My 13 Favorite Business Books of 2009

As 2009 comes to a close, I want to share my thirteen favorite biz books from this year that I found myself writing the most “Notes in the Back of the Book“, and stimulating the greatest new thinking and ideas. The list of books covers social media, marketing and new marketing models, and innovation and leadership. For reference, here are also business book favorites by Fast Company, Mashable, Amazon and The Brand Bubble (John Gerzema).

If you’re looking to better understand and excel in today’s social media and web 2.0 worlds, here are four: Inbound Marketing is a must for anyone who wants to be found online, and is especially helpful for anyone who is actively considering how to get started with inbound marketing. Written by the leaders of Hubspot, they know what they’re talking about. Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julian Smith shows how people use online social tools to build networks of influence and how you can tap into the power of these networks to positively impact your business. Because trust is essential to building online reputations, those who traffic trust are “trust agents” and key people for any business.  Putting the Public Back into Public Relations shows how to reinvent PR around two-way conversations with traditional and new influencers, bringing the “public” back into public relations. Both are consistent thought leaders in the area of PR. Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik begins to bring accountability to web 2.0 online programs with focus on customer- centered thinking and measurement, and builds upon his 2007 book.

Of course, to participate in our ever changing digital and social world, strategic marketing and a deep customer focus are still paramount.  How is marketing evolving? In Marketing with Meaning, Bob Gilbreath outlines the next evolutionary step in a progression following direct marketing and permission marketing. The book calls for the end of “push and sell” marketing in favor of adding value to customers’ lives. Excelling in marketing also starts with listening…In Listen First. Sell Later, Bob Poole outlines the benefits of listening FIRST. And to remind us about customer- centered marketing, I Love You More Than My Dog by Jeanne Bliss is a great read. Who can argue that companies like Lands End didn’t get it right early on?

Eating the Big Fish still feels as relevant today as it was when it was first published. The 2009 edition is packed with new examples and Morgan’s eight credos still worthy of consideration-especially for small specialty and biotech Pharmaceutical brands. In FREE: The Future of a Radical Price, Chris Anderson (Long Tail) argues that in the digital marketplace, the most effective price is no price at all. He illustrates how savvy businesses are raking it in with indirect routes from product to revenue with such models as cross-subsidies and freemiums.  But when you stop to think about the real changes in expectations that the web has brought about, this is a book to think hard about.

Tim Brown’s Change by Design suggests that innovation in today’s world means taking a design thinking approach, and one that is human-centered. The CEO of global design consultancy IDEO offers a guide for thinking and organizing our everyday creative processes.  A great book and a nice break  from so much focus on social media…

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs is a must read for anyone looking to improve their own presentation skills. Why not learn from a master, who is consistently voted the most important CEO of the decade?  Knowing how to present is critical today, but this book goes beyond just presentation tips…Power of Less is a very useful reminder to focus (and act) on what is most important and forget the rest. It’s simple and direct without the fluff. Born to Run, while not a business book per say, provides lessons in mind and body, and shows the advantages of anthropological learning from others, in this case a special Indian tribe from Mexico.

Favorite Business Books of 2009

1. Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media) by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah

2. Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

3. Putting the Public Back into Public Relations: How Social Media is Reinventing the Aging Business in PR by Brian Solis and Deidre Breakenridge

4. Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity by Avinash Kaushik

5. The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect With Your Customers by Marketing With Meaning by Bob Gilbreath Listen First Sell Later

6. Listen First Sell Later by Bob Poole

7. I Love you More than my Dog: Five Decisions That Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad by Jeanne Bliss

8. Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands can Compete Against Brand Leaders by Adam Morgan (2009 reprint)

9. FREE: The Future of Radical Price by Chris Anderson

10. Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown

11. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great In Front of Any Audience by Carmine Gallo

12. Power of Less The: Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life by Leo Babauta

13. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race The World Has Never Seen by Chris McDougall

Other books you think should be on this list?


Books I plan to read in the New Year:

1. Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today’s Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves by A Penenberg

2. Googled: The End of the World As We Know It by Ken Auletta/What Would Google Do? By Jeff Jarvis

3. The Social Media Marketing Book by Dan Zarella

4. Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation by Grant McCraken

5. Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations by Garr Reynolds (due December 28, 2009)

6. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink (due out December 29, 2009)

7. Lynchpin: Are You Indispensible? by Seth Godin (due out January 26, 2010)

8. Rework by Jason Fried (due out March 9, 2010)

What about you? What’s on your list to read?


Other blogs to read related to these favorite books of 2009:

If You Charged For Your Content, Would Anyone Pay? By Jonathan Richman Dose of Digital blog

Marketing With Meaning: Is there any other way? Advertising Age

Pharma: Are Current DTC Ads Meaningful? By Ellen Hoenig Notes From the Back of the Book blog

How Marketing With Meaning Can Save Pharma (3 Part Series) by Jonathan Richman

Book Review: I love You More Than My Dog – Small Business Trends

Pharma: Say NO To More Bullets! and Presentation Tips  by Ellen Hoenig

Pharma: Is Your Marketing Designed to Engage and Educate or Sell?  By Ellen Hoenig

For my list of top books of 2008 and 2007, click here.

Happy New Year to all! See you in 2010!


6 thoughts on “My 13 Favorite Business Books of 2009

    • Bob,

      Great book…if only the world listened more than it spoke? If Marketers listened more than it ‘sold’? Thanks for your comment! Ellen

  1. Ellen – thanks for posting and reviewing your favorite books for 2009 – very helpful!

    • Marlene,
      Thanks–one more for you: What would Google do? A must! Happy New Year :-) Ellen

  2. I love your selections. I would also suggest that people put Behind the Cloud on their list. It is a simple read but does a great job telling the story of and the role that cloud computing will have on software.

    • Al
      Thanks for your suggestion; I’ll definitely put Behind the Cloud on my list! Ellen

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