37 Game-Changing Books for Business

I love blogs, podcasts, and videos.  Each of these has the chance to inspire me and lift me up.  I have created time in my morning routine to put some good into my brain each day…and these are often my tools of choice.  But if I really want to take a deep dive into a topic, I still am inspired by books.  Whether I read a physical book or simply take a walk with the author (in audio form), books help me grow (and level up).

Over the course of the last 10 years, I have had the chance to read hundreds of books.  Some have been forgettable.  Others have been what I needed to hear at the moment.  But here is a list of 37 Game-Changing Books for Business that have impacted me.  I wanted to share them with you.

I originally wrote this list in 2021.  So I updated this list again to add a few new favorites!

The E-Myth Revisited

This is one of the best business books ever.  I have bought countless copies and have recommended it more times than I can remember.  I have probably read it 10 different times and have found myself in a different place on the journey each time.  If you are in business or want to start a business, this is awesome.

Profit First

When I first listened to Profit-First, I thought author Mike Michaelowicx was following me around.  It spoke to the challenges I was having in my business’s cash flow right then.  We tentatively adopted the philosophy and have not looked back.  It’s been a game-changer for us.  Mike’s goal is to “eliminate entrepreneurial poverty,” and for many in business, that is a real thing.  Love this book.

Start with Why

You know a book is powerful when it becomes something that everyone else repeats.  It seems every business leader discusses the need to find your WHY now.  Sinek created the conversation and it is an important one in today’s business world.

Leaders Eat Last

I think each one of Sinek’s books has gotten stronger. And while I really enjoyed “Start with Why,” I thought “Leaders Eat Last” was even better.  Sinek goes into what makes a great leader and even the biological reasons for it.  Powerful information…and super interesting too!

Infinite Game

As you might expect, this is my favorite of Simon Sinek’s books.  He explains the difference between a finite game and an infinite game and why it matters so much to know what kind of game you are playing.  For me, it crystallized the idea of playing a “long game” in business.  It’s what I have long believed and discussed, but Sinek does it in a much more articulate way than me!

The Thank You Economy

I love Gary Vaynerchuk.  I am a fan.  But while I love his content, his energy, his speaking, and his philosophy, I don’t always LOVE his books.  But The Thank You Economy was different.  Gary talks about using social media to create appreciation, value, and connection at scale.  Loved this one.

Pumpkin Plan

This is the second Mike Michaelowicz book on the list.  I am a fan of Mike’s work and this is a powerful one about differentiation.  He says “The Riches are in the Niches” and explains how to find your niche and grow into it.  He even spends a bit of time explaining how to “fire a client” which just seems so hard for some entrepreneurs.  The Pumpkin Plan is worth harvesting.

Purple Cow

I am an unapologetic fan of Seth Godin.  He is a thought leader in business and marketing.  And he has the ability to say things in a way that is simple, yet powerful.  “If you want to be remarkable, you have to do something worth remarketing about.”  Read this one if you want to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

The Dip

While this is probably not Godin’s most famous book, it is the one I find myself quoting the most often.  It’s short and powerful.  When you start something new, you will be learning fast and your improvements will be fast.  Then, that will excitement and progress will slow down.  It will not be as exciting.  This is the Dip…and it’s when most people quit.  Get through the Dip…and you become the expert.

The Practice

His most recent book (as I type this), The Practice is a powerful reminder about how we get better at anything.  If you want to build a career, a business, your fitness, content, or a life…creating a Practice will help you do it.

Ultimate Selling Machine

If you are an entrepreneur or are in sales (and we are all in sales), this book is powerful.  There are strategies for everything from creating a sales process to building real relationships.  Love this one.

High Trust Selling

I read this one a long time ago, and it was one of the first books that changed my business.  Duncan’s observation is that 80% of our results in sales come from 20% of activities.  But as salespeople, we tend to focus on the wrong part of the business.  We need to hire out the 80% that does not make us money.

The 5-Second Rule

File this under “simple but powerful.”  Mel Robbins gives you a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 solution for procrastination.  Along the way, she gives powerful insights into performance and life.  Oh…and this is a great audiobook if you enjoy those.

Finish

Jon Acuff is a great writer and speaker.  His sense of humor helps me get lessons I might otherwise miss.  While I love his book Start (Punch Fear in the Face), the book Finish was more powerful for me.  I have never had problems starting things…but finishing?  Squirrel!  He gives some great tips on getting your project to the finish line.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I talk about this book as a foundational book for anything.  I find myself referencing it years later.  If you have read it.  Read it again.

The Goal

got this book recently at the recommendation from a friend.  It’s a great look at how to improve a bottleneck and flies in the face of traditional manufacturing policy.

Known

Want to build your personal brand?  I really enjoyed this book from Mark Schaeffer on how to make it happen.  In this book, he outlines the 5 steps you need to take to build your brand and become Known.

Building Your Storybrand

Donald Miller wrote this gem that outlines why most companies get their marketing wrong.  It was a real “a-ha” moment for me and shined a light on why sometimes messages work and sometimes they don’t.  Who is your marketing making “the hero of the story?”  Most of us make ourselves the hero.  The customer needs to be the hero.  Miller explains why in this wonderful book.

Marketing Made Simple

Now that you understand that the customer needs to be the hero of your marketing story, Marketing Made Simple digs into the tactics of how to make that happen.  This book outlines a step-by-step process to create a marketing machine that works for your business.

Dare To Lead

Most of us are afraid to put ourselves out there.  We don’t want to be completely authentic because it doesn’t feel like “what a strong leader would do.”  Brene Brown breaks down those myths and challenges us to lean into them.  I feel like this book made me a better leader by making me a better person.

Extreme Ownership

And speaking of leadership, it’s hard to learn from better teachers than Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.  These two team up to give amazing lessons in leadership combined with stories from leading teams in combat.  Oh…and if something is going wrong in your company, or division, or family…you should take extreme ownership.  Good one here.

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics

Everywhere I looked, I saw people telling me I needed to meditate.  But I didn’t know how.  I felt like I was doing it wrong.  It felt strange and weird.  This book breaks down some of those myths and gives you permission to get started with “just one minute” if that’s what you need to do.  This is a good introduction for someone that feels they might need meditation in your life…but does not know where to start.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

If you are offended by strong language, this book is not for you.  However, if you can get past that, there is a zen-like quality to much of this book that really connected with me.  One of my favorite lessons, which I talk about here, is the idea that successful people are willing to “suffer through” things to get to what they want.  Not everything will be easy.  If you want to reach your goal, you need to decide what you are willing to suffer through.

Scrum

This book is sort of the bible for Agile productivity.  We read it as a team.  If you want to get more done as a team, this book is a must-read.  Can you break down tasks into small enough pieces so that every member of the team can help?  You probably can…and SCRUM lines up how.

4 Disciplines of Execution

Let me see if you have been there.  We come back from a conference (or read a book) and want to implement a great idea.  We start strong, but then the “whirlwind” of business and life gets in the way.  The 4 Disciplines breaks down how to identify the Wildly Important Goal, and create a process to make improvements with your team.

Epic Content Marketing

If you want to do content marketing “right,” this is your manual.  Joe Pulizzi talks about the start of his company and how creating compelling content (for the customer) works.  He shows you how to create an audience and story-tell in a way that will build your brand.  Loved this one.

Hug Your Haters

So you have created a social media following that is worth having.  What do you do when “the haters” show up?  Jay Baer says you need to “Hug Your Haters” in this book about dealing with tough comments on social.  Jay gives the playbook on what to do when complaints happen (and they will).  Most of us want to ignore the comments so they go away.  Jay explains why that is the wrong play…and how doing it right can change haters into fans!

Never Split the Difference

Life is a negotiation.  If you are in business, you already know this.  In this powerful book, Chris Voss takes us inside some amazing stories from a hostage negotiator…and how many of them can apply to you.

Living With a Seal

This is a fun one.  Jesse Itzler tells the story of how he invited the “toughest man on the planet” David Goggins to live with him for a month and train him.  When I listened to this, no one knew who David Goggins was…but it all makes sense now.  While there are some sincere lessons here about how far we (as humans) can go, this one was fun.

The Power of One More

If you have followed me over the past few years, I talk a lot about Ed Mylett.  His book The Power of One More is a great personal development read.  If you want to level up in any area of your life, Mylett gives you the tools to do that.  And I love the way he frames so many of these important topics.

Soundtracks

Jon Acuff is funny and insightful…and this is probably my favorite book from him.  Here Jon talks about the voice that we hear all of the time in our heads…our own.  Most of us can be our own worst enemies, and he gives us permission to push back on that voice…and tools to do just that.  Totally worth a read or a listen.

Buy Back Your Time

Most of the entrepreneurs I know struggle with two things…cash and time.  While this book doesn’t give you any cash, it does give you lots of tactics on how to better use your time in order to grow.

$100 Million Offers

Alex Hermozi doesn’t need any recommendations from me…but he is going to get it anyway!  This book $100 Million Offers, and his follow-up $100 Million Leads, are must-reads if you want to grow your business.  And if you are not following him on social media already, you really should check him out!

Traction

I read this a long time ago…but I didn’t implement it.  I went back to re-read after so many people I respect mentioned the book.  We have worked to implement the tactics at Hasseman Marketing, and now I understand the appeal.

The 6 Types of Working Genius

Sometimes you read a book and it changes the way you look at your team.  This was one of those books for me.  I love the concept of how there are 6 types of work in each project.  Then Patrick Lencioni explains how to increase efficiency and avoid burnout by putting people (and yourself) in your area of genius as much as possible.

12 Months To $1 Million

If you want to start a business, I think this is a great place to start.  There are concepts here that will help you get started off right…and great reminders for those who have been doing this for a while.  Great book!

Hit The TARGET

This is my one selfish plug, but if you are struggling with your marketing, I really think this can help.  Hit The TARGET is my latest book, written as a parable, that helps you identify your perfect customer and grow your business with them.

So there you have it!  This is my updated list of 37 Game-Changing Books for Business.

As always, we want to provide you with value.  So if you want to create marketing campaigns (and appreciation gifts) that hit the TARGET, check out our TARGET marketing playbook here.

10 Tips For Trade Show Success

For many organizations, trade shows are a tool in the marketing toolbox.  And, if you pick one that serves your perfect customers, it can be a great investment.  But make no mistake…it is an investment.  It certainly costs money.  But it’s also the investment of time.  So if you are going to make that investment, you want it to be worth it.  So here are 10 tips to ensure Trade Show Success.

https://youtu.be/4ff9G0bUnW0

Before the Trade Show

Tip #1: Get the list of registered attendees

If it is at all possible, get a list of everyone who has confirmed they are coming to the show. Though trade shows do have a lot of last-minute sign-ups, they should have a great list of attendees who are registered and ready to attend that you, as an exhibitor, can get access to before the event.

In the lead-up to the show, these registered attendees are themselves preparing for the show. If they’re smart, they’re creating a strategy for working the show themselves.

So, the first tip is to simply get that list! As a matter of fact, some of my clients do not even exhibit at trade shows if the organizers don’t provide a list of attendees, it’s that valuable to them. Now that you have the list, on to the next tip.

Tip #2: Send each attendee an email inviting them to come to your booth

Make sure this email is attractive, creative, and personal. Try to whet their appetite. What great promotional item do you have on offer? What’s your fun theme? Are you giving out free beer? Whatever it is, let them know that you want them to come and see you.

Tell attendees where your booth will be located, what’s in it for them, and why they should look for you. If you have enough lead time before the show, you can even send more than one email.

Tip #3: Send a direct mail piece which mirrors the email

This direct mail piece should match the theme of your booth. I like this direct mail piece to be either a postcard (so they don’t have to open it to see it) or a personal card. If you make this direct mail piece impactful, you’ll see returns in better attendance at your booth.

During the Trade Show

Tip #4: Send great people (and people who are familiar with your sales process.)

It’s essential that the people manning your booth know the product or service you provide, and that they are comfortable selling at the booth. Often companies just put “warm bodies” at the booth, or send people who aren’t familiar with the sales process. This detracts from the credibility of the company. So, to get the most return on your investment in the trade show, be thoughtful about who will be staffing your booth.

Tip #5: Have a theme

Let’s be honest. Trade shows can be a little … monotonous. Creating an attractive and memorable theme for your booth (ideally one that’s aligned with or somehow reinforces what makes your company unique) will make you stand out among the long rows of the Trade Show Masses. In addition, having a theme can help you plan out how to dress and what to hand out, making your trade show planning process go more smoothly (and more fun, too!)

Tip #6: Bring a great handout

With this, you want to have a plan too! Handouts, done well, can drive traffic to the booth. Great, thoughtful, and useful gifts have an impact that lasts long after the show is done. If you choose to bring the same old promotional items as everyone else, that pen with your logo in it is going to end up at the bottom of the trade show bag, and might never come out again.

It’s up to you… think about the audience, the item, and its impact. Stuck for ideas? Call a promotional consultant, who can help you think this through. (If you don’t have a promotional consultant, please let us at Hasseman Marketing know! We would love to help.)

Tip #7: Have a VIP Gift

Sometimes at a trade show, one of your current customers will stop by the booth. This is a wonderful opportunity to make a big deal about their business and to thank them with a special VIP gift.

You also might have leads that you have a connection with or who show a real interest in your product or service. This is a great time to reach below the table and get out a VIP gift.

For a current customer, you might say: “Stan, I really appreciate your business and for taking the time to stop and see me today. I am not giving this to everyone, but please take this as a small token of my appreciation.”

With a prospect, the conversation might go like this: “Janice, I think we are on the same page. I know you have a lot of folks you want to see today, but I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me. I am not giving these to everyone, but please take this and I will follow up with you after the show.”

These VIP gifts should be something a little nicer than what you’re handing out to everyone, and you don’t need hundreds of them. Used sparingly, they leave a big impression on your special contacts and customers, making them feel like the VIP’s they are!

After the Trade Show

What’s the secret to trade show success?

It’s what happens once you get back to the office.

The fortune is in the follow-up.

Tip #8: Follow Up Quickly with Email

Truthfully, email follow-ups are really just the bare minimum, but it’s an essential step. Make sure you have a rock-solid system in place to follow up with everyone that stopped by your booth. Thank them for coming, and remind them who you are and what you do.

Trade show attendees meet a lot of people in a short period of time, so do your best to remind them of you. If you remember the conversation it would be great to reference it in the personal email you send.  Time is of the essence. The sooner after the show you follow up, the more you convey that you and your company are “on it!”

Tip #9: Follow Up with a Card

Everyone sends emails. You should send a card. It’s a really nice personal touch. Now, I understand, if you need to contact thousands of people this might not be a realistic goal. If you can’t send a card, consider at least sending a direct mail postcard. This is one more way to get across their desk and to remind them of your awesomeness. The personal card, when appropriate can REALLY make you stand out!

If the idea of writing, stamping, and sending all of those cards makes you squeamish, look into automated ways of doing it. At Hasseman Marketing, we use a system called Send Out Cards. It’s perfect for personal follow-ups like these.

Tip #10: Follow Up with a Call

You probably saw this coming. Now it’s time to call them. After going through this process, a call is a great way to make the final personal touch. It’s time to reel them in!

So there you go…these are my top 10 trade show tips to ensure success.

Depending on how many emails you send in the email steps, if you follow all my tips you will have “touched” each prospect between 7 and 12 times. Studies show it takes, on average, 7 touches before a prospect buys … so follow all 10 tips and you’ve done a complete job!

It’s not rocket science, but to make the most of your investment in a trade show you need to have a plan.

As always, we want to provide you with value.  So if you want to create marketing campaigns (and appreciation gifts) that hit the TARGET, check out our TARGET marketing playbook here.

Our Proven Process

Years ago, I read the book Traction from Geno Wickman.  While I found the book good, I did not dive into the principles.  I read the book…and moved on.  Recently though, I noticed how many of the people I admire in business talked about the book, and his “Entrepreneurial Operating System.”  The EOS is a system that helps many small businesses survive and thrive.  So I went back and re-read the book…and decided to work on implementing the tactics.

Our Proven Process

One of the concepts in the book recommends you create a “proven process” around your business.  This proven process is how you, as an organization, can create successful results for clients…regardless of which team member is working with you.  This is something that I had not taken the time to work on the first time I read the book.  But this time, I dove in and documented what we were already doing…when we were at our best.

our proven process at Hasseman Marketing

Discovery

While some organizations in our industry will jump in and “sell” from the jump, that is not what we set out to do.  We need to meet with you to find out what you want to accomplish.  This is when we “discover” your budget for the project, who your perfect customer is, and what action you would like to move them toward.  While we will occasionally have some ideas right away, most of the time we leave our discovery call and go to do some “homework” for you.

Present Solutions

After the discovery call, we “go back to the lab” to work on ideas for you.  Once have a plan created, we present some solutions that we hope will be perfect for your event or promotion.  While it sometimes seems there are millions of options for marketing and branded merch (and there are), we try to curate the best solutions for you here.  We might set up a new meeting or just send over these solutions digitally.  And if none of these solutions perfectly hit the mark, tell us!  We will go back to work for you!

Implement & Deliver

Once you decide on a solution that fits your needs and your budget, it’s time for us to go to work!  Now is when we work with our partner network of suppliers to fulfill your project.  Now is the time that we send you proofs to make sure things are what you need, and we keep you up to date on how the project is coming.  When all of those boxes are checked, a box of “marketing joy” finds its way to your office!

Follow Up On Results

So how did we do?  Now is the time in the process when we need to follow up.  We know that you need to have time to execute the event or the promotion.  But once that happens, we will check in to see if the project hit the mark.  We hope so!  But either way, we want to circle back to see what we can do better next time.

Repeat

And then we start the process over again.  We work hard to be proactive, but there are obviously projects that we don’t know about.  So now is the time to get together and start the discovery over again.

So that is our Proven Process.  Our goal is to help you create marketing and promotions that help to meet your goals and affect human behavior in your organization.

And as always, we want to provide you with value.  So if you want to create marketing campaigns (and appreciation gifts) that hit the TARGET, check out our TARGET marketing playbook here.

 

4 Tips On Building a Brand

Everyone in business wants to have an iconic and recognizable brand.  We want to have a brand like Apple, or Nike, or Harley Davidson.  But your brand is much more than your logo.  It’s the emotion your customers get when they see your logo.  It’s the feeling your company gives people who interact with you.  In today’s DMJ 101, I break down 4 Tips on Building a brand from the beginning.  Watch now!

4 Tips On Building a Brand

While building an iconic brand has thousands of steps, and likely, thousands of days, here are 4 things you can do to start building yours today.

Do What You Say You Will Do

You might read that and think “Well, of course!”  And you should.  Of course, we need to do what we say we are going to do.  But yet, we all deal with organizations that don’t live up to their own hype all of the time.  If you want to build enthusiastic brand ambassadors, you need to start with a strong foundation of doing the basics.  Do what you say you will do… every time.

Do Just a Little More

One of the best ways to surprise and delight your customers is to “do just a little more.” If you can consistently deliver on your promise, and then go above and beyond (even just a little), you are on your way to creating a tribe of people that will WANT to tell your story for you.

Own Your Mistakes

There will be mistakes.  No matter how hard you try, things sometimes go sideways.  What do you do then?  The best organizations don’t look around to blame someone else.  They work to solve the problem first.  When you do that, you can re-channel those frustrations into delight.  When things go wrong…go into action.

Create a Quarterly Appreciation Program

We dive deeper into this here, but sometimes your customers leave because they don’t think you care.  You never want that to happen.  So consider creating a quarterly appreciation program for your best customers.  Go to them at least 4 times a year (with branded merch) to show them love.  When you do that consistently, and with great merch, you will not only show gratitude.  But a reminder of that gratitude will be around them all of the time.

So those are my 4 tips for building your brand.  Want to dig deeper into this? I cover it in my new book Hit The TARGET.  And if you want to get our FREE TARGET marketing playbook, you can get that here.

 

Wendy Spang Joins Hasseman Marketing

(Coshocton, OH)—Coshocton-based marketing firm and promotional products distributor Hasseman Marketing & Communications is excited to welcome Wendy Spang to their team.  Spang will be joining the team as a Finance Specialist.

“We are so excited to welcome Wendy to the team,” says Hasseman Marketing CEO, Kirby Hasseman.  “Wendy has a great personality and brings a wealth of knowledge to the team.”

Wendy has a wealth of knowledge in the finance space.  She has over 17 years of experience with companies like Oxford Mining, International Paper, and, most recently, Guggisberg Cheese.  In her new role, Wendy will be managing the finances, sending invoices, and other responsibilities aligned with the HMC finances.  Wendy loves spending time with her grandkids, dirt track racing, and having fun in the casino.  She can be reached via email at finance@hassemanmarketing.com.

Hasseman Marketing headquarters is located at 432 Main Street in Coshocton, Ohio.  They can be found online at www.HassemanMarketing.com.  In addition, you can follow them on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/hassemanmarketing. You can also find more out about our staff at https://hassemanmarketing.com/about/.

7 Mistakes Organizations Make When Buying Branded Merch

You have heard of the 7 Deadly Sins.  Well on today’s DMJ 1 on 1, we break down 7 mistakes we see organizations making when buying branded merch.  We want to help you avoid these mistakes and level up your marketing.  Watch or listen below!  Oh, and please subscribe to the Youtube channel so you never miss an episode…or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts by searching “Delivering Marketing Joy.”

7 Mistakes Organizations Make When Buying Branded Merch

Watch the video and take notes, but we have also broken them down for you here.  Let’s dive in!

They Don’t Identify The Perfect Customer

Many organizations talk about the budget, the timeline, and the event, but they skip a crucial step.  Who is the piece of branded merch for?  And when you truly understand that…how do you want them to feel?  When you really understand the perfect customer, then you can make a much better decision on what piece of branded merch will dazzle them.  We dive deep into how and why to do this here.

They Don’t Give Themselves Time

The good news is that the branded merch industry has gotten better at doing fast, last-minute orders.  That’s great.  But that doesn’t mean it should be a way of life.  We know that it happens sometimes.  We get it!  But many organizations habitually wait until the last minute to order everything.  It creates stress, costs more money, and makes them settle for worse branded merch.  Give yourself more time than you think you need on your next order…and it will be a better experience!

They Don’t Set a Budget (and Share it)

As we mentioned, things pop up.  And when that happens, you might not have an established budget.  But obviously, it’s best to have a budget.  And when you have that number, don’t keep it a secret.  Share the budget with your distributor so they can guide you to the best items for your pocketbook.  In addition, they can help you understand what it will cost to ship the items and land in time and not break the bank.

They Do Not Have Good Vector Art

If you don’t have great art, you won’t have great merch.  So either provide great art or be willing to invest in it.  If not, your merch (and your customer’s experience) will suffer for it.

They Don’t Request A Proof (And Look At It)

We all get in a hurry.  I understand.  But it’s worth the 2 minutes to request a proof and really give it a look.  We request a proof on every order.  But the fact is, only the client can really tell if it’s exactly what they want.  So if you are going to order branded merch, request that proof.  Then take the time to make sure it’s exactly what you want!

They Don’t Think About Distribution

If you order amazing branded merch, but then it sits in the corner, it does you (and your brand) no good.  Take the time to think about how you are going to get the product into the hands of your best customers.  Are you going to have to ship it?  Will you deliver it?  And how will you package it? You want it to look special when it arrives.  Consider those factors if you want your next campaign to knock their socks off!

They Don’t Have A Theme or Message

While you certainly CAN just slap your logo on a shirt, not everyone will want to wear that.  When you create a theme or a message that your brand can rally around, your best customers will want to rally around it too.  Build a theme into your campaign and you will give it extra life and extra value.

So those are 7 Mistakes we see organizations making when buying branded merch.  We hope this has helped shine a light on how to do better branded merch.  Let us know if we can help!

And as always, we want to provide you with value.  So if you want to create marketing campaigns (and appreciation gifts) that really hit the TARGET, check out our TARGET marketing playbook here.