Ask, by Ryan Levesque
This is the sort of book that could most easily be seen as a mixture of memoir and sales pitch, and if that sounds appealing to you, this is a book that is certainly interesting. I must admit, at the outset, that this book is clearly not aimed at me, but is rather aimed more at those who are seeking to sell and who are entrepreneurs who need to be able better sell to their prospects. This book is therefore not immediately relevant to me and is designed to be extremely relevant to its readers. Even so, this book is of use because of its approach to asking people questions in a way that is both immensely practical and indirect. The author notes ways to effectively use surveys to place people into buckets for focused and targeted attention and also to focus attention on what people do not like and have a high motivation to resolve. And this is a worthwhile approach to deal with questions, by asking people what they are most bothered or irritated by.
This book is a relatively short one at less than 200 pages, divided into 22 short chapters. The book begins with a foreword and an introduction on how to use the book. After that the first part of the book gives the story of how it is that the author developed his insight into asking the right questions (I), where the author talks about people (1) and strange questions and answers (2), before giving a narrative account of his life that includes his discovery of the questioning technique (3), his crisis (4), his hard work to fulfill his dream (5), an unexpected twist (6), a letter he wrote to his mother (7), his recognition of the people who inspired him as a young entrepreneur (8), his bold leap (9), and how things finally came together for him (10). The second part of the book covers the methodology of the author’s approach (II), including how to read it (11), the author’s process (12), the deep dive survey (13), persuading through self-discovery by the customer (14), segment through a bucket survey (15), prescribe after the survey (16), profit through upselling (17), pivoting through following up (18), as well as case studies in a tennis training (19) and a water ionizer market (20). The book then ends with chapters on his reasons for writing the book (21), an altar call for the reader to respond (22), as well as a glossary, acknowledgements, and information about the author.
One of the elements of this book that is particularly striking is the way that the author seeks to use himself and his own life as a model for his approach, discussing his education, his passion for Chinese, and his decision to go out on his own rather than remain working for a large company. It is not enough that the author is trying to appeal to fellow entrepreneurs but that he feels it necessary to demonstrate his own bona fides as one himself. One can easily suspect that the author’s target reader is likely to be someone who is a bit suspicious of the sorts of claims that are common in this book–how could one not be in a world where we are continually bombarded with inflated claims that appeal to the basest elements of our nature–but it does make it harder for an author to feel comfortable that his ideas and approaches are being taken seriously. One of the fringe benefits of the author’s personal approach is that one gets to see how it is that a copywriter makes some kind of money through marketing, and why it is that people are so willing to write guides to people as a way of making money rather than making money through doing things themselves. And any book which provides insight into why it is that contemporary marketers behave as they do is well worth considering.