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If you are the sort of person that only reads the start of book reviews, you need to know that I wrote ten pages of notes from this book.  Go and buy it.

If you are the sort of person that wants to know a little more before considering a purchase, however, then you sum up Ari Kaplan’s message.  Today, anyone can go online and access a wealth of information about professional services knowhow… and they do.  But before we actually purchase we like to know more.  We want to know that we like someone’s approach to business and their opinions.  We want affirmation from a peer that they are, indeed, experts.  And yet what’s holding the sector back is a risk-aversion to publishing content and reviews and leveraging the full spectrum of tools available in a modern marketing environment – tools designed to do just want we all want from our own purchasing decisions.  As Kaplan says… the availability of knowledge doesn’t negate the need for the expert.  Just because you can research your knee surgery before seeing your doctor doesn’t mean you don’t need one.” 

Rather like a book of historical letters this book is better dipped in and out of.  The dense examples and case studies make reading it in one sitting rather a challenge.  In the same way, those looking for practical action plans and lists of techniques will find the water somewhat muddy.  However, there is no denying the captivating draw that this book has.  As a snapshot of our time, providing a compare and contrast to how we did (and some still do) things, it is inspirational.

Kaplan takes you on a path through the basic elements of marketing, discussing different professional service examples along the way.  His light, anecdotal tone makes you feel that you are involved in a conversation with someone really interesting.  You can’t fail to be inspired by his suggestions on setting business goals, commoditization of products, ideas for engaging with clients, as well as techniques for developing offline relationships and networking skills.  As one would expect, the references to social media are extensive, as are those relating to wider digital techniques.  What sets Kaplan apart, however, is the way he expertly weaves this into more traditional marketing examples.  He spends considerable time talking about the concerns all professionals have, as well as suggestions for doing it right and ways to tackle the doubters… and yet, unlike so many other books out there on this topic, it seems to easy… so non-confrontational.  A book about revolution that takes you by surprise.

Those non-lawyers/accountants out there that read this magazine will be impressed to hear that another of the great benefits of this book is its coverage of a full range of professional services in its examples.  In fact, the examples from the architectural, recruitment, healthcare and financial industries shine a much-needed spotlight on other practices.

When all is said and done, however, two key theories shine through in this book.  The first is that even in a world of technology, the personal touch is essential – Kaplan isn’t suggesting ‘instead of’ he’s suggesting ‘as well as’.  And finally, his overarching belief in hard work – “In the old days you had to buy attention and now you have to earn it… you must have a passion for what you do and be willing to work harder than anybody else… There are so many places on the planet that need [insert professional service], so if I don’t get the work it’s because I am not trying hard enough.”  How many of us have thought it and never said it?

EDITORS NOTE: And as if that wasn’t endorsement enough, no sooner had this been published than we received an email from Nicola Webb at Manches LLP saying “Inspirational book review in this month’s PM. I’m buying the book now!!” We should be on commission!