80/20 Sales and Marketing Book Cover

80/20 Sales and Marketing (Entrepreneur Press, 2013)

Perry Marshall

Perry Marshall

I’ve worked with Perry Marshall for a number of years.  We meet together several times a year – I use him as a sounding board for my biggest ideas and toughest problems. I’ve watched the 80/20 principles he covers in his book percolate in his mind and discussions over the years as he was pulling it all together.  He describes how it all came together, some of the surprises and epiphanies he had as he tested and retested the principles of 80/20.  There have been a number of books about 80/20 – the most notable being Richard Koch who wrote the forward to Perry’s book.

One of the most interesting and valuable additions to the 80/20 theory Perry provides is the “skew curve” calculator that lets you analyze visually the relationship between values (costs, customers.. anything) according to the 80/20 distribution.

Several months before the book was completed, Perry and I spent an hour running numbers through the calculator to predict the outcome and effect changing the pricing structure for a client who sells a $60,000 product.  The beauty of 80/20 is that you can actually predict distributions.

Using the calculator we discovered that if I changed the pricing structure from a single level to a three tier level I could almost immediately double the clients income while keeping the same number of customers – and with only a small amount of work to make it happen.

That’s the kind of leverage 80/20 provides.  Perry’s book isn’t the dry, jargon filled text  you might expect from a book dealing in mathematics and probability.  Perry’s writing style is easy to read and understand. His ideas are easy to implement.  This is one of those books I’ve recommended to all of my clients and their staff.

Trust Me I'm Lying Book Cover

Trust Me I’m Lying – Confessions of a Media Manipulator (Portfolio Trade, July, 2013)

I heard about Ryan Holiday years ago as a marketer for American Apparel and as they guy who pulled off some pretty incredible publicity promotions through subtly controlling and feeding the news machine ever hungry for stories and ever willing to be “duped” for the sake of a clicks and page views.

You’ve seen it all before. A malicious online rumor costs a company millions. A political sideshow derails the national news cycle and destroys a candidate. Some product or celebrity zooms from total obscurity to viral sensation. What you don’t know is that someone is responsible for all this. A media manipulator.

ryan-holiday-trust-me-im-lyingToday’s news is no longer filtered, edited, vetted, and approved by editorial staff, gatekeepers, etc.  Today its all online.  Blogs now compete for clicks, page views, and attentions.  Deadlines and compensation structures now push writers to look for “news” that gets attention – the sensational kind… and get it out quickly before everyone else gets it to and it dies and becomes worthless.  News stories that used to require credible sources (even if kept anonymous) now bypass any and all editorial scrutiny even in the big media outlets because now they can repeat even the most outlandish claims and stories simply because someone else (usually a small, unknown blogger) said it first.   Now rumor and gossip become “news” and though by definition are unverified, writers are free to promote their stories as “fact” simply because they can cite someone else as the original source.

The author shows how media manipulators plant stories in the smaller blogs, then “trade it up the chain” by then notifying more prominent blogs about the story who jump on the story, then on and on up the chain of more and more credible blogs and news websites until the story becomes a national sensation – regardless of its factualness or authenticity.

In a world where blogs control and distort the news, media manipulators control blogs—as much as any one person can.


  • Blogs like Gawker, BuzzFeed, and The Huffington Post drive the media agenda.
  • Bloggers are slaves to money, technology, and deadlines.
  • Manipulators wield these levers to shape everything you read, see, and hear— online and off.

Ryan Holiday explains how this all works, why it works and what the ramifications are for the people and companies targeted by manipulation as well as the effect it has on society.

I love this book.  It pulls the curtains back and shows how the system works.  Unfortunately, if you’re already skeptical of most of what you read on the internet – now you’ll be skeptical of all the rest.

Blue Ocean Strategy Book Cover

Blue Ocean Strategy (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2005)

Going head-to-head against the competition has long been the default way of doing business for companies hoping for sustained, profitable growth.

Unfortunately, in today’s overcrowded industries and marketplaces competing head-on results in noting but a bloody “red ocean” of rivals fighting over a shrinking profit pool which leads ultimately  to imitation of competition, competing on price alone, and ultimately finding the survivors of the bloody battles with little or no profit to remain in business.

Blue Ocean Strategy challenges everything you thought you knew about the requirements for strategic success.  It shows you how to get out of the bloody competition infested waters of the “red ocean” and into untapped, uncharted, unclaimed waters of the “blue ocean.”

The authors show you how to avoid getting sucked into mimicking rivals by using strategy canvases instead of the tired and misused benchmarking tools.

This is a book that I refer to often when working with clients who need to differentiate themselves and create a new category  for themselves and move in to the uncontested waters of the blue ocean.

Blue Ocean Strategy challenges everything you thought you knew about strategy. – Business Trategy Review, UK 

Purple Cow Book Cover

Purple Cow (New York: Penguin Group, 2003)

Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

Seth Godin says that the key to success is to find a way to stand out – do be the purple cow in the field of monochrome holsteins.  Godin himself may be the best example of how tho theory works:  The marketing expert is a demigod on the Web, a best-selling author, highly sought after lecturer, successful entrepreneur, respected pundit and high-profile blogger.  He is uniquely respected for his understanding of the Internet, and his essays and opinions are widely read and quoted online and off.

This book is a huge wakeup call for most marketers who read it.  The book title itself is a perfect metaphor for understanding the concept and remembering it.

If every cow was purple, nobody would get excited about seeing one.

The fact is, most businesses and people are just copies and replicas of everyone else.  The common thought has always been, do what everyone else does because that’s how it’s done or that’s what works.  In reality, when the choices are all so similar the default differentiating factor becomes price which only a few (such as Wal-Mart) can compete on and survive.

Seth Godin says “a purple cow is a remarkable cow.”  Being remarkable is doing what is uniques, interesting, and worthy of being talked about.  Being a purple cow is what sets you apart from the competition in a way that is memorable AND ads value to the customer.  Simple gimmickry  can get you noticed, but a true purple cow is one that is based on generating value for the client/customer – not jumping around in a clown suit begging for customers.  Seth Godin shows you what it takes to make it happen.

Achieving Outstanding Business Success (San Francisco: Broadmoore Press, 2005)

This is a book that I wrote in 2005 when I began focusing the bulk of my consulting efforts on high-cost products and services.  I was being contacted regularly by small business owners who had great ideas and great products, but there were too many that I couldn’t work with.  It was just too much to respond to every email and talk to every business owner, so I got together with another consultant friend of mine and outlined a book which was picked up by Broadmoore Press later that fall.

This book is the compilation of several key concepts and strategies that any business owner should think about and implement.

Although it is a few years old (I’ve been doing this a long time), the concepts in it are absolutely timeless and can be implemented in any business.

If you’re an Consultant or sell high-cost products or services, pay special attention to the following sections and chapters:

  • Introduction – “The Business You’re In” Explains why you can’t compete long term on product and price alone.
  • Chapter 4 “Why People Buy”
  • Chapter 6 “The Four Primary Ways to Grow Your Business”
  • Chapter 8 “The Skill of Positioning”
  • Chapter 9 “Why Should Your Clients Do Business With You, Rather Than Your Competition?”
  • Chapter 12 “Establish Preeminence In Your Area of Expertise”
  • Chapter 16 “The Three Most Important Things in Advertising” – This applies directly to Pay-Per-Click and Internet Advertising.

My new book “Everything Communicates” scheduled for publishing next fall by Broadmoore Press goes deep into marketing and sales in the competitive markets of high-ticket products and services.

He re-branded our company, fixed our marketing, and got us noticed and absorbed by an Italian manufacturer. He knows his stuff.Ray Lopez
Blackhawk Armory

Ogilvy on Advertising Book Cover

Ogilvy On Advertising (New York: Vintage Books, 1985)

This is a classic book.  One that I’ve consistently kept on my bookshelf through several moves and “dejunking” exercises at my office.

Published in 1985 it’s pretty old, but the principles he outlines are timeless.  Often overlooked and forgotten in modern advertising thought, David Ogilvy’s ideas have proven to be even more effective in todays world because all of the thoughtless puffery promoted for its “creativity” rather than it’s effectiveness.

If it doesn’t sell – it isn’t creative.David Ogilvy
Ogilvy & Mather Advertising

David Ogilvy was well known for his blunt and often harsh critiques of the advertising industry.