I'm on leave (did I mention that) and have just finished Marketers are from Mars, Consumers are from New Jersey by Bob Hoffman, who many of you will know as Ad Contrarian from his popular blog.
It's a great book and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a bit of fun being poked at the marketing industry. Let's face it, we deserve it.
I gave it four out of five stars when I rated it on Amazon. I also properly giggled all the way through at Bob's way with words and sharp insight. I'm a big believer in the power of profanity.
Marketers are from Mars, Consumers are from New Jersey comes at a good time. In a world in which everyone is obsessing about digital, it's a healthy reminder that online advertising and social media are not the sole answer to every marketer's problems.
The book is full of examples of old school advertising versus social media strategy, and Bob shares plenty of data that will make you look at your analytics in a whole new light.
What he does particularly well is point out how far removed marketing has become from fulfilling a consumer need.
In short, customers don't want to be your friend and spend time chatting, they want to know what's in it for them when you try and get in front of them. And sometimes they just don't want to know at all.
This in itself is the perfect reason for buying the book. It takes you back to the basics in a hugely entertaining if occasionally slightly repetitive way.
Not so contrary, Mary
Despite its billing, Marketers are from Mars, Consumers are from New Jersey isn't that contrary as there's much to agree with. No one worth hiring would argue the fact that to sell units you need a decent product or service (thanks Bob).
But while bang on in many ways, it also misses - in that arrogant way only advertising gurus still lost in the halcyon days of the eighties and nineties can do, and I've worked with some of the best - the point that advertising is the same as digital; it works best as part of an integrated strategy.
The marketing role doesn't end because you've advertised and the company has picked up a sale. There's a further job to do in today's digital world. When a customer converts, we also want him to tell his peer network so they buy too.
Bob's cynicism about engagement is most likely heavy handed to suit his purpose but engagement isn't a dirty word and companies shouldn't be frightened of it.
Advertising will always be needed to generate awareness and a call to action, but social media can drive insights for your campaign. Digital marketing is the perfect way to keep your product or service at the front of customers' minds on an ongoing basis and more.
Buy it, you'll be glad you did
Ultimately Marketers are from Mars, Consumers are from New Jersey is fun and thought provoking and most people can only aspire to write as wittily and incisively as Hoffman. Plus he's right about a lot of things.
Creative flair is harder to find than you think and it's also undervalued.
Digital advertising doesn't really cut the mustard: there's a lot of wastage and it's often presented with smoke and mirrors.
Marketers obsess about millennials despite an ageing and more affluent grey market.
They also don't take their own advice and use social media to best effect for their own companies - 'apparently what's good for the goose is not good for the gander'.
If you want an enjoyable read that tells some proper home truths and reminds you why you got into PR and marketing - or you know a digital native who might benefit from a reality check - buy the book. You'll be glad you did.