If you write a book called Personality Not Included (Amazon link), you’d better include your own personality in its pages. Rohit Bhargava has definitely succeeded in that – and in writing an entertaining book with some serious advice about how companies can attract customers.
First the disclaimer: I enjoy Rohit’s blog, and I met Rohit at (and got my copy of the book in the swag from) Blogger Social earlier this month, so I’m predisposed to like it. In addition, Rohit ran a brainstorming breakfast there around ideas for marketing the book, which was a lot of fun – and an excuse to visit Greenwich Village – so I was invested in the book’s success before reading a word of it.
However, I’m sure I’d have enjoyed Personality Not Included if I’d picked it up because of the chickens on the cover. It’s written conversationally, more in the style of a blog than a formal business book, and it includes stories from a wide range of industries to illustrate its points. The main chapters are a smart description of why facelessness used to be an advantage, why it isn’t now, and how you can reform your company.
One of the best things about Personality Not Included is the footnotes. Again probably influenced by blogging, Rohit has included references to other books, magazines, and blogs where they’re related to his points, not just in a bibliography at the end. He’s willing to be the authority for some ideas but to send readers elsewhere when it will benefit us to hear from someone else. And good number of the footnotes are funny asides that make him seem like a real person, perfectly demonstrating how sounding authentic gains the sympathy of a customer.
The part I’m expecting to be most helpful to me is the Techniques, a list of ten “stylized ways of marketing” that can show off your organization’s personality, including Participation Marketing, Insider Marketing, and Useful Marketing. None of the techniques is a new idea, but it’s great to be able to run down the list and think “Would that suit this next campaign?” for each one. Each includes a “step by step” section as well as examples. Bonus techniques will be posted on the book website soon, and I’ll be keeping the list close to hand.
On the other hand, I’m not really sold on the Guides & Tools, the last 50 pages of the book. Too much of that seemed repeated from the chapters – though that may be by design, as the Note to the Reader at the beginning of the book suggests you don’t have to read from front to back but can skip around. The Guides & Tools do expand on the earlier material; I was just hoping for more concrete advice (maybe a blog series on rewriting backstories?). The chapter five set on Beating Roadblocks is the exception, with excellent suggestions.
This book is written for people who want their organizations not to be ordinary. As it says, “There are millions of profitable, ordinary businesses around the world.” But ordinary businesses are vulnerable to extraordinary ones, and extraordinary businesses are the ones with a “soul of your brand that people can get passionate about,” a personality. If you aspire to be loved and not just profitable, you’d be smart to pick up Personality Not Included.