“Cool is for Fools” Makes Marketers Think – Deeply

imageThe world of marketing isn’t really known for its philosophers.  In fact, even the gurus of Marketing such as Philip Kotler or Michael Porter are more rooted in practicality than pondering.  But then there’s Romi Mahajan — now he is what I’d call a modern marketing philosopher.  Mahajan has just published a new book called Cool is for Fools.  I received a review copy the other day and wanted to share some of the insights with you here.

A little about Romi

You might be familiar with Romi’s name because he’s a frequent contributor to our Marketing Access and Research Access blogs.  And in the interest of full disclosure – a friend and colleague of our CEO, Vivek Bhaskaran.  But that is just the surface stuff.  Have you ever heard the phrase “Know the rules so you can break them?”  Yeah – I’d say that’s Romi.

Romi has had a broad range of marketing experiences; inside of large corporations like Microsoft as well as smaller companies.  He is currently the CMO of Metavana, a leading provider of social sentiment solutions for organizations and individuals.  Mahajan graduated from the University of California at Berkley at the age of 19 with a Bachelor’s degree in South Asian Studies and has a Masters Degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

I’m sharing all of this with you so that you can get some understanding of his broad-minded thinking that combines both the technical with the philosophical.  And this is what Cool is for Fools is all about.

How to Read Cool is for Fools

You can read Cool is for Fools from front to back — or not.  I didn’t.  This is a thin book of about 100 pages.  It’s really a collection of short essays on topics ranging from a few short words on “Buzz” to the creepiness of the Burger King mascot to tried and true topics of measuring marketing.

This is a great book to read in small doses – like a chapter at a time, then stop and reflect on the thoughts and feelings that Romi’s words bring up in you.  Here is an example of how I reacted to the title chapter “Cool is for Fools”

“The Burger King mascot is creepy” — Yeah, I thought it was stupid and creepy too.  But I’m a middle aged woman and I don’t think I’m the target audience.  I think the target audience is teenage boys who probably think the mascot is “cool” and who are the only humans on the planet that can eat the 3,500 calorie breakfast sandwich the guy was pitching a couple years ago.

“Cool. is a stupid and empty word” — yeah, Romi, you got that right.  “Cool is for charlatans without substance” (I’m keeping and stealing that quote – with credit of course)

“Burger King was trying to be cool and their sales sucked, while McDonalds was kicking ass” — A- HA!  Now we get to the root of it – there is no correlation between coolness and revenue.    Where am I substituting cool for conversions?

Oh, by the way — you’ll want to be next to a dictionary

I hope that this comparison doesn’t offend Romi – because it’s meant as a total compliment.  Romi’s book is what you would get if Dennis Miller decided to write on marketing.  If you’re not familiar with Dennis Miller (especially from his old days before Fox News) – Miller is the master of intelligent, well-read metaphor.  He refuses to dumb it down and he isn’t sorry for using words, phrases and comparisons that show that he is an intelligent and well-read guy.

Romi’s writing is much the same way.  He uses words, references and phrases that you may not be familiar with and quirkily plants them inside a writing style that is in-your-face, easy to read and irreverent.  You can skip looking up the words and phrases, but you will miss out on the subtlety of the message if you do.

Look, Cool is for Fools may or may not change you, your life or your marketing strategy.  But it will certainly make you take a few minutes to think about how you go about the business of marketing and market research.

You will also most definitely do a double take the next time you fall into the trap of being “cool” or finding some mundane way of measuring success.

Another “cool” thing about the book is the invitation to connect with Romi and have a powerful conversation about what’s in the book.

I’d recommend this book as a beach book or travel book for business book junkies.  It’s small enough to fit into a purse, computer bag or brief case, but the thoughts inside are big enough to make a difference in the world of marketing.