May 21, 2013

We Wrote the Book On It!

Analytics Company Uses Book to Legitimize its Role

Sarah Allen-Short sees the value of writing a book.

In fact, the public relations director for the Ann Arbor-based customer experience analytics company Foresee can attest to the impact of a book firsthand.

Her company’s CEO, Larry Freed, was already  recognized and respected throughout the industry. But when he authored the book Managing Forward: How to Move from Measuring the Past to Managing
the Future, he became even more noted as a thought leader.

“We saw a need to put our world-view out there,” said Allen-Short. “It gives us credibility with a higher-level reader.”

Not to mention greater visibility in the marketplace. Freed has appeared on or been profiled in CNN, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Investor's Business Weekly, Internet Retailer, Multichannel Merchant, DM News, Computerworld, Federal Computer Week and Government Executive, among numerous others.

Allen-Short is quick to point out that having written a book is not the sole reason for Freed’s celebrity. But it has given him increased credibility in the marketplace.

“It’s a tool of legitimacy,” she said.

Beyond that, it offered Freed and Foresee a way to stand out from the crowd. “It’s one of the things we use to differentiate ourselves,” said Allen-Short.

And those inside the company weren’t the only ones who believed in the project. “Clients said there was a need for it,” she noted.

Allen-Short says a book has to stand on its own. “No one will read a book that’s a commercial,” she said.

But in the case of a company like Foresee, which has developed a means of measuring customer satisfaction as a return on investment, a book explaining the process and its value has, well, value.

Of course, the book is not the only way in which Freed and company tell the world about Foresee. “We have a lot of ways to distribute information,” says Allen-Short, pointing to blogs, marketing brochures, websites, etc.

But a book – now, that delivers something else entirely. Trustworthiness. Expertise. Gravitas.

“It’s just another level of credibility. It’s not a marketing piece, but it is a marketing too,” she said.

The company provides the book to those attending conferences, to customers, company CEOs – people that the company and its staff believe will benefit from the material.

The company’s first book was published independently. Its second will be published by Wiley, the company that produces the “Dummy” series, among others. But in a unique twist, the first chapters will be published ahead of the book as a special preview copy through the Jenkins Group.

May 9, 2013

Cookbook Fosters Growth at Culinary Shop

When should you write a book? Is it enough that people tell you that you should?

Not usually. But if enough people say it, and you have something to say, then maybe they’re right.

That was the case for Jim Milligan. The owner of Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars started his business in 2008 after retiring from 3M. Within just a short time, not only was the business taking off, his customers were suggesting that Milligan craft a cookbook.

Perhaps suggesting isn’t quite a strong enough word.

“From the minute we opened – in the beginning – customers said. ‘You should write a cookbook.’ So we finally did it,” said Milligan.

It wasn’t that easy. Milligan said the store had been so busy that he couldn’t spare the time the first three years the store was in business.

But Milligan finally decided it was time. So in 2011 he grabbed the bull by the horns, and working with local chefs, created In the Kitchen with Fustini’s.

It was an immediate hit. It was followed last year by How Fustini’s Do Fustini’s.

Milligan says the books have had a positive impact on his business.

“They’ve been very successful,” he said. “We’ve been able to bundle them (with vinegars and oils), it’s a great gift for the holidays.”

The first book featured recipes from area chefs whose restaurants were among those to use Fustini’s products. The second included recipes from staff and customers who submitted their favorites for inclusion.

Milligan says the books are a perfect complement to the store’s products.

“What we sell is a consumable. If you don’t give your customer new ways to use the product you won’t get re-buys,” he said.

“If they don’t know what to do with lavender-infused olive oil,

Ultimately, the bottom line is the bottom line. 

“For us it’s a really positive marketing tool,” said Milligan.

So much so that Milligan and company are in the midst of their third cookbook, with plans to continue at the pace of one each year.

The cookbooks are the perfect marketing piece for a business that relies on customers creating new ways to use the products that Milligan stocks in his store.

So if someone says “You oughta write a book,” maybe you should listen to them.