Author: John M. Fox
The following interview was conducted by: NORM GOLDMAN: Editor of Bookpleasures &CLICK TO VIEW Norm Goldman's Reviews
To Read Norm's Review of the Book CLICK HERE
Today, Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest, John M. Fox author of Marketing Playbook: The Manual for Growing Organizations 102 of the Best Marketing Plays to Get Your Sales Team Across the Goal Line.
Good day John and thank you for agreeing to participate in our interview.
Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.
Norm, thanks for the opportunity to be here today. I was fast-tracked by Intel, my first employer in 1979. Within four years I was named one of twenty-two Distinguished Employees. It was there that I picked up the bug for start-ups—something I’ve never been able to let go of. In late ‘83, I joined U.S. Robotics as their 72nd employee and directed sales and marketing. Since USR, I’ve had the opportunity to work for and with more than two-hundred CEOs and their entrepreneurial ventures including telecom equipment maker, Tellabs, international PC training franchisor, Productivity Point, e-commerce shopping cart inventor, Mercantec as well as the re-launch of Chicago’s Second City and University of Illinois’ MBA executive program.
Even though I am a graduate computer science engineer and have my MBA in marketing, nothing comes close to the education I’ve received at the College of Hard Knocks. I guess you could say I’m the Val Victorian of that institution. It’s a place where you learn more from your mistakes than by success—if you know what I mean.
Throughout my career, I’ve been involved in practically all aspects of sales and marketing. I’ve seen what can happen when marketing does its job to properly equip the sales team. I’ve also experienced pure failure when marketing and sales couldn’t get on the same page.
How did you come up with ideas for what you write? What methods do you use to flesh out your idea to determine if it’s salable?
You know, Norm, I didn’t set out to write a book. I was merely responding to my customers’ problems. After a few years, I could see that all of my customers were facing the same issues. They wanted new ideas that would give their salespeople an edge. But ideas, alone, weren’t enough. They needed to get them implemented—most times on a limited budget. I found myself having to show them how they could save money by doing much of the labor themselves. My advice came in an easy-to-follow format, which is the Playbook-style you see in my book.
What challenges or obstacles did you encounter while writing your book? How did you overcome these challenges?
Since I didn’t set out to publish a book, I was more than halfway done when I even had a thought about contacting a real publisher. I didn’t realize the incredible length of time it takes to introduce a new title into book distribution. I’m sure I sounded like a real newbie when I got my first offer from a publisher—that they would have my book published by April. That was faster than I could have published it myself. It was great news until my rep told me he meant April of the following year, fifteen months into the future! It was then that I decided to self-publish. Financing the printing was clearly my biggest obstacle. If I hadn’t received so many incredible endorsements from people like Seth Godin, Rieva Lesonsky, Al Ries, Ben McConnell and Guy Kawasaki I probably would have given up.
What are the most important qualities of successful leader?
Leadership boils down to setting a course and getting everyone to follow you. Saying that, you have to be credible, candid, and flexible. I loved reading about the early mariners who sailed only with a sextant. They called it “flexible navigation.” A storm could blow up and take them way off course—and yet—by being flexible, they’d reach their destination.
How have you used the Internet to boost your career?
Everything I do leverages the Internet. I gathered the majority of my book research online. The photos I used came through two online resources. Virtually all of my endorsements came to me via the net. I sell my books online on my own site and on Amazon. Journalists like you, Norm, reach me through the Internet. I even moved my phone system to VO/IP a few months ago.
Any unique ways you'll be marketing your book that is different from how others authors market their books?
I am doing all of the usual marketing activities such as speaking engagements, seminars, and Google AdWords. One thing that I am doing that is very unique is selling my books to the companies I included in my book—the Vendor References. These firms are utilizing my endorsement of their services as a form of sales collateral.
As there does not seem to be any authoritative standards that exist for marketing book authors or publishers, how do you know that a marketing book is up to par? How do you check out the competence of the author?
I have two standards for marketing books. First, I look for real-world experience (street-smarts). If the author has been on the front lines and not afraid to admit their mistakes, I’m probably a buyer. On the other hand, if they’ve only advised, coached and “read about it in school,” I won’t give it a second look. Second, I look for “hows” and “whys” and not so much “what.” There are thousands of books that tell you what you should be doing. For example, “Lose weight? Here’s what you should do: Eat less, etc.” I want to know how do I accomplish it and behind that, why.
I think that’s the reason so many people have enjoyed my book. I’m that guy who you ask for the time of day and I tell you how to build a watch. For marketing, I tell you how to build it and why.
Up to now, as a business person, what was the biggest reward of your life?
As you might guess, my biggest reward was getting my book published. It literally changed my life. And it’s made a world of difference to my consulting practice. When someone wants to know more about me and how I think, I mail them one pound six ounces of credibility.
Which business people and business books have influenced you?
I’ve been most influenced by three businessmen. The first two were my managers at Intel: Bill Roach and Frank Gill. They are responsible for making a successful salesperson out of an engineer. The other person was Casey Cowell, one of the founders of U.S. Robotics. He showed me how to think like an entrepreneur and how to get marketing aligned with sales.
My favorite business books are also those I refer to most often. Here’s my top ten list:
All Marketers are Liars, Seth Godin
Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki
Free Prize Inside, Seth Godin
22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Al Ries
Guerrilla Marketing [anything], Jay Conrad Levinson
Creating Customer Evangelists, Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba
The E-Myth, Michel Gerber
Advertising Secrets of the Written Word, Joseph Sugarman
I Hate Selling, Allan Boress
Future Perfect, Stanley Davis
Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?
The only thing that I’d want to add is my encouragement to your readers to go for it and not to sit on the sidelines wondering, “what if?” I’ve gotten to work with so many people who took a deep breath and stepped out in faith. Some of them created non-profits and associations, some of them started businesses. The only thing that separated them from the rest of the crowd was their belief in their dream. Even though most of them did not experience financial success, they know they did something many will not even think about. They will measure their success in terms other than dollars and cents.
Well, you can see I’m a real fan of the entrepreneurial spirit. I’ll sign off now with that bit of encouragement.
Thanks once again John and good luck in all of your future endeavors.