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I’m going to be a doing a series of blog posts cataloguing my favorite books in digital marketing and offering book reviews, but more than reviews – brief book summaries to give as much of the value as I possibly can, but hopefully it’ll inspire some people to read the full book as well.
If there’s one take away I hope you’ll get from this post with the initial list and rundown of the books I plan to review – it’s that I love to read and listen to audiobooks and believe it’s an incredible way to influence your mindset and make one more effective in your work and life.
Here it goes – Digital marketing related book reviews / book summaries I will be doing as part of this series:
1. Sell or Be Sold – Grant Cardone
A hard hitting, kick in the butt to get you revved up about selling and getting out there. Grant seeks to convince you that everything in life is made of persuasion of some type – and if you’re not getting your way, someone else is getting there way with you. He then goes into detail of some very interesting tactics to help people persuade and get people on board. Of the key insights – when people say the objection is price, it’s often something else – and he’ll regularly suggest a higher tier of price and service when someone has this objection because he knows the real reason is they just didn’t like what was being offered. If they really truly wanted it – they’d do anything it took to get it.
2. Eat That Frog – Brian Tracy
Brian Tracy is kind of an old school productivity / inspiration speaker, but this book has super practical and actionable tips for how to get your hardest stuff done first and to be super productive. Write down your 3 most important tasks the night before, and do your hardest 3 things first. “If you had to eat a frog every morning, it would likely be the hardest thing you did that day” is a way of saying don’t put off your hardest and most important things.
3. Growth Hacker Marketing – Ryan Holiday
Growth hacking is really a way of saying marketing on a budget, bootstrapping your marketing, or finding ways to automate and work the system of marketing with spending an arm or a leg. Ryan runs down his journey of getting familiar with the art after being an old-school marketer and his key crucial moments as a growth hacker, which are quite impressive.
If you could only read one out of these three which would I suggest you read? Eat that Frog if you’re short on time, and Sell or Be Sold if you really need to amp up your sales efforts. Both of these are just the shot of adrenaline that will amp up productivity – Growth Hacker Marketing is great but it’s a little hard to apply Holiday’s over the top P.R. moves to most digital marketing campaigns in a scalable way.
Now if you understand that marketing is one part sales, one part persuasion and one part visual story-telling than your not confused why I throw these sales books in here. The productivity books are also deeply important to digital marketing – because when you sit at a computer all day it’s very easy to get off track; thus consistent and persistent effort to focus is particularly important in our trades.
Here are some more amazing books I will be doing digital marketing book reviews / book summaries for:
4. The One Thing – Gary Keller
The best thing about this book is the premise… and this clarifying question Gary suggests you ask yourself:
“What is the one thing I can do, that by doing it will make everything else easy or unnecessary.”
The whole theme of this book centers on this question because it’s not always about productivity, sometimes it’s about priorities and spending time on the things that matter.
5. Content Inc. – Joe Pulizzi
Joe Pulizzi is really the chief evangelist for the content marketing movement that is rising in digital marketing. The best part of his whole philosophy is that content is really about the quality you put into it, but that many companies will soon be creating, and are creating in-house publishing machines that will match larger publications soon enough.
6. Do The Work – Steven Pressfield
Do The Work is a very interesting take on what causes resistance in the creative process and how to break through it. Steven Pressfield received a lot of praise for “The Art of War” and so he continues along this theme – breaking down various high performers habits for staying out of their heads and creating habits of instinctual creativity.
If you could only read one out of these three which would I suggest you read? I’d highly suggest you read or listen to The One Thing since it’s so good at explaining what it was intended to explain. The process of determining what your one thing is in particular areas of your life and focusing on that despite everything else.
How does this emphasis on determining your one thing and then focusing on it solely relate to digital marketing? Instead of glorifying multi-tasking, as digital marketing seems to demand sometimes – this take is refreshing and will help you dive deep into your work instead of doing 5 things at once.
7. The Conversion Code – Chris Smith
Intensely practical. This book goes into very current and specific tactics to get people into your site. Even though Smith doesn’t seem to see the value in Search Engine Optimization, but he does give a hugely helpful nudge for people getting into Facebook ads. In fact, he lays it down in very clear step by step instructions. If people weren’t sure about social ads before reading this book, they’ll be on board at the end and likely take the queue of getting in and creating clear objectives with their social ad campaigns.
8. Design is a Job – Mike Monteiro
Mike Monteiro doesn’t pull any punches – largely famous for his “fuck you, pay me” rant… I mean creative mornings speech… Monteiro extols the virtues of not playing the pawn, but rather the unflinching, convincing expert as you advocate for your design decisions rather than just play the eye and hand operating photoshop for your clients. Monteiro is the bold lead designer / CEO at Mule Design, and he suggests that artists sluff off the term “creative,” and embrace a more dominant role by focusing on business goals.
9. Steal Like an Artist – Austin Kleon
Austin Kleon’s most compelling ideas in this book revolve around being involved in a community of other smart creatives. He suggests that clusters of geniuses have cropped up in many different renaissances of the arts and culture throughout history. He also talks a lot about how pulling from everywhere where people do great things is a recipe for legitimate success – in fact, he says essentially that everything is a remix of things we’ve seen before whether we know it or not.
If you could only read one out of these three which would I suggest you read? I’d highly suggest you read The Conversion Code since it’s unbelievable granular in it’s breaking down of ways to monetize your online marketing efforts.
This one is the most blatant of examples in this list of something that’s so directly related to digital marketing. The truth is that these kinds of very specific and intense practical approach books can get dated fairly quickly, so I think that’s why there’s less of these on the list. But if a very down-to-earth and practical digital marketing book can stand the test of time this might be one of them. The description of funnels and segmentation totally changed the way I approached my own marketing and my agencies, and so I do think those concepts transcend even some of the granular tactics and techniques.
My top books for marketers & entrepreneurs
It is always a bit hard to narrow down favorite books a designer/entrepreneur should read to just a few, but non-fiction books that relate to business and marketing can often provide nuggets of practical wisdom that can change how we design and make money. That being said whenever I chat with someone on the topics of business and design and I feel that they are eager to learn more, I always suggest these three books.
If there was one book I would suggest every designer and entrepreneur should read it’s the E-Myth, or the Entrepreneur Myth. Michael Gerber talks about how most businesses are started by technician type individuals who start a business and immediately start working IN their business rather than ON their business.
1. Most new businesses are started by technicians — people who are skilled at what they enjoy doing.
2. Technicians assume they understand how a technical business works. In reality, they never do..
3. Building a business takes three skill sets: (1) The entrepreneur (2) The manager (3) The technician.
4. Businesses generally go through three phases of growth:
Infancy — when the technician is to the fore.
Expansion — when better management skills are required.
Maturity — where an entrepreneurial perspective is needed.
The best model for building a successful business is to view your operation as the prototype which a large number of franchise or turn-key operations will later duplicate. The challenge then becomes to maximize the amount of time you spend working on your business rather than in your business. I’ve found this idea extremely useful even when I don’t necessarily want to franchise. By clarifying and parsing out the different roles of my design business I can see and define how those would look if handed off. Gerber suggests having each role typed up and everything about it defined clearly, and that you should already have the experience of doing that work well so that you can have right-sized expectations for the person you’d hand the role off to.
‘The franchise prototype concept is a proprietary way of doing
business that successfully and preferentially differentiates every
extraordinary business from every one of its competitors.”
— Michael Gerber
Citation, Summary: http://carrollbiz.org/sbdc/resources/e_mythrevised.pdf
Selling The Invisible:
This book is a gold-mine of stories, and is extremely well written, the author Harry Beckwith is a native Minnesotan (and actually writes in the Starbucks I go to,) but I don’t think I knew he was a neighbor when I first read the book. The book is composed of pithy stories that give you ideas of ways to make your (invisible) service more visible.
A key point that Beckwith makes is that selling services is fundamentally different from selling products. When a customer buys a product that he or she is happy with, the physical existence of that product acts as a constant reminder of how satisfied they are, and what a good choice they made. Think of someone who has bought a luxury car – every time they see the automobile sitting in their garage they are satisfied, every time they hear that comforting clunk of the car door they are reassured, and every time they start the motor they think what a good choice they have made.
In contrast, services are invisible, and they don’t therefore act as a constant positive reminder to the customer in this way. Beckwith makes the point that many purchasers of services aren’t even sure what it is that they are buying, since it hasn’t typically been delivered yet. Clients typically cannot evaluate expertise (which is what service marketers are selling), since they lack the technical skills with which to evaluate the expert. In most cases, they cannot tell whether a doctor’s diagnosis was correct, whether a tax return was filed properly, or whether a marketing plan was crafted well. Accordingly the customer’s motivation may be as much or more risk avoidance (i.e. minimizing the consequences of a bad decision) than trying to get the very best service that might be available. Good service marketers will understand this and try to provide assurance that there will not be problems.
It’s hard to boil down the key points here because they are often somewhat specific and the topics sprawling, but here are some.
Stand for one distinctive thing that will give you a competitive advantage. (p.103)
To broaden your appeal, narrow your position. (p.105)
Get the idea that if you can do the hardest thing well, you must be able to do everything well) in your corner. (p. 107)
Don’t start by positioning your service. Instead, leverage the position you have. (p.112)
Positioning statements should address the following six points:
In positioning, don’t try to hide your small size. Make it work by stressing its advantages such as responsiveness and individual attention. (p. 120)
Setting your price is like setting a screw: a little resistance is a good sign. (p. 133)
Beware the deadly middle. If you price in the middle, what you are saying is “We’re not the best, and neither is our price, but both our service and price are pretty good.” Not a very compelling message. (p.134)
Don’t charge by the hour. Charge by the years (of experience). (p.138)
In services, value is a given. And givens are not viable competitive position
Don’t use adjectives. Use stories. (p.176)
If you are selling something complex, simplify it with a metaphor. (p.194)
Don’t raise expectations you cannot meet. (p.220)
To manage satisfaction, you must carefully manage your customer’s expectations. (p.222)
Citation, Summary http://www.consulttci.com/Book_reviews/invisible.html
Book Yourself Solid:
Only work with ideal clients.
“There’s nothing wrong with your dud clients, of course. They’re just not right for you.”
– Book Yourself Solid, page 8
Port’s Book Yourself Solid system hinges entirely on the concept of only working with ideal clients. Why? Many businesses will make the mistake of working with people who don’t have the qualities of their ideal clients. Thus, frustration arises more often and the quality of the work can suffer. This kind of situation does not lend itself to endless referrals of more ideal clients.
To combat this, Port suggests creating your “Red Velvet Rope Policy” in order to let in your ideal clients and keep out the rest. This process begins with developing a description of who your ideal client really is. Focus on listing their qualities, values or personal characteristics. Once you’ve done that, Port recommends pruning your current client list and getting rid of anyone who does not meet this criteria. It’s a radical step, but one that will put you on the path to long-term prosperity and happiness.
Learn to Speak About What You Do in a Compelling Way
“We hear the question, ‘What do you do for a living?’ all the time. Your professional category alone is the wrong answer.”
– Book Yourself Solid, page 51
It’s a classic cocktail party question and there’s nothing worse than feeling that you don’t have a good answer to it. But when you have a confident and interesting way to tell people about your work, you can hardly wait until someone asks you the question. Port says that the best way to answer is the following: I help (summarize your target market)… (reveal a deeper core benefit of your clients’ experience).
As a web designer I can find it challenging to fully communicate the core benefit of what I do. Sometimes I take a cue from a character in Mad Men, and say “I help get the word out about what’s excellent about your product or service.” (Role of Marketer) Sometimes I say “I help make shit look expensive.” (Role of Graphic Designer) When I’m helping craft a digital experience I can say I’m the advocate for the user’s of the website (Role of User Experience Designer.) But I think more often I just say, I help small to medium businesses by working with them to create a website that will help them get customers and that they can be proud of. I think Michael Port’s advice here is extremely poignant, sometimes it’s just that simple.
Become and Establish Yourself as an Authority
“Like it or not, becoming a category authority, an expert in your field, isn’t optional if you want your business to be as successful as it can be.”
– Book Yourself Solid, page 68
Every successful business has one thing in common: they are known in the industry for something specific. Something that makes them stand out from the pack and draws ideal clients to their door. Even if you don’t feel like you’re an authority on a certain category, it is easier than ever before to become self-taught and gather social proof that establishes your credibility. Port asks readers to consider the following questions in order to identify and hone their authority and expertise:
In what areas are you currently an expert?
In what areas do you need to develop your expertise?
What promises can you make and deliver to your target market that will position you as an expert?
What promises would you like to make and deliver to your target market, but don’t yet feel comfortable with?
What do you need to do to become comfortable at making and delivering these promises?
Port provides readers with a truly step-by-step approach to develop their sales and marketing system. The book includes many activities and questions to encourage the reader to practice what they are learning, which ultimately makes the book an even more valuable resource for business owners.
Citation, Summary http://www.actionablebooks.com/summaries/book-yourself-solid/
If you are in the market for books a designer/entrepreneur should read, you might also enjoy my antics on Twitter. Follow me at @timbdesignmpls
Overall, going down this list of digital marketing book summaries, and digital marketing book reviews is just reminding me of what reading does for me as a marketer – it turns me on to new ideas and steers me in new directions I might not otherwise have thought of. Perhaps they don’t always illuminate every intricacy of a given strategy – only experimentation and further reading and comparing various sources of information will do that. Never take anything you read as gospel truth.
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