Summertime is always good for book reading and I try to do my fair share. In this and the next post I’ll outline six business books that I have recently read and give some opinions on what they have taught me and whether I think they deserve to be read by others.

Emanuel Rosen – Anatomy of Buzz Revisited

anatomy_buzzThis book was re-released in 2009 with many revisions to cover all of the new social media tools that help generate buzz. Rosen makes a few points on how to virally market your product. While they seem intuitive once you use them, they don’t spontaneously spring to mind. He insists that you provide goods/services that delight your clients before you try getting word-of-mouth going. Only when your clients love your offering and are chattering about it, will you see fruit from your efforts. He encourages finding ambassadors for your product who keep large followings and like being authorities on your type of product. He says not to worry too much about tracking word-of-mouth efforts, most of the action happens between your clients and prospects and measurement really isn’t in your control. Finally, he encourages experimentation and creativity, citing anecdotal examples where companies (many of them Canadian, I might add) used these traits to their success.

Guy Kawasaki, The Art of the Start

Guy Kawasaki is one of the best known personalities in technology today. His Wikipedia entry rattles off his main tech-related initiatives: founder of Silicon Valley VC firm, Garage Technology Ventures; early employee at Apple who marketed the Macintosh; head of web-directory Alltop and also a well-known blogger. His 2004 book, The Art of the Start, takes a healthy West Coast attitude on building a startup company. Guy’s main advice is to just get in there and get started. His chapter on trying to raise capital puts the reader at ease, for he describes VCs as folks who are really just making educated guesses. Don’t assume they have any better clue than you do about where technology is going. I found it covered entrepreneurial etiquette a little wider than I would have liked. I didn’t need a lesson on how to write a nice Thank-you e-mail from this tech industry giant. That’s been covered quite well by other authors.

Terry O’Reilly/Mike Tennant, Age of Persuasion

OReilly_age_persuasionMany Canadians will know this duo from their weekly CBC radio show of the same name. Their book provides a lot of good historical background on how advertising came to be such a dominant part of our lives. In his day job, front man Terry O’Reilly is a creative director in the advertising sector. As such, you would think that he defends everything advertisers do, but he is quick to criticize and call out those who have made interruptive, patronizing ads. Together with partner Mike, they show how each medium can be used to sell specific products. They run through how copywriting, music, visuals and artistry can work together to provide truly transcendent marketing. I really like this book for telling the story behind the people, places and things that are part of the media landscape. They clearly know their field.

As you can see, the common thread among these books concerns that highly variable “vision thing” that every company must have. It has to be audacious enough to command the majority of your time [Kawasaki]. It has to excite clients enough that they will tell their friends about it [Rosen]. If it is marketed by others that get the vision, it can be communicated in a way that compels prospects to desire it. [O’Reilly/Tennant].