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Ep. 019 – Douglas Burdett – host of the Marketing Books Podcast, named by LinkedIn as one of “10 Podcasts That Will Make You a Better Marketer”, Recommends the books that will most influence you most.

Douglas Burdett

Douglas Burdett Show Notes

Host of The Marketing Book Podcast, Founder/Principal of ARTILLERY Douglas Burdett is Founder and Principal of ARTILLERY, a business-to-business marketing agency in Norfolk, Virginia, and is the host of The Marketing Book Podcast, which was named by LinkedIn as one of “10 Podcasts That Will Make You a Better Marketer.”

Prior to starting his own firm, Douglas worked in New York City on Madison Avenue for 10 years at ad industry giants J. Walter Thompson and Grey Advertising.

Before starting his business career, Douglas served as a U.S. Army artillery officer in Germany for three years and then earned an MBA.

Most passionate about 

  • I have a small marketing agency; used to be advertising oriented, and now it’s mainly content and Internet marketing oriented. I’m also the host of the Marketing Books Podcast, where each week I interview an author of a sales or a marketing book.

What is your next step ?

  • We would like to get more quality clients. That’s something we are always looking for, finding more ideal clients rather than any clients. And we create a lot of content.
  • I’ve been listening to podcasts for many years. And I listened to marketing podcasts. It seems like podcasts are becoming a very strong tool and I was always very fascinated by authors. And one day, I saw on GoDaddy that the domain was available and I took that as a sign from on high, and about two months later I was able to launch the show.
  • I met some of the early guests of the shows at some book signing events. I made 11 videos to these authors, pitching them about become a guest on my show. To this point 10 of them were guests on the show; regarding the 11th, I’m still waiting for him to write another book.

Who your Customers are ?

  • The customers are usually small to medium sized businesses that sell premium products, in companies where a number of stakeholders are involved in the decisions and it’s a bit longer sales cycle than the average. It’s the complex Business-to-Business sales that we are looking to help with, through writing content for the sales people and helping the company to generate leads.
  • I’m not using the podcast so much to generate business, although it helps; more for a professional development. I read each book before the interview, so it’s more than 150 books now and it’s like getting a Master’s Degree in sales, marketing, and modern business… I love doing it and I hope that enthusiasm and interest go through to the listeners.
  • The people that listen to the podcast are quite a broad audience; I talk to people in all industries from many countries. There isn’t a full overlay between my company’s audience and the podcast’s listeners. In fact, there are a lot of startups and entrepreneurs that listen to this podcast that I don’t work with.

Douglas’s best advice about approaching the customer

  • I’m going to answer this question, of course, but I must sprinkle a lot of book recommendations through my answer…
  • One of the best things a startup must do is understand who their customers are. A lot of startups maybe even approaching the wrong customers.  There is a terrific book about that called, The Buyer Persona by Adele Riviera, it’s one of my favorite books. In marketing these days, despite what marketers will tell you, there isn’t a secret sauce any more. But I think your buyer is probably the closest to that. The book talks about the 5 rings of insights that you want to understand about your buyers. It has nothing to do with the product you are selling.
  • Another book I recommend is by Aaron Ross, called From Impossible to Inevitable. In the book, he talks about the 7 things that every business needs for hyper growth. He actually helped to take Salesforce from zero to the first hundred million dollars. And he has never been a sales person. One of the things he talks about in the book is, “Nail your Niche”; don’t talk to all people. And there he talks about the importance of talking with 20 people. He says it’s amazing how many startups and entrepreneurs don’t even talk with 20 people.
  • And another book, by Tom Hogan and Carol Broadbent called The Ultimate Start-Up Guide. There are a marketing firm in Silicone Volley that work only with venture backed companies. In the book, they talk about the same things and they say the number one reason a startup fails is they are developing a product which is there isn’t really a demand for. They start and end the book with the same say, which is that the icon of Steve Jobs was the worst thing that ever happened to startup’s CEOs and that because despite of Job’s success, most of what he did isn’t normally successful. And a lot of CEOs sure they have to do exactly what Steve Jobs did.

Biggest failure with a customer

  • Five years ago, when I started my own company, I was very focused on advertising. I hire Michael Gass a consultant that was blogging about ad agencies and new business, and he helped ad agencies look for the niche they would like to focus on and write a specific blog to that niche, separate from their agency’s web site. Michael asked me, ‘what do you think you would like to write about?’ And I wasn’t sure because until then I was doing everything; from Listerine mouthwash to Panasonic, hospitals, banks and more, But I was fascinated by the military, I served in the US army, and there were a lot of defense firms in Virginia and a lot of my friends worked on these firms, and they all the time asked me marketing questions, so I thought perhaps there is a need for that.  Michael Gass said that even if at the end of the day, I won’t find business there, I will, at least, teach myself to write a blog and provide value for companies, because that is what agencies will do for their clients in the future. And I did that and earned a lot of attention and PR (and there were a lot of listeners from Israel as well). However, at the end of the day, there wasn’t a true demand for my services, because it seems like most of these defense companies were just sitting in the office, waiting for an RFP from the government that will come through the fax machine.. But it was more of a solution in a search of a problem.
  • However, I consider it as a failure because I didn’t find business there,  but I learned a lot about how to build an audience from it.

Biggest success due to the right customer approach 

  • I look at the Marketing Books Podcast as a success. I’m getting a lot out of it, I’m getting to meet a lot really smart people, and talk with authors, and it generates business, traffic, and speaking opportunities. I feel this is an opportunity for a lot of marketers that have to learn new things. So, I look at it as a success, it is something I thought about, I planned for, I put together a launch; I’ve really enjoyed that. I think the audience has too and this is why it continues to grow. 

Recommendation of tools for customer focus, marketing or sales

  • I don’t know if there is necessarily a technological tool, I think there are a lot of companies that think that technological tools can solve processes or people problems. I think the most important tools are the ones that will enable you to listen to your customers. But you have to do more than just listen, you have to take action!
  • There is a book like Martin Lindstrom. Small data. In the book, he talks about how marketers are now using data, sort of like a drunk uses a streetlight, it’s more for a support than an illumination…

Recommendation of a person, or a book that impacts Douglas’s “customer focus” and success

  • Two books have had the biggest influence, after the army, I was looking at a lot of different careers, and a friend of mine said I should go to advertising. I didn’t know exactly what it is, I went to a professor who worked in advertising and asked what’s the one book I should read on advertising to be able to know if this is for me, and the professor gave me a copy of Ogilvy on Advertising and I read it and put the book down and say that’s it. That what I want to do.
  • And the second one was when I started to realize that the industry is totally changing and thought about what should I do next, and I read David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR and that help me understand the new world. As a result, David Meerman Scott was the first guest of this podcast.

Last piece of guidance

  • The advice will probably be to listen to The Marketing Books Podcasts…
  • The advice I have is about a post I read of Mark Schaeffer, who wrote some fantastic books, and the post is about that there are no more marketing experts. Just students. I think there are a lot of frustrated business people and marketers that feel confused and it’s important to understand that you aren’t alone. And it’s really a process of educational continuing, like medical professors that have to constantly be learning. Marketing is now like that.

Resources Mentioned:

The Books Mentioned:

More resources for Entrepreneurs

  1. Don’t Miss – Customer Focus Strategy & Execution: Market Analysis for Fundraising
  2. Hayut Yogev’s Latest post: The three free, most practical steps to researching and locating your market
  3. Former interview: With Marc Guberti – “My life goal: Through my work, I will positively impact the lives of over 1 billion people within my lifetime.”


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