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Top 5 books every marketer should read

September 24th, 2013 · Books, Growing & Learning, Marketing, Strategy

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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4 tips for writing a strong case study

September 20th, 2013 · Copywriting, Customers/Clients, Marketing, Strategy

Story Everyone loves a good story.  And there’s a reason why Aesop and others opted to teach their life lessons through stories that have been told and re-told for many years.

Case Studies are the marketing version of Aesop’s Fables. Stories told to make a point or teach a lesson that demonstrates the value of your product or service.  So how do create a good case study?

CS Tip #1:  Structure it like a story. Make sure there’s a logical flow.  Explain the problem (identify the villain).  Introduce your company/product (bring in the hero). Describe how the challenge was overcome (tell of the battle). Sum it up (give it a happy ending).

CS Tip #2: Include lots of details. Don’t just say, “We were losing customers.” Give specifics.  Our sales were down over 42%.  Be sure to give details in describing both the problem and the solution. If your client isn’t willing to let you use their company’s name and information, choose a different example. This isn’t the place to be generic or vague. Your credibility goes hand in hand with the level of disclosure.

CS Tip #3: Use quotes to give your case study its authenticity. Be careful not to dumb them down so they sound generic.

CS Tip #4: Make sure everyone signs off on it before it goes public.  The power of a case study is that it reveals an actual problem and its solution. Some businesses may be reticent to air their dirty laundry. Before you pitch your case study to a reporter or post it on your website, get everyone’s blessing.

Case studies are incredibly compelling when done right.  If you’re lucky, you’ll tell a story that people will tell over and over.

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Use social media to drive traffic to your business’ website

September 14th, 2013 · Sales, Social Media

Social media is an ever-increasing facet of everyday business. Companies large (Starbucks) and small (your local car shop) are using social media to expand their exposure and reach a broad base of prospective consumers. B2B marketers are now spending 30% of their budgets on social media programs, trying to reach, among others, the 21 million+ Twitter [Read more...]

What does this pricing strategy say to you?

September 9th, 2013 · Marketing, Strategy

How thoughtful are you about your company’s pricing strategy? Let me give you an example. We use an on-line vendor to provide extranet services for our clients.  We’ve been with them for over five years.  We recently discovered a better, cheaper solution.  It wasn’t the cheaper that sold us.  It was the ease of use [Read more...]

Promote Yourself

September 5th, 2013 · Books, Employees

When 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 [Read more...]

Useful = today’s marketing secret

September 3rd, 2013 · Books, Psychology, Sales, Strategy

Let’s look at the reality: Fragmented media choices Permission-based media on the rise Ability to filter, skip, ignore irrelevant advertising Nothing beats word of mouth A jaded, cynical consumer Consumers tuning out, taking over and talking loudly about brands That mountain of challenges is what faces marketers every single day.  So how in the world [Read more...]

Why would I pick you?

September 1st, 2013 · Branding, Passion, Psychology

We have to remember that every day, both our existing customers and potential customers are looking at us and wondering “why would I pick you?” Marketing 101 is that you need to understand how you’re different from your competitors.  It is perfectly logical — if you cannot differentiate yourself in terms of what you sell, [Read more...]

Case Study: How Google Fails to Measure Mobile Marketing

August 31st, 2013 · Mobile, SEO

Drew’s note: Here’s a fascinating guest post from the folks at ContactPoint. We are not a mobile marketing company, but for testing purposes, we recently started conducting some click-to-call campaigns for some of our call tracking clients. We wanted to determine two things from these tests: How many calls do click-to-call campaigns actually produce What [Read more...]

We have to earn our audience’s attention

August 9th, 2013 · Content Marketing, Customers/Clients, Social Media

We have to earn our audience’s attention.  Let’s see how you’re doing at that. If you own or run a business, I’d like to you take this little quiz. Would you ignore your business phone 30% of the time it rings? If a customer was standing in a crowd of your best customers and complaining [Read more...]

Building a great brand means going the extra mile

August 1st, 2013 · Branding, Customers/Clients, Love affair with customers

Want a great brand? Building a great brand means going the extra mile. Let me give you an example. I travel a lot so I decided it was time to invest in a suitcase that could take the beating that 100+ flights a year dishes out without having to be replaced every year.  So after [Read more...]