Shrewd advice any marketer would be wise to heed.



A marketing veteran preaches about differentiation in this guide.

McGhie, author of BRAND Is a Four Letter Word (2012) and founder of several marketing agencies, is highly qualified to write about marketing difference. In this book targeting marketers, the author first validates with research the need to be different, then discusses several forces that impede the process, and finally explores the wide variety of ways to achieve this goal in the business world. While the notion of difference is not unique, McGhie’s in-depth knowledge of the topic enables him to refer to his own considerable experience as well as cite examples accompanied by expert commentary. In Part I, the author strongly asserts that successfully creating a difference “can influence, even lead culture.” He discusses difference in a way that broadens its context. For example, he introduces the term “difference quotient” or “DQ” to characterize individuals who have a deep understanding of the importance of the quality. He also legitimately contrasts “smart difference” with “dumb difference,” noting that “any idiot can be different” when employing “difference for its own sake.” Part II is an amalgamation of “dampeners,” those people, institutions, and organizations that can kill difference. Among them, according to McGhie, are parents, educational institutions, large companies, and even marketers—“Sometimes,” writes the author, “we ourselves are the biggest dampeners of our difference.” His argument supporting this perspective is creatively intriguing. Part III is likely the most useful portion; here, McGhie illustrates three specific business scenarios for finding difference, provides a five-step process for creating a differentiated advantage, and lists 10 considerations in pursuing the strategy. This section should be particularly relevant to any manager who takes the message about differentiation to heart. The author’s marketing chops pervade the book; his observations are insightful; his experience is germane; and the examples he uses are pertinent. McGhie’s writing style is conversational yet professional, and his passion for the subject is infectious. His viewpoint on difference is all-encompassing. In the end, he writes, difference isn’t just for marketing, but also for “creating change in the larger systems, customs and ideologies that govern our lives.”

Shrewd advice any marketer would be wise to heed.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73587-313-8

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Silicon Valley Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.


Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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