I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t read enough -- especially when it comes to business books.
Some people are better at carving out time to sit down with a book and really dig in. I, on the other hand, find myself doing a lot more scattered reading these days.
I let my social feeds steer me to what I should read, so -- more often than not -- I hop around from blog posts to news articles during my workdays, rather than spend a decent chunk of time with one book.
In short: Like other people, I wish I could simply hold a book in my hands and suck all the knowledge out of it ... but it just isn't happening. If you're like me and just don't have the time, though, I've got a solution you may find useful.
If you work in marketing and haven’t read this yet, you’ve probably been hiding under a pile of junk mail. Permission Marketing is a must-read. It paved the way for inbound marketing -- what we preach right here on this very blog.
Even 14 years ago, when this book was first published, Seth Godin was talking about how the attention crisis in America meant that nearly a century of tried-and-true interruptive advertising techniques were becoming increasingly ineffective:
“The great marketers of the fifties and sixties knew how to interrupt people. They knew how to craft a campaign that would gain attention, and in just a few moments, communicate a basic idea ... Just as important, they had the guts to use frequency to make their ads work. Those memorable VW Beetle ads were consistent and frequent. The ads for Starkist Tuna and Frosted Flakes were omnipresent ... We all remember these classic ad campaigns because they were delivered to us with massive frequency in an environment that had a fraction of the clutter we face today.”
At the time Permission Marketing was published, Godin said it was estimated that the average consumer saw about 1 million marketing messages a year, or about 3,000 a day. Again, that was 14 years ago. All of Godin’s principles about how to turn strangers into loyal customers still hold true today, and our industry still struggles to serve consumers with marketing that’s anticipated, personalized, and relevant.
2) Ctrl Alt Delete by Mitch Joel
Do you want to be employable in the next five years?
Yes. Yes, you do. That’s one major reason why Mitch Joel wrote this book -- to help ensure you will be. The first part of his book covers five major shifts that have completely changed the way we work and live, while the second half covers seven ways to transition from being a nine-to-fiver into “doing the work that you were meant to accomplish.”
What I love about Ctrl Alt Delete -- especially the first section about five movements that have altered business forever -- is that it avoids all the gimmicky predictions like "This is the year of mobile!" and instead just looks at the facts.
For instance, what’s the first thing you reach for in the morning? Probably your smartphone. You’re not the only one who does. Think about what that means from a consumer behavior standpoint. Joel points out that how we marketers think about consumers in the boardroom is very different from a) the way consumers actually behave and b) the way we as consumers behave ourselves.
My two favorite quotes to sum up Ctrl Alt Delete:
"No more platforms. One platform. We’re quickly moving toward a world where we simply see media as text, images, audio, and video. The truth is, the subtle differences between movies, TV shows, and video podcasts feel like they are gently going away. It’s just video -- when we want it and how we want it. The subtle differences among a newspaper story, a magazine article, a book, and a blog post drift away. We’re no longer putting a premium on something printed/physical against something digital/bits and bytes. It’s just text (or images or audio or video) -- when we want it and how we want it and then how we share it and talk it up."
"Stop looking at your business as physical, Web, and Mobile. It’s about consumers, and the only thing that matters to consumers is the one screen that is in front of them."
3) Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
This is the question Influence answers: What factors cause one person to say yes to another person?
As marketers, what we’re really trying to do is get people to say “yes” to buying our product or service, right? That’s why Influence is a must-read. If we know how to get prospects to comply, we satisfy their wants and needs, and our businesses grow.
There are six overarching tactics that any marketer or salesperson can use to get a prospect to say yes:
It’s a lot easier to use those six "weapons" discussed above when you actually have a really solid idea that people will “stick” -- meaning they'll pay attention, understand, engage, and remember. Made to Stick is all about stripping our ideas down to their very core and translating them through what Chip and Dan call the “SUCCESs checklist.”
In other words, successful ideas are:
And they tell a (S)tory.
As marketers, the bane of our existence is prospects who pay no attention to the messages we so desperately want them to grasp. As businesspeople, we also need to get our bosses and colleagues to care about our ideas -- otherwise, we get nothing done. Made to Stick helps with both.
5) The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Marketing, in essence, is no different than problem-solving. We strive to solve problems by crafting and communicating messages compelling enough to get a group of people to change their behavior in some fashion. If “ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do,” what makes them tip?
In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell helps marketers understand how word-of-mouth works and that little things -- relatively minor changes in our external environment -- can actually make a huge difference on how we behave and act.
If we know what makes a trend or idea “spread like wildfire,” we can manipulate our marketing to engender the consumer behavior we desire.
For example, if we want a particular group of people to adopt our message, we have to constrain that group to fewer than 150 members. After a group grows beyond 150 members, intimacy, interdependency, and efficiency start to erode.
Which books do you think every marketer should read?
Because we really do think you should read these books in their entirety, we're giving away 100 free books – 20 of each book included in SpotNotes – to 100 people on January 3, 2014. Details on how to win a free book are included in your download of SpotNotes.
Originally published Dec 20, 2013 1:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017