By Roy H. Williams
Reviewed by Gary W. Silverman, CFP®
If you are versed in marketing and consider yourself an expert at influencing human behavior, then you probably shouldn't read this book. After all, none of us likes to find out that we are not as smart as we think we are.
I found this book through a marketing company owner. He intrigued me because his practice was set up as a fee business rather than commission based. When we began discussing how different his model was from the "normal" advertising firm, he handed me the book which he promised was different from anything I had read about marketing.
Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads is a book of 101 one- or two-page chapters touching on a marketing topic. I use the term marketing in a very broad sense, as the author Roy Williams sees our marketing efforts as being influenced by just about everything.
While the book is organized…sometimes it doesn't appear to be. That's because it is really a compilation of years of thoughts about the marketing process. And these thoughts almost universally denigrate the universally understood "truths" of marketing—often in a sarcastic tone.
I read through the book in a few sittings, dog-earing the pages that I either didn't agree with, didn't understand, or made me go "hmm." With a couple dozen chapters marked, I now plan to discuss the chapters with my staff and see if we can't get our brains around some of the concepts. I look forward to integrating the resulting short-list into our marketing efforts.
Note my thinking above. I'm looking forward to the process of implementing parts of what I learned from this book. How many books really get you enthusiastic about it? If for no other reason, I recommend this book to shake up your thinking about advertising and marketing. You might not agree with everything you read (I didn't), but it does make you think.
Last I looked on Amazon.com, it was on sale for a bit over $11. Low monetary risk, high potential gain to the productivity of your marketing effort. It's also available on the publisher's Web site at $16.95. Either way, sounds like a good buy to me.
Gary W. Silverman, CFP®, owns a fee-only financial planning firm in Wichita Falls, Texas. He is the host of the television show Falls Informer, editor of the financial newsletter Personal Money Planning, and a frequent contributor to the print and broadcast media. Gary also teaches university courses in finance and management.
Austin, TX: Bard Press, 1999
$16.95 softcover, $26.95 hardcover