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Book Review: Custom Nation by Anthony Flynn and Emily Flynn Vencat

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Not too long ago, products were produced in bulk. That was the only way to make a profit – mass production and high markups. Today, in our consumers centric society, people want what they want. They don’t want what everyone else has. They want something special, unique and totally customized.

That’s what the book, Custom Nation: Why Customization is the Future of Business and How to Profit From It by Anthony Flynn and Emily Flynn Vencat, is about. I just left the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference this week, and after reading this book, I thought it naturally fit into the theme of the conference.

The book explains that it doesn’t matter whether it’s food, clothing, investments, or even books; people want things their way. Take a look at the news. The Patch.com, a relatively new AOL online hyper-local news publication, has gone one step beyond just offering the news – they now enable the user to customize their news feeds. They have changed the way we get our information, because they are offering us news that is important to us, individually.

In Custom Nation, the authors discusse the historic perspective of customization. I found this section quite interesting, especially when the authors talk about how in 1976, Burger King had a campaign, “Have it your way.” This enabled the consumer to customize their burgers. Looking back at that campaign, it makes me think that they were way ahead of their time.

My daughter and I were recently in a mall in Las Vegas. There was a vendor who took our measurements and offered us a list of clothing that would suit us best. All of the items were available in the mall. After that, I went from store to store looking for the items they recommended for my body type. If they took this concept one step further with less friction for the consumer, the stores could have been alerted and delivered the items to me so that I could have tried them on right then and there. I would have made many more purchases.

The authors make a strong case that our society is turning to customization and if businesses don’t get with the program, they won’t succeed. They even suggest that as the years go by, future generations will expect customization. And they’re right. Just look around. You will see that everything we do, everywhere we go, there is customization.

Flynn and Flynn Vencat write, “It is an established fact in behavioral psychology that people absolutely love things they have toiled to create.”

In section two of Custom Nation, the authors teach the reader how to create a business that is customized and how to succeed. They look at Shutterfly and note that the way to get the business off the ground is to make sure that you know what your customer likes. Know what problems they have and how to solve them.

I love that the authors take the concept of customization back to starting a business and provide the reader with 10 steps to success. They really go into depth on tools and tactics the reader needs in order to market and grow his/her business.

I also enjoyed Curation Nation’s case studies. All too often, I find business books use the same case studies over and over again. That wasn’t the case with this book. Custom Nation’s case studies are unique and compelling.

Custom Nation is well written, interesting and worth the read for marketing people as well as entrepreneurs. It is definitely one of those books to place at the top of your bucket list!

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About Hilary Topper