Book Review: Brains on Fire

I read a lot of books on marketing and PR, and most of them are forgettable. Sure, they hold my attention while I’m reading them, but afterward I’ve forgotten what I learned. That’s not the case with Brains on Fire, by Robbin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church and Spike Jones. This book gave me so many ideas to implement with my clients, it’ll be a while before my brain stops churning.

The subtitle of this book is “Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements.” I was skeptical, because word of mouth is something people will tell you you can create (like viral marketing) and you really can’t. It has to come from something so good, people can’t help but spread the word. But this book really gives insight into what makes some highly successful campaigns spread that way, and you can apply the tips to your own projects.

The book talks about sustainable movements, which the authors define as:

A sustainable movement happens when customers and employees share their passion for a business or cause and become a self-perpetuating force for excitement, ideas, communication, and growth.

So essentially if you want to create a sustainable movement, you need to center it around a group of people’s passions. Not your product. It has to stop being about you and your company and start being about what others want. It’s no longer you, the company, and them, the customers. It’s WE. By considering your customers and brand evangelists as part of your company and part of the process, you get terrific insight into what you can do to build a better brand. And by including your customers, you strengthen the bond that you share.

The book gives fantastic examples, like how scissor and paper maker Fiskars created a group dubbed The Fiskateers to share their passions for scrapbooking with others. They’re succeeding as a result.  The authors talk about how so many businesses are nothing but business, and fail to be personal and personable, and that’s to their detriment. When you take off your marketing and professional hat, you have the opportunity to have real conversations and be real to your customers. Again, that bond.

And whereas I tend to focus all my efforts in marketing online, this book stresses the importance of taking it offline too. Everyone connects to brands differently, and by combining offline events with online promotion and social media, you can really make inroads to your customers’ hearts.

There’s just too much in this book to cover in one post. I’ll write more on related topics in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a way to really make a splash and get customers for life through solid relationships, pick up this book today.