Three years ago, Blendtec  CEO Tom Dickinson came up with a simple but highly effective means of advertising his product online to millions of people without spending millions of dollars. The secret formula: Household Object + High-end Blender = Supreme Entertainment for the Folks Online.
In Dickinson’s series of YouTube videos, the awkwardly charismatic, lab-coat-clad blenderpreneur drops everything from Silly Putty  to iPhones  into his blenders, all in the name of answering the question “Will It Blend?” Sound-tracked by retro ‘70s game show music, the videos are both hilarious and oddly captivating.
It seems silly at first, but consider this: Dickinson’s videos have received more than 164 million views on YouTube (this doesn’t include the probably zillions of other places they have appeared). The above iPad video alone has gotten more than 11 million views. Add to that the fact that YouTube is a completely free-to-use, virally enhanced video platform, and, well, you do the math.
For Columbia Business School branding expert David Rogers , Dickinson is a perfect example of an entrepreneur who has figured out what it takes to reach customers in an increasingly noisy world. Whether it’s texting, Facebooking, tweeting, Skyping, Yelping … (the list goes on ad inifinitum), people are linked in virtually constant interaction. As the distance between us decreases, our relationships to each other change, and so do our behaviors as consumers. For businesses, this is huge.
In his new book, The Network Is Your Customer: Five Strategies to Thrive in a Digital Age , Rogers examines how digital technologies have made us more connected and how organizations need to create new strategies that are designed not for individual customers, but for customer networks.
Rogers gives a free presentation at the Central Library on Thursday, June 30, at 6:30 p.m. It’s don’t-miss for anyone who wants actionable information on how to build relationships with customers in the digital age. Please RSVP  if you wish to attend.
The Kansas City Public Library has kept up with new trends in marketing, branding, and customer service, too. In addition to Rogers’ book (which is currently on order at the Library) here are a dozen more books that can help you get ahead in the global village. The book descriptions were provided by Syndetic Solutions .
Booklist: Branding, Marketing, and Managing Customers in the Digital Age
Accidental Branding: How Ordinary People Build Extraordinary Brands , David Vinjamuri
Every year, thousands of new businesses are started by people with no knowledge of modern marketing at all – and some of them survive and thrive. Accidental Branding tells the story of seven "accidental" brands and how their founders beat bigger competitors by breaking the standard rules of marketing. Successful brands like Burt's Bees, J. Peterman, and Clif Bar reveal how doing things differently can lead to big-time success. If you're an entrepreneur or a marketer, this guide will show you how to build stronger brands.
Brand Resilience: Managing Risk and Recovery in a High-speed World , Jonathan R. Copulsky
As the recent Toyota and Tiger Woods scandals illustrate, brand reputation is more precarious than ever before. True and false information spreads like wildfire in the vast and interconnected social media landscape and even the most venerable brands can be leveled in a flash by disgruntled customers, competing companies, even internal sources. Here, veteran marketing executive Jonathan Copulsky shows companies and individuals how to play brand defense in the 21st century.
Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web , Brian Solis
Written in a clear and persuasive style, this book teaches the reader about using social media in business, the different media and how each connects with people, and how marketers can capture the personal connections possible through social media to create a brand people love. Solis is very good at giving readers direction on the ways to present themselves and their company so the two merge and foster the sense of the human relationship the company wishes to build with its customers.
Everywhere: Comprehensive Digital Business Strategy for the Social Media Era , Larry Weber
Although its impact was first felt in the marketing department, the social web is spreading across all business functions, impacting the way they communicate, operate, organize, and create value. A comprehensive digital strategy is essential for businesses hoping to build this new form of competitive advantage. Everywhere explains how to put your digital strategy at the center of how your organization communicates, operates, organizes itself, and creates value.
Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (and Other Social Networks),  Dave Kerpen
A friend’s recommendation is more powerful than any advertisement. In the world of Facebook, Twitter, and beyond, that recommendation can travel farther and faster than ever before. Likeable Social Media helps you harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing to transform your business. Listen to your customers and prospects. Deliver value, excitement, and surprise. And most important, learn how to truly engage your customers and help them spread the word.
The Old Rules of Marketing Are Dead: 6 New Rules to Reinvent Your Brand & Reignite Your Business , Timothy Pearson
Revolutionary new technologies developed over the past decade have completely changed the way humans communicate and transact business. Not exactly late-breaking news for most people of the world ... except for those who are supposed to be marketing to them. While consumers, customers, and marketplaces have adapted to these new realities, most marketers have not. Renowned marketing expert Tim Pearson explains why you need to sever your ties to the comfortable old ways of marketing--and bring your company's marketing into the 21st century.
The On-Demand Brand: 10 Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World , Rick Mathieson
Mathieson, a consultant on marketing in the digital age, presents 10 rules for building on-demand brand experiences for consumers in the personalizable, shareable digital universe of social networking, viral videos, and virtual worlds. Some of the rules involve overall strategies, while others address the best ways to capitalize on specific tactics, channels, or platforms.
The Thank You Economy , Gary Vaynerchuk
The Internet, where the “thank you economy” was born, has given consumers back their voice, and the tremendous power of their opinions via social media means that companies and brands have to compete on a whole different level than they used to. Gone are the days when a blizzard of marketing dollars could be used to overwhelm the airwaves, shut out the competition, and grab customer awareness. Now customers' demands for authenticity, originality, creativity, honesty, and good intent have made it necessary for companies and brands to revert to a level of customer service rarely seen since our great-grandparents' day, when business owners often knew their customers personally, and gave them individual attention.
The Third Screen: Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile , Chuck Martin
The television allowed companies to send ads directly to consumers' living rooms, and the computer allowed them to start interacting with their customers. The third screen -- the mobile device -- changes the game in an even more revolutionary way. Author Chuck Martin explains how in this age of the smartphone (and now the tablet), the nature of marketing is changing, creating a new system of participatory advertising in which untethered customers and forward-thinking companies must exchange valuable information within the cloud.
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us , Seth Godin
According to Godin, tribes are groups of people aligned around an idea, connected to a leader and to each other. Tribes make our world work, and always have. The new opportunity is that it's easier than ever to find, organize, and lead a tribe. The web has enabled an explosion of all kinds of tribes – and created shortage of people to lead them. This is the growth industry of our time. Tribes will help you understand exactly what's at stake, and why you can and should lead a tribe of your own.
What Would Google Do , Jeff Jarvis
Jarvis, columnist and blogger about media, presents his ideas for surviving and prospering in the Internet age, with its new set of rules for emerging technologies as well as industries such as retail, manufacturing, and service. We learn that customers are now in charge, people anywhere can find each other and join forces to support a company's efforts or oppose them, life and business are more public, conversation has replaced marketing, and openness is the key to success.
Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to Do About It , Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson
In an era of economic stress, rapid change, and social networking, customers are distracted, disgruntled, and harder to please than ever. Picky, fickle, vocal, wired, and vain, they have very little tolerance for error and are ready to spread the word quickly over the internet when things go wrong. If a company’s customer service doesn’t adapt to these new conditions, they will get burned by bloggers and viral videos that can severely damage their reputation. This book describes exactly what today’s customers expect and how to give it to them. In Wired and Dangerous, Bell and Patterson provide a tested formula for restoring balance to the customer relationship by establishing what they call Service Calm.
What are your favorite books about new-school marketing and social media? Or, for that matter, got any all-time classics in your field? Share your picks in the comments, and join us on Thursday, June 30 , for a conversation with David Rogers that will surely change the way you think about doing business.
-- Jason Harper