ROAR!: A book review by Bob Morris

ROAR! Get Heard in the Sales and Marketing Jungle
Kevin Daum with Daniel A. Turner
John Wiley & Sons (2010)

How to “break through all that noise and visual stimulation to get to the core of the customer”

What we have here is another business fable, a very popular sub-genre for business book authors in recent years. In those in which their authors rely on anthropomorphism and personification, cheese keeps being moved mysteriously, icebergs are melting, and squirrels are reluctant to trust their acorns to a storage company. In others in which the focus is on human characters, the best of them include those written by Eliyahu Goldratt and his co-authors (e.g. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement) and those written by Patrick Lencioni (e.g. Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors). Kevin Daum wrote ROAR! with Daniel A. Turner and, in my opinion, the book it most resembles is Matthew May’s The Shibumi Strategy: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change.

The situation that Daum introduces is a familiar one to most business executives: Ryan Miller is the VP of sales and marketing for a well-established furniture company (Wolfson) that was previously thriving and is now undergoing a very tough period in a marketplace that is becoming increasingly ferocious. How to save the company and probably his job? The answer is suggested (not provided) by a high school classmate whom he unexpectedly encounters. Lenny Goldstein is founder and CEO of Golden Box Packaging. Over a period of several months during lengthy luncheon conversations in the NYC area, Ryan absorbs and digests what Lenny shares, then modifies the concepts (as he should) before applying them to Wolfson’s specific circumstances. How it all works out is best revealed within the book’s narrative.

Others will have their own reasons for praising this book. Here are three of mine. First, Daum demonstrates the skills of a consummate storyteller as he introduces the main characters, sets the scene, then allows the plot to develop at a reasonable pace with plausible developments. There is little (if any) tension because there are few (if any) conflicts and little (if any) doubt that Ryan will achieve his own goals as well as the company’s strategic objectives. This is a content-driven rather than drama-driven business fable.

I also admire Daum’s skill as he explains (using the Lenny persona) how to “break through all that noise and visual stimulation to get to the core of the customer.” Here is a brief excerpt from Chapter 3 on Page 43: “The message is key…It attracts the right clients, but closes only the easy sales for you…Think of sales and marketing like walking through a jungle. It’s noisy, crowded, with everything attacking your senses. Somehow, some way, we have to break through all that noise and visual stimulation to get at the c ore of the customer. Get them to clarify the need and opportunity, amid the chaos of the jungle.” Lenny walks Ryan (and the reader) through the process of formulating an appropriate Value Proposition. (Be sure to pay close attention to the material that examines “the model of pain, solution, and best provider.”) He also explains how his own company defines four buyer segments (i.e. Wise, Cynical, Simple, and “Unwilling to Ask”) and formulates strategies and tactics to maximize its appeal to those in each segment.

Finally, I was intrigued by what Lenny characterizes as a “3,500-year-old secret” that involves a process also best revealed within the book’s narrative. However, I think most readers will agree with me that it is an insight well-worth knowing.  After an Epilogue and a “Summary of ROAR! Concepts,” Daum shares this in the next section, “Integrating the ROAR! Approach”:

“The key to the success for both the value proposition and the four buys approach is to fully integrate them into your sales and marketing. What’s the point of developing powerfully compelling messaging of your web site, collateral, and salespeople are all communicating different messages and are leaving out half the potential customers?”

If there is another business fable that offers more and better advice about “how to “break through all that noise and visual stimulation to get to the core of the customer,” please let me know.

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