Book Review: Ctrl Alt Delete

January 7, 2014

As we celebrate the start of another year, many of us take time to reflect, create goals and make resolutions. The beginning of the year is a great time to do this and we feel like we have the opportunity for both a clean slate and a fresh start. While Mitch Joel’s book Ctrl Alt Delete was released more than six months ago, the topic of making a fresh start and rebooting both business and career is timely.

Mitch Joel is a marketing expert who has run his own agency (Twist Image) for more than ten years and is an influential blogger at Six Pixels of Separation. If you’ve visited here before, you know that his weekly podcast is one of my favorites. He’s a great interviewer with a keen marketing mind and he always has a grasp on what’s happening in the world of marketing, business and technology.

Ctrl Alt Delete is a book divided into two sections: the first part focuses on how businesses need to and are currently rebooting. The second, focuses on us, the business and marketing professional.

In the first section, Joel describes how brands are shifting toward more direct relationships with consumers. He uses Apple and their retail stores as an example and notes that “Apple didn’t start in the retail business to compete with other consumer electronics stores; they went into retail for the direct relationship with their customers.”

One way businesses, brands and organizations create more direct relationships is through social media and the creation of their own media channels. Red Bull is a great example of this.

Another way brands are rebooting is by shifting from a broadcast mindset to one where immediate value is being provided to consumers. A prime example of this is when brands use smartphone apps to provide immediate value to its customers at a time when they need it. Some of the brands that stand out include LEGO, Nationwide Insurance, Proctor & Gamble and Nike.

Joel also shares insights on how brands use a wealth of data to target and attract customers and the shift to a one-screen world (a world where television, computer and smartphone screens are beginning to be used by everyone for the same purpose).

Information in this first section gives readers a better understanding of what’s happening in the world of business and a clue about what’s about to happen.

In the second section, Joel provides practical steps for marketing and business pros to reboot and stay relevant in the ever-shifting world of work.

First, Joel encourages readers to take a digital-first posture. In Joel’s mind this means that, “the first place your consumers go when making a business decision is to their computers, smartphones and/or tablets. This should be your default posture, as well.” He understands this is not an easy task for some marketers…but consumers are already there.

He also encourages us to take a more “squiggly” career path. The days of working at one company are disappearing and the new normal is for the average worker to have several different career changes over a lifetime. This can be very unsettling and uncertain. What I enjoyed about Joel’s perspective is that he sees this uncertainty as a positive and that it offers workers the opportunity to focus on projects and work they’re passionate about. Through his own experience, he describes this uncertainty in a glass-half full manner.

Joel also provides a plethora of valuable tools and suggestions for ways that we, as business and marketing professionals, can make ourselves more marketable. These suggestions are helpful and likely to get readers excited about the possibilities ahead.

He doesn’t promise this will be easy…but the opportunity for career success and satisfaction is there if we’re ready to embrace it.

As a marketing professional who has adopted a digital mindset, I enjoyed Ctrl Alt Delete. If you’re a marketing and/or business professional who’s not quite sure about what’s ahead but looking for the best ways to prepare for this uncertainty, pick up a copy of Ctrl Alt Delete. It’s a quick and informative read.

How about you…as a professional, what new skills have you learned to stay ahead in your industry? I’d love to hear about them.