If you are like me, you don’t have much time to read books.  And when you do have time, you don’t want to read a business book.  We are in a world of constant information overload.  For marketers, quite honestly the best information on marketing is found on the web.  However, one of my co-workers recently suggested I write a blog post on my recommended books.  I thought through the books I have on my shelf and came up with this list of influential books which inform marketing both directly and indirectly for me.  And they are actually a pleasure to read!

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Chip Heath and Dan Heath
This is a book on change management, which I feel is the least addressed issue in marketing.  We are constantly trying to get our internal and external teams to shift to a new way of marketing in a demand-gen centric world, yet we don’t fully understand how to do that.  This book lays a great foundation for why people resist change and some easy ways to overcome it.

Digital Body Language, Steven Woods
This is the first book that really addressed the concept of how marketing automation (MA) systems can replace the sales team at the front end of a sales process.   If you haven’t bought into the whole MA value proposition yet – this is a must-read.

Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi
A good marketer will always have a good perspective on sales, as well.  I love this book because it helped me put myself in the shoes of a salesperson and think through what it really takes to build a solid relationship.  Once you have the foundation of how to build a relationship “manually” you can think through how you can build and affect that relationship as a marketer.

There is No Secret Sauce, Adam Metz
Props to our own Adam Metz for this quick read on social marketing and how to get started.  Thanks for making this a short-and-sweet book Adam!  It’s kind of the Cliffs Notes version of a social media how-to.

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff
I have to admit this is one that is sitting on my Kindle unread at the moment.   But I still include it as a must-read because it comes so highly recommended.  It’s on my to-do list!

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Change is tough and stressful.  That shouldn’t be news to anyone, right?  And implementing a new marketing infrastructure, a CRM system, or new marketing processes to generate revenue are all pretty big changes.  So why is it that change management isn’t the first and biggest imperative for any project like this?  Well, because that would require, er, well, Change!  That’s not how most big technology or strategy projects are approached.  The whole “If you build it they will come” mentality abounds.

If we stop and think for a few minutes, though, you know that they won’t come.  Even if you make it a “top-down initiative” or involve everyone in the specs so it’s exactly what they want.  Why is that?  According to Switch authors Chip and Dan Heath, it’s not because people don’t want to change, it’s that they don’t have a clear path, an emotional tie and environmental reinforcements.  They argue that the logical side of a person’s brain is like a rider and the emotional side an elephant.  The rider will over analyze everything, but he can’t get the elephant to move in a direction the elephant just doesn’t want to do.  So you need to make a clear, simple argument for change that appeals to the rider while giving the elephant a good emotional tie to the change.  And all the while, you have to provide  the right environmental stimuli to make sure that the rider and elephant stay on track.

I’d recommend a full read of the book, as it gives a lot of great insight on how to do all of this with good examples along the way.  But here are a few thoughts I’ll provide for you very specific to a marketing automation or CRM implementation that might help your project today:

  1. Create clear, concise definitions of things like “leads,” “contacts” and “accounts.”  For example, in my days as a marketing ops director, I used to use “leads are a response to a marketing campaign.”  Of course, then you need to define a marketing campaign 🙂
  2. Create clear goals and outcomes that people can work towards and get excited about.  Generate $20M in marketing-influenced revenue is a clear goal that people can measure and work towards.  And if you can start showing progress toward this goal, people will get excited about getting there.
  3. Find examples and hold them up for the world to see.  In a large company, there are usually pockets that are ahead of others – that business unit you acquired that has already implemented their CRM or the marketing department that has been running some successful campaigns.  Find these examples and replicate them.
  4. Celebrate success and move past failures.  So many times we get caught up in what didn’t work and fail to recognize that doing so just provides reinforcement to the troops that the project will ultimately fail.
  5. Take a few small risks.  Let your teams try some new tactics and be okay with failing.  Don’t get caught like a deer in the headlights just because you don’t fully understand the tactic yet.  Just keep it under the radar.  For instance, one that I know always trips up marketing teams is implementing lead scoring.  Especially for large companies, they start thinking about all the stuff they don’t know instead of just trying something and seeing what works.  They don’t even have to show the lead score to anyone – just create the program, turn it on, and start measuring so you can see if you are even on track with your score.  You’ll learn a lot whether your program succeeds or fails.

The world of marketing is moving at the “speed of light” as Paul Greenberg would say.  Most of us feel like we are dogs chasing cars in the world of marketing today.  I own two greyhounds and as long as those cars were going 40 mph or less, they’d catch those cars.  But most of us aren’t greyhounds.  We feel more like the little toy poodle that wouldn’t have a chance against a slow-moving bicycle. My goal is to help change all the toy poodles of the world into sleek, fast-moving greyhounds.

Large, global firms have particular challenges in adapting to new marketing strategies.  Organizational structures and the challenges of working with many divisions, products and countries all work against a fluid and dynamic strategy.  But marketers today, especially in the biggest of firms, don’t have the luxury of taking their time to adapt.  The longer you wait, the more exponentially behind you will fall.  In a B2B services firm, the risk is greatest.  B2B services firms generally have very long, relationship-driven sales cycles.  The buying decision being made today has been in the works for anywhere from 6-24 months.  If you haven’t been engaging with them on their own turf in the social world, providing timely nurture information, and tracking their behavior for the past two years, you don’t have a shot at that sale.  So the efforts that you are putting off today to upgrade your marketing strategy is affecting you for years to come.

So where do you start?  I’d like to recommend a few good reads for any large company considering upgrading their marketing infrastructure and strategy as a starting point:

  1. CRM at the Speed of Light, Paul Greenberg – this is a hefty read but worthy of some attention for you operational folks who are trying to figure out your sales and marketing infrastructure.
  2. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Chip Heath and Dan Heath – MUST READ for anyone making a significant organizational change to figure out how to make it stick.
  3. There is No Secret Sauce: A Strategic Guide to Social Media, Adam Metz – if you haven’t stuck your foot into the social waters yet, this is a great place to start.  You’re going to have to go there sometime – might as well start now!  I work with the author of this book – he’s super smart and I’m more than happy to make an introduction.