‘Be a bit braver with what you define to be a business book, you don’t need to follow a template.’
Why is B2B marketing typically so dull? Whereas consumer marketing is focused on creativity, engagement and originality, B2B marketing all too often consists of a features list.
Mark Choueke is here to change all that. His passionate call for bravery in B2B marketing is transforming the industry, and he applied exactly that same thinking to writing his business book too. Forget the templates and formulae, and write the book that only you can write.
Half an hour that will leave you feeling braver and more human, covering as it does marketing, writing, book proposals, Star Wars, grief and a gorilla.
Boring2Brave site: https://www.boring2brave.com/
Mark on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markchoueke/
Mark on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarkChoueke
Alison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bookstothesky
The 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge September 2021: https://alisonjones.leadpages.co/proposal-challenge/
The Extraordinary Business Book Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1447064765612358/
The Extraordinary Business Book Club bookshop: https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/extraordinarybusinessbooks
The EBBC summer 2021 reading list: https://uk.bookshop.org/lists/thinking-better-the-ebbc-summer-2021-reading-list
Penny Pullan’s virtual working summit: https://virtualworkingsummit.com/
Alison Jones: I’m here today with Mark Choueke who was Editor of Marketing Week Magazine and earlier the B2B-focused marketing titles Precision Marketing and Data Strategy, and was a business correspondent on newspaper The Sunday Telegraph.
He quit journalism in search of adventure. He went to an agency where he worked alongside genuine advertising legends to create stuff that helped grow some of the world’s greatest brands.
He’s now Marketing Director of Mention Me and co-founder of Rebeltech and also the author of Boring2Brave: The ‘bravery-as-a-strategy’ mindset that is transforming B2B marketing.
So firstly, welcome to the show, Mark. How are you doing?
Mark Choueke: I’m very well Alison, how are you?
Alison Jones: I’m really good. And firstly, congratulations. How does it feel?
Mark Choueke: Well, I don’t know how it feels from day-to-day. I mean, I’m super excited now, but I’m also, I don’t know if this is a Jewish or a Yiddish term, but my dad used to say I’m on ‘shpilkes’, because as we record today there’s still sort of two/three weeks to go until the publishing date. And I just can’t wait.
I’ve got a box of these things at home, I’m giving them out to people. I’ve read it again, which is, you know I read it the first night.
Alison Jones: Cor, that was risky.
Mark Choueke: Well, I know I did, I read it again. I stayed awake till far too late reading the book just to make sure, you know, just to make sure, but no, I’m very, very excited.
And I’m also, I don’t know if this is, this must be a common thing among first-time book writers, I’m just chuffed. I’m just really, really like, it’s a proud moment to see it and I’m really looking forward to people feeding back.
Alison Jones: Well, let’s talk first about the topic of the book and what drove you to write it. And then we’ll go on to the process of writing it because that in itself is fascinating.
But you had a lovely phrase in the book about B2C marketing being exciting and creative and adventurous, and they’re selling dreams, and B2B marketing, they’re selling safety and it’s soul crushing.That’s not the word you used, but that’s kind of where you’re going to.
So just tell me a little bit about what’s wrong with B2B marketing and what it could be.
Mark Choueke: What’s wrong with B2B marketing and always has been – and I think there are changes happening right now and hopefully this book can be part of that change- is that it’s always been not so much governed, but directed and administrated, really genuinely administrated, by fear. And when you’ve got fear and templates and systems and formula governing everything you do, that leaves absolutely no room for risk, which means there is genuinely little room for you to try anything new.
It also means, by the way, that if there’s best practice, and we use that term a lot in B2B, and I talk in the book about the tyranny of best practice, what that means is that everyone’s work looks exactly like everybody else’s work. And if you think about, if you weren’t a marketer and you had to describe marketing, you’d probably come up with something after some thought, like, well, it’s there to make people like you, or it’s there to make people interested in you or it’s there to make people remember you. And none of these things are possible or easy at least, if all of your marketing work looks like everybody else’s. If you could swap your brand out and put your competitor’s brand in on any piece of work and it still makes sense, you haven’t done it right.
So I suppose what drove me to write the book. And I don’t say this in a light manner, it’s like, I always think that anyone who writes a book is there in some way to improve things. I mean, when you get into Julia Donaldson and you’re reading to your kids at night, it also applies a little less weightedly than business books perhaps, if business books are your thing, but genuinely trying to help, because I was trying to show how easy it is to add a sense of adventure or audacity or cheek or humour, or, genuine differentiation to the thing that you do.
It helps three things. It helps the company. It helps you as a marketer because it helps you raise your profile and gain in respect and hopefully it helps your career. But it genuinely helps the rest of us. It helps the marketing discipline, because at the moment when we go to our bosses with these ideas that are a little bit creative or a little bit different and with proof… You can’t ever predict it before with creativity, which is why it’s so scary. But with the proof of the past, you can show how it’s transformed or grown a business or achieved the strategic aims of the organization. You still get these looks like you’re literally asking to paint a cow purple in the boardroom or something, like you get these looks as if to say, what is this guy on?
And so all I want is for us as a marketing discipline in B2B to have enough conversations like the ones in this book, to stand up and say actually it’s for us, it’s for you, it’s for all of us, we’re going to do this. We’re going to see if we can make B2B less boring and more brave.
Alison Jones: And just to take a step back structurally, what is it about B2B marketing that makes it so fundamentally different from B2C where you are allowed to be creative, in fact, it’s demanded of you?
Mark Choueke: Yes, I mean, it’s funny, isn’t it? You can get away in B2C marketing with a 30 or 60 second advert on TV and never show your product and you can get away without ever naming your product.
I remember interviewing, when I was Marketing Week Editor, I remember interviewing the Marketing Director at the time, Phil Rumbol, of Cadbury, who had the gall to put that famous ad on TV with the gorilla playing the drums. And not only was it a crazy, insane advert that, by the way, my kids still love, and Phil, if by any chance you’re listening to this podcast, it still gives my kids a ton of pleasure, but it doesn’t show the product. Doesn’t show the product shot, the Cadbury milk, a Dairy Milk bar.
And I remember him saying that he had to literally fight for his life inside the company to get an advert on TV that didn’t show the product. And didn’t even mention the product or didn’t have a price or anything.
And his boss at the time told him, listen, if this doesn’t work, you know that’s the end for you, you know that you’re fired? And he said, yes, I know.
And he was so sure. Now it takes a ton of bravery to do that, but that’s how B2C can act. And by the way, what happens after something like that is every brand in B2C goes to their advertising agency that Christmas and says, I want a gorilla ad. Can you do me a gorilla?
Alison Jones: You just don’t get it, do you.
Mark Choueke: And similarly in the last 10 years, every single brand has gone to their agency and said, can you do me a John Lewis ad? Because those ads are so famous because they are so super creative.
Now in B2B, it’s different. We have this need to count and measure everything.
And if you count something, it’s all tangible and there and in front of you and it’s safe and it’s translatable easily onto a spreadsheet for somebody who thinks in a different way from a creative. So somebody who thinks with their left parts of the brain rather than the right part of the brain for instance, more logical, more finance oriented, more numbers, things have to make sense.
It’s very, very hard to sell in the idea of, let’s say an ad that doesn’t mention the product or an ad that comes with a joke or an ad that comes with something emotional that genuinely is going to set somebody’s heart beating faster, or feel that this thing is worth sharing or showing to somebody or even quoting in a pub.
You know, it’s really hard for them to appreciate that without the name of the product, a bullet-point list of about 10 different features, price and language that feels like it’s off the charts, like outer space, like alien language. Stuff that you just wouldn’t say to your mum or your friends, right.
Alison Jones: No human being ever said this sentence.
Mark Choueke: Oh my God, you should see some of it. And there’s a chapter in the book about why any person of a certain age – and I’ve learned this certain age, Alison, because I’ve tried to give the Han Solo C3PO talk to a bunch of marketers under 25 and they all just stared at me, I don’t really know what you’re talking about, robots? – but the point is for marketers of a certain age, if you ask them, who would you rather be, Han Solo or C3PO, they would naturally plump for the guy with the blaster and the jodhpurs and the waistcoat, the flawed guy with the wisecracks, the sexy guy that has tons of flaws but uses courage and audacity to get through, rather than the gold, shiny robot.
When we get into work as B2B marketers, for some reason we turn into the shiny gold robot that talks in only logic and talks in staccato sentences and rarely for Star Wars characters, God I’m getting geeky, operates from a premise of fear, as opposed to hope.
Alison Jones: Okay. Do you know we could turn this into a thesis on the motivations of Star Wars and actually, that would be fun, but I’m very mindful of the title of the podcast and I feel we should also talk about the writing of the book, so I’m just going to haul you back a little bit. So I’m sad, and genuinely, we should probably carry on the C3PO conversation after we’ve gone off air, but for now, tell me a little bit about the writing process. You are a proposal challenge winner for a start. So what did that mean and how did that happen?
Mark Choueke: Well, before we go into that, for any listeners, Alison and my relationship is literally based on her hauling me back from the edge of rambling like an idiot. That’s literally what our relationship exists on, that’s how it works. So yes, the business book proposal course…
Alison Jones: The 10-day business book proposal challenge. Do you know yes, it’s too long. So I needed a marketeer to really help with that one.
Mark Choueke: Well, no, I’m glad I gave you the opportunity to trumpet it. I’ll tell you why, it was the single most dramatic thing that could and did transform my first lockdown experience. For all of us lockdown was an absolute sort of shift in everything we know to be normal and hold dear. And even though at the time in that first lockdown, the sun was out and the weather was glorious, so those of us who are lucky enough to have gardens or live near parks were kind of okay. I mean, it meant staying at home. There was a whole sort of thing about, you know, quite scary not to see your friends and family and everything else. And there’s this sort of catchable disease going around the world. But largely we were okay. And the worst we had to deal with was frustration, boredom and fear. And sometimes in many of our cases, worry about our loved ones.
The proposal challenge came along through a friend of mine, somebody who’s won that proposal challenge before, Lucy Werner, who’s written two incredible PR books.
And I saw it on LinkedIn and I just looked at it and I thought that looks fun, it’s 10 days, so it’s captured in this small timeframe, I don’t have to ask my wife or kids for too much time off, little did I know I’d win the thing.
But there is also the promise that you are going to learn how to put a proposal in front of a publisher that they deem industry ready for you to go and write a book.
Now, if you are like me and you’ve always thought about writing a book or wondered about writing a book and you think you might have something, there’s only two reasons not to, but they’re both huge.
One is that you have to actually write the thing. How and when do you do that?
But the first part is, I have no idea; and the proposal taught me more than I needed to know, I guess. Have just been through it before this podcast, I’ve just been through the course again, to look at the things we did. The absolute intelligence and empowerment that you inject into everyone that takes it, for a very, very reasonable amount of money for an hour a day over 10 days is absolutely unbelievable.
And if you look at it, you’d go I would definitely buy a more expensive lunch than that in London for anyone who was willing to give me the clues to an industry-ready book proposal.
So it was magic really. It was a lovely way to spend an hour of skiving off from work a day.
Alison Jones: And you’ve given me a great idea, maybe I should offer an alternative, which is that somebody takes me out for really nice lunch and I kind of give them the course content over that. It’s not a bad thought. Okay. Sorry. Carry on.
Mark Choueke: Well, I mean, I don’t know how and when and where you came up with the idea, but it’s amazing. I think the things that you probably, no, you don’t take for granted. I’m sure other publishers do, you clearly don’t, because you built it into a course, the things that publishers take for granted that we should all know.
The stuff like how to write the benefits of a book, the stuff like how to write the back of a book and how not to, there’s stuff to write kind of, you know, you’re forced in the course to go and look for books that are like yours and you’re like, well nobody’s book’s like mine, my book’s unique, and it’s no, no, no, it’s not.
Go and look for books like yours. Look at how much they cost, look at what they cover. Look at how they’re promoted and come back with that intelligence and share it with the group. And that group aspect is really, really valuable as well.
Everything, from the marketing, the marketing plan of a book to… you know, I kind of disliked you for a couple of days in the course because you asked us to write the table of contents and all the chapter names.
I was like, that’s not how I work, Alison, I’m a last-five-minutes kind of guy. I don’t do that. And I just looked at the table of contents that I submitted in my plan, it’s not exactly like the table of contents in the book, but it’s not too far away. And there are definite overlaps and it’s really, it’s a brilliant discipline that nobody would ever think to do, to go and figure it out. You know, it really was special,
Alison Jones: I think day eight, which is the table of contents day, is one of my favorite days because it shifts doesn’t it, from being this kind of I got an idea for a book, to actually this is how it would look, this is what’s going to be in it, this is how it’s going to work. This is the overarching argument and direction of travel.
And suddenly you can just sense in the group everyone’s going: bloody hell, I could do this. And that is kind of magic.
Mark Choueke: It is magic. And do you know what, you are exactly right because before you do that piece, it’s a bit of a game. It’s a bit of a, I got a nice idea. But that’s the piece where you go, oh, wait a minute, this idea actually does translate and distribute over sort of 150 pages of a book. It’s not just a, crap, I’ve done chapter one, I don’t know what goes…,
Alison Jones: Now what?
Mark Choueke: It actually has legs, this idea.
So, no, it’s true. And I think the other thing is that it’s everything you do on the course is marked and judged and shared with the other group, which is a big moment when you do that for the first time, because you’re basically sharing your creation.
Anytime you share something creative, whether it’s a song or a film or a book or an idea for a painting, it’s quite a scary thing. But the fact that you give it your marks out of 10 and you also give us the chance to go and do it again if it doesn’t stand up, I just think it’s just a brilliant 10-day discipline.
Alison Jones: Well, thank you. And the marketing piece that you mentioned a minute ago, I want to come back to that in a sec. Because you know, you’re a marketer and I want to really, you know, maybe get some good tips for people from that. And your marketing plan was really, really good, unsurprisingly.
But the writing, once you’d won and then you were like, oh great, oh no, and now I’ve got to write the thing. I mean, it was a pandemic, but it wasn’t just the pandemic was it, it did not go smoothly.
Mark Choueke: No, we had, like everyone, we had our own different flavour of what was a tough year. And the pandemic was the first thing to deal with. It meant that you genuinely have no time to yourself. And if you live in a house with two children and a wife, that like the majority of the stuff that keeps the household running and you’re there to sort of offer assistance in any sort of incompetent way you can, and your sister’s living with you because she lives alone and she doesn’t want to live on her own during the pandemic, and a lockdown… Yes, it was tough. It was really hard to find the time. And I often found myself writing very, very late at night for good or for bad.
And then the other thing that happened of course, was that we lost some members of our family, including my dad, in the summer of 2020. And I think Dad died not long after I was due to give you the first draft and I was desperate, you set out this timeline and how it was going to work and what was going to happen in between me submitting my first draft and the book hitting the shelves as it were.
And it was meant to be out in March and I was desperate not to see that slip too much, but ultimately I think when a parent dies, it’s not just a measurable loss, it actually hits you like a, you know, I’m sure it does everybody in different ways, but it hit me like a train to start with. And then it was just a slow burn. And actually, I think for about six weeks, I didn’t do anything. I really didn’t.
I was freelancing and contracting last year, so I had some time and space to concentrate on supporting mum and supporting the family. But I didn’t lift a finger work-wise for about six weeks, six or eight weeks. And I knew it and I kept saying to myself, I’m not sure when I’m going to get back on the horse and I’ve got this bloody book to write and, you know, at one point, Alison, I have to say Deborah was sitting up with me late at night and I had the laptop open on my knee. And she said show me how the book’s going. And I showed her and she said, how much have you still got to write? I said, well, do you see these chapters here. The titles of these chapters, that’s the whole book. And she said, and how much have you done?
And I said these four here, and she just looked at me and started giggling and went oh, she said, you’re in trouble.
And there was a moment where, I didn’t think for a moment it wouldn’t ever be written. I did think several times about how I felt I was letting the process down and, you know, you come into that and your team comes into that because they were ever supportive.
But yes, for a little while, there was some disruption but I was grateful that, you know, I’d say to anyone if you are thinking of self publishing see what it looks like to find yourself a publishing partnership, because having a partner in there with the knowledge and understanding, but also somebody you trust and can sort of look after the process when things go awry, meant that my book was finished.
Alison Jones: But you’re dead right, aren’t you, that you’ve got to keep in perspective, it’s just a book. It’s just a book and things like this happen. And people quite often say, oh, you know, next week I’ll be able to start on it again. And you think, well, no, because actually what’s happening to you is a profound shift in your identity, it’s a trauma, it’s an emotional shock and you can’t predict actually where you going to be in a week. So all bets are off at that point. And you just have to, you know, I think we just put a date in the diary when we were going to talk again and then we were going to fix a date then, weren’t we, and just we’ll…
Mark Choueke: Yeah. I actually remember where I was. I was at home in my home town of Southport up North visiting Mum, and I’d taken half a day to wander around and see some old places. And I was stood outside my, I kid you not, I was stood outside my primary school, that has changed since obviously since I was there, but I was stood outside sort of staring into the playground and remembering a load of little me’s running around.
And I’d emailed you that morning to say, listen, unfortunately I’ve lost my Dad and I’m up North and I don’t know when I’m going to be able to get back to the book. And I remember receiving your email while I was there. And I remember literally reading your words, saying don’t do anything. Don’t worry. Everything’s fine. Take your time. We’ll talk again in four or five weeks and we’ll set a date. There’s nothing you have to do now, except look after yourself.
And it was, you know, I suppose it comes as a weight off because it’s not one of those where you can easily turn to your boss and say I need some time out.
That’s easy. That’s transactional. This wasn’t, this was something I was doing for me. And I think actually you allowed me to feel okay about letting it go, as opposed to me feeling like I had to struggle through the funeral and everything else whilst still up at night writing, you know.
Alison Jones: Yes. No. It’s just a book. It’s really important to remember.
Mark Choueke: Hey, this is not just a book!
Alison Jones: No, it IS just a book. It’s very good book. And it has a cracking marketing plan. So, in the grand tradition of hauling Mark back on track, I’d like to talk about your marketing. How does a marketeer go about marketing a book? What’s different?
Mark Choueke: I was so ready to throw this question back at you and say, how dare you ask me before I’ve successfully put the book out. Like, I don’t want to answer this question until July 21st, the day after it’s been published. But I understand why you have to ask it.
So the idea for the book, like I was doing everything, every single segment and module of the proposal challenge, I was doing it for the first time and trying to figure out a mix, an overlap or a Venn diagram of what you needed to hear to be convinced, because I kind of wanted to win.
I didn’t want it just to stop, by the time it was day four day five. I didn’t want it just to stop at day 10 and for me to have a proposal.
I kind of wanted to go ahead and write this book now, and I wanted to work with you. So what you needed to hear, plus what I thought I was capable of. And I think from the very start, I’d been quite open about what I am and what I don’t know if I’m capable of. Because I only get employed by people who want things done in a different way. I’m not particularly, even in marketing circles, I’m not particularly conventional. And so it was based around the things I knew I had on my side. And luckily, because of various jobs I’ve had and various things I’ve done before, what I had on my side was access to a ton of people who might be helpfully influential in spreading the word on my book.
So the people I knew I could ask for endorsement quotes and send an early draft were all heavyweights across the US, across the UK, across Europe. And that’s, if you’ve got it, if you’ve got that kind of list, that’s a real, I mean a hell of a start.
I’ve also been involved in setting up things before to help young marketers grow or young people, whatever. So I had people at something called The Marketing Academy. I’d worked with a Founders Institute. I had contacts at the MarTech Alliance and a branded content marketing association, just industry bodies and groups.
And I remember when you gave me the deal you said part of this was because your marketing plan was super laser focused on exactly who this is for. Because this isn’t for, look I’m chuffed that my mum wants one, but this isn’t for friends and family, it’s hard when you get to a point where everybody’s excited about the fact that you’ve written a book, but you know that there’s a strong likelihood they’re never going to read it.
It’s specifically for B2B marketers. And by the way, one of the modules that was most helpful to me in the first place was the one where you asked us to identify the size of the market. Because there is no, you know, sometimes like in B2B marketing, there’s nowhere that lists definitively the size of the market or who does or doesn’t define themselves as either a B2B marketer or even a marketer.
But I was able to, you know, when you’re forced to you go and find something that will give you a sense of how large your market might be and how to reach it. After that well, I’ve been a journalist, so I had more contacts in the trade press and in the digital marketing press and in newspapers.
And again, I don’t know if it’s the nature of the book or just, you know, I have to be honest and say, it’s about having this in my DNA to sort of reach out and, but I’ve got a review coming in the Chartered Institute of Marketing Magazine and then they now want another wider feature the month after on bravery and B2B. So I’ll write 1600 words for them.
I’m speaking in about a week’s time to a B2B conference, a global B2B conference called Ignite. And so you’ve got all these things. What else do you have to do though? You have to use your imagination because whatever a publisher can lay in front of you in normal times, isn’t quite there.
I haven’t got a launch party organized. I did look into a venue. I did some phoning around. I did have some conversations, but I couldn’t be sure that by July 20th my money was going to be well-spent. I didn’t know if enough people would be able to come at the time. So what can you do instead?
You know, there’s no book tours to do, even if this book is big enough to warrant one, but what could you do? Well, I’ve done a lot of social content, not enough. I’ve probably tried to train myself and drill myself into doing one thing per week. And that’s often some of the endorsement quotes just in a really nice, beautiful social tile.
And again, work your colleagues, your friends, your family, just get it shared. There’s quite a lot of engagement to be had there, but there’s also, as well as the content that other people have said, you can share some of your own content. You can comment on others. And a lot of mine was about trying to build a community online.
Now, you know, I tried to build a LinkedIn community, but I felt that in the end the stuff I’d done before, where I’ve done that for clients and successfully done it for clients, it was paid for by them because it takes time and, you know, with lockdowns and parenting and work and everything else there hasn’t been a lot of time. I’ve tried to concentrate on doing one thing per week to get somebody somewhere or a group of people talking about this book.
And it’s been quite successful, if you use your contacts and you are able to really shamelessly mention it whenever, you know, I’ve got it as a signature on my email. I’ve got it as the banner on my social feed. It gets to the point where somebody will say to you rather sarcastically most weeks, Sorry, I didn’t know you’re writing a book. Tell me about that.
But that’s the way that, as a marketer you know this. Seven times is the number you have to tell anyone anything for them to remember that you said it.
Alison Jones: You think you’ve been banging on and on about it and somebody still doesn’t know because they haven’t seen it.
And what’s really interesting there as well is, I mean, social media is great. Having a big social media following, you know, fantastic. Actually, particularly for business books, it’s having the contacts and it’s being able to reach out to them. It’s getting those endorsements, it’s getting the reviews in the right places.
Of course, in your case, the beautiful thing about being so well-connected in marketing is that all your endorsements are written by professional marketeers and therefore are absolutely brilliant for using the quote purposes. So yes, we didn’t have to edit any of them.
Mark Choueke: There’s also an element of luck though, by the way; I wasn’t going to speak at B2B Ignite next week, because I wrote to Joel Harrison who organizes that conference a long time ago and he said, look Mark, ultimately, I’m afraid you’re not going to get on that speaker circuit, because firstly we want more clients than vendors and sellers.
And I said, okay, I get that. And he said but secondly, we’ve got friends that have written books, friends that have been friends to us and close friends, you know, we’re going to give them the slot. And I understood, and I knew that one of your other authors Paul Cash who wrote HumanizingB2B and published last month, a copy of which I’ve got in front of me, is close to them.
So I knew that these things happen. And, I think that the message here is don’t give up because when I got a no from him, I just went elsewhere. But what then happened was he phoned me, and he phoned me and said, look, actually, are you still free on July 1st? I said, I am, but I thought you’d made a decision and you know, I’d be delighted.
And he said, well, one of our top marketers, we asked her to do a keynote and she said, I’ll do a keynote if I can do it with Mark Choueke and we can talk about Boring2Brave. And I was thinking, that’s amazing. So to have that level of endorsement, you’ve just got to keep going, just don’t give up, find a way of getting onto a conference stage or onto a podcast or into people’s timelines and one of those things is that keynote with Annabel Venner next week, it’s not going be about Boring2Brave or about me, it’s going to be about bravery and I’m the questioner, she’s going to be interviewed. So I’m going to ask the questions and we’ll make sure that my book is in there, but it’s about her. So the other thing I can recommend is make sure that your content is not seen as crowing or boasting, but see it as helping others and enabling others or platforming others. And you’ll probably be more successful.
Alison Jones: Brilliant. Well, do you know what I was just about to ask you what your best tip for first time authors might be. Now, that’s a good one, but do you have another?
Mark Choueke: Yes, I don’t like business books and I knew that my only chance of writing a book the first time around was going to be a business book, but I’m not a big fan. I’ve tried hundreds of business books. I’ve worked for people who are selling books before and been on the circuit selling them alongside these people. And I don’t think I’ve ever finished too many business books.
I get to the point where they’re helpful to a point, but they start to feel repetitive or they start to feel formulaic or indeed just like B2B marketing they’re written from a certain template.
I now love business books because I’m reframing what business books mean to me. I don’t know if there’s a definition of what a business book is, but reframed in my version, Dave Trott who wrote One Plus One Equals Three and a whole load of other fantastic books, full of short readable stories with always a tip for creativity or doing something better or smarter or cleverer at the end is a business book. Any business book or the business books that I define as so are the ones that inspire me to be better in my job.
They might not be about business. So I’m thinking Sam Conniffe’s Be More Pirate or Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, or even if you were going to be more niche, because those are quite well known, there’s one that I take on holiday every single year when I go abroad. And if I can read any of it, it gives me a sense of ‘I can’t wait to get back to work and try these ideas’.
It’s called The Real Mad Men by Andrew Cracknell with a foreword by advertising legend Sir John Hegarty. And this is a book that’s part history, part case study, and just part brilliant story about the original London and New York ad executives that built what it meant to be creative in business through their ad agencies.
And it’s beautifully artworked, beautifully written, and it’s like a treasure, but more than that, you don’t need to be in advertising or marketing to love it and feel the benefits I do. I think what it does is it pokes you in the ribs and it reminds you that actually creativity is just the art of doing something differently and being distinguished because of it.
And I think personally, if you can get past the point of business books just being lots of boring charts and diagrams and things that, you know as I worried. I tried to write my book as it would be acceptable in business book circles, but it doesn’t always feel like a business book.
Sometimes it feels like something else and a bit more personal and hopefully a bit more engaging, humorous. And I do apologize to the brilliant team at Practical Inspiration Publishing for doubting business books, because I think the tip is be a bit braver with what you define to be a business book, you don’t need to follow a template.
Alison Jones: Love it. And actually I’m going to say that you’ve answered two questions in one there because there was loads of recommendations for books as well. So pick those out. Brilliant. Where Mark can people find out more about you?
Mark Choueke: Well that’s a good question. I live at number two, no…
Alison Jones: GDPR
Mark Choueke: Yes, Yes. GDPR
Alison Jones: Redacted.
Mark Choueke: Yeah, I have a website called boring2brave.com, which I promise you listeners I am looking forward to having more time to updating more regularly, but there’s some great stuff on there.
I am obviously contactable on LinkedIn and Mention Me where I work and I’m being asked… what’s really lovely is some of the people I sent the book to see if they would endorse, a Global Marketing Director at Facebook, a few others have asked me on the back of it to do sessions for their marketing teams and have ordered whole a box of books for their team. But they’ve asked me to come in and do talks and sessions on bravery and on how this stuff works.
So I am looking for opportunities to speak about this, share it, share these stories and also get some of the marketers who are in the book and others to join me on stages to talk about how this can benefit the marketing discipline.
So, do find me, and if you wish to chat and learn more about it, I’m very, very up for that.
Alison Jones: Brilliant. And it’s very exciting actually, to be enabling the B2B marketing revolution I’m really on board with that. It’s been great fun.
So congratulations. I’m so, so pleased that we got here, that the book is out, that the book is so flipping good. And thank you for your time today. It’s been brilliant.
Mark Choueke: Thank you, Alison, for everything.