A year of groundswell -- and 80 groundswell speeches
by Josh Bernoff
As we come up on a full year since Groundswell was published, I wanted to reflect on what we did and how it feels.
Groundswell was published in April of 2008, after four months of intense thinking, seven months of intense research and writing, and five months of wending its way through the apparatus of publishing. It was not an instant hit, but it did build nicely in the months after its release, reaching #120 on Amazon at one point and poking its way into the Business Week bestseller list last summer. And it's still selling pretty well; in fact it's been picking up in the last few weeks. Over 60,000 copies have been sold.
Groundswell was more successful than 95% of business books, but didn't quite make it into the Cluetrain / Long Tail / Tipping Point / Freakonomics pantheon of household names. If you want a baseball analogy, we made it to the majors but not the hall of fame. Charlene and I, and Forrester, are quite pleased with the results -- first because we created a quality piece of work, and second because it has accomplished our goals of getting the ideas out into the world in a structured form where people could see and use them.
But what really gets me jazzed is that we've actually made an impact on so many companies. I am by far not the only one doing Groundswell work -- Charlene did a bunch until she left Forrester last summer, and 15 of my colleagues at Forrester are also doing this work for a variety of clients now. Still, as the remaining Groundswell author at Forrester, I get plenty of speech requests. I have done 80 groundswell speeches so far. I can remember every single one, from the PR people in Vegas to the hospital CEOs in New Orleans.
You might think I would get bored, but this is the most energizing thing I've ever done.
Every speech is different. I have done speeches on innovation with the groundswell, on listening, on marketing, and on support. I've talked about the groundswell in retail, in financial services, in high-tech, in non-profits and pharmaceuticals. I've showcased it in Sao Paulo, Barcelona, Brussels, Madrid, London, Toronto, and Warsaw, Indiana. I've hit Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, and Miami, and everywhere in the middle.
I generate new data for nearly every speech, and typically pull from our stock of over 150 examples. But the real reason the speech is different every time is the people hearing it. Speaking is not a one-way communication, at least not the way I try to do it. Sometimes the audience is senior executives, sometimes it's college students, and often it's everything inbetween. But I see people get that sparkle in their eyes -- they get it -- and then they ask questions that keep me thinking.
Our timing with Groundswell was excellent, and as a result the demand has not slackened, even in this recession. To all my clients and audiences: I love you all. You make all the travel worth it. I want to write books and spread ideas for the rest of my life. Thank you for making that possible.
Here's a breakdown for you quant geeks.
- I gave 12 Webinars or teleconferences plus 68 speeches in person, in 27 different cities. (And boy are my arms tired!) I gave 14 speeches in New York, 10 in Boston (cheaper, no travel), 6 in Atlanta and 5 in Seattle. I gave two in Wisconsin, in two different cities. The largest DMA I have not hit is Washington, and that's coming up soon.I have had a lot of travel misery, but I am proud to say that I have never missed a speech due to travel delays.
- Of the groundswell speeches, 51 were for our clients, including 15 workshops and 11 vendor-sponsored events for clients of agencies or vendors. 29 were speeches at public events, including 7 Forrester events. Of these, I like the workshops the best, because people get to actually turn the ideas to benefits for their own businesses.
- I did 18 groundswell speeches before the book was published, then 36 in the first six months after it was published, and another 26 in the following six months. While the book promotion speeches have slowed down a lot, the client speeches are picking up.
- Every industry is interested in the groundswell. My biggest verticals for these speeches are high-tech, with 13 speeches, and media and financial services, with 6 each. But I have also spoken to companies that make medical devices, beer companies, and retailers. For some reason these things ebb and flow -- I just got done with several insurance company speeches, and now I'm doing several for non-profits.
This is fun, but we're just getting started. See you in the groundswell.