Good news: There's an excellent selection of books—published in the last 12 months—about marketing strategy and tactics, many with an emphasis on two hot-button topics: effective use of analytics and harnessing social networks. (If you don't want to read these books on the blistering beaches or flooded coastlines, try an air-conditioned, inland cafe.)
"The New Influencers: A Marketer's Guide to the New Social Media," by Paul Gillin. Hardcover: 272 pages, Quill Driver Books. BtoB columnist and longtime technology editor Gillin uses real-world examples to demonstrate how organizations are communicating directly with important constituents.
"The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly," by David Meerman Scott. Hardcover: 275 pages, Wiley. A comprehensive guide to cutting-edge media arenas and formats such as RSS, podcasts and viral marketing.
"Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning," by Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris. Hardcover: 240 pages, Harvard Business School Press. Full of examples of what the authors call "analytic competitors," organizations that use analytics in different areas of their businesses, the book is in two parts—one on the nature of analytical competition and one on building an analytic competency.
"Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking," by Andy Sernovitz. Hardcover: 216 pages, Kaplan Business. A big-picture view of word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing, stocked with stories, tips and exercises for creating effective WOM programs.
"Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions," by Jason Burby and Shane Atchison. Paperback: 288 pages, Sybex. Along with being a practical guide to the topic, the authors explain why marketers need to gather various types of data and how to act on the information.
"The Upside: The 7 Strategies for Turning Big Threats Into Growth Breakthroughs," by Adrian J. Slywotzky and Karl Weber. Hardcover: 288 pages, Crown Business. The authors explain how to manage risk, partitioning the uncertainty of doing business into seven risk categories and showing how confronting threats directly can lead to success.
"Your Gut Is Still Not Smarter Than Your Head: How Disciplined, Fact-Based Marketing Can Drive Extraordinary Growth & Profits," by Kevin Clancy and Peter Krieg. Hardcover: 296 pages, Wiley. The authors explain how to implement disciplined, accountable marketing practices—using methodologies based on state-of-the-science research and modeling—that get quantifiable results.
Ellis Booker is editor of BtoB and BtoB's Media Business. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.