By Stephen Bean | May 24, 2011
I’m by nature extremely curious, so I read a lot of books – certainly, a book a week, and some weeks even more. And, since I write a monthly sales and marketing column for PlanetLaundry, I’m obliged to come up with interesting topics, which requires that I remain deep within the creativity zone. Since creativity has its foundation in curiosity, reading about all sorts of things works to my advantage.
Therefore, from time to time, I will provide a list of great, eye-opening books about sales and marketing for you to read. The books I’m recommending this month will take you on a wondrous journey (too dramatic?) through the captivating world of business promotion, which should help you develop some insight into the latest creative thinking within the marketing world. All of the authors below are creative because they have the unique ability to visit the future, and then come back and tell us all about what they saw.
Here’s my current top 10, in no particular order. I think they are all a perfect 10:
Disciplined Dreaming (Jossey-Bass)
By Josh Linkner
Linkner is a true business innovator, a really bright guy. He has started and run a number of businesses, including ePrize, which is a major player in the promotions industry, serving 74 of the top 100 brands.
In my view, this book is absolutely the new definitive, go-to source on creativity. It outlines a proven five-step process to help the reader become more creative. It’s a smooth read, featuring plenty of real world examples and anecdotes. Want to learn how to become more creative? Read this book.
Permission Marketing (Simon & Schuster)
By Seth Godin
A former vice president of direct marketing for Yahoo, Seth Godin is widely recognized as a marketing genius. As the cover of this book states, it’s all about “turning strangers into friends, and friends into customers.”
Have you ever received a phone call at home (at about 6:15 p.m., when you’re just about to take that first bite of your dinner) from some tedious, script-reading telemarketer trying to sell you something? OK, silly question – of course you have. Well, that’s the opposite of permission marketing. For that matter, so is e-mail spam.
Godin’s premise is that annoying marketing no longer works, because people are just plain sick of it. This clever book teaches the reader how to win over potential and current customers by marketing to them, as the book says, with their permission. You will love this book. Guaranteed.
Purple Cow (The Penguin Group)
By Seth Godin
Godin’s premise here is to get you to understand how to “transform your business by being remarkable.” After all, most cows are essentially black or brown, or shades of either. Have you ever noticed? Probably not. So, Godin wants you to transform your business into a purple cow so that – unlike black or brown cows – it will definitely get noticed, because it’s different. And he tells you how.
This is a very cool book that will change your marketing frame of reference. Buy it as fast as you can and read it. (Two Seth Godin books in a row? Yes. And, no, I’m not related to him.)
Crossing the Chasm (Collins Business)
By Geoffrey A. Moore
This is an outstanding and innovative marketing book, focused on marketing and selling your new products and services to mainstream and current customers. We live in an age of great choices, and there are many purchasing alternatives. Moore explains how to deal with this, especially when marketing a unique product or service.
As the author notes, the chasm represents “the chasm between two distinct marketplaces” for products and services. There is the older well-established marketplace (your current customer base) and the development of a new one, dominated by early adopters from your current marketplace who are quick to appreciate the features and benefits of new products and services offered by your business.
This book has great applicability to the self-service laundry industry. For example, marketing new services (perhaps drop-off laundry or a frequent washer club) to your well-established customers who would fall into the category of “early adopters,” as Moore puts it.
This is an intriguing book. And, at only 211 pages, you likely can polish it off in one evening.
The First Born Advantage (Revell Publishing)
By Dr. Kevin Leman
The “doc” is a great and humorous author. He writes about how to make your birth order work for you, which definitely applies to owning and managing a business. And, yes, only children are considered firstborns. That may be a bit obvious, but I thought I’d throw that in – just in case you happen to be an only child and were thinking this book might not be of interest to you.
Understanding yourself better is very calming. So, if you read this book, you will likely feel pretty good psychologically and, of course, be more knowledgeable. How’s that? A double whammy.
Win (Hyperion Books)
By Dr. Frank I. Luntz
This is an exemplary work. The book’s cover promises to outline “The Key Principles to Take Your Business from Ordinary to Extraordinary.” And it does just that, and does it extraordinarily well.
The book features 11 chapters that talk about things like passion, persuasion, persistence, the definition of a winner, paradigm breaking and much more.
While writing this book, Luntz interviewed several successful people, and he uses a lot of their quotes within the book. One of my favorites is from Stanley Cup winner and NHL Hall of Famer Mike Richter, who says, “Look at it this way, if winning wasn’t so hard, it wouldn’t feel so good.”
I loved this book, and I have a feeling that you will, too.
Marketing Outrageously (Bard Press)
By Jon Spoelstra
Spoelstra comes from the world of professional sports. He is the former president of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, where he increased their profitability significantly by (as his book title suggests) marketing outrageously. This is a very compelling book with great chapter titles – such as “Do You Have The Guts?” and “Hit ’Em Where They Ain’t” – and several photos to help illustrate his points.
This book is very informative and delightfully entertaining. It will certainly help you to take the “same old” out of your “same old, same old marketing program.”
Boomers, Xers and Other Strangers (Tyndale House Publishers)
By Dr. Rick and Kathy Hicks
This is a terrific book about generational diversity in America. As coin laundry owners, you market to a wide variety of people of different ages. This book tells you all about them. Each generational group is actually a unique market segment. So, the better you understand them, the better you can customize your marketing to attract and appeal to each distinct, individual age group.
Movie industry marketers, food industry marketers and clothing industry marketers (just to name a few) completely understand this concept – and so should you. It’s your turn now.
Multicultural Marketing (NIC Business Books)
By Alfred L. Schreiber, with Barry Lenson
We now live and work in a multicultural nation. And this is the marketing guide to the new America. It’s the inside story of proper 21st century marketing.
Your market segments don’t only differ generationally. They differ culturally as well. This book guides you through the principles you need to understand to successfully and properly market to large segments of the population, such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian-Pacific Americans.
Extremely well organized and presented, this book is a must-read for today’s self-service laundry owners. Unlike hats, for example, one size truly does not fit all anymore. To ignore the multicultural aspects of marketing to your marketplace is a huge error in the premise that will surely appear in the conclusion.
And, last but certainly not least, is my tenth suggested book. It’s not a technical marketing book. It’s a fabulous work about how to be happy, have a happier life and, as the author says on the cover, “Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life.”
If you read this book and “buy into it,” you will be able to better, more calmly and methodically utilize what you have learned from the previous nine books I have suggested.
We take our businesses seriously. We also take ourselves seriously – often way too seriously. This book will put things into perspective for you:
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… And It’s All Small Stuff (Hyperion Books)
By Richard Carlson, Ph.D.
This little paperback book has 246 pages and 100 very short chapters – and it’s a gem. Reading it is better than Prozac. The chapter titles say it all:
• “Make Peace with Imperfection”
• “Let Go of the Idea that Gentle, Relaxed People Can’t be Super Achievers”
• “Become More Patient”
• “Allow Yourself to be Bored”
• “Turn Your Melodrama into a Mellow-Drama”
• “Look for the Extraordinary in the Ordinary”
And there are 93 more equally cool and calming chapters. Number 22 is one of my personal favorites: “Repeat to Yourself: Life Isn’t an Emergency.”
As I mentioned, reading a lot of books will make you a more creative business owner, because you will come up with a lot of ideas at all kinds of times – especially when you most need them. They will simply pop into your head from the unconscious storage vaults in your brain. Trust me on this – it will happen.
The major takeaway message here is to continuously educate yourself by constantly reading all sorts of books. Never stop.
By the way, I also happen to regard television as highly educational. Here’s how I benefit from it: every time my wife turns on the TV, I immediately go upstairs and read a book.
Stephen Bean is available for personal coaching, one-on-one marketing consulting and public speaking engagements. To reach him directly, e-mail: email@example.com.