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Recently reviewed (by Elephant’s Helen Hammond), for professional services marketeers, in PM Magazine, whilst Joseph Jaffe might be hard work, do the benefits make the struggle worthwhile?

Joseph Jaffe makes it look so easy. Regularly referred to as ‘business guru, Jaffe’, over the years, the words of wisdom shared through his blog and books have inspired thousands… and it just keeps getting better with the recent launch of his own online ‘TV channel’, JaffeJuiceTV. The publication of his latest book, Flip the Funnel, has been richly anticipated by the business community.

Based on the theory, first posed in a book of the same name by Seth Godin, Jaffe explains the value of developing business relationships so that our clients “do the selling” for us. Having consulted Godin, however, Jaffe takes it several stages further. Rather than arguing that word-of-mouth and customer experience is AS IMPORTANT as the mass media and communications, he proposes that this phase (the thin end of the funnel – the single person) be considered as substantially MORE IMPORTANT. He asks the questions… What if rather than ending with a customer purchase we started with it? What if we spent the lion’s share of our resources on keeping clients (and turning them into referrers) rather than on attracting new ones? His suggestion is that rather than applying equal resources to everything, we should invest our time in one person (the client) and in renewing our focus on the client experience. He argues that “the economic impact of an active, engaged and loyal customer is tremendous”. No surprise Sherlock (or words to that effect), as they say. Certainly within professional services, we’ve known this for a while (whether we choose to do anything about it is another matter)… so what’s new in this book?

Jaffe takes the bull by the horns in explaining how his new rules and models can help us to do this. His wide expertise in social networking and media comes to the fore and he provides a host of ideas and case studies for how these platforms can be used to great effect. Similarly, he gives us confidence that the same can be used to tackle negative word-of-mouth marketing. The book is crammed with examples (although I LONG for an author to use some alternatives to the Obama campaign and Zappos) and he provides superb supplementary materials on his website (a clever marketing ploy if ever I saw one). His advice is bang up to date and you can’t help but be inspired to act, rather than to merely dream and plan. In short, there is much in this book that can and should be used within professional services.

That said, I am left undecided by this book. There is no denying Jaffe’s intellect and his understanding of the subject. I would question whether there were any others out there with a better grasp of what’s needed to make businesses successful in today’s world… I would similarly question, however, whether there were any others out there who might explain it better. By page 22 I was exclaiming with frustration that I was still no clearer on what he was talking about than I had been on reading the title. Admittedly, his style of writing takes time to get used to (it took me until about half way).

He’s direct and excessively “gripey” about things… and often beats around the bush with a host of personal opinions… but then he at least has the good grace to admit it in his introduction… by his own admission he is “not for everyone”. I respect his honesty and perception. He presents strong and innovative theories that have a clear application to the professional services sector. For that reason I would recommend this book… but be warned… it’s not easy going and you may find yourself shouting at it to get to the point!