Groundswell is a bestseller. Thank you. And a few reflections.
by Josh Bernoff
According to the July 3 issue of Business Week, we were a bestseller in the previous week. Number 15 out of 15 spots, but hey, we made the list -- most business books don't get close to that, especially with the staying power of books like "The Four-Hour Work Week" making it harder to climb up those charts.
We've been in the top 20 on Amazon's business books list and the top ten on 800-CEO-READ, which does corporate bulk orders, but this is the first bestseller recognition in a mainstream publication.
I'm reflecting a little on how we got here.
First of all, the speaking schedule has been brutal. When you write a book, you spend a lot of time alone. But despite all the wonderful online techniques, there's no substitute for shoe leather and airline miles -- people want to hear about it. It got to the point where I began to think that every businessperson in America must have heard Charlene and me speak. But at every new engagement, there were 20 or 100 or 700 new faces and most of them had never seen these ideas before. Generating word of mouth is hard work.
What I learned from talking to all of you is that first, there is a huge curiosity about Groundswell phenomena and business. Businesspeople really want to know how all this stuff works, who's doing it, which consumers are participating, and how. Concrete examples and statistics are wonderful things to talk about. It lets all the air out of the balloon (bubble?) and gives people something they can hold onto.
Sometimes I worry what will happen when we speak to a more Web 2.0-savvy audience, like the OMMA Social event I did last month. But even there, providing examples of real business value and a roadmap for strategy opened some eyes. For the insiders, it helps to have frameworks to work from and examples in appropriate business context.
So here are some takeaways from four solid months of talking about the book (and a little success).
- Here's what people remember: Stories. Statistics. Frameworks. Make sure you have them. And tell them with flair.
- The groundswell is about people. When you talk about this, make sure you talk about people -- both ordinary consumers and businesspeople. People can relate to this.
- Everybody takes away something different. Charlene spoke Supernova recently and the person who wrote it up for Knowledge@Wharton wrote about our Mini USA brand monitoring example. Other people end up talking about Procter & Gamble's beinggirl.com or Dell's Flaming Notebook blog post or the POST method. The lesson is that you should have a lot of stuff they can hang onto because you never know what will catch an individual's imagination.
All of your support has been wonderful. I like to hear stories about people who bought one for everyone in your department, or all your clients. I'd love to stay on the bestseller list. I'm not going to tell you to buy more copies. What I really want is this:
- Tell your boss.
- Tell your friends.
- Tell your boss' friends and your friends' bosses.
That's how the groundswell discussion will go mainstream.