Why 1 Excellent Marketing Book Mattered


Eighth in an occasional series about stories and ideas worth telling.

“It takes a complete recipe to make the best cakes,” Guy Powell wrote in the preface to his book The Post-COVID Marketing Machine: Prepare Your Team to Win. “If one ingredient fails, the cake will be a dud. Running a business is exactly like baking a cake. The most successful companies have the best recipes and the best ingredients.”

The COVID-19 pandemic destroyed a lot of the best companies. Bed Bath & Beyond, Fry’s Electronics, Pier 1 Imports, Lord & Taylor, Stein Mart, and Silicon Valley Bank are among many that don’t exist anymore, although some still survive as online entities.

Many, many, others went into bankruptcy and survived but are shells of their former great selves. 

Powell, an expert marketer based in Atlanta, correctly predicted that businesses would have to adjust, pivot, and do things differently once the pandemic subsided and society returned to something akin to normal. Anticipating the need, he wrote his book, which became an international bestseller.

And with good reason, too, for his book ticks a great many of the boxes that make a book, story, or idea compelling and worth a professional ghostwriter’s time.

Running down the list:

A story that has a powerful and irresistible effect/a story that is unique. COVID-19 was the first pandemic in a century, making it unique to just about everyone on the planet. Powell detailed many of the dominoes that fell: lockdowns, cancellations of public events, increases in streaming and the accompanying technologies, social distancing and masking, virtual experiences, and working from home (and the accompanying technologies).

The story puts the reader there. The book is divided into three parts. Chapter 1, entitled “What Hath COVID Wrought? The Falling Dominoes,” does a great job of reminding the reader what we all went through in the early days of COVID. We all remember how people on cruise ships were quarantined, how sporting events were postponed, canceled, or staged without fans, how many of us discovered Zoom—I don’t mean the Boston-based children’s show from the 1970s—how we started shopping online, stopped going to the movies, how we had to stay six feet apart, how restaurants commandeered sidewalks and parking lots so they resembled Parisian cafes, and how we spent money on alcohol-based wipes and hand sanitizer.

We were all there, Powell returned us to that period.

The story relates to the reader. Everybody was affected by COVID, everybody knew others who were affected by COVID, everybody was affected by the various dominoes, everybody knew others who were affected by the various dominoes; and everybody in marketing needed to know how to guarantee their businesses, clients, companies, and selves survived. 

A story that is emotional. COVID-19 killed more than one million Americans and more than seven million people worldwide; caused untold sorrow, anguish, and physical and psychological problems. Powell provided hope in the form of a three-step solution (the Marketing Machine) and gave numerous examples of companies that succeeded in spite of the virus.

Part Three of the book details the promised land of how a company can succeed post-COVID: don’t scrimp on marketing budgets, be agile to better combat threats, and enjoy the increased revenue that comes from such actions. If a Greater Atlanta-based health and beauty company marketing to people of color can do it, then so could a company selling infant formula in Malaysia, and so could a Wichita, Kansas-based company selling Lycra in China.

This was a project that needed to be told because—and Powell knew this—millions of people were lost amid circumstances no one on Earth had experienced, and they needed guidance, to be shown a way out of the darkness and into the light of a world that would look different but would still exist, albeit in new and, for those that heeded Powell’s words, exciting and lucrative ways.

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