I read a lot. Often several business books a weekend. Well, sort of. About six years ago I stumbled upon the business book abstract website: www.GetAbstract.com. For a person like myself who loves to read, it was a Godsend. For a fee of approximately $300 a year, you can subscribe to GetAbstract and have access to condensed, fast-read abstracts of just about every business book in the marketplace. In just a couple of pages you can get the highlights, key-points and take-aways. You can download and print the abstracts as PDFs. You can also send to a Kindle, iPad, Blackberry or Palm. Or you can even listen to an audio read online or download the file to listen to later. Further, if the abstract/condensation whets your appetite for more expanded detail, you can buy the book through Amazon right on the GetAbstract website or buy the full kindle edition.
The GetAbstract website is easy to navigate with a search box that lets you specify the type of material you are looking for. I generally download five or six titles at a time to read as time allows.
A few years ago Advertising Age writer Jonah Bloom shared his 10 top media and marketing books of all time (up to the date of the article). Every one of them is in a condensed version, each several pages long at the GetAbstract website. I skimmed all 10 in about 30 minutes. Here is Jonah’s list:
- “Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind” by Al Ries and Jack Trout
- “Ogilvy on Advertising” by David Ogilvy
- “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding” by Al and Laura Ries
- “‘E’” by Matt Beaumont
- “Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This!: A Guide to Creating Great Advertising” by Luke Sullivan
- “Where The Suckers Moon: The Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign” by Randall Rothenberg
- “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t” by Jim Collins
- “The Book of Gossage” by Howard Luck Gossage, Jeff Goodby and Bruce Bendiger
- “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B Cialdini
- “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” by Malcom Gladwell
I agree with Jonah, it’s a good list of books with lots of challenges to conventional advertising/marketing wisdom. I’d like to add a few of my own personal favorites to the list.
“The King of Madison Avenue, David Ogilvy and the Making of Modern Advertising” by Kenneth Roman. If there were one person who truly deserved the title of King, it would be David Ogilvy (in my humble opinion.) His concept of ‘big idea’ and emphasis on the importance of branding helped establish some of the most successful products and services in our modern advertising history. No one is better equipped to write about Ogilvy than Kenneth Roman who worked for him for 25 years during his period of greatest success. I’ve read every book written on Ogilvy. He’s one of my heroes. I especially like the fact that he refused to work for anyone he didn’t like or trust.
“Story Branding…Creating Stand-Out Brands Through the Power of Story” by Jim Signorelli. This is a relatively new book, published just this year. Signorelli, a marketing consultant, is on the same wavelength I’ve been on for the past 25 years. In fact, when I began working in the automotive retail industry, I use to tell potential dealer clients that we were great ‘storytellers’, and if they had a great story to tell, we were the people to do it. This book could change the way you think about advertising forever.
“Brand Sense…Building Powerful Brands through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight and Sound” by Martin Lindstrom. Have you ever heard anyone talk about the ‘smell of a new car’? What impact does your facility have on a customer? How is the lighting in your showroom? Is your dealership warm, friendly, inviting? Is it warm enough in the winter? Cool enough in the summer? Is it clean? Uncluttered? Is your staff neat, well-groomed, professional in appearance? Did you know that children influence 80% of all adult purchases? Lindstrom does a great job of describing the importance of five dimensional branding.
The final book I’d like to add to my personal list of favorites is one that every advertising person should read from cover to cover.
“Write to Sell…The Ultimate Guide to Great Copywriting” by Andy Maslen. Andy and I must have had the same mentors/teachers because we think alike. Some of Andy Maslen’s rules for writing:
Be brief: Abraham Lincoln got it. So did Winston Churchill. Less really is more when it comes to effective copy writing.
Sometimes, go long: Brevity is important, but that isn’t to say ‘long copy’ never works. In fact it can if it is necessary, but never write more than is needed to make the point and sell the benefit…. ‘What’s in it for me?’
Ask questions: What do you think about that? What would you say if I told you…? How much you need for a downpayment? What is your present vehicle worth in trade? What if I told you that you could drive a brand new car for less than your present vehicle is costing you? Why do more people buy a brand new Chevy from our dealership than any other dealership in the State?
Build rapport: Throw in the phrase “as you know” or “as you’ve probably figured out by now” make the reader/listener feel good about themselves. Get the intended target nodding affirmatively.
Employ creativity: With thousands of commercial messages bombarding people daily, what creative tools can you employ to make your ad stand out in a potential customer’s mind (in a positive way.) Test different ideas on friends, co-workers and associates.
Edit, then re-edit, then do it again: The more you edit, the better your writing becomes. Practice really does make perfect in copy-writing. Each time you re-edit, try to cut out a few more words, shorten sentences.
Use tricks and tools and magic words: Teasers hold attention. End a paragraph with …”and here’s why” or “and now let me share a little secret of why we can do this..” Remember, the two most powerful words in the history of advertising are still ‘new’ and ‘free’. Andy Maslen does a great job of pointing out ‘Power Words’ like love, hate, cash, risk, best and win…and how/when to employ them as copy tools.
If you’d like a free copy of the condensation/abstract of Andy’s book: “Write to Sell”, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, I urge you to visit the GetAbstract website: www.GetAbstract.com and investigate the value of a subscription for your business team. Of all the various subscription services I’ve used over the past 10 years, this is one of the most valuable reference tools I’ve employed. Well worth the money.