I read about a business book a week. Crazy, I know. Obsessed? Perhaps. Passionate?  You bet!Onto my top 3 – or as I refer to it, Doug’s stranded-desert-island mini-collection for marketing & business  geeks.  Pass the suntan lotion…MY TOP 3…#1: “The Strategy & Tactics of Pricing” by Thomas Nagle and John Hogan
While not a book for beginners, this is the single-best book on pricing I’ve read, hands down. Let’s face it, most of us get a little nervous when we move beyond cost-plus pricing or competitor-based pricing. But Nagle & Hogan are pricing gods, blending a profit-maximizing approach to pricing with a keen insight into the psychology of consumers & price perception. Their content is highly relevant for making pricing decisions within both B2B and B2C markets.

Chapter 4 on understanding and influencing the purchase decision is worth the price of the book alone. All I can say is never sit down with this book without a highlighter and a pen handy because you’ll be marking it up from beginning to end.

Enjoy, and please share your comments if you’ve already read it.

#2: Counterintuitive Marketing by Kevin J. Clancy and Peter C. KriegCounterintuitive Marketing


Counterintuitive Marketing is the smartest general marketing book I’ve read. The spine of my copy has been decimated from continuous use – constant referencing, underlining, flipping like a mad man back & forth across pages. La Pasión!

Clancy & Krieg’s approach to marketing is “counterintuitive” for the very reason that it’s focused on the right way to do marketing – i.e., not the way organizations actually do their marketing. The chapter on segmentation is absolutely brilliant – they really understand how to approach segmentation from a profit-maximizing lens in close alignment with customer needs & motivations. They get to the meatiness of how to do segmentation, and it’s that meatiness where all of the business opportunities lie.

Another terrific chapter in the book is on Positioning, and how to create a compelling positioning strategy using a balance of 3 key dimensions that help you understand what motivates people to make purchases within your product category: 1) Emotion 2) Logic 3) Behavior. Similar to the segmentation chapter, Clancy & Krieg get to the meat of positioning and how to approach it in a manner that can truly generate some fantastic strategies.

My only criticism of the book is that Clancy & Krieg don’t address how to close the gap between “doing marketing the right way” and getting management onboard with “doing marketing the right way”. While they impart a treasure trove of deep marketing know-how, they do not tackle what remains a critical piece of the puzzle – getting the buy-in necessary from folks in your organization. Luckily, there are plenty of good books on doing just that. My two favorites are:

#3: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind
At its essence, “Positioning” focuses on one of the most important marketing tenets ever quilled on paper: all marketing strategies, tactics & ideas must begin with a clear understanding of the PICTURES & ASSOCIATIONS THAT ALREADY LIVE INSIDE THE MINDS OF THE TARGET AUDIENCE.  And only through this understanding can a marketer effectively craft ideas that can penetrate a mind that is overloaded daily with endless streams of attention-demanding stimuli.

A great follow-up to this Ries & Trout classic is their other classic, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!.

Both should be mandatory reading for any marketer, but “Positioning” stands out among the two.  So if you have just enough space left in your stranded-island suitcase, “Positioning” should get the slot.

… and my Runner-Ups 


Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant
Some clever business strategy concepts and useful frameworks that will help you rethink your business and opportunities for innovation and new growth.

The book is a quick read with minimal jargon, and will definitely get you thinking and generating new ideas for your business.


Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Terrific book that attempts to identify the “secret sauce” of  ideas that are truly memorable and standout amidst all the noise.

The principles taught in this book can be used for marketing, internal communication within your organization, or any context in which getting your idea to resonate and penetrate the minds of others is critical.  Truly a must read.


Metaphorically Selling: How to Use the Magic of Metaphors to Sell, Persuade, & Explain Anything to Anyone
Terrific book for generating relevant metaphors and stories to help you sell your ideas – be it within your organization or to a prospective customer.  Anne’s book is short & sweet, short on theory but long on great advice and ideas that you can run with immediately.  Highly recommended.


Marketing Imagination, New, Expanded Edition
The book is a compilation of some of the best writings by famed Harvard Business School professor, Ted Levitt, one of the fathers of modern marketing.  Capped off by professor Levitt’s landmark article, “Marketing Myopia,” first published in 1960 in the Harvard Business Review, in which Levitt posited that the vision of most organizations was constricted by a narrow view of “what business they were in”.

The classic “railroad industry” example still cited frequently today was penned in this article.  In the famed example, Levitt suggests the railroad industry faltered because of its myopic view that it was “in the railroad business” instead of taking a more consumer-focused view that it was “in the transportation business,” the business of moving people & things from one place to the next.  The principles & ideas established in Levitt’s writings, and powerfully captured in this book, will help re-calibrate even the most customer focused marketers.  Essential, top-shelf reading.


Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas
Edward de Bono, the grandfather of creativity, has written some great books throughout his long career.  While I am a fan of many of his books on creativity, this book is my favorite, and I think perhaps his best work.  While de Bono certainly may not be the humblest of folks, he backs his self-aggrandizing rhetoric with some of the best writing about how to be more creative.   His book is choc full of creativity tools & techniques that I use on a regular basis with great results.


Contemporary Strategy Analysis
Solid, solid strategy “textbook” covering all of the topics of business & corporate strategy in a straightforward, non-academic manner.  While by no means a dynamic book, it covers what you need to know and is a great reference to have by your side – be it in your physical or e-library.


The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!
Al Ries & Jack Trout, the men who forever bolted the concept of “positioning” onto marketing frameworks across the globe, produced an excellent follow-up to their seminal book, “Positioning”.  An easy read that is both highly engaging and choc-full-of truly immutable principles about consumer psychology, Ries & Trout’s basic takeaway is that understanding people’s perceptions of the world, and how to communicate with them on their “perceptual turf” is perhaps the greatest key to developing great marketing communications.  While reading this book will at times make you want to reach for your typewriter (what’s that?) or grab some whiteout just for old times sake, many of the concepts they discuss are as relevant in our hyper-digital world as it was in their analog version decades ago.  A must have for your bookshelf – be it made of wood or pixels.


Market Segmentation: How to Do It and How to Profit from It
While often overly academic, “Market Segmentation” is the most exhaustive book on market segmentation I have ever read – and I have read many books on the topic.  If you’re looking to gain a truly in-depth understanding of segmentation, this book is the book.


How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market
Solid consumer insights book focusing more on the psychology of consumers, and how to go deep into the mind of consumers to better understand the often unconscious forces that shape their views & relationships with products and services.  Definitely recommended for anyone interested in marketing research.


The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Strategies for Continuously Creating Opportunity in an Age of Uncertainty
One of my favorite business books of all time.  The book really dives deep in entrepreneurship – from how to build proper financial models for new ventures to how to generate innovative product ideas & generate rich consumer insights.  This is definitely on my must-have list.


Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques (2nd Edition)
Looking for an encyclopedia of idea generation techniques & tools?  I’ve read numerous books on creativity and innovation and have yet to find a book that provides a more robust, well-articulated account of the highest impact tools for generating lots of quality ideas.  This book could easily be titled, Generate Great Ideas on Command.


The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials)
While it’s hard to decide upon my favorite Drucker book – no doubt a problem many a businessperson has – I have put The Effective Executive at the top of the list.  “No thy time” is the mantra of this prescient book on personal management in the workplace; time is a manager’s most precious resource is a corollary.  Understand where you can provide the greatest value to your organization, and on an ongoing basis track how you’re spending your time on the job and how well the time your spending aligns with the areas & activities where you can provide the greatest value.  All too often when we actually take the time to invest in such an assessment, we are surprised at how much of our time is spent doing low-value work and attending ineffective, low-value meetings.

I recommend you not only purchase this book immediately and read it, but that you re-read every few months until you internalize its management success “wisdoms”.  (Note you can pick up a used version of the book from Amazon for only a few bucks)




POP!: Stand Out in Any Crowd
Review coming soon.


Discovering the Soul of Service: The Nine Drivers of Sustainable Business Success
Review coming soon.



How To Win Friends and Influence People
Review coming soon.



The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
Review coming soon.


Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius
Review coming soon.


Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People 2nd Edition
Review coming soon.



The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly
Review coming soon.



CA$HVERTISING: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone
Review coming soon.



The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization
Review coming soon.



Management Challenges for the 21st Century
Review coming soon.



Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance
Review coming soon.



Competing for the Future
Review coming soon.



Marketing Myopia (HBR OnPoint Enhanced Edition)
Review coming soon.



Advanced Selling Strategies: The Proven System of Sales Ideas, Methods, and Techniques Used by Top Salespeople Everywhere
Review coming soon.



The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly
Review coming soon.



Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies
Review coming soon.


Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive
Review coming soon.



The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited: Real-life lessons in Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Review coming soon.

One Comment on “Favorite Business Books”

  1. Pingback: Your pricing should be influenced by your customer’s reference point | Mind of Marketing

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