As a marketer, you’re probably used to being urged to read classics like the Robert Collier Letter Book, Cialdini’s “Influence: The Power of Persuasion”, Joe Sugarman’s “Advertising Secrets of the Written Word”, etc.
All great books.
But how will you get a competitive advantage if all you read is what YOUR competitors are reading?
Here are 5 unusual books from my psychology background with direct implications for us as marketers :
- “Making Things Better by Making Them Worse“: (Alan Fay). Why? Because marketers tend to become constrained by their own thoughts. It’s VERY easy to become myopic and stuck in your own head while you’re looking for the “right” answer, but it turns out, one of the best ways to find the right answer is to look for the wrong one! This is a psychological treatise, not a marketing book, but it’s very valuable for marketers
- “Rational Recovery“ (Jack Trimpney). Why? This book will sensitize you to the fact that an entire industry, in fact an entire country can be factually wrong, yet get dramatically swept away with a philosophy or “truth”. The vast majority of the world now supports the 12 step model of recovery, yet there’s really NO scientific evidence for this model. It succeeds due to it’s viral nature. (Please Note: there ARE very valuable things going on in the recovery movement… the point here is that everyone has assumed evidence which simply doesn’t exist). Similarly, there are marketing “facts” which everyone assumes and passes on due to their viral nature and simplicity. “Your prices must end in $7s” (I’ve often seen round numbers do MUCH better), “You should test everything” (there’s a significant cost of testing in both time, money, and effort which is sometimes outweighed by what you can accomplish more quickly and less expensively with intuition and research), etc.
- “Cats Cradle” (Kurt Vonnegut). Why? The moral of the book is “People should live by the myths which make them happy and kind, regardless of their truth”. This has profound implications for how you think about communicating with your list. Because every market has fantasies and wishes about IDEALIZED solutions to their problems, and corresponding REALITIES which grate against these. Determining how, when, and why to give people the truth without losing their interest is an art form. Think about this while you read this very entertaining, fast moving short story
- A Journey Through Your Childhood (Christopher Biffle): Why? Because marketing to your list effectively requires nothing less than fully bearing your soul… you need to know the full essence of your being, including (and perhaps especially) the powerful stories which have made you who you are.
- Neurotic Styles (David Shapiro): Why? Neurosis pervades all factions of society today, and you’ll definitely be dealing with neurotic people as prospects and customers on a daily basis. It’s one thing to see their responses in surveys and/or listen to them in telephone interviews. It’s quite another to know what they MEAN and how you can help them AND help yourself as a marketer simultaneously. No one explains neurosis better for the lay public than David Shapiro… even 20 years later, this is still one of my favorites.
PS – I’ll be opening my business coaching practice to just a few new clients on Jan 1st, 2016.
I haven’t done this in almost three years because there’s only one of me and it’s pretty rare that anyone wants to leave. I am doing so now, notwithstanding the above, because I’ve become a little rusty in working with NEW people, but find myself responsible for training and certifying other business coaches to do this… it seems only right. This may be the VERY LAST time I open for new business coaching clients… so if you’re interested, well, now’s the time. Click here to read more