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11 contemporary marketing books actually worth reading

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in Business Management

Some time ago, I wrote a column “10 Marketing Books Actually Worth Reading,” in which I recommended ten classic direct marketing books including Eugene Schwartz’s Breakthrough Advertising and Dick Benson’s Secrets of Successful Direct Mail, both recently republished by Boardroom.

But in focusing on classic marketing books, I neglected the new crop of marketing books which, while not focused on direct marketing, contain important insights into consumer behavior and psychology.

Here are 11 of my favorite selections from the new crop of books on business persuasion:
  1. Godin, Seth, All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World (Portfolio, 2005), hardcover, 186 pages, $23.95.

    Experienced direct marketers know that, executed by a talented copywriter, a sales letter that tells an engaging story can become a breakthrough control. Godin’s book spotlights the important of storytelling in marketing, and explains why a good story can often be a much more effective selling tool than a conventional features-and-benefits presentation.

  2. Cialdini, Robert B., Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition (William Morrow, 1993), paperback, 320 pages, $15.

    A fascinating compilation of numerous psychological experiments and observations designed to show how we are influenced and persuaded by the actions and words of others.

  3. Reiss, Steven, Who Am I? The 16 Basic Desires That Motivate Our Actions and Define Our Personalities (Berkley Books, 2005), paperback, 280 pages, $13.95.

    Reiss argues that all human actions are driven by one or more of 16 basic human desires. These include curiosity, idealism, eating, status, and the desire for acceptance.

  4. Lawrence, Paul and Nohria, Nitin, Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices (Jossey-Bass, 2002), hardcover, 315 pages, $28.

    Two Harvard professors claim that all human choices are controlled by four drives: the drive to acquire, to bond, to learn, and to defend.

  5. Underhill, Paco, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping (Simon & Schuster, 1999), hardcover, 255 pages, $25.

    This book explores how consumer purchase decisions are influenced and made in retail settings including stores, restaurants, and showrooms — in other words, how and why people shop.

  6. Caskey, Bill, Same Game New Rules: 23 Timeless Principles for Selling and Negotiating (Winpointe Publishing, 2005), paperback, 207 pages.

    Caskey has written one of the most sensible, practical books ever written on face-to-face selling, with 23 principles that can quickly make you a more effective salesperson.

  7. Longinotti-Buitoni, Gian Luigi, Selling Dreams: How to Make Any Product Irresistible (Simon & Schuster, 1999), hardcover, 333 pages, $26.

    In this book, the president of Ferrari North America reveals his secrets for creating an intensive, red-hot desire in consumers to own your product.

  8. Kilbourne, Jean, Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising (The Free Press, 1999), hardcover, 366 pages.

    An activist author, Kilbourne has written an anti-advertising book. But it’s packed with examples and case studies of ad campaigns that have been especially successful throughout the years selling products to women.

  9. Ware, Leslie, Selling It: The Incredible Shrinking Package and Other Marvels of Modern Marketing (W.W. Norton & Company, 2002), paperback, 202 pages, $15.95.

    Ware, a columnist for watchdog publication Consumer Reports, has written an expose of deceptive and fraudulent advertising, illustrated with dozens of examples. Some are blatant cheats, but many others are instructive — and absolutely fascinating.

  10. Sanders, Tim, The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life’s Dreams (Crown, 2005), hardcover, 224 pages, $23.

    The premise of this book is that you succeed when people like you. The author applies this premise to advertising, and says the advertisements that consumers like best are also the ones that will do the best job of selling him or her on the product — a claim some seasoned direct marketers may argue with.

  11. Joyner, Mark, The Irresistible Offer: How to Sell Your Product or Service in 3 Seconds or Less (John Wiley & Sons, 2005), hardcover, 219 pages, $21.95.

    This is a first: the only full-length marketing book on offers, Reading it forces you to spend several hours thinking about nothing but offers, which is an invaluable exercise every marketer should indulge in.

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