Three eye-opening marketing reads I’m enjoying right now

Reading. It’s still my favorite way to get lost.

Reading. It’s still my favorite way to get lost.

I’m a digital-loving guy. I have an iPad and a Kindle, both loaded to the cyber gills with apps, videos and PDFs of marketing stuff, among lots of other subjects. But analog ghosts haunt me, too—manifesting as a stack of dusty books next to my nightstand that are about the height of an Ewok.

It’s tempting for me, as it may be for you, to just keep reading about the latest marketing crazes and trends—the notorious “how tos” and “7 steps to doing whatever.” There’s so, so much to keep up with. You have my sympathies.

But as a marketer, and a creative, I firmly believe in feeding my muses with a robust and varied diet of information. You never know what will inspire you, or what relic from your subconscious will make itself appear at just the right time.

I’ll read just about anything—from biographies to fiction, academic stuff, blogs, magazines, Flipboard (see my blog on it), and Huffington Post.

So, with that lengthy preamble in mind, here’s my current reading list from the marketing realm. (By that, I mean the stuff I carry around with me in my backpack, as opposed to the digital and analog piles of varied subjects I mentioned before.) I’ve also put in some links, in case you want to pick anything up.*

Jab Jab

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk. To many people, Vaynerchuk is the grand master of social media. He adopted online early, promoting his family’s wine business by doing 20-minute YouTube reviews of various spirits—and he’s been on the frontlines of digital coolness ever since. Presently, he bills himself as an entrepreneur, and he owns a social media agency in NYC. He also does speaking engagements and is a living example of using social well.

The book is an entertaining read that looks at social media now. He devotes a chapter to each of the most popular platforms, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and more. It’s great, easy-to-remember advice.

The danger here is the book could easily go out-of-date in a matter of minutes… but the basic philosophy won’t. That is, know your audience, be ruthlessly knowledgeable about the social media platforms they use, put out good stuff the majority of the time (jab), and ask for an order every so often (right hook). As a former boxer myself, I enjoyed all the sweet science metaphors.

Brains

Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements by Robbin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church and Spike Jones. I came across this book (and the South Carolina agency that created it) in my cyber travels. Naturally, the title got my attention.

The book is, in essence, a marketing manifesto from four marketers who contend that marketing is headed in a very different direction. (I know, no duh.) But they address, head on, the 600 lb. gorilla in the cubicle next to us—people don’t like or trust marketers. Hello, everyone. My name is Andy, I’m a marketer, and people don’t like me. Admitting the problem is the first step to recovery.

Strangely, given all the anti-marketing talk, most of the book feels like it’s hard selling a viewpoint to me. Still, there are some great points on these pages—like having one-on-one talks with your audience to get real insight from them, finding evangelists that will do the word-of-mouth thing for you, and lots of examples and ideas. The goal of marketing, they say, should be to ignite a movement. They define that as something that’s ongoing, powered by the people, technology-loving and fueled by passion.

This doesn’t apply to what you’re marketing, you say? Read the pages on Fiskars, a three-century-old scissor company that set a highly successful movement in motion. Yes, a scissor company.

Brutal

Brutal Simplicity of Thought; How it Changed the World by M&C Saatchi. This is an awesome, thought-provoking book you can read in one sitting. It’s basically a presentation of the famous agency’s method of creativity. The premise of this little gem: We all complicate things too much. It’s easy to be complex. It’s a bitch to be simple. (Amen!)

The book shares, in dozens of interesting stories and anecdotes, how simplicity of thought changed things in a positive way. Each mini chapter leads with a compelling question, like: How do you get a country to work an hour earlier? and How do you hold a building together with a thread? You can’t help but read the answer.

The book lives up to its philosophy, too, with simple imagery, great design and very readable typography.

If you’re reading any great stuff right now on the fine art of marketing, please leave me a comment below. You can never have enough stuff to read!

*I’m not compensated in any way for my recommendations. If only.

– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group

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