Book Review: The accidental creative: How to be brilliant at a moments notice

The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's NoticeThe Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice by Todd Henry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The accidental creative: how to be brilliant at a moment has a very misleading title. This book says it will help you unlock you latent creative abilities and create faster and more efficiently, but really what this book is about is how to organize your life and work. Once you really get into the book, you find that he is saying that to be creative, you must be organized, put in lots of prep time and set aside “idea time”. You must build meaningful relationships with others that may help you regularly with ideas and sharing. Your organization needs to include regular checkpoints to re-evaluate where you can adjust or cut projects and organize your work to avoid task switching and burnout.

The book was ok, I may try some of the ideas, but I felt like this was an overly structure life/work plan that will not work for many people. And it does not deliver on the promise of “how to be creative at a moment’s notice”.

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Book Review: At the Water’s Edge

At the Water's EdgeAt the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen, Maddie, a young beautiful society wife, supports her husband Ellis by traveling with him and his best friend Hank to Scotland during WWII. Ellis is determined to prove his courage to his father through finding proof of the Loch Ness monster. Taken away from luxury and society, Maddie learns more than she expected about herself and her friends.

I felt this book was not as good as her last book Like Water for Elephants, but it was still a good story. I felt did have some good surprises and some good characters. I like the change of character in Maddie, but was disappointed in how little she knew before the trip. Was she blind or just drunk? Overall, I would give this book a 4 out 5. This would be a great summer book, it has a little love, budding friendships, a ghost and some monsters.

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Book Review: The Big Data-Driven Business

The Big Data-Driven Business: How to Use Big Data to Win Customers, Beat Competitors, and Boost ProfitsThe Big Data-Driven Business: How to Use Big Data to Win Customers, Beat Competitors, and Boost Profits by Russell Glass

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Big Data-Driven Business by Russel Glass and Sean Callahan give their perspective and examples around big data. This book was loaded with information. Here was what I will take away from this book:

The most effective strategy to get a 360 view of what the customers and prospects are doing is for companies to have a fully integrated marketing stack: MAP, CRM, Data management and Analytics tools. This will help serve up relevant messages at the right time and anticipate needs and create products the customer base did not even know they wanted. Companies benefit most when they bring all the data into one central repository. Other technologies to consider for big data in marketing are DSP, DMP, programmatic media buying, dynamic display ads and predictive leads scoring.

Over time we have seen the buyer’s journey has dramatically changed. In 2012, Forrester Research showed that a buyer could be 90% though the buyers journey before they contact a vendor. Buyers once relied on sales people for information, but now leverage the Internet to learn about products, read reviews and gain peer opinion through social networks.
Companies need to find commercial insights that can help position them as a solution different from what the others in the market are offering and create content to educate the customer.

Through the marketing stack, marketing has access to the digital body language of customer & prospects. We can use retargeting or make specific offers based on this digital body language. Analyze your data to find what data points indicate that a prospect is ready to buy or a customer is ready to upgrade.

Driving leads that are based on data is central to the way the relationship between sales and marketing is constructed. Marketing should build extremely targeted and customized communication plans for sales. Marketing also needs should focus tactics to drive users through different stage of the funnel. At the top of the funnel, use display ads to drive brand awareness. In the mid-funnel, engage and educate users using display and social media ads that promoted tools such as ebooks, whitepaper & webinars. In the lower funnel, use retargeted display advertising to offer a free trial of services.

Break conversions into “soft conversions” such as blog post reads, watch videos or interacting with online content without supplying email and “hard conversions” where the user shares their email to get a white paper or other asset. Analyzing individual content pieces can provide insight into which ones are the most influential in driving prospects through the marketing funnel.

Leverage attribution models to determine the effectiveness of marketing tactics. Last click attribution tends give too much credit to the lower funnel without recognizing the efforts that got prospects into the funnel in the first place or nurturing and educating them to move them further into the funnel. It ignores the buyer’s journey. Rules-based attribution tries to assign a values to a particular tactic based on predetermined rules or weights. Algorithmic attribution assigns values to each interaction based statistical regression to find the correlation between marketing activities and sales data. These data driven models typically provide the most accurate picture.

For big data, we should always be collecting and measuring. The enhanced measurement capabilities of digital marketing and the ease of A/B testing in digital environments enables marketers to put more money behind effective programs. Digital programs can be measured in real time and should be monitored on a weekly, daily AND hourly basis.

Stay on top of your data and processes around that data – technology is inextricably linked with a marketing’s goals. Strategy and software are bound together. Conduct a data audit and strive to integrate data silos- a data audit can help identify what we have access to and give a better handle on what data we actually need to boost revenue and profits.

It is also important to leverage big data to challenge your business to deliver offerings that are cheaper and better. It is better to develop these new offerings yourself before others do. It is better to cannibalize yourself than be eaten by your competition. Think Blockbuster, Borders and Tower Records.

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Book Review: The Architect’s Apprentice

The Architect's ApprenticeThe Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Architecture’s Apprentice, the latest fiction novel by Elif Shafak, is story of a Jahan, who after arriving in Istanbul becomes the Sultan’s caretaker and trainer for a young white elephant, Chota. Through Chota, Jahan is able to befriend the princess and weaves wonderful tales for her about the elephant’s life. When war breaks out, Jahan and the Chota are sent to battle, as Jahan had told the elephant was breed to be a warrior. The two find much pleasure in assisting in the building of the bridge needed to cross the river and they gain the attention of the architect. After returning triumphant from war, Jahan becomes one of the architecture’s assistances.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads, and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story. This was a beautifully crafted story, with touching characters. Jahan is a trusting obedient student whose love runs deep for his master, his princess and his elephant.

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