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A few books that have influenced me over the last few years:
1. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: The classic marketing text by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Perhaps originally intended for offline business, it contains lessons oft overlooked by ‘new economy businesses.’ My favorite lesson: if you can’t be #1 in a category, create a new category you can be #1 in.
2. Purple Cow: Seth Godin’s short essay on product differentiation. If you’ve ever looked at a page of Google AdWords results and noticed that every ad is virtually identical (especially with dynamic keyword insertion in the title), this is a great book to use to brainstorm ideas to help your ads stand out.
3. The Rise of Advertising, the Fall of PR: Another Al Ries book (though this time written with his daughter Laura). If ever there was a book that explained why traditional advertising is dying, this is it. The subtitle of this book could be “Why Search Engine Marketing is the Future of Advertising.”
4. Strategic Database Marketing: This one is heavy on the statistics, but if you can wade through the pages of math you will learn all the fundamentals of customer segmentation (recentcy, frequency, monetary – or RFM – being the biggest lesson).
5. Homepage Usability: Jakob Nielsen I guess is the ‘father of Internet usability.’ This book looks at 50 popular homepage and breaks down all the errors present. It’s amazing that more companies don’t spend more time on usability, as shown by this great book!