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10 Marketing Books You Should Read In 2017

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Interview after interview with top performers tends to reveal similar daily habits: an early wake time; a regular exercise regimen; and a designated time for reading.

Reading a lot wont necessarily make you a great leader, but it seems great leaders tend to read a lot with rare exceptions. Great leaders read because its the most efficient way to gain the condensed information, guidance, and insights they need to excel at their jobs. Who wants to reinvent the wheel when others have provided the blueprint? This is especially valuable in the marketing world, where the challenges facing chief marketing officers and other marketers are changing daily.

If youre ready to take your marketing game to the next level, heres a rundown of 10 of the best new marketing books to dive into this year:

1. “They Ask You Answer” by Marcus Sheridan

Marcus Sheridan is a legend in the digital marketing world after he used content marketing to lift his failing pool company from the brink of bankruptcy to become one of the largest in the country. Sheridans strategy is based on two fundamental assumptions: your customers are smart readers who want you to educate them and your best resource for doing so (the internet) is free.

“They Ask You Answer” shows you how to become the authority theyre looking for and gain their trust, you need to think hard about who your customers are and what they want. What are they confused about? Afraid of? Longing for? What are their pain points and their dream scenarios?

Answer those questions with your content, and youll have a whole new cadre of brand ambassadors to do your advertising for you.

2. “Non-Obvious 2017” by Rohit Bhargava

Georgetown Professor and founder of the Influential Marketing Group, Rohit Bhargava is a self-professed non-obvious trend curator. His series has been tracking trends since 2011 in the areas of culture and consumer behavior, marketing and social media, media and education, technology and design, and economics and entrepreneurshipall of which digital marketers should be following.

“Non-Obvious 2017” identifies five brand new trendsincluding fierce femininity, passive loyalty, and moonshot entrepreneurship, and reviews over 60 trends from earlier editions, providing longevity predictions for each. Bhargava also teaches his readers the skills necessary to do what he doescut through the noise and identify the emerging trends and patterns others miss.

If you want your marketing to resonate (and who doesnt?), this is the book for you.

3. “SEO for Growth” by John Jantsch and Phil Singleton

Since Google is a crucial source of web traffic and lead generation, companies cant help but question how strong their search engine visibility really is. If you dont have a handle on the basics by now, or havent kept up with the many Google algorithm changes affecting your website, its time to get caught up.

John Jantsch and Phil Singleton put their years of experience and research to work for you, showing you how to leverage the new rules of search engine optimization to maximize your websites organic ranking potential.

From high-level strategy to tactics you can immediately implement, “SEO for Growth” is a must-read for marketers and entrepreneurs.

4. “Hug Your Haters” by Jay Baer

For Jay Baer, a complaining customer is not a companys problem, its one of their best assets.

Most unsatisfied customers wont ever tell you where you went wrong, leaving you guessing how to do better. But a complaining customer actually gives you a major opportunity for growth and corrective action. Far too many business care too little about retention, placing much emphasis on outbound marketing and the attraction of new customers, with comparatively little attention paid to the customers theyve already paid to get, writes Baer.

“Hug Your Haters” outlines the two types of haters any business is likely to come across, identifies what they want and tells you how to give it to them. And its full of concreteand hilariouscase studies so you can see their responses in action.

Follow their lead and youll be turning haters into brand advocates before your very eyes.

5. “Pre-Suasion” by Robert Cialdini Ph.D.

To truly persuade someone, according to Robert Cialdini, you need to do more than change their mind; you need to change their state of mind. In “Pre-Suasion”, the long-awaited sequel to his New York Times bestseller, “Influence,” Cialdini directs our attention to the time immediately preceding the message, or what he calls the privileged moment for change. It is at this crucial juncture when you can prime your target to be more receptive to your words. Get them in the right mindset, he argues, and they will be much more likely to agree with you. The book outlines tips and technique that you can use in a variety of contexts to convince people of your message, even before you say a word.

6. “Get Scrappy” by Nick Westergaard

Afraid you cant compete because youre a mom and pop shop in a big block store environment? Then youll take solace fromand find a useful roadmap inNick Westergaards “Get Scrappy”. Host of the popular On Brand podcast, Westergaards simple message is exactly what you want to hear: you can punch above your weight. More than just a collection of tips, he provides an entire system for scrappy marketing, starting with the steps you cant miss, how to do more with less, and concluding with simplifying your methods for the long haul. Its a practical guide to helping you achieve big results on a small budget.

7. “What Customers Crave” by Nicholas Webb

Nicholas Webb wants you to rethink customer service and your targeting mechanisms. Forget age, geographic location, or race, Webb argues. Its much more important to know what your customers love and what they hate. What customers truly crave are amazing experiences and you can only give them that if you know their likes and dislikes. For Webb, customer service is not a technical process; its a design process, and it demands innovation. He walks you through how to identify different customer types, so you can figure out how to create superior experiences across all of the different customer touch points. “What Customers Crave” will change the way you think about customer service and how to boost those conversion rates.

8. “Invisible Influence” by Jonah Berger

People assume they have much greater control over their decision making than they actually do. But as Wharton School Marketing Professor Jonah Berger demonstrates in “Invisible Influence”, the reality is that we are all subject to the power of social influence. Berger uncovers the forces that subtly shape our behavior and shows how, contrary to common belief, this is often a positive thing. As an example, Berger sites the social facilitation phenomenon, in which doing an activity with someone else (say running) helps us do it better (faster). And for those cases in which social influence is a hindrance to good decision making, such as in the case of group think, Berger provides practical tips for overcoming it. We may all be subject to invisible influences on our behavior, but just knowing what those are can put some of the power back in our hands.

9. “Hacking Marketing” by Scott Brinker

According to Scott Brinker, marketing systems are lagging behind the rapidly changing environment in which theyre operating. He identifies five digital dynamics (speed, adaptability, adjacency, scale, and precision) that have transformed the work of marketing, and proposes a relatively simple way of bringing order to the chaos. As marketing becomes more digital and marketers are increasingly reliant on software to do their jobs, the art of managing marketing increasingly resembles the art of managing software. Therefore, marketing managers should adopt the successful frameworks and processes software managers have already developed. “Hacking Marketing” provides a hands-on (and non-technical) guide to creating your own agile marketing processes and serves as a much-needed reminder that when our environment and tools have changed, our work processes should as well.

10. “Digital Sense” by Travis Wright and Chris Snook

Travis Wright and Chris Snook recognize that marketing today is all about customer service. And like Jay Baer, they see it as an age of opportunity. They have devised a whole new marketing system based on two frameworksThe Experience Marketing Framework and the Social Business Strategy Frameworkto help you understand and surpass customers expectations at every stage of the buyers journey and get all of your employees on board. Their learn, plan, do approach allows you to reach customers while also allowing for discover, design, deploy innovation to improve everyday operations. “Digital Sense” is full of data, exercises, and specialized knowledge to help you understand their approach and customize it to suit your needs.

These must-reads are fresh takes on our rapidly evolving field, chock full of guiding frameworks, helpful tactics, and actionable tips. Its a fair amount of homework, but it does promise a major return on the investment.


Josh Steimle is the author of Chief Marketing Officers at Work and the CEO of MWI, a digital marketing agency with offices in the US and Asia, and despite being over 40 can still do a kickflip on a skateboard.

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How To Stalk Your Competitors’ Negative Reviews For New Customers

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Stalking your competitors’ reviews can be an extremely effective technique for getting new customers. That said, it’s a strategy that’s more art than science, and must be done very carefully.Responding directly to negative feedback left for your competitors is generally a very bad idea. It can make you look like a jerk, and will more than likely make your competitors pretty unhappy. So, how can you leverage your competitors’ negative reviews to generate leads?This post will come at the issue from two different angles:

  1. How to find your competitors’ negative online reviews, and

  2. How to act on those reviews in a way that doesn’t damage your reputation.

6 ways to find your competitors’ negative reviews

Following are some of the most effective ways to stay on top of negative comments and reviews left for your competitors.

1. Monitor your competitors’ blog comments

Scouring through blog comments will often yield a number of negative comments or unanswered questions from customers. It will also give you some insight into how your competitors typically respond or react to negative feedback.Don’t respond directly to negative comments left on your competitors’ blog! I’ll cover some much more effective ways to utilize these comments at the end of this post.

2. Use Google Alerts to stay on top of brand mentions

Google Alerts remains the industry standard tool for monitoring online mentions. Set up alerts for mentions of your competitors’ brand name, product names and the owner’s full name.This will immediately alert you to mentions – both good and bad – across the web. This will include blogs, news articles, and other web pages.


While you can try setting up alerts for keywords that might indicate negative reviews (e.g., unhappy, complaint, negative), more than likely you’ll have to manually search for all the comments and mentions.

3. Use social listening tools to monitor negative mentions on social media

One of the best ways to stay on top of negative mentions of your competitors is to use a social listening tool like Brand24 or Hootsuite.More than ever before, consumers expect brands to respond to questions and feedback on social media. Brands that do respond appropriately can see some huge benefits. According to some research, customers who were contacted after leaving a negative review were 33% more likely to turn around and leave a positive review, and 18% were more likely to become a loyal customer.If your competitors aren’t responding – or aren’t responding well – to customer complaints, they’re sacrificing these benefits. And you can use this to your advantage.

4. Monitor local review sites using ReviewFlow

According to BrightLocal, when consumers are looking for reviews of a business they typically go to one of two places: either to a search engine or directly to the review site.If your competitors aren’t responding to negative feedback left on review hubs like Yelp, Google My Business and Angie’s List, they’re losing the opportunity to manage their reputation where it counts most.


Using a tool like ReviewFlow, you can actively monitor all the big review sites for mentions of your competitors’ names. While you won’t directly respond to those reviews, you will use what you’ve learned in some other strategic ways (more on this below).

5. Follow your competitors on social media

While a tool like Hootsuite will alert you to many mentions of your competitors on social media, it won’t show comments that don’t explicitly use your competitors’ name. This is where following your competitors and actively monitoring their social media activity is so important.This is particularly important on Facebook, where Visitors Posts won’t show up on social listening tools unless visitors actually mention or tag the business name.

6. Regularly monitor their Amazon reviews

If your competitors use Amazon to sell their products, this can be a great place to watch for negative reviews. While you won’t be able to respond to comments left on your competitors’ product pages, you can use what you’ve learned to improve your own products and customer service.


Note: While it may be possible to track down a reviewer’s email address through their Amazon profile, emailing a user for something other than servicing their order can get your account shut down.

How to use negative reviews to get new customers

I’ve already hinted at some of the ways you can use what you’ve found, however, I’ll cover each of these strategies in more detail below.

Respond directly to dissatisfied customers

As already mentioned, this is something you should do with extreme caution. Responding to questions and negative comments on your competitors’ social media feed or website is generally a pretty terrible idea, so should be reserved for one specific circumstance: if your competitor has abandoned (or virtually abandoned) their website or social media account. Even in this situation, avoid criticizing your competitor, and move the conversation offline asap.

Improve your own products and customer service

Monitoring your competitors’ negative reviews can help you avoid facing the same fate. Use what you’ve learned to improve your products, services, and social customer service skills.Here are a few ways to fix bad reviews.

Reach out to reviewers outside of your competitors’ website or social media feed

If you’ve seen a negative review on a competitor’s website or social media account, go ahead and reach out to the reviewer outside of that channel. Here’s how to connect with them.If you’ve found a blog comment: Click on the commenter’s name. This will often lead you directly to their blog or social media profile. Engage with them on their blog or follow and connect with them via their social media accounts.If you’ve found a comment on your competitors’ social media feed: Follow them on social media and reach out to them with helpful advice of information (e.g., “We heard you’ve been looking for a reliable web designer. We’d like to offer you this coupon for 20% off!”.)

Build up your presence on social media sites where your competitors are failing

This is another indirect way you can reach new customers by succeeding where your competitors are failing. If you notice a competitor regularly receiving negative feedback on Facebook, for instance, boost your efforts on that platform. All those dissatisfied customers are sure to be looking for alternatives…and why shouldn’t it be you?

A final thought

Regardless of how or where you engage with your competitors’ unhappy customers, always try to avoid criticizing the competition. Instead, focus on being empathic (“I’m sorry you had such a bad experience”), and on providing useful information or advice.Looking for more advice on stalking the competition? You may enjoy my post How To Use Social Media To Ethically ‘Stalk’ Competitors And Job Candidates.


John Rampton is serial entrepreneur who now focuses on helping people to build amazing products and services that scale. He is founder of the online payments company Due. He was recently named #2 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine. Time Magazine recognized John as a motivational speaker that helps people find a “Sense of Meaning” in their lives. He currently advises several companies in the bay area.

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