From time to time I am asked to review a new business book. Generally the topics are marketing related and the number of requests I get have been increasing significantly - not due to my reputation as an influential reviewer - but simply because of the deluge of new books being published.
Unfortunately the great majority of new marketing books have underwhelmed me to the point of not being able to write a positive review. I have a policy of not writing negative reviews. If a publisher takes the time and effort to send me a book, then I will take the time to preview it and if I find anything of value - review it on this blog. I've printed one review in the past 12 months.
So please - no more books in the mail. If you're looking for a few good books to add to your marketing bookshelf I can heartily endorse the following:
Sun Tzu - The Art of War Shambhala/Thomas Cleary version.
WHY MARKETERS SHOULD READ: Because Sun Tuz is the ultimate marketing strategist. Learn how to win without fighting. And when you do have to fight - how to kick ass and win.
MONEY QUOTE: Therefore use these assessments for comparison, to find out what the conditions are. That is to say which political leadership has the Way? Which general has the ability? Who has the better climate and terrain? Whose discipline is effective? Whose troops are stronger? whose officers and soldiers are the better trained? Whose system of rewards and punishments clearer? This is how can know who will win. (Pg. 46)
Machiavelli - The Prince Mentor Book's version with forward by Christian Gauss.
WHY MARKETERS SHOULD READ: Because Machiavelli delivers a great primer on dealing with unethical tactics - like blog swarms, short sellers, social activists, corrupt competitors, media relations, etc.
MONEY QUOTE: A new prince has never been known to disarm
his subjects, on the contrary, when he has found them disarmed he has
always armed them, for by arming them, these arms become your own,
those that you suspected become faithful, and those that were faithful
remain so, and from being merely subjects become your partisans. (Pg. 105)
The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War Robert Coram's biography of John Boyd.
WHY MARKETERS SHOULD READ: Because Boyd articulates the secret to successful campaigning. Boyd's O-O-D-A Loop and thoughts on organic command and control should be mastered by all marketers.
MONEY QUOTE: For a time, Boyd and Spinney were reluctant to fully
explain the O-O-D-A Loop; it was far too dangerous. If someone truly
understands how to create menace and uncertainty and mistrust, then how
to exploit and magnify the presence of these disconcerting elements,
the Loop can be vicious, a terribly destructive force, virtually
unstoppable in causing panic and confusion and - Boyd's phrase is best
- "unraveling the competition." This is true whether the Loop is
applied in combat, in competitive business practices, in sports, or in
personal relationships. (Pg. 334)
The Second World War, Volume 2: Their Finest Hour Winston Churchill's WWII chronicles.
WHY MARKETERS SHOULD READ: Because everything you read today about crisis management is wrong. Churchill's personal experiences leading up to and during WWII provide a practical foundation for dealing with crisis.
MONEY QUOTE: There never was an occasion when powers were
abrogated or challenged, and anyone in this circle could always speak
his mind; but the actual war direction soon settled into a very few
hands, and what seemed so difficult before became much more simple -
apart of course, from Hitler. In spite of the turbulence of events and
the many disasters we had to endure, the machinery worked almost
automatically, and one lived in a stream of coherent thought capable of
being translated with great rapidity into executive action. (Pg. 17)
Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors Michael Porter's classic.
WHY MARKETERS SHOULD READ: Porter provides a fundamental primer on competition including practical tools and techniques that are even more important today than they were 25 years ago.
MONEY QUOTES: One broad approach is to use superior resources and capabilities to force an outcome skewed toward the interest of the firm, overcoming and outlasting retaliation - we might call this brute force approach. This sort of approach is possible only if the firm possesses clear superiorities, and it is stable only as long as the firm maintains these superiorities, and as long as competitors do not misread them and incorrectly attempt to change their positions. (Pg. 91)
Most marketers used to the bright colors, short lists and pretty pictures of Seth Godin, Tom Peters and Guy Kawasaki will find the above list daunting to say the least. Which is why the list forms a golden opportunity for those marketers with the hearty appetite necessary to devour the contents. While most of your competitors are trying to paint cows purple - you'll be out kicking ass.
Download vSente's Free Campaign Planner to learn more about how we help marketing managers battle larger competition.