My Top Beach Books for Advertising Agency Folks

Work These Business Books Into Your Summer Schedule

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Tom Martin Tom Martin
As I prepare for the annual summer beach trip with the family, I thought I'd share some of my favorite beach-reading material. Some of these are new and some are old, but each has given me value far beyond the meager price I paid for the book.

Enjoy the summer and the books. If you don't see your favorite here, please do me a favor and add it to the comments box. If we get enough, maybe I'll do a follow up post with links to those books too.

How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market by Gerald Zaltman of Harvard. I read this book a few years ago and it totally changed how I think about marketing to consumers. Zaltman has developed a technique he calls "metaphor elicitation," which is patented, to mine the unconscious. Truly one of the most interesting and impactful books I've ever read. If you really like that one, you can pick up his most recent, Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal About the Minds of Consumers, which picks up where his first book leaves off. I wasn't as impressed with second book as the first, but still a worthy read.

Next I'd suggest Margaret Mark's The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes, which draws on Jung's concept of archetypes. In the book, you are introduced to such archetypes as the hero, outlaw, lover, sage, magician, creator and innocent, and told that these archetypes cross lifestyle and cultural boundaries. I once used this book to help sell a truly great ad campaign by helping the client see how the work we created really spoke to a deeper need in his customers' lives. So if you want get your inner account-planner geek on, read this one. You can thank me later.

And if you're in the service business, such as a hotel, restaurant, or even a hospital, you absolutely have to read Clued In: How to Keep Customers Coming Back Again and Again by Lewis Carbone. This book will teach you all about using environmental clues to communicate your marketing and brand message to your customer. His ideas behind humanistic and mechanic clues have been used to drive great brands like the Mayo Clinic and others. It's certainly one of the most well-worn books on my shelf.

And for anyone that has or will ever participate in a new-business pitch to earn their paycheck, I'd highly recommend Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business by the legendary Jon Steel. As someone who has been in charge of biz dev at more than one agency and had my own gig for a while, I can tell you that Jon's book taught me more than a few lessons on how to create and then sell ideas.

And while we're on the subject of new business (let's face it, who isn't focused on that right now) here is another one I've long loved. Conceptual Selling by Heiman and Miller is really for sales teams, especially those that sell to large, complex accounts, but I found that the information was directly relevant to helping me develop key account strategies that led to winning business. They also have seminars you can attend.

I'm really looking forward to reading my friend Chris Brogan's new book, Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust, when it comes out in August. He co-authored it with Julien Smith and while it isn't out yet, judging by the quality of Chris' blog and just how smart the guy is, I'm guessing this one will be a keeper.

And last but not least, we gotta have at least one current book on social media for this list to be complete. Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff is a really good read if you're trying to get up to speed on the whole social-media thing. I'd highly recommend it.

That's it folks. Enjoy the books. But remember, come back and tell me what you thought of them either here or at my personal blog Positive Disruption. And if you have a few favorite books you think I'd like -- do be so kind as to let me know via the comments!

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Tom Martin is president of Zehnder Communications, with offices in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. He can be reached at Or follow him at @TomMartin.

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