Do This, See This, Buy This: DigitalGroundUp

Do This See This Buy This is a feature about great products and services for marketers

I’m happy to launch a new feature about products or services I recommend. The first installment of Do This, See This, Buy This is about a great website called

I found DGU this summer when looking for a way to get educated on digital marketing. I didn’t know much about terms like SEO, SEM, AdWords, or keywords – certainly not enough to be fully comfortable in the social and search-driven marketing world we have today.

9_10_15 DGUDGU was the answer. The site offers a suite of brief, easy-to-follow lessons teaching everything you need to know to get started with digital marketing.

The best part is the lessons really are brief – you won’t waste time with lots of material you aren’t going to use, and you will learn what you need to know. Each lesson is perfect for a lunch break and can be repeated as many times as you want.

I’m using what I learned to optimize this site,, and judging by the fast growth in traffic my DGU education is paying off handsomely!

I’m mastering digital marketing with, and I strongly recommend that you do too.

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Every marketer of every kind needs to be proficient in digital marketing, so give DGU a try.

Do This: (use promo code DGULOVE)

Logo courtesy of

Reading With Steve: B2B A To Z by Bill Blaney

Reading with Steve is a regular feature at Read product marketing and content marketing book reviews.

B2B A to Z reminds us that modern marketing is not just a tweet here, a landing page there, and an optimized automation campaign to run it all. Bill Blaney is an agency director with many years of varied experience in digital and creative, yet despite all his enthusiasm for the newest tools, he reminds us that traditional promotions and trade shows can still be important – and indeed, ought to be the focus for certain types of businesses.

More importantly, Bill explains that the message is still the lynchpin of any marketing plan. Without creativity and inspiration, no amount of social media expertise will break through the clutter. The marketing world has not changed so much as diversified over his career.

When I first picked up B2B A To Z, I was expecting more of a reference guide. Instead, I was treated to a series of loosely connected thematic sections, interspersed with examples and anecdotes. While the book is comprehensive, A To Z feels like the wrong title for this work. I would have titled it Approaching B2B Marketing in the 21st Century.

Bill is at his best when providing inspirations from his career, for example, describing why and how he pioneered a social engagement strategy for Witchblade, a TV show, in 2000. He is funny too, wisecracking that how some B2B businesses approach social media is “like watching a polite vegan fill up his plate at a Swedish smorgasbord”. Unforgettable – and it certainly shines a bright light on the issue.

9_6_15 B2BAtoZWith the variety of sections in this book, one core observation stands out. Marketing is designed to speak to people’s wants and needs. Bill shrewdly dissects this basic observation into the core difference between consumer and business marketing: Whereas virtually all consumer purchases are based on wants, virtually all business purchases are based on needs. This difference means that good consumer marketing inevitably displays greater variety, authenticity, and unexpectedness – so that it can penetrate right to the amygdala and stimulate our desire. Advertising is “poison gas”, yet great consumer marketing can become iconic.

So why, Bill asks, don’t B2B companies learn more from B2C companies? We assume businesses have needs, not wants, so appeals that are based on feature lists, tout incremental improvements, or are simply the same as everyone else’s are par for the course. Yet these techniques don’t land. Can’t business-to-business companies study the consumer masters and learn how they generate their “simple, bold ideas”? I think this appeal is B2B A to Z’s single biggest contribution to the art.

Many of Bill’s recommendations will be second nature to experienced marketers. If you already plan your trade shows far in advance, follow up with webinar attendees within 24 hours, and have a process to respond to customer service issues brought to you via Twitter, you probably will not learn much from chapters 4-11, in which Bill comprehensively covers marketing tools and tactics.

There are a few moments in these middle chapters that miss the mark. Some of the book’s advice about using social media is borderline spammy, and seems too specific to Bill’s professional sweet spot of midcap manufacturers. A chapter on the Google Penguin update is dated, since a new budding marketer would never even consider the black-hat SEO techniques that this update famously neutralized. Numerous copy mistakes in this chapter are also particularly distracting.

But Bill’s batting average overall is All-Star level. I particularly recommend the final chapter about Bill’s own career path. It’s the most gripping part of the book, and I hope Bill considers a memoir for his next writing project.

This book gave me a lot to consider, and ought to be part of any serious B2B marketer’s home library. You won’t regret spending a few instructional hours with B2B A To Z.

Buy the book.


Reading with Steve: The Complete Guide to B2B Marketing by Kim Ann King

Reading with Steve is a regular feature at Read product marketing and content marketing book reviews.

In the first of an occasional series of book reports, I’d like to start with a modern bible of business marketing, Kim King’s awesome The Complete Guide to B2B Marketing: New Tactics, Tools, and Techniques to Compete in the Digital Economy.

Kim downloads her decades of experience into this excellent volume. It’s perfect for a beginning marketer or for anyone who wants a manual for the many aspects of B2B marketing in 2015, up to and including CMOs.

I found the book particularly helpful as a guide to the bits of the customer journey I’ve never participated in. For example, I’ve never run an outbound email program. As I read Kim’s pages on email marketing, I found myself thinking, “So this is how it’s done.” When I do find myself responsible for email I’ll come right back to this chapter. Kim is great at demystifying the processes of marketing and breaking them down into their component steps (without telling you basic things you don’t need to know – you are a professional, after all).8_30_15 completeguide

The book is organized around contemporary marketing tools and strategies. It gives you all you need to get started with important topics such as automation, personalization, and budgeting. With a judiciously curated set of references and recommended blogs, The Complete Guide also tells you where to go for more on each of these subjects.

My favorite single part was Chapter 7: Planning, in which Kim creates a step-by-step process for developing a marketing plan. I found myself taking notes and comparing her recommendation against what I’ve done in the past. I will definitely use this chapter as a starting point for any marketing plan I develop in the future.

As a “nuts and bolts” guide, this book has little to say on the topic of what makes great content. It dwells mostly on the whys and hows of content marketing. At the brief points where she discusses what effective content will contain, Kim does talk about consistency, call to action, and inspiration (excitement) – several key pillars of the MEDICAL method.

This is a volume heavy on bulleted lists and step-by-step instructions, and some chapters read entirely like a textbook. There aren’t many examples illustrating the subject matter. I would have loved more of Kim’s personality and experience interspersed in here, perhaps at least one example in each chapter that highlights the importance of what we are learning. “Show, don’t tell” is an important rule for making content that is memorable. More personal anecdotes or stories from the history of recent marketing fails and successes would improve the book.

Whether you are a marketing major or a major marketer, I strongly recommend you pick up The Complete Guide to B2B Marketing. It’s an invaluable resource, and my copy is going straight to my desk, no doubt destined to become highlighted, dog-eared, and tea-stained in the years to come.

Buy the book.