Anything and everything you want to know about business, summarised into two pages per topic.
This is what “The Business Book”, freshly published by Dorling Kindersley (part of the Penguin group), offers.
This book is refreshingly well prepared and offers insights into a wide range of topics, from accountancy and advertising, to the Zurich Insurance Group and Zang Yin. For instance, take the entry on AIDA. I’ve used this model for years in my coaching, but I was not aware that it had been developed in 1898 by the advertising pioneer Elias St Elmo Lewis.
Here we learn that Phillip Kotler and other marketing gurus popularised this model, which explains the four simple steps towards a sale.
AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. Think of these steps as layers of a funnel, starting at the top with Attention, where you make prospective customers aware of the product or service you offer by being noticed.
The next step is Interest, where you hold a prospect’s curiosity by offering information about the advantages of the product or service and the benefits to the customer. Next up is Desire, where you convince prospects that the product or service will meet their needs.
Finally, there is Action; here, you want to make it as easy as possible for customers to make the purchase.
In the age of e-commerce – the book tells us – we need to adjust AIDA to NEWAIDA, by adding (N)avigation, (E)ase and (W)ording. This is but one example of the 340 pages of interesting topics covered in brief and with accompanying illustrations. With each topic, a “See also” reference points to other related topics in the book.
Now, turn to “The Secret Of Business Is Knowing Something That Nobody Else Knows” and you learn that the idea of a unique selling proposition (USP) was developed in the 1940s by New York advertising executive Rosser Reeves. Kotler (mentioned above) reminds us that the USP needs to be superseded by the emotional selling proposition (ESP).
Again, on the page about standing out in the market, there is reference to other topics, such as “Good And Bad Strategy”.
In turning to these pages, we find interesting comments on choosing what not to do, as part of our strategic decisions.
Take the case of Kodak’s strategic choices , to illustrate how bad strategy can lead a thriving business into doom. Kodak was one of the world’s top brands for most of the history of film.
Then, in 1975, Kodak engineers invented the digital camera. However, senior management did not see the opportunities it offered, sticking with a firm focus on the chemistry-based film technology.
Much later, Kodak tried to shift to digital, but it was too late, and in 2012 the business was declared bankrupt.
Leave this book on your coffee table – it will be paged through, read and used to sharpen thinking about how to do better in business.