I got my MBA and then entered the workforce and had several rounds of short lived job experiences upon trying to enter the advertising industry in 2008, with two layoffs and then one job that I left voluntarily before finding a better career track for myself in digital marketing management. One of many factors with keeping a job right out of college was when I moved to Dallas in 2008 to join the workforce, the economy was just coming to grips with the new economic realities of a world economy driven by the computer and it’s widely available price comparison, endless choice, and viral nature. If you would like, you can read my full story and how I confronted fear in my career. In addition, here are the books I recommend that helped retrain my thinking about marketing and business. I hope you enjoy them.
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
I almost left this one off because it is so basic but it is helpful as a starting point to understand what the primary factors of business are and how to categorize them. I would not say it is a mind-blowing book like many others in this list were for me when I read them but it could be because I’m reading it much later than the others. Either way, it is a good introduction to creating a sustainable business with excellent stories that help you clearly learn these very important concepts.
Characteristics of companies that have the company culture to adapt their business model to the technology and computer driven era and, more importantly, to shift their business model from a sustaining innovation to a disruptive innovation and identifying the difference. This will help you start to understand the kinds of jobs that are opportunistic and those that are not. Learn the challenges companies face when seeking to shift their business model from a sustaining model to a disruptive model and determining factors you should watch out for.
Quite frankly, if I had read this book before I had a few job interviews, I might have been able to better assess some of my career moves.
“Understand the forces that act upon the individuals involved in building businesses [and you will understand the powerful influences] managers choose and cannot choose to do.”
The Referral Engine by John Jantsch
Advertising has changed, and more importantly, how advertising is evaluated has changed due to the ability to have data-driven marketing processes and reporting to know the value of a campaign. Advertising, at one point, was a very subjective form of spreading a message to an intended audience without a real way to guarantee a return, much less see a long-term result, or to truly evaluate the advertisement’s success. Only those that could afford big budgets could participate. That is not the case now.
“Advertising still works, always has and always will. What’s changed, however, is that now good advertising works much better than bad advertising.”
“Today’s smart advertiser understands that advertising is less effective at creating sales but very effective at creating awareness, particularly awareness of educational, trust-building content such as your point-of-view white paper. Your advertising’s call to action should be one of permission – permission to teach.”
This book helps explain what happens in an abundance market where it’s easy to make more stuff? For example, the music industry paved the way in this concept by seeing music albums become freely available to everyone. Also, the barrier to entry in producing an album is very low now whereas at one time it was much higher and more exclusive. When a lot more musicians are making and selling albums or distributing them for free, what does that do to the market? This is happening in lots of industries these days and is important to know how to navigate for a business in an economy of abundance. Some of my takeaways from the book:
- Price falls to marginal cost resulting in:
- Versioning/variations (and pay what you want)
- Flat fee subscription – all you can eat (Netflix)
- In an abundance market it’s easy to ‘advertise’ to individuals but hard to get them to pay attention (via a computer, an iphone, or social media, etc)
- Must focus on a niche/individual demographic and go where they are
- Often, the best initial ‘payment’ is through building reputation and attention
- Money comes later
- But it’s not about the money, money will come if you provide value
Free: The Future of A Radical Price by Chris Andersen
This is essentially a sequel to the ‘Long Tail’ book just mentioned. The computer has made information abundant. Also, in the current era, “the cost to produce the physical product is tiny compared to the cost of inventing it.” This book takes these two things into consideration and talks about economic realities when supply is overabundant and the impact of the long-tail. Ideas are what are valuable when information and resources are abundant. The book also discusses how to make money in the age where commodities are becoming cheaper.
All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin
Marketers are storytellers. Consumers are the liars. A psycho-analysis of what makes a marketer and what causes something to catch on. This is a must-read for anyone that lives and breathes. It helps you understand the lies you are telling yourself as a consumer and what it takes to be a ‘good’ marketer.
“Successful marketers are just the providers of stories that consumers choose to believe.”
“This is a book about the psychology of satisfaction. I believe that people tell themselves stories and then work hard to make them true. I call a story that a consumer believes a lie. I think that once people find a remarkable lie that will benefit them if it spreads, they selfishly tell the lie to others, embellishing it along the way.”
“The irony, of course, is that it’s a book about telling (and living) the truth. The only way your story will be believed…is if you tell the truth. This is what makes it all work: a complete dedication to and embrace of your story.
“If you have an idea to spread, you’re now a marketer.”
Linchpin by Seth Godin
This book is about combating fear and what it takes to become indispensable at our job. How do we combat the natural resistance to becoming, essentially an artist in our jobs and our personal lives?
“Our resistance has a goal: to make you safe, which means invisible and unchanged. The resistance is wily. It works to do one of two things: get you to fit in (and become invisible) or get you to fail (which makes it unlikely that positive change will arrive, thus permitting you to stay still).”
“The resistance will help you find the thing you most need to do because it is the thing the resistance most wants to stop.”
The Rise of the Platform Marketer by Craig Dempster
Understand how 1 to 1 advertising works across online channels and how advertisers can now provide the analytics to understand users activity across the web and promote products and services to the best prospect and the most likely purchaser. This book is written by the President of Merkle, Craig Dempster, who leads one of the top digital marketing agencies. Merkle is on the same level of skill as the one I work for, Wpromote. Craig does an excellent job of breaking down the complex and technical elements of digital marketing, why it is important to understand an integrated marketing program for every business, and where the market is headed.
As always, reading my summary is never the way to learn the material. A deep understanding of these concepts is crucial in our constantly changing work economy and will help you navigate and stay adaptable in your career.