Top 5 books every marketer should read

September 24, 2013

I don’t believe you can be successful if you don’t keep ingesting new ideas, information and stories.  As you know, I’m a big reader and try to get through a book a week to keep my brain’s juices cooking.

For a recent presentation, I was asked to provide my all time top 5 books every marketer should read.  I thought you might find it valuable as well.

In no particular order — here are the books that you need to own, read and re-read.

The top 5 books every marketer should read

Baer - Top 5 books every marketer should readJay Baer’s Youtility (Click here to buy on Amazon*) offers a new approach that cuts through the clut­ter: marketing that is truly, inherently useful. If you sell something, you make a customer today, but if you genuinely help someone, you create a customer for life.

Drawing from real examples of companies who are practicing Youtility as well as his experience helping more than seven hundred brands improve their marketing strategy, Baer provides a groundbreaking plan for using information and helpfulness to transform the relationship between companies and customers.

Handley & Chapman - Top 5 books every marketer should readContent Rules (click to buy it on Amazon*) by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman. Blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other platforms are giving everyone a “voice,” including organizations and their customers.

So how do you create the stories, videos, and blog posts that cultivate fans, arouse passion for your products or services, and ignite your business? Content Rules equips you for online success as a one-stop source on the art and science of developing content that people care about.

Davenport - Top 5 books every marketer should readKeeping up with the Quants (Click to buy on Amazon*) by Thomas Davenport.  Not normally my type of book but when in Rome…. welcome to the age of data. No matter your interests, your industry, or the type of organization you work for —your world is awash with data.

As a successful manager today, you must be able to make sense of all this information. You need to be conversant with analytical terminology and methods and able to work with quantitative information. This book promises to become your “quantitative literacy” guide—helping you develop the analytical skills you need right now in order to summarize data, find the meaning in it, and extract its value.

Harry Beckwith‘s Selling the Invisible. (Click here to buy on Amazon*) It may be almost 15 years old, but it’s still right on the money and a brilliant read.

Beckwith - Top 5 books every marketer should readIn Selling the Invisible, Beckwith argues that what consumers are primarily interested in today are not features, but relationships. Even companies who think that they sell only tangible products should rethink their approach to product development and marketing and sales.

Beckwith provides an excellent forum for thinking differently about the nature of services and how they can be effectively marketed. If you’re at all involved in marketing or sales, then Selling the Invisible is definitely worth a look.

Calloway - Top 5 books every marketer should readJoe Calloway’s Becoming a Category of One (Click to buy on Amazon*) reveals how extraordinary companies do what they do so well and gives you the tools and ideas to help your business emulate their success. Packed with real case studies and personal reflections from successful business leaders, it helps you apply the best practices of the best companies to set yourself apart from your competitors and turn your business into a market leader.

Whether you run a multinational corporation or a two-person start-up company, the lessons you’ll find here apply to any business.

And because I believe there’s always another great book to discover…a bonus book or two.

Ariely - Top 5 books every marketer should readDan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational (click here to buy on Amazon*) draws on psychology and economics, behavioral economics can show us why cautious people make poor decisions about sex when aroused, why patients get greater relief from a more expensive drug over its cheaper counterpart and why honest people may steal office supplies or communal food, but not money.

According to Ariely, our understanding of economics, now based on the assumption of a rational subject, should, in fact, be based on our systematic, unsurprising irrationality. Ariely argues that greater understanding of previously ignored or misunderstood forces (emotions, relativity and social norms) that influence our economic behavior brings a variety of opportunities for reexamining individual motivation and consumer choice, as well as economic and educational policy.

Farber - Top 5 books every marketer should readAnd…not specifically a book for marketers — a book for leaders.  This is one of my all time favorites.  Steve Farber’s Radical Leap Re-energized.  (Click here to buy on Amazon*) The Radical Leap Re-Energized is an expansion and revitalization of The Radical Leap, which was named as one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time by Covert and Sattersten.

It’s a novel told in Steve Farber’s humorous, poignant, and original voice that takes the reader on a deep exploration of the qualities and practices of real, or Extreme Leadership, and how to apply them in daily life. Part One, The Radical Leap, explores the leadership elements of Love, Energy, Audacity, and Proof; Part Two, The Radical Edge, takes the discussion deeper into innovation, personal clarity and guidelines for changing the world. It sets a new standard for what it means to really lead in today’s business world and beyond.

Now get reading!

 *All of these are affiliate links.

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Promote Yourself

September 5, 2013

Promote-Yourself-New-CoverWhen I first heard the title of Dan Schawbel‘s new book — Promote Yourself (The actual full title is Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success) I thought, uh oh…another how to use social media to get in the spotlight book. But knowing Dan, I should have known better.

Instead of a re-tread on an already tired topic, Dan’s very fresh message is “Hey Millennial — the future is yours if you want it — but don’t think it’s going to get handed to you.” He then outlines how these young professionals need to take charge of their career and make sure “the future has your name on it.”

He encourages his readers (and honestly while his advice is aimed at those born between 1982 – 1993, it’s perfectly applicable to professionals of all ages) to rely on a mix of technical, interpersonal and social media skills. He suggests, and I believe he’s correct, that it’s the hard skills that will get you the job but the soft or interpersonal skills that will get you the promotion.

He says “Hard skills are what will help you navigate the technical elements of your job, but it’s soft skills that will enable you to move ahead.”

Keep in mind that in today’s corporate world, company culture and company ethics are getting more and more important. Skills like being a good communicator, trustworthy and empathetic matter. Especially when sizing up candidates for a possible promotion. When everyone you’re competing with has the same hard skills are you do — how are you going to stand out?

Dan offers up six rules of self promotion that everyone should jot down:

  • Make yourself worth being talked about
  • Be well-known for one specific thing
  • Take responsibility
  • Find ways to expand your role
  • Make others look good – especially your manager
  • Get some evangelists

I am hardly a millennial. And I’ve been in the workplace for a very long time and at this point, I’m the only one who can promote me. But Dan’s book had some great reminders for me too. Whether you’re 20 or been on the job for 20 years — this is a worthwhile read. (click here to buy the book on Amazon*)

As I always try to do — I asked Dan my book author questions and here’s what he had to say:

If you had to describe the content of your book in a single sentence (no run ons) what would it be?

A book that pushes people to be accountable for their own careers and take charge of their lives.

What one book that you’ve read do you wish you could claim as your own?

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam M. Grant.

In your opinion, what is the one trait that all uber successful business people possess?

They are willing to put the effort every single day in order to turn their dreams into reality.

What’s the biggest business mistake you’ve ever made and what did you learn from it?

The biggest mistake I’ve made was that I rushed into trying to get a second book deal after the first one came out. I learned that I need to be more patient and to not only think bigger, but take the time to make something even more successful before I jump into a new project.

Why did you have to write this book?  What truth or insight was missing from the human consciousness — that you’ve now answered?

The question I answered in this book is “how do I get ahead at work?” When I started writing it, the idea was it would contain the feedback that employees didn’t receive at work, straight from the managers who have the power to promote them or not.

After someone is done reading your book — what do you hope they do as a result?

I hope they take at least one recommendation in the book and act on it. It would be great to see a revival of work ethic out there and for more people to take risks in their careers.

*Affiliate link
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Rules of the Hunt – do you know what they are?

September 3, 2012

There’s a new book called Rules of the Hunt* that is unlike many of the business books on the shelf today.  No witty parables, no acronyms for an overarching belief, in fact it’s absolutely void of anything trendy or theoretical. Instead, this book is just down to earth and friendly advice like you might expect from a trusted mentor.

Did you ever have that one teacher, uncle or boss who you could just sit and listen to for hours?  That’s how I felt about this book — like I was learning from someone I could trust.

The author, Michael Dalton Johnson, shares a lifetime of learning and earning. Along with his practical business insights and observations, Johnson shares some powerful leadership rules that I suspect you’ll use more than once.

I had the chance to ask the author the same questions I enjoy asking all the authors and here’s what he had to say:

If you had to describe the content of your book in a single sentence (no run ons) what would it be?

An old dog’s advice to improve one’s business game.

What one book that you’ve read do you wish you could claim as your own?

There really are none.

In your opinion, what is the one trait that all uber successful business people possess?

I think they all share a real love of the game. There is an abiding excitement and sense of adventure that comes with business success. I doubt you would ever hear one say, “I hate what I do.”

What’s the biggest business mistake you’ve ever made and what did you learn from it?

By far the biggest mistake I’ve made was selling a business prematurely. Back in the nineties, about a year before the Internet boom, I was a partner in a small technical publishing and marketing firm. The champagne corks were popping when we sold it for several million dollars.

About a year later, when the Internet gold rush was in full swing, a like sized competitor sold their business to a fortune 1000 company for 70 million.

The lesson, of course, is to not sell a soon to be appreciating asset. We could have probably seen the Internet investment frenzy coming had we bothered to get quality research on business and investment trends. We never even thought of it.

Why did you have to write this book? What truth or insight was missing from the human consciousness — that you’ve now answered?

My motive was not as lofty as adding to the human consciousness. I have witnessed, and continue to witness, business people making easily avoidable errors. I see many that are doing just so-so and others missing big opportunities, losing money and destroying their health. I wrote this book to give them small advantages to play a better and more rewarding business game.

After someone is done reading your book — what do you hope they do as a result?

I would hope they reflect for a moment on the author’s soaring genius and then start enthusiastically recommending the book to friends, family and strangers at Starbuck’s.

Seriously, I hope the reader will simply remember and use these rules.

 

Note: If you purchase the book on Amazon (see the * affiliate link above or click here) and then go to the Rules of the Hunt website (click here) you can get a bunch of extras from other authors like Zig Ziglar, Jeffrey Gitomer,  and Bob Bly.

 

 

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You’ve got a bird in your hand. Now what?

August 8, 2011

 

93067781
… Do you value what you already have?

Like the old idiom goes…a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  I’d argue, when the bird is a customer, the ratio is even greater.

For years, at the risk of preaching, I have been banging on the idea that we spend way too much time and energy chasing after potential customers and way too little time and energy romancing (and creating a love affair) our current customers.

I’ve pushed on the idea that our math is all backwards.  It’s cheaper and easier to get more (and more profitable) business from our existing clients — and yet, our “new business” efforts are always aimed at strangers, rather than those friendly, pre-disposed to love us customers.

Which is why I’ve always enjoyed and respected Becky Carroll and her blog Customers Rock.  Becky is an Age of Conversation author and a huge believer in the power of treating customers like gold.

So when Becky emailed me and asked if I would read her new book The Hidden Power of Your Customers (click here to buy*) I have to admit — I already knew I would like it.  Because I knew it would tout the importance of creating love affairs with your customers.

I just finished it — and wanted to share it with you.  As I suspected, Becky spends time making the points that I’ve  made above.  But the lion’s share of the book is spent showing readers HOW to cultivate and celebrate their current customers.  Becky teaches us the how using the acronym ROCK.

R = relevant marketing. This is all about talking to your customers how and when and where they want it.  Which, of course, means you need to listen/ask them.

O = orchestrated customer experiences. Brilliant companies are very purposeful in crafting customer experiences that deliver delight and marvel their most valuable clients.  It doesn’t happen by accident.

C = customer focused culture. I don’t care how smart or insightful a leader you are — if honoring your customer isn’t baked into your organization’s culture… it won’t happen.

K = killer customer service. This is all about consistency. (as you know, one of the cornerstones to good marketing)  When your brand and values are woven into your organization’s culture…. your entire team is able to deliver incredible customer-centric service, regardless of circumstance.

One of the best aspects of this book is the collection of case studies.  Becky went beyond the usual suspects and tells tales of customer loving companies like Nicor National, Salon Radius and Sanuk.  (Nope, I’d never heard of any of them either!)  The fresh stories add a depth that other books are missing.  However, no book on treating customers can leave out stories from Disney and you’ll enjoy those as well!

If you want to build an organization that truly treats its current customers as a precious commodity — this book will serve as a valuable guide to making it so.

Check it out and let me know what changes the book inspired.

 

*Yup, it’s an affiliate link and I was sent a copy of the book by Wiley. However…as you know, I get 4 or 5 books a week.  I only recommend the ones I genuinely believe you’ll value and enjoy.

 

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Learn why we unthink

February 9, 2011

unthinking drewmclellan 198x300

When I finished reading the galley for Harry Beckwith’s latest book, Unthinking, I shot him an e-mail that said:

“Unthinking is a fantastic read.  Your other books gave readers the what and sometimes the how — this book provides the why.  It’s a perfect companion to your earlier works.  What I love most about it is that you follow your own advice — you delight and surprise readers from beginning to end.  Storytelling at it’s best!”

As you know, Harry Beckwith is a part of my trifecta of the best business writers I’ve ever read (along with Steve Farber & Joe Calloway) and his new book may be his best.  In it, he explores how our mind and experiences “play tricks” on our buying decisions.

Through his brilliant, understated storytelling, Harry shows us what’s behind our consumer behavior and…of course as marketers, how we can use those insights to better connect with and serve our customers.  Here are some examples of the stories/lessons you’ll enjoy.

  • What do Howard Hughes and 50 Cent have in common, and what do they tell us about Americans and our desires?
  • Why did Sean Connery stop wearing a toupee, and what does this tell us about American customers for any product?
  • What one thing did the Beatles, Malcolm Gladwell and Nike all notice about Americans that helped them win us over?
  • Which uniquely American traits may explain the plights of Krispy Kreme, Ford, and GM, and the risks faced by Starbuck’s?
  • Why, after every other plea failed, did “Click It or Ticket” get people to buy the idea of fastening their seat belts?

Harry would argue that the answers to these questions can be found in our childhood, our culture and from our eye’s view.  Drawing from dozens of disciplines, always enlightening Harry Beckwith answers these questions with some surprising, even startling, truths and discoveries about what motivates us.

This is really a must read for anyone who deals with customers. (As are all of his earlier works if you haven’t already read them).  Buy it by clicking here.  (Amazon affiliate link)

You can also enjoy Harry’s foray into blogging at Psychology Today.

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