I first connected with BJ Emerson, VP of Technology for Tasto D-Lite, several years ago when we both were presenting at a conference in Arizona. What impressed me so much about his presentation was his ability to understand his customers and match the technology available to draw them in to Tasti D-Lite locations.
That skill permeates the narrative of his new book (with co-author James Amos, Chairman and CEO of Tasti D-Lite), The Tasti D-Lite Way.
[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book to review.]
Fast Company ran a blurb about the book in their November issue, wondering why a chain with (at press time) had less than 8,000 Twitter followers and less than 7,000 Facebook fans had the authority to write a book, whereas other chains, like Red Mango and Pinkberry, have tens, and even hundreds of thousands of followers and fans.
To me, that’s the entire point. You don’t need to have a network the size of large countries to be successful on social media. [Also, most every Tasti location has their own localized Facebook and Twitter, cannibalizing the national presence just a bit.]
Numbers are only part of the game, as Amos and Emerson lay out their theories on the importance of transparency and relationship-building as key elements of social marketing.
They have incorporated social marketing and technology into their business model and are finding great success with it. This book is their extended case study.
The authors slam the sledgehammer of truth by saying, “consumer adoption of new technologies has outpaced the ability of businesses…to implement them. Keeping your corporate head above this groundswell of innovation requires just as much vision as it does strategy.”
Marketing in our changing world is scary for that very reason. Trying to figure out where your customer is going next can be a bit like “whack-a-mole.” In one of my favorite sections, Emerson and Amos tackle, head-on, 12 fears brands have about social media marketing.
Their strong believe that social is meaningless without tangible business results is refreshing. “The real chemistry, relationship, and connection with fans or followers need to translate into value at the line level and have an influence on unit economics. Otherwise the numbers mean nothing and are much like thunder and lightning but no rain.”
The book showcases the thought process that went into their marketing. Thus, it can be a bit circular – in a good way. The key points are easy to see. And the passion surrounding them drips from the page.
It’s about the stories that influenced them, the campaigns that worked, the core values of their business.
Packed densely with information, tidbits and wisdom, its a tad over 200 pages, but feels longer. I found myself rereading passage after passage to make sure I retained as much as possible. My copy is littered with post-its and pen marks to help with that cause.
Part “how-to” and a bigger part “how we did,” this is THE must-read social media marketing book of the year.
No other company has so publicly peeled backed the layers of social media marketing from the brand level before. Brands that want to follow in Tasti’s footsteps will find it quite challenging to top this book.