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Can't Buy Me Like: How Authentic Customer Connections Drive Superior Results [Hardcover]

Bob Garfield , Doug Levy
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

27 Feb 2014

Today's brands face an apparent choice between two evils: continue betting on their increasingly ineffective advertising or put blind faith in the supposedly mystical power of social media, where "likes" stand in for transactions and a mass audience is maddeningly elusive. There has to be a better way . . .

As Lennon and McCartney wrote a half century ago, money can't buy you love. But in today's world, where people have become desensi­tized-even disillusioned-by ad campaigns and marketing slogans, that maxim needs an update: Money can't even buy you like.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Penguin (27 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591845777
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591845775
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.3 x 23.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 631,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"This is a fabulous book that describes a revolutionary new vision for marketing, the Relationship Era, based on purpose, authenticity, trust and care. Written in an easy-to-read style and full of interesting stories, this book is both inspiring and fun. I give it my highest recommendation."--John Mackey, founder and co-CEO, Whole Foods "This book is funny, a bit profane and utterly profound. At Patagonia, we cherish our relationships, but these guys have located and explained dimensions of the Relationship Era that opened my eyes--and mind. What an enjoyable and enlighten-ing journey."--Casey Sheahan, CEO, Patagonia ""Can't Buy Me Like "speaks clearly to the challenges every CEO and CMO is con-fronting. It identifies the collapse of mass marketing as we have known it and provides example after example of how successful companies build trust in the 'new world.'"--Ron Shaich, founder, chairman and co-CEO, Panera Bread "The digital and social revolution has challenged even the most sophisticated mar-keters among us. But thankfully Garfield and Levy have given us a much needed blueprint for thriving in this new relationship era of marketing. This is the book I don't want my competitors to read."--Eric Ryan, cofounder, Method, andauthor of "The Method Method" "At last! Garfield and Levy have delivered a manifesto on what really matters to brands today: honest relationships. They do so by focusing not on our shiny social technologies but on the fundamentally changed relationship between business and customer in a world that looks less like a megaphone and much more like a network. Read this book; then challenge your business to live by it!"--David Rogers, author of "The Network Is Your Customer" ""Can't Buy Me Like "compellingly captures one of the biggest trends of our time. If there is a gap between a business's image and its reality, it will soon be found out and the business will be punished for it. Using their in-depth industry knowledge in this beautifully written and immensely readable book, Garfield and Levy describe in detail how to succeed in the new world."--David Jones, global chief executive officer, HAVAS, and author of "Who Cares WIns" "Garfield and Levy show how smart, conscious marketers can leverage today's extraordinary technologies to build authentic relationships with customers based on trust, authenticity and shared purpose. This book will usher in a new renais-sance in which the marketing function can finally fulfill its own largely unrealized higher purpose."--Raj Sisodia, coauthor of "Conscious Capitalism "and "Firms of""Endearment," marketing professor, Bentley University "At Zappos, relationships have always been a top priority. "Can't Buy Me Like "explores why this is so important for all companies. Garfield and Levy smartly describe how to build relationships with customers, vendors and employees to create an extraordinary business."--Tony Hsieh, author of "Delivering Happiness "and CEO,, Inc.

About the Author

Bob Garfield is the cohost of NPR's 'On The Media' and a columnist for MediaPost. Previously at Advertising Age, he has been a prominent commen­tator on and analyst of advertising and marketing for thirty years. His previous books include The Chaos Scenario. He lives outside Washington, D.C.

Doug Levy is the founder and CEO of MEplusYOU, a leading strategic and creative agency that believes authentic relationships fuel astonishing brands. This is his first book. He lives in Dallas.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
With regard to the question they pose, one that serves as the title of this review, Bob Garfield and Doug Levy explain, "In all humility, we believe we have the answer." They certainly have their answer and it is eminently worthy of consideration. (More about that later.) They assert -- and I agree -- that "the currency of Relationship Era marketing is not awareness, nor even quality. Trust. Loyalty. Pride...[Therefore] your essence is transmitted in your relations with all stakeholders: customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, neighbors and the earth itself. In short: Across every function of an enterprise, corporations and their brands now can and must behave with their various constituencies in ways [begin italics] exactly parallel to human relationships [end italics]."

Please re-read that last sentence as an introduction to their subsequent assertion that "the most salient fact in accepting the ascendancy of the Relationship Era paradigm has not to do with its benefits so much as its inevitability. The universe has made the choice for you." They then identify and discuss four forces at work, "converging momentously to dictate [the] future.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's Not to "Like" About This? 21 April 2013
By Pete Blackshaw - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I purchased the Kindle version of this excellent book and it's got more yellow digital "highlight" marks than my beaten-up college copy of Plato's Republic -- and for good reason. "Can't Buy Me Like" is a great and timely read, loaded with insight and sometimes uncomfortable truths -- all wrapped in Garfield's vintage unapologetic, "hold no prisoners" writing style. He and Doug Levy echo many themes I hit hard in my book "Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3000," especially around what truly makes brands credible in today's environment, especially the "trust" factor. Yes, as they write, trust "is an asset, not a commodity. It cannot be purchased. It must be earned." While some of the case examples felt a bit tired (arguably over-used...we all need to chill a bit on the Zappos examples), and the book's momentum slowed down a bit in the second half, I think this is the right book at the right time for marketers and beyond. We're all obsessing with likes, and friends, and followers, and what we sometimes mistakenly assume to be "easy love." No, we actually have to work hard to get the likes, and expectations continue to skyrocket to new levels, especially around the brand's role as help desk and service provider. (Not easy to do...operationally.) Anyway, highest recommendation. Big enthusiastic "like"... and no one came close to buying it!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars more problems than answers 2 Jan 2014
By Ryan Vasso - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
He does a great job explaining how traditional marketing tactics don't work (which isn't new - think Seth godin). He also explains how fake marketing can seek into social media. And he gives a few good examples of companies doing It the right way. But overall, I thought it was a bit long for the topics discussed. I also felt it was more of an update about the status quo than a real self-help business book.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I haven't been this excited about Marketing since college 22 Mar 2013
By 5 of 11 - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Can't Buy Me Like is an eye opening look at the current state of Marketing. I'm like a teenage girl reading one of those vampire novels, I can't put it's that good. This book is exactly what I've been looking for, this hits the nail on the head. Either get on board with what they have to say, or get your pails and buckets ready....cause the ship will sink!
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Book for Both Those at Beginning and at Peak of Career 18 Mar 2013
By August Ray - Published on
"Can't Buy Me Like" is a new, very worthwhile book from Bob Garfield, well known ad critic and co-host of NPR's On The Media, and Doug Levy, founder and CEO of creative and strategic agency MEplusYOU. This is the book every CEO should read, every marketer should ponder and every social media professional will want to distribute. It is not another exploration of social media but of the way the consumer and brand world is changing, what this means to brands and how "marketers can and must define their brands not by the ads, press releases, slogans, coupons, sponsorships and even product offerings but by their core purpose." (Disclosure: I had the opportunity to review the book prior to publishing and share feedback--mostly praise--with the authors.)

This is the sort of book that can help open eyes, alter thinking and spark change. It thoroughly makes the case that the necessary evolution is not merely one of tactics or even strategy, but something even deeper and more fundamental. Garfield and Levy are bold enough to state from the start that their "immodest goal is to be not merely financially, but something approaching spiritually, transformative." But make no mistake, this is not some fluffy sermon on the importance of caring and tweets; the book's brilliance is in how it ties the need for core mission and new ways of marketing to financial outcomes.

The book begins with a damning study of why the practices that succeeded in the Consumer Era are wilting as we enter the Relationship Era. Levy and Garfield probe "the limits of advertising," which does not sustain brands but works only for as long as marketers feed the ad budget beast. As it does time and again, "Can't Buy Me Like" supports its claims with actual case studies and examples; for example, Colorado tourism catapulted from 14th place to first among states as a summer resort destination thanks to a new $12 million ad budget, but it plummeted to 17th place in one year when that ad spend was eliminated.

Garfield and Levy are not anti-advertising, but they suggest there is a more sustainable way to collect and keep customers in the Relationship Era. The book introduces the Brand Sustainability Map, which graphs brands on two axes--Transactions and Trust. Sure, your brand can get high transactions with low trust, but these "reluctant relationships" are expensive to maintain and remain constantly at risk. Better to fall within the "emotional relationship" or "sustainable relationship" quadrants (depending upon your transaction volume), which can sustain and expand relationships thanks to high levels of trust. Put another way, "Indifference is expensive. Hostility is unaffordable. Trust is priceless."

Social media comes up time and again in this book, but "Can't Buy Me Like" is not a social media manual; instead, it makes the case that social is part of the change occurring around us and not a new tactic to be deployed. "There is no magic in Twitter or any other social-media platform," assert Garfield and Levy, "but there is a sort of magic in properly cultivating trust relationships." Once again, the book makes the case with a brand case study: Kimberly-Clark's Kotex shifted from advertising that perpetuated the stigma of menstruation to adopting a mission that confronts the taboo head on. announced, "This is more than a Web site. This is a social movement aimed at changing the conversation," and it garnered four million interactions, received three million sample requests and contributed to an increase in market share from 4% to 7.8%.

"Can't Buy Me Like" is packed with more studies and case studies than any other book I can remember. The examples and research support key points made throughout the book:

- Need evidence that brand building creates value? BrandPower research on "familiarity" and "favorability" across 800 companies demonstrates that brand equity accounts for 5 to 7% of total equity value for the average company and as much as 21% for the strong brands, such as Apple.

- Have difficulty believing that corporate purpose matters? The thirty companies identified in Sisodia, Wolfe and Sheth's 2007 book Firms of Endearment as being driven by purpose saw stock increases of 1646% from 1996 to 2011 compared to the S&P average increase of 157%.

- Think "real time marketing" means having your social team ready to post during the Super Bowl or Oscars? P&G's Secret brand learned of Olympic medalist Diana Nyad's plan to swim the 103 miles between Havana and Miami. A perfect sponsorship opportunity? Yes, but by the time the brand learned of it, the event was just seven days away. In one day, its agency was on the ground at her California home filming three promotional videos; days later, the Secret Clinical Line was an official sponsor. (As it turns out, complications forced a series of delays in Nyad's swim, but with Secret's support, she went on to attempt the feat three times. She won the respect of millions and sales of Secret's Clinical Strength Waterproof doubled.)

- Do you thumb your nose at the small scale of social media compared to the reach of your ad budget? Secret's "Mean Stinks" program launched on Facebook and encouraged teens to apologize for and discuss bullying. The activity created 339,000 text and video engagements yielding 1.3 million placements in users' newsfeeds. Sound small compared to NCIS's 20 million viewers? Then you do not understand the power of engagement versus passive views of an advertisement. Reports the brand manager at P&G, "In the fiscal year that Mean Stinks launched, total brand dollar share was up 8%. Our Clinical family of SKUs, which were the products associated with Mean Stinks, grew 20% in volume versus the previous year. On our Facebook page, we saw fan engagement increase 24x with the launch of Mean Stinks, and about half of those fans engage with the page on a regular basis."

"Can't Buy Me Like" offers a rich vein of these sorts of brand stories and research insights, but it also strives to provide brands with a roadmap to embrace the Relationship Era. The book shares a seven-point plan to help brands move from listening to engaging to leading to measuring. It also shares Do's, Don'ts and "No, really, don'ts." And it conveys the real-life challenges of brands that have lost consumers' trust.

I can highly recommend "Can't Buy Me Like." Reading it inspired in me the same sorts of feelings I experienced in my 20s when "In Search of Excellence" aroused a shift in my worldview and career. I think this book can benefit everyone from young professionals (who recognize the world is changing but cannot often connect that to the business outcomes their bosses demand) to senior leaders (who have tired of some of the social media hyperbole but also recognize something profound is changing in the consumer-brand relationship). This is a book you will want to read, quote, share, recommend and buy for others.
5.0 out of 5 stars a Must Read for Marketers who grew up with TV! 2 Sep 2014
By Ann Rimkus - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Every marketer who refuses to enter the digital world in a big way and embrace it for what it is and what it means to the future, should read this book. It is embarrassing to hear marketing professionals today actually say out loud...."I don't do digital"! Do they think Internet is a fad? Wake up a smell the KPIs! This book is interesting, excellent....and funny. The way an advertising book should be!
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