Audience by Jeffrey Rohrs

Situation Analysis

I heard about this book from the Social Pros Podcast. Jeff Rohrs is the co-host of the show, and he made the rounds across a lot of the marketing podcasts on my playlist. On one of the shows, he offered to send people a book if they would read it and write a review on their website and/or Amazon. I love books. And free books are impossible for me to ignore, so I sent him a Tweet, gave him my information and a week or two later I got my book in the mail signed by the author. That's fun.

There was a time when only professional book reviewers could get the attention of authors. But the fact that Mr. Rohrs implemented this promotion to the podcast audience masses, indicates that book marketing has changed dramatically. And, though I'm not privy to the book's sales metrics, it also demonstrates the power of the audience building principles in the book.

External Analysis

The bookshelves – virtual or otherwise – are filled with marketing books about how to use social media to grow your business. The problem with most of these books is their long-term viability. They are all tactical, channel related tomes dedicated to the mechanics of setting up your Facebook advertising. These books aren't worth the paper they're printed on. In fact, they shouldn't be printed on paper. These should be digital resources only so that they can be written, distributed, and updated quickly and continuously. The technology, and people's behavior around the technology, is changing so quickly that social media information stored in a book becomes obsolete before it reaches a reader's nightstand.

Internal analysis

The antidote to a short shelf life for a book like this is to focus on strategy rather than tactics. Audience includes both sides of the coin. If you're looking for a primer on starting a LinkedIn company page, Mr. Rohrs can help you think that through – what makes LinkedIn different than other channels? What kinds of businesses are using LinkedIn for their business? How to use LinkedIn strategically? All of that is in there and it's very tactical. Nevertheless, the channels will change over time, and it will likely surprise us at how quickly they do. That's why I appreciate the first section Audience titled, "The Audience Imperative."

This first section of the book will be the longest lasting value add to any marketer or small business owner, because while the channels will change over time, the human behavior of talking to one another over the internet is here to stay. For decades to come, we will organize ourselves into like-minded groups online. We are tribal creatures (hat-tip to Seth Godin's TED Talk), and I think until we transcend what makes us human, we always will be. So the first 100 pages of Audience are devoted to the argument that we must be thinking about building an audience for our business if we want to grow into the future. What I like most about how Jeff Rohrs frames his argument is that he seems to have a particular type of person in mind – the marketer tasked with convincing the CEO to dedicate company resources to blogs, podcasts, and social media.

Mr. Rohrs makes the argument for you in chapter one, "Audiences as Assets: Think Like a Boss." The market has already proven the value of proprietary audiences. How much did Facebook pay for Instagram again? Oh yeah, $1 Billion. And after that it paid, $16 Billion for WhatsApp. Was it paying for the technology? Not really. Facebook has plenty of smart people who could have imitated a simple photo sharing app. It was paying for Instagram's proprietary audience. Audience's are assets, valuable ones.

Recommendation

Audience is a valuable book for small business owners or CEO's who don't really understand why this new marketing stuff is important. Mr. Rohrs makes a solid argument, backs it up with data, and paints a picture for how you could go about making Proprietary Audience Development (PAD) work for your business. But it's not for everyone. Marketers who have already sipped or gulped the new marketing Kool-Aid will find Mr. Rohrs preaching to the choir. Audience will not challenge you to think differently about your business. 

So if you're the former sort of person not yet convinced that all of this soft-marketing, non-selling, ninny-foo-foo Pinterest stuff is worth the hullaballoo, buy the book and be open to a new way of thinking about it. And if you're the latter sort of person who set up a blog in 2005 and listens to podcasts instead of watching TV, buy the book and give it to the person you argue with most about the value of building a proprietary audience.


Inland Empire and Orange County Special Offer

I'm going to run an experiment. Jeffrey Rohrs was kind enough to send a book to me for free, so I'd like to do the same. If you live in the Inland Empire or Orange County region of Southern California, subscribe to my newsletter, and I'll send you a free copy of Audience by Jeffrey Rohrs. (This will be limited to the first few responses – I'm not made of money.)