If you’re anything like me, your focus dwindles over the holidays. So instead of providing you with tips that you don’t have the energy to use, I thought that I’d briefly review some of the books that have shaped how I think about the web. Feel free to copy down this list and use it when you sit on Santa’s knee to tell him what you’d like in your stocking this year:
Permission Marketing, Seth Godin
“Permission Marketing” was for me the snowball that started the avalanche. In an extremely engaging way, Godin breaks paradigms and describes how and why “interruption marketing” is dead, and what it means to be in the era of “permission.”
First published in 1999, Permission Marketing isn’t a “how-to” book, and is not specifically directed at the web. It’s more of a book about mind-set – a paradigm, a philosophy – but it provides an excellent foundation of understanding of why things work (or don’t work) in marketing. Godin’s explanation of why marketing is like dating is probably worth the cost of the book alone.
Your Marketing Sucks, Mark Stevens
If the title of Mark Stevens’ book doesn’t catch your attention, the contents certainly will. In a compelling and relevant way, Stevens contrasts “lazy marketing”—traditional and expensive— with what he calls “extreme marketing” (which he could have just called “essential,” “ROI,” or even “common sense” marketing).
Extreme marketing is the highly coordinated, premeditated, results-driven marketing that is the only marketing that makes sense for today. With numerous examples and case studies, Stevens shows how Lazy vs. Extreme isn’t just about medium (web, email, PR, direct mail, etc), it’s about execution (preplanned, based on a solid value proposition, tested, etc).
Submit Now: Designing Persuasive Websites, Andrew Chak
I don’t know Andrew Chak, but I’d like to. “Submit Now” is exactly the sort of book that is needed by many web developers, designers and e-entrepreneurs. Chak’s advice is accessible, practical and thought provoking.
Dividing web visitors into four types—browsers, evaluators, transactors and customers—Chak provides simple, effective advice to enhance your website for each of these visitor types. I’m not sure I entirely agree with this division of visitor types, but I heartily agree that this sort of thinking is what is required to make websites more effective.
Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Steve Krug
This book has become a bible for a generation of web developers and graphic designers that are looking for the right way to build websites.
While I don’t agree with everything in the book, it is a highly educational (and quick) read, which provides a number of best practices for effective design. Specifically addressing issues such as navigation systems, page layout, visual hierarchy and text length, Krug provides a series of thought-provoking ideas and concepts.
Winning Results with Google Adwords, Andrew Goodman
OK, I have to make a confession; I haven’t actually read this book. However, two things make me recommend it. First, I have read Andrew Goodman’s ebook (which this book is based on). Second, I was recently impressed when chatting about pay-per-click (PPC) strategy with an individual whose “education” on PPC came from this book. For these two reasons, I feel I can recommend “Winning Results” with a clear conscience.
Rest assured, I’ll be telling Santa about this one myself.