then you may also enjoy these slides from another recent speaking engagement “Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results” here:

And, if you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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December 13, 2013

The 2013 Thinks Holiday Gift Guide

December 13, 2013 | By | No Comments

Holiday gift guideHo, ho, ho, Big Thinkers! There are only a couple of weeks left to shop for Christmas goodies. And if you’re still unsure what to get your favorite business person, here are my favorite items from this past year. Each of the items on this list represents something I bought this past year and found incredibly useful in my work or personal life. I suspect your gift recipients will, too.

We’ve got three categories of gifts, featuring Business Books, Travel Accessories, and Software Tools, so check out all three for a variety of gift-giving ideas.

Full disclosure: I’m an Amazon affiliate, but otherwise receive no compensation for any of the products listed here; I’ve bought everything here with my own money over the last 12 months and highly recommend them.

Anyway, on with the list:

3 Business Books Worth Reading

“Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works” by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin is one of the best business books of the year. Lafley’s the CEO of Proctor & Gamble, while Martin’s the Dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Together they may have forgotten more about strategy than many will ever learn. The core of the book is a strategic framework that will work for almost any business. Solid, real-world examples help make this immediately applicable. It’s not the lightest read you’ll look at this holiday season. But it’s well worth the effort. Great stuff.
I wrote a full review of Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s “Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy” right around when it first came out. So, I won’t repeat myself much here. But this is an excellent read and a worthwhile addition to anyone’s business bookshelf.
I reviewed Chip and Dan Heath’s “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard” a few years ago and named their extraordinary Made to Stick one of the 12 most important business books of the last decade way back in 2007. (In fact, almost anything from that list would make a great gift, too). Their latest effort, “Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work” is a worthy successor to their earlier books and offers fantastic ideas for how to improve your decision-making process. Highly recommended.

3 Must-Have Travel Accessories

My favorite briefcase comes from Thule. Their EnRoute Strut Daypack carries both a 15″ laptop and a 10″ tablet computer (though I carry an iPad mini) in a comfortable, lightweight package that fits in any plane overhead or, when in a pinch, under the seat of you. Given that I’m fairly long-legged, I really appreciate a compact bag that still leaves room for my feet when tucked under the seat in front of me. A great buy.
Want to listen to music while in your hotel room or working out on your back deck? Try the JBL Flip Wireless Bluetooth Speaker. It connects via Bluetooth to your iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Android device and offers really great sound quality, with plenty of bass. I’m a big fan.
Have your loved ones ever had the battery go dead on their iPhone, iPad, or Android phone while traveling and not have access to a power outlet? Yes, I hate those people who monopolize the outlets, too. But, while we’re all waiting for airports and Starbuck’s to offer more outlets, the Anker® 2nd Gen Astro3 12000mAh Portable Charger Backup External Battery can recharge up to 3 devices simultaneously and carries enough juice to recharge a single device multiple times. And, it weighs less than two-thirds of a pound, so it’s easy to travel with. Very, very useful gift. In fact, I’d be happy to get another in my stocking this year.

3 Awesome Software Tools

EvernoteYes, Evernote is free. But you can buy a Premium edition of the software for only $5.00 monthly or $45.00 per year. Premium provides additional storage space, offline access to all notebooks on all devices, collaboration tools, and improved search features. I use Evernote for everything across my Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Nexus 4 (yes, I may need help on the gadget front), and love how productive the Premium edition makes me. Your favorite business-person will love this, too.
Mp3 cloudplayer logo600pxAmazon Cloud Player is another “freemium” service. The company will store any MP3 purchases you make at Amazon and up to 250 songs from other sources for free. But, for $24.99 per year, you can upload up to 250,000 songs (!). But that’s not the cool part. The cool part is that Amazon makes its player app available for, brace yourself: Macs, PC’s, iPhones, iPods, iPads, Android phones, set-top boxes from Sonos, Samsung, and Roku, and in cars from Ford, BMW, and Mini. Whew. So, you no longer have to worry about the amount of storage on whatever device(s) you prefer. Just connect to the cloud and listen for days. I am a huge fan.
Long-time readers of the blog (or those who’ve read my Guide to Small Business Blogging) know how big a fan I am of MarsEdit from Red Sweater Software. It’s a phenomenal tool for bloggers, regardless of your platform. It continually wins awards as the best blogging tool. And it ought to continue. No matter whether your favorite blogger uses WordPress, Squarespace, Tumblr, Blogger or about a dozen other platforms, MarsEdit works as an offline/online editor extraordinaire. And, yes, I wrote this very gift guide post using nothing but MarsEdit. Very, very cool tool. (Mac-only)

I hope these gift ideas give you some direction for your favorite folks this holiday season. And I hope you and your favorite folks have a happy, healthy, and wholly wonderful holiday!

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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October 4, 2013

The Master Switch by Tim Wu (Book Review of the Week-ish)

October 4, 2013 | By | No Comments

Columbia professor and policy advocate Tim Wu wants you to know what you’re up against. And with “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires”—his excellent, important book covering corporate control of information—Wu outlines how governments and conglomerates collaborate to enact gates and tolls around any information channel, from the age of telegraphs through to the current Information Superhighway that is the Internet.

So why am I reviewing a a book from 2011? And what makes this title that’s been sitting on my Kindle for over a year worth reading today?

Lots.

Beginning with the economist Joseph Schumpeter’s notion of creative destruction, Wu outlines a clear and compelling outline of how information empires—think businesses like AT&T, Hollywood film studios, and Google—eventually close previously “open” networks to increase profits and constrain competition.

Now, first, remember that I’m a little conflicted here. My own business depends on intellectual property and extracting a fee from information. But it’s all sorts of hubris for me to suggest I’m the type of business Wu worries about. In fact, Wu seems somewhat disinterested in who wins or loses in business terms.

Instead, Wu has bigger fish to fry. As he asserts after a few dozen pages of setup,

“In an information industry, the cost of monopoly must not be measured in dollars alone, but also in its effect on the economy of ideas and images, the restraint of which can ultimately amount to censorship.”

What appears at first a history of business and economic principles quickly underscores the real cost to consumers: the loss of freedoms, in particular, the freedom of speech. Not surprising, really, when you consider Wu coined the term “net neutrality.”

Recent signs suggest steps towards closing the open Internet in ways very likely to keep Wu up at night: the Washington Post recently accused Comcast of “…acting more and more like a monopolist” in how it prices access to the Web, while the W3C, the body controlling the open standards behind the World Wide Web, is planning to include digital rights management (DRM) technologies in its latest draft specifications. And I’m not going anywhere near the Edward Snowden/NSA stuff here, but draw your own conclusions.

“The Master Switch” is not a light, breezy read. But it’s an important one nonetheless. If your business depends on information and understanding how gatekeepers emerge between you and your customers (spoiler alert: it does), it’s well worth a read. And if your ability to speak out against injustice, intolerance, or oppression depends upon those same gatekeepers (again, it does), the book takes on added importance. Give it a look when you get the chance. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past book reviews, including:

Tim Peter

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September 26, 2013

The Age of Context by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel (Book Review of the Week-ish)

September 26, 2013 | By | No Comments

“The future is already here; it’s just not evenly distributed.” William Gibson

So, I’m back with another (long overdue) installment of the Tim Peter Thinks “Book Review of the Week-ish.” But I couldn’t have picked a better book to bring back the feature with than Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s “Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy,” a fantastic book that highlights what the future will look like and, in many ways, what today already does.

Because, as the William Gibson quote I highlight above so rightly points out, the future already exists. So much of what we’ll take for granted then, someday, exists now, today. Maybe the future exists in only a nascent form. But Scoble and Israel point clearly at what we should expect it to look like.

In case you doubt their ability to do this, remember that Scoble and Israel showed what the future of marketing would look like in their seminal work “Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers,” a book written in 2004 that got many things right about our current, content marketing-focused present.

If the book has any flaw, it’s that it’s unapologetically optimistic.

Me? I don’t mind.

But the authors’ enthusiasm for living a public life (in particular Scoble), opens the pair up to attacks of lacking seriousness or critical thinking. In fact, the authors avoid in-depth discussion of recent privacy issues highlighted during the recent NSA/Edward Snowden/Bradley Manning-type scandals until Chapter 12 of the book and even then, gloss over the topic a little more lightly that expected. It’s an unfortunate choice given how passionately many people feel about the issue.

Still, their reticence to tackle so weighty a topic in what is, ostensibly, a business-focused book is understandable (Full disclosure: I have avoided discussing the same topics at any length in my blog posts and podcasts, too).

However, for business leaders and (business book readers), “Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy” is required reading. By basing their observations on what exists today, profiling those pushing to make a given future happen—in effect, predicting the present more than the future—Scoble and Israel paint a compelling view of the what your future will look like. I highly recommend giving it a look. You just might like where we’re heading. And, if you don’t, you’ll at least know what to expect.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past book reviews, including: