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7 Concepts from 200 Marketing & Sales Books Every Marketer Needs to Know
For almost four years now, every Friday I’ve published an audio interview with the
author of a new marketing or sales book and my talk today is a celebration of the first
So I appreciate the opportunity to be with you today to talk about “7 Concepts from
200 Marketing and Sales Books Every Modern Marketer Needs To Know.”
By a show of hands how many here listen to podcasts?
According to Edison Research, one quarter of Americans listen to podcasts.
But if you don’t know what a podcast is, you’re not along – while a lot of people are
familiar with the word ‘podcast’ they don’t really know what it is.
Basically, a podcast is..
An audio file
That’s published online
Is part of a series
That listeners can subscribe to
Looking back, I’ve always enjoyed listening to podcasts since about 2005 when they
were gaining traction. And I particularly liked marketing podcasts, especially
interviews with authors.
Since I enjoyed marketing podcasts so much and there was not a podcast that
interviewed authors of marketing and sales books, being the impatient entrepreneur
that I am, I took matters into my own hands and created one.
And like an impatient entrepreneur, I didn’t think through exactly what I was doing
because I didn’t realize that I was going to need to reach each book before
interviewing the authors.
But it’s been a great learning experience and I’ve really enjoyed it. And the podcast
has won various accolades including being named by LinkedIn as one of 10 podcasts
that will make you a better marketer.” The podcast now has listeners in 150
But before we get to the “7 Concepts from 200 Marketing and Sales Books Every
Modern Marketer Needs To Know,” let me answer a question I often get from
listeners which is which book has been your favorite?
Has it been perhaps a book by bestsellers like Seth Godin or David Meerman Scott, or
perhaps Philip Kotler, the father of modern marketing?
I’ll tell you which book it is. It’s by Sarah Cooper.
The book is 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings: How To Get By Without Even
Let’s look at a couple of the tricks, so you can appreciate the power of this book.
One is to translate percentages into fractions. So, if someone says, “about 25% of all
users click on this button,” quickly chime in with, “So about one in four,” and make a
note of it. Your math skills will be the envy of everyone in the room.
Another is ask the presenter to go back a slide. It doesn’t matter where in the
presentation you shout this out, it’ll immediately make you look like you’re paying
closer attention than everyone else is. Then you can go back to what you were doing
– checking Instagram.
So there have been 200 books on the podcast and I’d like to share with you just a few
of the recurring concepts from several of the books that I hope you will find helpful.
Obviously there are many, many things I could pick to talk about, but the few things
I’m going to focus on are some of the things that I see marketers and companies
struggle with a lot.
I’m not going to talk about email marketing, video marketing, social media marketing,
account-based marketing, marketing automation, SEO, PPC, marketing tips, tricks,
tools, hacks and hustles or how to “crush it.”
But beware, because some of the things I’m going to talk about might upset you.
I’ve got good news and bad news. Let’s start with the bad news and end with the
1 - Marketers have an image problem
Not too long ago there was a study by the Fournaise Group about perceptions of
marketers by CEOs.
Who can guess what percent of CEOs in that study trust marketers. (20%)
And why do you think they don’t trust marketers?
Because CEOs believe marketers are too disconnected from the financial realities of
There’s a perception BY SOME of marketers as the arts-and-crafts party planners who
work in the make it pretty department.
In The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader the authors fielded one of the largest studies
of marketers and the people who work with them which revealed insights like this…
Early in our study, we spoke with international CMOS about their work, asking “what
do you do?” It was interesting how different people answered. Some said things like,
“I manage the brand” or “I run our marketing.”
Words like these don't go down well with company leaders. In the words of
marketing professor and columnist Mark Ritson, “Too many marketers go into a room
full of executives from their company and warble on about the need to build brand
awareness and brand equity. No one gives a f***, except you – and presumably you
are already on board. Good marketers work out how to link what they do with what
other stakeholders within the organization want – employee retention, improved
profits, clearer leadership.”
In the 4A’s of Marketing by Jagdish Sheth and Rajendra Sisodia, they also talk about
this negative perception of marketers.
… CEOs and corporate boards are growing increasingly skeptical of the marketing
function’s ability to deliver reasonable returns on resources invested. Scholars have
suggested that marketing has lost its seat at the table when it comes to making
strategic decisions at many companies, because of its failure to perform.
So what’s a marketer to do?
Barta and Barwise offer this simple recommendation:
As a marketer, one of the most helpful question to ask which can start to align what
you do with revenue is to ask question like
Revenue Camp Questions
What are our company financial goals?
What are our company sales goals?
Who is our most profitable customer?
What is the average lifetime value of a customer?
As a marketer seeking admission to the revenue camp, answers to these types of
questions can help tremendously.
In Seth Godin’s latest book “This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to
See,” he writes…
… marketing, the effective kind, is about understanding our customers’ worldview
and desires so we can connect with them. It’s focused on being missed when you’re
gone, on bringing more than people expect to those who trust us. It seeks volunteers,
There are three types of companies. Think about which type of company you’re in.
Companies that are focused primarily on themselves, their own products and
Companies that are focused primarily on their competitors.
Companies that are focused primarily on their customers.
Which kind of company do you think Amazon is?
When Jeff Bezos attends an internal meeting he insists on there being at least one
empty chair in the room. That empty chair represents the customer. Invariably during
meetings he’ll point at the chair to remind people what their primary focus needs to
And the last time I checked, Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world
In this era of the customer, companies who are focused on and have a deep
understanding of their customers are the most successful.
So how can you help your company to develop a deeper understanding of your
customers in order to give you a competitive edge?
Has anyone here introduced the concept of buyer personas at your company?
As defined in Adele Revella’s bestselling book Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight
into Your Customer’s Expectations, Align Your Marketing Strategies, and Win More
In the simplest terms, buyer personas are examples or archetypes of real buyers that
allow marketers to craft strategies to promote products and services to the people
who might buy them.
The backbone of her book is the 5 insights that about your customers that will give
you a big competitive understanding of your customers and an unfair advantage.
The most important aspect of developing your buyer persona is that you must
actually speak with customers.
I encourage you to visit buyerpersona.com and learn about the 5 insights of buying
that are outlined in her book. She has some e-books about the buying insights and
there’s no registration required.
In Kristin Zhivago’s book Roadmap to Revenue: How to Sell the Way Your Customers
Want to Buy, she outlines what successful companies do to increase revenue and do
you know what the linchpin of her entire book and process is? INTERVIEW YOUR
Of course, you need to do it the way she prescribes in the book because many
companies don’t know how to properly glean the right insights from their customers.
Similarly in Martin Lindstrom’s book Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge
Trends, he writes about a very successful company that now requires all employees
to have an annual overnight stay in a customer home to help them to gain
meaningful insights into their customers.
To wrap up this section –the most important word in marketing and sales… is
Empathy is the capacity or ability to imagine oneself in the situation of another.
That’s not the same as sympathy.
Sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another
person encounters, while empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another.
If you are able to put yourselves in the shoes of your customers, even just a little bit,
you will be amazed at the positive effect it can have on your company’s ability to
become known, liked and trusted.
3-The Most Effective Marketing Plans… Are Not Overly Complicated
According to Malcolm McDonald in his 2nd edition of “Malcolm McDonald on
Marketing Planning,” (his 46th book) there are only two questions that need to be
answered in a marketing plan.
And if you as a marketer start with the answers to these two questions in a marketing
plan, you will more likely find yourself in that 20% of marketers trusted by your CEO,
management and colleagues.
Here are the two questions that a marketing plan need answer.
You may think that Allan Dib’s book, The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers,
Make More Money, And Stand out From The Crowd has a gimmicky name but don’t
be fooled by that. It’s a terrific book and marketing plans need not be more detailed
than the 9 areas that you can summarize on one page.
I won’t go through each of the 9 sections but notice that there are three parts to the
1-page marketing plan:
Before – when prospective customers have never heard of you
During – when they become aware of you until they decide to buy (which could be
much later), and
After – what kind of experience are your customers going to have, how can you sell
more to them and what can you do to get referrals
Take note of that last section, “after.”
Lots of companies don’t include that in their marketing plans. A lot of the marketing
and sales activity seems go limp at that point.
And that’s because businesses are addicted to SEX!
Maybe I should explain that.
In Noah Fleming’s book Evergreen: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty that
Keeps Your Business Thriving he explains that businesses are addicted to the sexiness
and excitement of the hunt – the thrill of the chase. The conquest.
And then, like after a one-night stand, they never call again.
Retaining existing customers on the other hand, which is proven to be where the real
money and profits are is more like farming. Not quite as thrilling. Not quite as sexy.
But have you ever heard that it’s less expensive to keep a customer than to get a new
Let’s talk some more about that.
4-Your most powerful marketing is the experience you deliver
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Why is this more important now than in the past?
The internet. Social media. Ratings and review sites. Everyone has a megaphone with
which they can tell the world about being treated badly by a company (even if they
Anthony Iannarino explains in The Lost Art of Closing, we’ve moved from the era of
caveat emptor to caveat venditor.
We’ve gone from the era of let the buyer beware to let the seller beware.
But companies are only beginning to understand this.
In X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, Brian Solis cites a Bain & Company
study of 362 companies. 80% of those companies thought that they were delivering a
In truth, according to their customers, only 8% were.
And how did that 8% do it?
They purposefully designed their customers’ experience.
This is why there is are a growing number of excellent books about engineering a
better customer experience that I have interviewed for The Marketing Book Podcast.
So why do companies really want to engineer a better customer experience? Is it
because they don’t like being yelled at?
The reason for this interest in customer experience is that’s also where the money is.
In Nicholas Webb’s book What Customers Crave he explains that...
70% of Americans are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide an
excellent customer experience.
Plus, keeping your customers is where the really big money is:
The probability of selling to a new prospect is less than 20%, while the probability of
selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent.
On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
The experience you engineer for your customers is your most powerful marketing.
I interview many authors of sales books for The Marketing Book Podcast because the
best marketers have a deep understanding of the sales process
That’s always been true but it’s even more important now because of the changing
way people buy.
When I was a kid and my dad wanted to buy a car, where was the first place he would
go to get information?
Why did he have to go to the car dealership?
This is what Daniel Pink in his book To Sell is Human refers to as “information
asymmetry.” The buyer wanted information and the seller had it. And the seller used
that information as leverage to guide (or strong arm) the buyer toward a purchase.
We are now in an era of Information Symmetry
Fast forward to a couple of years ago when my wife wanted to buy a car – where was
the absolute last place she went to get information?
Where do you suppose she got her information?
Your buyers are no different.
Many of you may have heard of the landmark study a few years back from CEB/
Gartner about how in a B2B buying situation, the buyers are AT MINIMUM 57%
through their purchase process before first reaching out to the seller. Forrester puts
that number as high as 90%. It varies by industry and product, of course.
So as shown in Debbie Qaqish’s book Rise of the Revenue Marketer that I mentioned
earlier, this shows the role of sales when my dad was buying a car where you see
sales involved throughout the entire customer journey.
And here’s a chart that shows where sales is now involved much later in the
customer’s buying process like when my wife was buying her car.
So who best to fill that void?
As stated repeatedly in Aligned to Achieve: How to Unite Your Sales and Marketing
Teams into a Single Force for Growth, by Tracy Eiler and Andrea Austin
Sales can’t do it alone and marketing exists to make sales easier.
6. Content is the atomic particle of marketing
I didn’t discover this myself – it’s also the title of Rebecca Lieb’s book Content - The
Atomic Particle of Marketing
I interviewed Tom Fishburne, also known as The Marketoonist about his book Your
Ad Ignored Here: Cartoons from 15 Years of Marketing, Business, and Doodling in
Tom Fishburne is a graduate of Harvard Business School and worked for several blue
chip companies in marketing before he became a full-time cartoonist.
Has anyone here seen his cartoons?
In the interview I asked him about his sources of inspiration for so many years of
hilarious cartoons. His response was interesting. He said that his best source of
material is making fun of marketers and businesses who think they still have a captive
In The End of Advertising: Why It Had to Die, and the Creative Resurrection to Come,
Andrew Essex, like many authors, explains how the internet has disintermediated
traditional media’s grip on information as a gate keeper, as well as modern
technology’s ability to avoid unwanted marketing messages.
The captive audience business model that worked so well for generations is a shadow
of its former self.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen the movie “Monty Python and The Holy Grail.”
Do you remember the scene where King Arthur and his Knights go up to a castle and
demand entrance but are spurned by the French soldier on the parapet?
The soldier, played by John Cleese, insults them and said things like “your mother
was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries.“
That is the metaphor for trying to reach your customers in this modern era.
They are not going to lower the drawbridge and let you in their castle unless you can
offer them something helpful, entertaining or educational.
And that's where content comes in.
Seth Godin describes content marketing as “the only marketing left.”
In Joe Puliizzi’s book Epic Content Marketing he defines content marketing this way…
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and
distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-
defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
In modern marketing it's often said that all companies are now media companies and
that to be successful in content marketing you need to “think like a publisher.”
One of the most helpful paradigms for content marketing as outlined in Jeff Rohr’s
book Audience is to think first and always about building and keeping an audience
before trying to sell to them.
Keep in mind, however, we’re not talking about producing cat videos for the sake of
building an audience. Your content needs to be linked back to the problems you can
solve for customers.
Another tactic that the New York Times has dubbed “a revolutionary marketing
approach” is to answer your customer's questions.
In Marcus Sheridan’s book They Ask You Answer he explains how his Virginia pool
company was saved from bankruptcy following the 2008 real estate crash by simply
publishing the answer to every question he’d ever gotten from a customer.
Even questions about price, and the pros and cons of his product.
Doing so enabled his company’s website to become the highest trafficked pool site in
But more importantly, his customers’ fear of buying from his company plummeted
while their trust soared.
Additionally, I encourage you to learn more about storytelling in marketing and sales.
Granted, it’s a misunderstood word that you should avoid using outside your
marketing department and it doesn’t involve making facts up, but it involves
communicating information in story format.
And it’s very powerful.
Here’s why: The human brain is wired for stories. But you need to do it correctly and
we don’t have time to go into the details, but in most cases, you want the customer
to be the hero of your story, not your company.
Facts tell, but stories sell.
Finally, there’s a growing challenge with content marketing.
It’s a phenomenon that Mark Schaefer has dubbed “content shock.” According to
Google, we now create as much information in two days as we did from the dawn of
man through 2003.
And in Mark Schaefer’s book The Content Code he explains that the build-it-and-
they-will-come approach no longer applies and that to get past the glut of content
out there you must now take additional steps to get your content to break through,
connect with the right people and have them take action.
The publishing of your content is really just the starting line now.
7. Measure What Matters
In a study by Adobe, a remarkable 76% percent of marketers thought marketing has
changed more in the previous two years than the past 50.
So while marketing has changed a lot, it has also become much more measurable.
That’s why in that same study, 68% of marketing professionals feel more pressured
to show return on investment on marketing spend.
So what are some of the more important things to be measuring?
As a first step toward connecting marketing activity with revenue, the authors of
Aligned to Achieve recommend focusing on pipeline.
Pipeline refers to the opportunities the sales team believes could convert into
revenue. This is different from leads, people who have expressed very early interest,
because pipeline holds actual opportunities that are qualified through both the
marketing and sales process.
In Garrett Moon’s book 10X Marketing Formula: Your Blueprint For Creating
‘Competition-Free Content’ That Stands Out And Gets Results he introduces the
concept of 1MTM - The One Metric That Matters.
He explains that marketers don’t have a data problem - they have a filtering problem.
And in growing his company, CoSchedule into a fast growing startup, his company
focused primarily on just one metric based on where they were in their content
As it relates to all that content marketing and its connection to pipeline and
revenues, I recommend Michael Brenner’s book The Content Formula: Calculate the
ROI of Content Marketing & Never Waste Money Again. In the book he walks you
through all the easy math of measuring the effectiveness of your content marketing.
In a similar vein, in Paul Roetzers book The Marketing Performance Blueprint he
offers this advice regarding marketing:
If you can't measure it, don't do it.
And with a nod to an example of meaningless metrics, he reminds us
Social media reach is a deceptive metric that can give a false sense of progress.
So back to the first book I talked about The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader. I talked
about the disconnect many marketers have with their companies.
But here is what the successful marketers are doing...
Our interviews with the most successful marketers have one thing in common: a top
management viewpoint. Rather than talking about marketing, they spoke of the
business as a whole. They didn't talk a lot about advertising, branding, or customer
insights. They spoke about revenue, costs, and profit – and how they could serve the
customer better. The real marketing leaders were concerned with one thing: how
marketing helps the company achieve its biggest priorities.
Additionally, that same book talks, as do so many about the skills gaps when the
21st century marketing is suffering from a skills crisis.
It’s for this reason that the marketing salaries of marketers who know what the hell
they’re doing are predicted to double in the next five years.
And there’s another silver lining for marketers: the role of marketer is becoming a
training ground for CEOs.
With successful marketers having the deepest insights into the customers, the
competition and revenues, a growing number of CEOs are coming from the ranks of
CMOs, and according to Gartner, that trend will continue.