I can tell it’s harvest time in New England, where I live, because it’s been a bumper crop of business books of late. Here’s what I’m reading this season:
The title of this latest book by Jeanne (also the author of Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action reminded me of Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg and Lisa T. Davis. But while the 2006 Eisenberg/Davis book is about creating broad-based marketing personas and then "storyboarding" various marketing scenarios, the Bliss book is a kind of how-to for stoking fiery customer passion for your business. In other words, the two books are... well, entirely different animals. (Ha.)
Why This Book Rocks: Did you ever notice how the best business also tend to hold lessons that can be applied to other parts of your life? Like love relationships? Or friendships? This book is smart like that, too. Lots of companies want to be the next Southwest Airlines. Or Zappos. Or whatever. But Jeanne’s book describes in practical, no-nonsense, non-jargony terms how to create passionate customer relationships. It’s not just about selling more stuff. It’s about being the kind of company that people love, and love to do business with.
The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web by Tamar Weinberg
Tamar Weinberg has penned an excellent primer on the fundamentals of the so-called social web for business. Things like blogs, Twitter, YouTube and networking sites can be a huge channel for marketing products and services, and this book draws a practical roadmap for businesses of all size.
Why This Book Rocks: First of all, Tamar can write. The writer in me really appreciates that. Second, she doesn’t talk down to her audience. Yes, it’s a primer… but Tamar gives intelligent and actionable advice that will help a business understand the what, the why, and the how of their social strategy. Oh, and the case studies (Tyson Foods, Home Depot, Carminito Argentinean Steakhouse) are great.
Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
Chris and Julien -- two social media veterans with significant street cred in the social media space – show organizations how to leverage the power of various online social networks to do all the things companies want to do there: get known, build reputation, and make some money. From the book: “Today's online influencers are web natives who trade in trust, reputation, and relationships, using social media to accrue the influence that builds up or brings down businesses online.” In other words, “trust” is the currency of the New Marketing, because trust is key to building online reputations.
Why This Book Rocks: In the spirit of Seth Godin and David Meerman Scott, Chris and Julien have a way of taking complex issues and making them accessible. Also, as with Jeanne’s book, above, I love the way Trust Agents makes you think about how its concept apply in other areas of your life (and to the world, generally).
Post script: I admit right up front that I am a charter member of the Chris Brogan Fan Club (CBFC). Yet I almost didn’t include this book here because it’s already on the New York Times bestseller list, and chances are you’ve already bought it, read it, or heard of it. But I included it here because it deserves to be: It really is a great book by two smart guys who have stuffed it full of smart ideas, and you really should read it. Okay?
Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk
This book isn’t out until October 13, so the version I’m reading is a PDF I printed out that Gary’s publicist sent me. Gary spent years building his decades-old family business from a local wine shop into a retailer of national renown. In there somewhere, he became a kind of celebrity and a poster child for working a business that delights you in a way that feeds your soul and makes you money. Gary’s second book (his first is about wine) is a kind of field guide for tapping into your zeal for whatever it is you have zeal for, and growing your network. Yes, it’s about harnessing the power of the Internet and various social networks to tap into communities and nurture your business. But more than that, it’s about how to tap into your own passion to drive the whole machine.
Why This Book Rocks: It’s pretty straightforward: This book rocks because Gary rocks. There is nobody else who can touch his authenticity, his passion, and his ability to inspire as much in others. Plus, it’s a short book written with an engaging, funny style that’ll entertain as much as encourage you to get on with it. (Again, whatever that “it” might be for you.)
Like New Community Rules and Trust Agents, Chaney’s book explains why traditional advertising and marketing are increasingly losing ground to social media strategies. With his matter-of-fact style and a how-to approach, Chaney offers practical business advice on tapping into the social platforms, and offers some great case studies from companies who have been there and lived to tell the happy tale. (In full disclosure, I wrote the foreword to Paul’s book, but I obviously don’t profit whether you buy his book or not, other than in my pleasure at seeing a friend succeed.)
Why This Book Rocks: Digital Handshake is a great primer for small business, especially, which are struggling to understand the shifts that have taken place with the rise of social platforms. Paul understands that his audience is probably distracted by the grueling day-to-day business of making payroll, and managing staff, and the like, and he respects their time by getting to his point directly and in the shortest route possible. It’s a great briefing for the busy small business executive.
So what about you? What are you reading this fall?
Photo credit: Charles Williams
BIO: Ann Handley is an 11-year veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals. Currently, Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, which provides strategic and tactical marketing know-how for marketing and business professionals through a full range of online media and live events. She also blogs at her acclaimed personal web log.