Alignment by Rod Sloane

alignment rod sloane

Rod is a speaker on marketing and sales alignment. It’s an area of emerging importance in larger organisations. He wanted a book that positioned his expertise clearly in that area. His previous book ‘No Bull Marketing’ was aimed at small business so wasn’t a tool he could use to promote his corporate offering. Before we got together, Rod had made the unusual and brave decision of actually writing a book and then jettisoning it when he realised it wasn’t going to do the job. So when we started on the project together we really id begin again with a blank page with no attempt to shoehorn the previous material into it and use just because it was there.

The point we started from was clear: what was the purpose of the book. Everything must come from that. If it doesn’t and you’ just want a book’ – that’s vanity publishing. It’ll briefly feed your ego but won’t promote your expertise or make any sales.

The sole purpose of this new book was to promote Rod as THE speaker on the topic, to open door to the decision makers and to tip the decision of who to book for training and conference speaking opportunities in his favour.

Alignment Rod Sloane

So how did we do it? I normally ask clients to bring along a selection of books they admire from their own collection. It helps us gauge what works and what doesn’t, what the client likes, as well as trends in various genres. Rod didn’t bring four or five books. He brought fifty. We played a simple game wit them. I asked him to assume he had never read any of the books. I asked him to assume he had never heard of any of the authors of the books. I asked him to assume that each book represented a speaker who was pitching to speak at an event he was organising (where the actually topic wasn’t relevant). Then I asked him to decide just by picking up and putting down each book, which ones he would be interested in booking. Clearly we were judging each book on the look and feel they gave off in just two to three seconds.

We got through the fifty books very, very quickly. Rod did what almost everyone does in these situations. He looked at the cover. He turned the book over and looked at the back cover. Then he flicked through the pages from back to front. He then put the book down making comments such as, “too boring”, “old hat”, “style over substance”, “sloppy”, “tedious”. What he was doing, is what most people do: judge. We make judgements all the time, subconsciously and intuitively. He was making the (false) assumption that the book in his hands directly represented the performance and quality of the author and their possible talk. Actually, it’s usually quite an accurate indicator, but that’s not the point here. It’s the assumption that’s important here. Rod assumed that cramped info and difficult to understand diagrams in the book meant hard to understand Powerpoint slides in a presentation. He assumed that a book full of waffle represented a speaker full of waffle. Out of the fifty books we were left with two that he would book for his imaginary event. Of those two we chose one that had an approach suitable for our needs. We then dissected that book to discover why it had worked and built as many of those learnings into our new book.

Rod uses the book as a marketing tool. He sends it to some of his top prospects. The idea works – the right people are impressed. The easy to digest nature, the imagery and the small size have all been appreciated by the top executives that Rod is aiming his material at. It’s resulted in some high level bookings that he would not have been able to get had the book not been there to open the door.

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