Most Influential Reading – Book Review Part 1

What's on your bookshelf?

What’s on your bookshelf?

Since the early 2000’s I have really enjoyed reading business-related books and novels on brand building, digital marketing, and the occasional book that gets your mind thinking in many different directions (e.g. Freaknomics and most of Malcolm Gladwell’s work).  With a focus on the former two subjects, here are my current favorites in rank-order.  I had a hard time narrowing this down to a smaller number, so we’re going to break this up into two entries.  The first will focus on numbers 4-6.  Next Wednesday, I’ll finish the book review with the top three.

Below I have included a link to the online reviews on Amazon within the title of the book itself.  I’ve also provided a link to a respective page for each author (Twitter feed, own home page) for those that may be interested.

#6 – “Engage!” – by Brian Solis

Brief Summary:

Engage covers a wealth of information, as you might quickly see from the extended title, “Engage! The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web”.  Wow, that’s quite a loaded title and Solis delivers on all aspects.

There is a wealth of information here on how to conduct your digital strategy correctly and where to do so.  Solis provides a tremendous amount of information on pages related to web analytics, how to win across social media sites, and breaks this all down in an easy to read format.

Why I enjoyed the book:

My favorite part of the entire picture is one of my biggest focus points when talking to clients; engaging in the conversation with your (potential) consumers.  You don’t have to be on every single social media web site.  Please, don’t open up an account on every new site just to be there.  Pick your spots and do them well.  Foster an environment that opens up the conversation, don’t post your article/link/etc. and walk away from the site until you are ready to share your next one.

I also learnt a lot about web analytics from this book; where to go and how to think deeper about them.  This wasn’t a book that left me feeling inferior because I couldn’t understand the jargon used to describe each step in the process.

#5 – “Good to Great – Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t” – by Jim Collins

Brief Summary:

Good to Great provides an inside perspective to eleven companies that were able to successfully build long term, sustainable results.  What made these companies great – was it luck, one leader that knew how to push all the right buttons, and/or technological advantages?  The short answer is “No”.

Collins and his research team combed through endless amounts of data and company profiles.  Across industries, the final eleven “great” companies have fascinating stories and all are a little different.  This includes Kroger, Kimberly Clark, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo.  However, it is worth noting that several “great” companies have changed course or fallen off over the past handful of years and since the recession.

Why I enjoyed the book:

The findings in this book are made via combing through tons of data points and overlaying information from a lot of different sources.  This type of information and analysis is right up my alley, as I really enjoy rolling up the sleeves and spreading the information out across a desk to get to work.

The example companies provided by Collins and his team are also household names, which makes it pretty easy to understand the process he takes you through and how each company has executed its move to “greatness”.  There are also a few concepts that Collins leverages (The Hedgehog Concept, The Flywheel, and the Doom Loop) that are easy to understand and apply to business models.

#4 – “Analysis Without Paralysis” – by Babette E. Bensoussan and Craig S. Fleisher

Brief Summary:

Bensoussan and Fleisher take the reader through what they need to know when running or working with a business.  The book provides a summary of an analytical process and then walks you through various types of analysis that should be conducted to better market your company/brand to consumers, understand your competition and positioning, and many more.

Why I enjoyed the book:

This book won me over as soon as I saw/read the title.  Too many times, brands and companies fall all over themselves and can’t get out of their own way when thinking about their go-to-market strategy.  Any book that can help a brand or company evaluate their positioning in market without overcomplicating the process every step of the way should be considered a must-read for business owners, those in leadership positions, etc.

What are some of your favorite books in the branding and digital marketing arenas?  Have you read any of the three mentioned here?  If so, what did you think?

Again, we’ll finish this list next Wednesday night with my top three books built around consumer behavior, branding and digital marketing.