Successful business people are readers. They read all the time — books, posts, even tweets. Some call it lifelong learning. We call it professional development.

(Some people say you can become an expert by reading ten books on a topic. I’m not sure about that, but certainly if you read the ten TOP books on a subject, you’re going to know more about it than 95% of the rest of the people!)

Here at The Marketing Machine®, we turn to books as a basic resource. Our library has hundreds, and adds dozens more every year. (Fortunately, some of them are now electronic so they don’t take up as much room.) These are some of our favorites.

If you click on the image of a book, or the link, you’ll go directly to Amazon. There, you may find used copies at a discount, or even special deals where books are free! In any case, you’re bound to get a good, if not the best, deal. Note: we are Amazon Affiliates. If you buy one of these books on Amazon, we may get a commission, paid by Amazon. Your cost isn’t affected.

Library Sections

Miscellaneous Favorites!
Business Planning
Focus on Marketing
Professional Growth
Time Management

Miscellaneous Favorites!

If there is one book in our library that is noticeably dog-eared, it is Words that Sell: More than 6000 Entries to Help You Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas. I use this book more than my thesaurus!

Working on writing better copy? Stuck with a case of writer's block? Trying to come up with some more effective benefits language when all you can think of is features?

Just pull out your copy of Words that Sell, and you'll be inspired. Guaranteed! (There's a second similar book called MORE Words that Sell. Check it out, too.)
The quintessential cheat sheet for copywriters, Phrases That Sell : The Ultimate Phrase Finder to Help You Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas is my second most favorite idea-jogger.

Saves time when writing any marketing piece, particularly useful for writing email autoresponder series -- the categories help lead you right to the next message.

(Getting Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 12, English
on Amazon will save you as much as $100 today over the cost from Nuance, the manufacturer. So shop carefully! )

This is an amazing product! It takes some getting used to, and good computer capacity (at least 3 GB hard drive space) but will let you dictate lists, notes, emails and, with the professional version, even spreadsheets. Whew.

Nicole Dean cleverly disguises herself as a friendly “next-door-neighbor kind of gal,” when in reality she’s a crackerjack online marketer with a vast following and years of experience in online sales. What’s important about Expert Briefs: Blogging for Profit: The Stripped-Down Naked Truth from 26 Rockin' Online Business Owners are the insights of the 26 different online bloggers she has interviewed. These are people who are actually walking the walk. A unique time-saver for all new and advanced online business owners. Marketers at brick-and-mortar businesses need to know this stuff, too.

We met Roey Bannon Pimentel at an online marketer's convention, and immediately added her book to our list! It's the best we’ve seen in years about the role of design in marketing, with important tips starting on the first page. Straightforward discussion of how to use templates and free website themes, the differences between web designers and graphic designers, and, of course all the things you wanted to know about the PRINCIPLES and the ELEMENTS of design. You'll love having Graphic Design IMPACT: Design Secrets That Sell as a resource.

Judy Allen has been at the top of the event planning heap for quite a while. This latest version of her book, Event Planning: The Ultimate Guide To Successful Meetings, Corporate Events, Fundraising Galas, Conferences, Conventions, Incentives and Other Special Events, will turn you into a professional if that's what you want. I was particularly pleased to note the additions to this latest version: notes on security, using technology in event planning, and how to put on a "green" event.

Business Planning

When you're starting out -- like, at the VERY beginning of your entrepreneurial career -- it's really easy to invest in new equipment, new services, and powerful new marketing tools. And it's also really easy to create overhead expenses that can eat your business alive before it really gets started! School for Startups: The Breakthrough Course for Guaranteeing Small Business Success in 90 Days or Less helps you avoid these expensive start-up costs. Real-life stories help show how its done. I wish I had attended one of these guy's seminars in person!

101 Mission Statements from Top Companies: Plus Guidelines for Writing Your Own Mission Statement
Why not take advantage of the professional work done by some of our biggest and best U.S. Corporations? This book jumps right in to a listing of the Mission Statements of over 100 well-known and well-established brands. You can find companies by industry, too. Plus there are guidelines on how to develop your own. (We own the earlier version of Abrahams' book, too. Even more samples!)
The Rule Book of Business Plans for Startups (Psi Successful Business Library) If you need an authoritative text and detailed information about the various different tables and charts required, then this book will hold you in good stead. Go directly to Chapter 10 and dig in. The book is particularly useful as a resource for new businesses and start-ups seeking financing.
If, on the other hand, you need a brief overview of the essentials, and want to get everything you need done FAST, then consider Business Plan in a Day: Get It Done Right, Get It Done Fast!Author Rhonda Abrams also sells accompanying software, should you need more than simple excel spreadsheets.

Focus on Marketing

Start Your Own Business, Fifth Edition: The Only Start-Up Book You'll Ever Need

OK, the focus is supposed to be on marketing, but this book has it ALL! Nearly 700 pages make it a reference rather than a read. Have your page markers handy because you'll be using this for years. Marketing tips include targeting, using social media; I love all the checklists. It's a staple for any professional marketer.
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

We have recommended this book to EVERY class we've ever taught to enthusiastic but unproven entrepreneurs! Author Michael E. Gerber makes the crucial distinction between working ON your business and working IN it.

When I pick up my copy of Ultimate Small Business Marketing Guide: 1500 Great Marketing Tricks That Will Drive Your Business Through the Roof (Ultimate Series) I'm reminded -- yes, it truly has 1,500 marketing tips and tricks! This isn't really a planning resource. Rather, it's a huge list of quick ideas that you can use if you're needing inspiration for your own business or for clients.

Marketing Myths That Are Killing Business: The Cure for Death Wish Marketing

Do you have corporate clients? Do you have problems dealing with their marketing departments or their agencies? Need more ammunition for a powerful presentation? The 172 "myths" described by Clancy and Schulman are as alive today as they were when this was written in 1995!

Professional Growth

In the year 2001 three marketing groups in Sacramento California got together to bring Jack Canfield to town. He was promoting The Power of Focus. I got my copy then, and it has remained on the front shelf ever since. That earlier version had 10 strategies for improving focus. I can't say I've hit EVERY one with certainty. But the book has sure helped.

Now there's a new version: The Power of Focus Tenth Anniversary Edition: How to Hit Your Business, Personal and Financial Targets with Absolute Confidence and Certainty It's updated for these tumultuous times. Add it to your personal collection and I think you'll refer to it often.

Taking People with You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen

Getting people on your side is the key to business success, whether for an ambitious manager, a Fortune 500 CEO or a new entrepreneur. Novak, featured (among other awards) as one of the world’s “30 Best CEOs” by Barron’s, is CEO of Yum! Brands, owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. He has developed a trademarked program to teach leadership skills to his company’s management and franchisees. That program emphasizes teamwork, and building a “recognition culture.”

Novak bases his leadership plan on the marketing principle of “know your customer.” Think you’re a leader? Check out Novak’s program of mindset, planning and follow-through.


Classic #1: Consultative Selling: The Hanan Formula for High-Margin Sales at High Levels

This is the Fifth Edition of Mack Hanan’s classic. The book covers just about everything the new — or for that matter the not-so-new — consultant is concerned about: how to become consultative, how to penetrate the upper levels of a company, and how to “merit high margins.”

Much of the book is devoted to the art of proposals — which he terms “proposing strategies.” (As you know, The Marketing Machine® isn't fond of the word "proposal," but the strategic aspect still applies!)

As a consultant you will sound and feel good quoting this book!

Classic #2: Secrets of Question-Based Selling: How the Most Powerful Tool in Business Can Double Your Sales Results

A second classic from our collection, and one you are probably familiar with, too. Freese puts it clearly: to uncover a client’s needs, you must ask the right questions at the right time!

Part II of the book focuses on developing and leveraging questions: how to use them to build credibility, escalate value, solicit more accurate feedback. He provides many, many examples. And a number of big companies testify to the effectiveness of his methods.

Throughout the book Freese intersperses 155 “Secrets.” You can skim just jumping from one to the next.

Real Influence, by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

As a consultant, you MUST be successful at influencing people. The book’s full title is Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In which pretty much summarizes the dilemma that many of us find ourselves in.

This is not an easy read. The authors spend time defining concepts like “your here” and “their there” as part of what they call the “outdated strategy of disconnected influence.”

What I found most useful are their four steps to – you guessed it – connecting and influencing! My favorite is Step #2: Listen past your blind spot.

If you’re serious about self-development, get this book and read it. Keep it on your library shelf like we do, so you can refer to it often. The stories told by Goulston and Ullman will serve to encourage and guide, again and again.

Team Turnarounds: A Playbook for Transforming Underperforming Teams

The forward of this book starts as follows: “What do NFL teams, a Broadway musical, a university childcare center, a pizza maker, a public school system, a motorcycle trailer manufacturer, a collegiate lacrosse team, and a state all have in common?

Stumped? They, and other equally fascinating organizations, are the case examples in Team Turnarounds…organizations that shared one common problem: they were all failing or floundering and needed to reverse course.”

If you are the consultant brought aboard to save a business, then read this book to find the PATTERNS that failing teams and companies share, and the GAMEPLAN they can follow to turn themselves around.
Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization by Leonardo Inghilleri (2010-04-07)

Any time we come across a book published by AMACOM, we pause for a second look. This one is worth it.

While the topic is customer service, the content is dear to our marketing hearts:
• creating “the perfect customer experience”
• managing conversations and communications knowing that “every.word.counts”
• Knowing how to handle an unhappy customer, and when to write him or her off

What I wasn’t expecting was the detail regarding tracking and measuring success, and the excellent observations about controlling customer “hellos” and “good-byes,” both within the walls of the business and online.

If customer service is part of what you need to know more about, grab this book!

When times are tough – as they have been for a number of years, now – it’s natural to want to hunker down and put up protective walls. When barriers go up within a company, progress stalls.

In Breaking the Fear Barrier: How Fear Destroys Companies From the Inside Out and What to Do About It, Tom Rieger reports on the extensive research he and his team at Gallup, Inc. did, to identify “rules” people were setting to protect what they felt entitled to – even when it wasn’t in the best interests of the company.

Any corporate problem solver should be at least familiar with Rieger’s six-step “Rule Audit” as a tool to break through this negative, fear-induced behavior.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Zappos and of their reputation for customer service. Maybe you’ve even experienced it!

But have you actually dug a bit deeper to find out just how this customer service standard has been established and why it continues to work? Michelli wrote The Starbucks Experience; here, in The Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage, and WOW
he digs into Zappos and comes up with five principles that have helped the company create an employee “family” that in turn creates a unique “customer experience.”

If you could repeat this with YOUR company, or help your client create it . . .?

Million Dollar Consulting

This is the Professional’s Guide to Growing a Practice, by Alan Weiss, Renowned expert Consultant and author of The Ultimate Consultant Series. The classic bestseller has been revised and updated and is the one book that anyone considering a consulting career should read, absorb and use as a guide for building their business.

Second book by Alan Weiss in our library, Getting Started in Consulting

From how to finance a consulting practice to writing proposals that sell, setting fees and more . . . this first book outlines the principles and techniques needed to start and build a successful consulting practice. Our copy has colored flags on at least a dozen pages.

Process Consulting: How to Launch, Implement, and Conclude Successful Consulting Projects (Ultimate Consultant Series) by Alan Weiss, Renowned expert Consultant and author of The Ultimate Consultant Series.

For a consulting practice to be profitable, like most business activities it must follow a consistent process with Milestones, Progress Reports and Triggers to signal problems.

Value-Based Fees: How to Charge - and Get - What You're Worth
Alan Weiss, Renowned expert Consultant and author of The Ultimate Consultant Series.

Your value as a consultant is in your accumulating (and accumulated) knowledge, experience and judgment. If you bill by the hour, the better you are, the fewer hours you can bill and the less profitable you become. Seems simple but is a challenge for many consultants as they become more skilled.

How to Acquire Clients: Powerful Techniques for the Successful Practitioner
Yet another in Alan Weiss's The Ultimate Consultant Series.

The title is somewhat misleading. It’s not about getting started in consulting, but how the established consultant can build the practice by acquiring larger and more profitable clients.

Still more from Alan Weiss: The Ultimate Consultant: Powerful Techniques for the Successful Practitioner
As the Ultimate Consultant, you focus on choosing your clients to control the nature and profitability of the consultancy as well as finding and securing work and interactions that are stimulating and educational.

For the mature consultancy, Great Consulting Challenges: And How to Surmount Them

Alan Weiss writes on overcoming challenges and obstacles in consulting assignments -- challenges that appear as the practice matures. The book also shares a considerable amount of solid marketing expertise for the more sophisticated practice, including how to expand into different niches and build a larger support team.

Time Management

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)
was and remains a concept that will turn your ordinar;y 9-5 mind upside down! Ferriss' secret is to outsource nearly everything -- and he explains how.

David Allen is the master of time management and has written multiple books on the subject, including Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
He started out with a paper system called TimeDesign, which we used to the exclusion of all else in the early '90s. Then computers took over. . .

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