I recently spoke at Wright State University to an Entrepreneurs class and was asked for a list of my favorite books. I’ve tried to break these into segments to make it more digestible and manageable from creating the blog posts, but without further adieu here are some of my favorites in each category…
Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy (Mar 12, 1985)
Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers by Seth Godin (May 6, 1999)
In 1948, David Ogilvy founded the agency that would become Ogilvy & Mather. Starting with no clients and a staff of two, he built his company into one of the eight largest advertising networks in the world. He wrote three books about the basic principles of modern advertising: Confessions of an Advertising Man, Blood, Brains & Beer and Ogilvy on Advertising.
During my junior year in college I had what I can only described as a mid-life crisis. I hated sales. I was good at, but I hated it. I had been working at an environmental monitoring company and watched client after client work with our team to understand how to set up their customized system and then would purchase it from a competitor who bid it out for $2 cheaper. To me it didn’t matter if they were government agencies or universities, if you use someone for their expertise then you damn well better use them when you’re ready to purchase.
Upset, confused and unsure what to do with 3 out of 4 years completed for a degree in marketing, I was certain I had made a huge mistake. One professor, Charles Gulas, handed me this book and suggested I read it, which I did, cover to cover in one sitting. For those who know me more personally, I’m not very good at math; however, at the end of Chapter 1, it discusses how Ogilvy retired to a castle in France, so by my calculations if I were half as good as Ogilvy then I could have….HALF A CASTLE! Today, I’m still in pursuit of my half a castle, because of this book.
Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads by Luke Sullivan and Sam Bennett (Feb 10, 2012)
“This is my fantasy. We open on a tidy suburban kitchen. Actually, it’s a room off to the side off the kitchen, one with a washer and dryer. On the floor is a basket full of laundry. The camera closes in.
Out of the laundry pops the cutest little stuffed bear you’ve ever seen. He’s pink and fluffy, he has a happy little face, and there’s one sock stuck adorably to his left ear.
“Hi, I’m Snuggles, the fabric-softening bear. And I…”
The first bullet rips into Snuggle’s stomach, blows out of his back in a blizzard of cotton entrails, and punches a fist-sized hole in the dryer behind. Snuggles grabs the side of the Rubbermaid laundry basket and sinks down, his plastic eyes rolling as looks for the source of the gunfire.
Taking cover behind 1/16th-inch of flexible acrylic rubber, Snuggles looks out of the basket’s plastic mesh and into the living room. He sees nothing. The dinning room. Nothing.
Snuggles is easing over the backside of the basket when the second shot takes his head off at the neck. His body lands on top the laundry, which is remarkably soft and fluffy. Fade to black.”
First of all, let me start by saying that not everyone in the advertising industry is as sick and demented to wish harm would ever come to Snuggles, just the good ones. And not Snuggles in particular, it has more to do with just having a warped sense of humor. When you spend too much time in theory your brain can get a little twisted. Sullivan’s book which has gone through no less than 4 reprints and adaptations is considered by many to be one of the bibles of the industry. It reviews classical campaigns through an interesting perspective and takes an in depth look at the changing culture within the scope of the advertising industry.
The Marketing Agency Blueprint: The Handbook for Building Hybrid PR, SEO, Content, Advertising, and Web Firms by Paul Roetzer(Dec 20, 2011)
This book pulled together and reinforced a lot of the issues that I couldn’t get over in the industry. There were all of these boutique agencies who were doing bits and pieces of a larger communication plan for a client, but they weren’t talking to each other. How could the client have a unified message with so many people taking a small part and running with it?
Paul Roetzer transformed his agency PR 20/20 on this notion. The realization that PR would have to adopt responsibilities in messaging online meant that they would have to understand SEO to get their client’s stories picked up, they would also need to understand social media, how to reach out to digital content producers, and on…and on…. once you get to a certain point you realize that the walls that these boutiques have put up are paper thin. Integrating them together makes for stronger agencies and stronger brands for clients. While SEO sounds intimidating for the average person, I can teach the average writer the basics in less than an hour and Philip can explain the 400 level class in a short afternoon.
Even a year into our business this book has come out onto the table to help make sure that we are steering the ship in the right direction.
Crossing the Chasm, 3rd Edition: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore (Jan 28, 2014)
Geoffrey Moore explores the bell curve with an interesting look into innovators and then moving quickly to early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. His research identifies a vast chasm between early adopters and early majority. While early adopters give up comfort for being first, early majority will hold off on purchasing until they see evidence that the technology offers improvements in performance or more importantly productivity.
While his book focuses upon high-tech, it is easily applicable to marketing in virtually any market, because that key element of productivity really goes back to a problem plaguing our society: people without enough time in the day. Any product or service should look into how they embody this philosophy of marketing into their strategy.
Chris Anderson is the editor for Wired magazine does what all great books do – identifies an ongoing phenomenon and makes sense of it. He visualized the demand for certain products as a “power curve” and then came up with a catchy phrase that attaches to your mind and gets stuck there.
In most entertainment industries (films, music, books, etc.) a few hits make most of the money, and demand drops off quickly thereafter. Demand, however, doesn’t drop to zero. The products in the Long Tail are less popular in a mass sense, but still popular in a niche sense. What that means is that some businesses, like Amazon and Google, can make money not just on big hits, but by eating the Long Tail. They can live like a blue whale, growing fat by eating millions of tiny shrimp. The theory is applicable to virtually every industry out there, to the point where you can think of almost any industry and see an opporutnity to create a profitable model off of chasing the long tail.
What are the Long Tail’s limits? As a business model, it matters most 1) where the price of carrying additional inventory approaches zero and 2) where consumers have strong and heterogeneous preferences. When these two conditions are satisfied, a company can radically enlarge its inventory and make money raking in the niche demand. This is the lifeblood of a handful of products and companies, Apple’s iTunes, Netflix, and Google among them, all of which are basically in the business of aggregating content. It doesn’t cost much to add another song to iTunes—having 10,000 songs available costs about the same as having 1 million. Moreover, people’s music preferences are intense—fans of Tchaikovsky aren’t usually into Lordi.