I know. “Holiday downtime?” Yeah right.

Nonetheless, all the travel (and its inevitable delays) along with the occasional need to retreat from the holiday circus provides a few opportunities to catch up on a little reading. Here are three exceptional reads for the marketer in you.

For the Big-Picture Types . . .


Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True NatureHerd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature
Mark Earls (2007)

Traditional marketing tends to presume that consumers make decisions based on calculated, self-driven notions of cost, benefit, and risk. Herd argues – convincingly – that human behavior is instead a product of our social environments and interactions. We are a highly social species, hard-wired to leverage our exceptional ability to communicate and connect into decisions that go far beyond individual self-interest, and we should market accordingly.

Earls digs deep into theory and examples from disciplines such as anthropology, social psychology, and criminology to explain the proven influence of word-of-mouth (WoM) on human behavior. Although written way back in 2007, when social media was merely a toddler, Herd seems to anticipate the emerging role of technology in amplifying and accelerating WoM and is even more on point today than it was half a decade ago.

Herd goes on to offer practical guidance to marketers on how to respond, react, communicate, and “co-create” with consumers beyond our usual one-to-one approach to marketing.   For those looking to connect that social science degree with a career in business and marketing, here’s your chance.

For the Left-Brainers . . .


Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability & Science of Customer CentricityWeb Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability & Science of Customer Centricity
Avinash Kaushik (2009)

The content of Web Analytics 2.0 is far less intimidating than the title implies. Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google and co-founder of Market Motive, is renowned for finding meaning and insight from the mundane and tedious – a skill that lends itself well to the world of web analytics.

Analytics tools such as Google Analytics offer countless reports, tables, views, and customizations, but Avinash (his personable writing style puts you on a first-name basis) offers an accessible guide to what matters most. In short, our tendency to “puke data” has distracted us from garnering actionable insights from the critical few analyses that matter. Avinash offers a systematic approach to moving from faith-based web marketing to data-driven decision-making across the organization that focuses on the bottom line.

Like Herd, Web Analytics 2.0 is dated by today’s standards, but don’t fret. Avinash’s aptly named Occam’s Razor blog is a living extension to the book and a must-read in and of itself.


For the Social-Minded Marketer . . .


The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More SocialThe NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social
Jay Baer & Amber Naslund (2011)

For many organizations, social media strategy involves, at best, hiring an intern to create a Facebook page and checking in once a month to make sure they’re fed, watered, and happy. As NOW points out, this is hardly adequate. The emergence of social media as a brutally efficient communication platform has necessitated a shift from the antiquated world of press releases and latent react/respond damage control to the new world of real-time business communications.

To facilitate such a transition, Baer and Naslund propose seven ways to make social an organization-wide initiative by integrating people, planning, platforms, and, most importantly, purpose. The overall theme suggests a significant change in organizational mindset, but NOW is packed with practical guidance on how to do social – and how to do it well.


You likely won’t find all three of these books on the shelves of your local bookstore, but they’re all widely available from any major online retailer in hard copy or as an E-book for that new tablet you found under the tree.

Stumbled on any good books lately? Feel free to share in the Comments section. Happy reading.