Marketing is a complex topic to tackle, and books can offer some guidance on how to navigate your efforts—often, even marketing experts turn to books.
Four industry leaders offered their favorite marketing books to offer some ideas of where to turn when looking for new marketing strategies.
The Book: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
The Reviewer: Tim Ross, president, Mudlick Mail
The Takeaway: Achieving desired results is dependent on the ability to keep working at it
“How do you train your team at the auto repair centers to have good quality conversations with your customers (to) create a positive environment?” asks Tim Ross, president of Mudlick Mail, a marketing company focused on direct mailing methods and tactics in the automotive industry.
A positive environment creates a positive experience, and that experience builds residual business with customers. Not only will you get residual business, but you’ll also receive referral business, Ross says.
Ultimately, every successful business comes down to its culture, so “how do you have a rigorous culture but not be ruthless at the same time?” asks Ross. Good to Great reviews how business owners can focus on growing their businesses and outpace their sales. To do that, you have to train and motivate your staff.
Ross says the book is a favorite because, “it talks about some of the topics most people don’t like to talk about.” It digs into actual people, their mentalities and the processes involved. He’s had several members of his sales team read the book to be of better service to their clients.
“It really focuses more on not how do you just survive as a company, but how can you thrive as a company,” he says.
That’s one of the biggest lessons he’s learned from the book: In order to succeed, you have to keep working at it.
“You have to maintain this unwavering faith that you can prevail,” Ross says. “That you can not just survive, that if you’re relentless enough and you work hard enough and you build in processes within your business, then you can be successful in any situation.”
The Book: Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée A. Mauborgne
The Reviewer: Danny Sanchez, owner and founder, Autoshop Solutions
The Takeaway: Always look for ways to set yourself apart from your competitors by being the best you can be
Blue Ocean Strategy compares a blue ocean and a red ocean.
In the blue ocean, there is no competition and demand is created rather than fought for, according to Harvard Business Review (the book's publisher). In the red ocean, everything is occupied with competition and consumers are already being served.
“Most companies make the mistake of building a marketing and business strategy to beat the competitors,” says Danny Sanchez, owner and founder of Autoshop Solutions. “A blue ocean company looks to create solutions in uncontested space, leaving the competition irrelevant. A red ocean company exploits existing demand, where a blue ocean company creates and captures new demand.”
Sanchez found that the book aligns with his company’s core value, which is to strategize based on the needs of its customers, not its competitors.
He recommends the book to his clients, claiming it’s good for any business owners looking to differentiate themselves from competitors.
“One of the most important lessons this book has taught me is to look at market possibilities that no one else can see,” he says. “Our strategy to invest and drive forward on new technology keeps us on the cutting edge when my competitors are still figuring out what we did last year.”
Sanchez says that paying attention to your competitors’ strategies will only benefit you in the short term by gaining market share as a competing product. But eventually, this leads to price wars, which then results in a decrease in quality to meet profit goals.
“That doesn't work for repair shops, and it doesn't work for a long-term business model in marketing either,” he says. “I feel every business owner, manager and leader can benefit from this book.”
The Book: Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People by Marc Gobe
The Reviewer: Craig Noel, owner of Sun Automotive
The Takeaway: Creating emotional, genuine relationships with customers builds trust
Emotional Branding shows marketers ways of connecting with consumers on a deeper emotional level, in turn developing strong brands and relationships—which is how Craig Noel, owner of the three-location Sun Automotive in Oregon, likes to operate.
“People truly appreciate genuineness. That is really the key. It’s just being genuine in who you are and the rest will take care of itself,” he says.
Noel appreciates how the book focuses on the decision-making process of people and how it all relates back to relationships and connectivity.
In the automotive industry, your customers are not purchasing an exciting product for their home, like a large-screen TV. Most customers are spending a lot of money to continue to do the same everyday chores, like picking up the kids, Noel says. Connecting on an emotional level builds trust, which is why he strategized what that looks like from a marketing standpoint.
Thus, Noel’s marketing efforts aren’t about the cars themselves, but about keeping people safe.
“The comfort in safety is a message throughout all of my marketing and branding and advertising,” he says.
At the end of every radio ad, he has the following slogan: “We want to keep you on the road, not on the side of it.” For Noel, the customers are entrusting his shop with their most important possessions and their families’ safety.
“It’s important that you feel the warm and fuzzies. That you know who we are as people. You know how we operate as a company. You know what we stand for, our values,” Noel says. “If you don’t connect quickly, then it’s onto something else that they can or you can connect with.”
The Book: The One Page Marketing Funnel by Aaron Fletcher
The Reviewer: Patrick Egan, vice president of marketing, Kukui
The Takeaway: How to use digital marketing without worrying about all the tech fuss
“That’s probably one of the few books that I’ve actually gone out of the way to get these days,” says Patrick Egan, vice president of marketing at Kukui, a company that provides custom marketing services by integrating with their clients’ POS systems.
The One Page Marketing Funnel was the right choice for Egan as an avid blog reader, considering the book covers essential information in roughly 100 pages.
The book focuses on utilizing digital marketing without completely understanding the technology.
“It’s really focused on what you need to do in order to drive leads to your business by using quick funnels,” Egan says. “Those are the landing pages where you drive somebody to get a piece of information and use it for a lead magnet.”
The beauty of the book is it’s simplistic and “really brings you back to basics,” Egan says. It gives really focused tips and tricks that tell you what you need to do and how to base it on basic methodology.
How do you drag everybody to your web page? And then, once they’re there, how do you capture them? As the Internet becomes more prominent, learning how to do this becomes especially important, Egan says.
His biggest takeaway is that sometimes, the focus needs to be put back on tried-and-true marketing methods.
“The key thing that I took away from it is that you’ve got to bring back the personal appeal—the phone call or the handwritten note card—and get out of digital,” Egan says. “Bring it back around to the fact that people buy stuff from other people, especially when they trust them.”