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Often, we talk about book recommendations but I'm curious if there are books that are 'popular' but shouldn't be read by young marketers or Growth Hackers.

For example: Have you read a book that gave you bad advice or tactics for your marketing campaigns?

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    over 5 years ago #

    Really interesting question. I don't have a specific book in mind, but I did take a course early in my marketing career that caused me to "overthink" marketing. It was a Strategic Marketing Management course at NYU. The course taught broad marketing theory.

    Prior to the course I was focused on a clear metric and experimented to improve that metric. We were an ad supported game company, so every dollar I spent was optimized to maximize the number of ad impressions generated on our game site (Uproar). It was a simple formula that helped us grow at a good clip. After I took the course I found myself trying to do things like SWOT analysis and integrated marketing communications. The more time I allocated to those types of activities, the slower our growth became. When I got back to the basics, growth recovered.

    I think the issue was that I was learning by doing prior to the class. I took the class because of my own insecurities as a young marketing exec. If I had taken the class a couple years later, I probably would have gotten more out of it.

    One note was that I was marketing on the internet, which was a very new medium in 1997. The books were teaching a decades old play book. Today, online marketing is a bit more mature so you can actually get more valuable lessons from books. But I still believe that nothing beats learning through doing.

    • NK

      narek khach

      over 5 years ago #

      That's a great point though, I've always wondering how I can gauge if I am "overthinking" marketing or design. Do you have any rule of thumb or way of alerting yourself when you're too far down the rabbit hole?

    • JS

      James Senzamici

      over 5 years ago #

      SWOT and those other tools taught in classes like that and really pushed during that class. Is they forget that SWOT is really good for after you start building a brand to re-evaluate where you are and what your positioning should be. They teach us about the tools, but I feel they don't really teach us when to use them. Since, they are expecting that the brand we are working with is already developed enough in its life cycle to apply them directly. This new age of internet marketing and quick reaction has taken a lot of professors for a loop from what I have seen.

      Just took the same class at University of North Florida. We did a pharmaceutical company instead of a game company. It does teach you a lot about the over arching use of brand awareness, sales force allocation, and promotion.

  • DC

    David Cohen

    over 5 years ago #

    None of them. If you want to somehow "learn" marketing from a book, read non-marketing books that are strong on storytelling, character development and human behavior.

    Reminiscences of a Stock Operator is one of the most perfect examples of this: http://www.amazon.com/Reminiscences-Stock-Operator-Edwin-egrave/dp/1592801943

    • SE

      Sean Ellis

      over 5 years ago #

      Welcome to GrowthHackers David. That's a really interesting perspective. I agree that some of my best marketing ideas come from non marketing books, but it seems maybe a bit extreme to say that no books offer value. For example, Moz's Beginners Guide to SEO provided a much fast SEO foundation than I would have been able to develop through trial and error.

      Would you say the same thing about blog posts? Do they offer any value to young marketers?

      • LS

        Logan Stoneman

        over 5 years ago #

        Agreed Sean - i've added value for my marketing career from reading books on stoic philosophy AND books like Moz's.

      • DC

        David Cohen

        over 5 years ago #

        Sean, you make a good point about eBooks like Moz's SEO guide. My issue with books, however, is that I've almost never heard someone say something like, "I learned __ in ___ book and then went and did ___". It's the inaction I have an issue with.

        For blog posts, if you're an inexperienced marketer reading a blog post about marketing strategy or tactics, are you really going to have enough critical thinking skills to determine practical application in the context of things like... does this apply to my audience, products, UVP, etc.

        Also, consultants read blog posts, get excited about a concept and then sell their client on it without ever doing the research to determine if it's a good fit for the client.

        So, if a person can't critically think through what their reading or the advice their getting from a book or blog post, I say to avoid them all.

      • NK

        narek khach

        over 5 years ago #

        Good point, I think proper cadence in education is just as important as proper cadence in execution. You can't just do a marketing blitzkrieg in one month and expect consistent returns, it's a long-term strategy. Likewise with reading, best to spread it out throughout your life, it has an important role to play too.

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