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The ‘One More Book of Summer’ Marketing Summer Reading List

Whether you’re the type to catch a chapter over morning coffee or a fellow audio-book commuter, passionate marketers like you and I share a penchant for pages. If you can only fit one more marketing must-read book in this summer, here are some recommendations.

Captivology – Ben Parr

For fans of learning through a blend of science and story, Ben Parr’s Captivology delivers the science of attention with samples from business, film, street magic and video games. Written for a broad audience, the book discuses applications from non-profit fundraising to app development, leaving the reader with a broad palette in understanding how to capture and keep the attention of any audience. If you’ve read much in the vein of Cialdini or Berger, the angles will be familiar but the examples are worth the read (or listen.) If this will be one of your first dives into the intersection of human behavior and marketing, the next two reads may make a better ‘last weekend at the lake’ companion.

Influence – Robert Cialdini

Already in its fifth edition, Influence follows Dr. Robert Cialdini’s academic field research working alongside ‘compliance professionals.’ (Sales.) The result is one of the top 50 psychology texts and a must read for the academic at heart. Compared to other texts, Influence is like a very heavy Gladwell. While both start with intriguing stories and dive into the key takeaways, Cialdini goes much deeper into the science to form a more broad understanding of persuasion. Even if you’ve heard of the six principles before (Reciprocity, Commitment & Consistency, Social Proof, Authority, Liking and Scarcity), it’s well worth the read to see them in action while gaining the deeper insight into the mechanics of each. If you looked forward to psychology class back in your academic years, this is the kind of book that will make you giddy at every chapter. If you’re looking for a lighter brain stretch to enjoy with a Moscow Mule, try thinking like a freak.

Think Like a Freak – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Following on the heels of Freakanomics and Super Freakanomics, Think like a Freak offers you the recipes behind the amazing menus in the prior two books. The best-selling authors show you how to apply the lessons and approach of Freakanomics to your problem solving in business and life. The Freakanomics series explores the application of Behavioral Economics, a concoction of cognitive psychology, sociology, statistical analysis and economics principals through stories and problems entertaining enough for the New Yorker. A critical element of their explorations? Check what you think you know at the door. Malcom Gladwell’s own analysis of the Think Like a Freak approach puts it best. “Free yourself from expectations, be prepared for a really, really simple explanation, and let your attention wander from time to time.” It’s an amazing book for tweaking your brain’s approach to problems. But what about your brain’s approach to other people’s brains?

Yes, And – Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton

Embarrassingly, I discovered this book from The Second City comedy team following a fellow weduite’s exciting presentation share from SXSW with the same title. I bought the wrong book, but I. Regret. Nothing. Yes, And borrows the best of improvisational comedy’s absolute reliance on affirming team work and brings it from stage to boardroom. Alex Osbourne would be proud. The author duo discuss the religion of running with your partner’s idea, pointing out just how much further a team can go with that versus a ‘yes, but’ dud. There’s also some great storytelling from The Second City’s history and culture, making this a book that shares the power of collaboration’s ability to build not just something better, but something iconic. And speaking of icons…

The Man who Sold America – Jeffrey L. Cruikshank and Arthur W. Schultz

Did you love Mad Men, but tuned out during the awkward interoffice relationship scenes? The very true story of golden age advertising godfather Albert D. Lasker will having you begging for the AMC series you deserved all along. The biography follows the ad legend behind some of the most iconic campaigns of the first quarter of the 20th century. This is one of the minds that not only brought the radio hit Amos and Andy to air, but did it as one of the original content marketing campaigns on behalf of client Pepsodent. You also meet some of the next generation of ad-land legends like John E Kennedy, who gave Lasker his definition of advertising as ‘salesmanship in print, and Claude Hopkins, who would carry Lasker’s torch in testing advertising messaging and offers – some of the earliest conversion rate optimization with methods still used today. Like the Mad Men of AMC, Lasker was known for his ability to embellish on a story, but also lived an astonishingly interesting life in politics. It’s hard to verify what details are fact and which were added over a glass of scotch years later, but that –and the nostalgic trip to our industries first golden age – make this a must read.

Trust Me, I’m Lying – Ryan Holiday

Are you the type that rooted for the Bond villain because you admired the qualities it must have taken to build a secret layer inside a volcano? Do you watch dramas like Leverage, White Collar and Hustle because you love seeing a good, clean con in action? Ryan Holiday’s ‘confessions of a media manipulator’ read with the same dramatic, ‘there is no way they’re going to get away with this,’ plot of a TV procedural. What’s the best way to get your political candidate client to stand out? Invent a scandal for them to overcome publically – using some late-night spray paint. This makes a great guilty-pleasure read, but just like watching your favorite crew assemble for a daring art heist, you probably don’t want to try this at home.    

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