“What has helped you understand strategic digital marketing better?”
In response to our informal polling question “What’s on your bookshelf?” we got some interesting responses, some useful ones and even a few surprises. When we asked about the tactical guides digital marketers kept at their fingertips, we heard a lot about Media Planning textbooks from college, various technical manuals many of us keep around for reference’s sake, and even writing guides like Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style.”
But what we really wanted to find were the books that help marketers think differently about digital technology, how it affects people and how we ought to construct programs that have real impact.
Here are a few you might not have on your shelf, but should:
The Limits of Privacy, Etzioni
It’s much debated whether big data and the ad targeting it enables are compatible with modern expectations of privacy. This book asks you to think about privacy as something less than an absolute right, and reflect on it from a moral perspective. Taking a step back allows the modern digital marketer a broader perspective when deciding on matters of consumer privacy as they relate to marketing programs in general.
Ambient Findability, Morville
Before Google achieved the market dominance it’s known for today, Morville prompted us to think about being found on any sort of network. In doing so, he laid the foundation for how engineers should be thinking about search conceptually. Should Google’s stranglehold on the search business ever loosen, many of the principles Morville outlined will still be guiding our thinking.
Taking Down Goliath, Ryan and Graham
As a wise old comedian once said, “It’s good to be the King.” As marketers, it’s awful nice to be the 900-lb. gorilla in your category, but let’s face it – most of the time we work with brands that are challengers. Messrs. Ryan and Graham offer practical tips in many of the top digital marketing categories, but in a framework that showcases entrepreneurial outfits taking on much larger competitors. And winning.
The Cluetrain Manifesto, Levine, Locke, Searls and Weinberger
This is the book that started the notion of markets as conversations. Written in a truly revolutionary style, the book spawned countless imitators while trashing the modern ad model and setting up the modern social media one. Cluetrain spawned two things – a slew of overenthusiastic devotees foretelling the end of mass communications, and a rethinking of modern marketing functions to be less top-down and more bottom-up.
The Influentials, Keller and Berry
The Influentials set off a fervor among mass marketers to target influencers in their categories and turn them into converts who would push sales through word of mouth. We all came to understand that it’s not that simple, but The Influentials did help word- of-mouth marketing get traction with the mainstream and give social media marketing a kick in the pants. Strategically, many of the principles outlined in this book still very much apply to influencer strategies today.