4 Must-Reads On My Summer Book List

Maybe it was in the mountains. Or the backyard. I used to be such a big book reader over the summer. It was when I would catch up on the unread books piled up around the house, or on my desk at work. I’d pick up the habit of reading again, wherever and whenever I could.

Maybe it was in the mountains. Or the backyard. I used to be such a big book reader over the summer. It was when I would catch up on the unread books piled up around the house, or on my desk at work. I’d pick up the habit of reading again, wherever and whenever I could.

Last year, real life got in the way. I read a grand total of two books in three months.

Now, here we are in July, and I’m facing some of those unread books again, and a lot of new ones.

I’m a firm believer in print, by the way. I like how paper feels on my fingers, how it smells, and how it makes inks do things you just can’t see otherwise. And my eyes need a break after staring at multiple screens all day.

leoSo, here are a few of the books on tap for me over the next few months:

Shareology by Bryan Kramer

Melissa Ward, our Managing Editor here at Target Marketing, told me about this one. Kramer looks at sharing and how it can transform connections between individuals.

It’s about what he calls #H2H, human-to-human communication that establishes and deepens trust because it is simple, empathetic, and even imperfect. There are big implications here for how marketers can make their content more relevant. Thanks for sharing (see what I did there?), Melissa!

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

My Australian friend Melanie McCartney turned me on to this book just yesterday by simply tweeting — sharing — a passage about “horizontal hostility.” Grant writes: “We assume that common goals bind groups together, but the reality is that they often drive groups apart … Even though they share a fundamental objective, radical groups often disparage more mainstream groups as impostors and sellouts.” Doesn’t that perfectly describe our politics in 2016?

There’s a lot about productivity, originality, procrastination … and more. I’ve already ordered this.

Retention Fundraising by Roger Craver

I’ve had this book for a while, and coming from a true pioneer and visionary in fundraising, it was truly a must-buy (and we carry it in our online bookstore!).

The cover shows a leaking bucket for a good reason. Nonprofits are losing donors and members because they aren’t doing what they should do to keep them. I read a ton of direct mail and email for Who’s Mailing What!, and am often mystified why this happens. How can fundraisers remove barriers to keeping these people? How can they deliver the experiences contributors need to stay invested for life? I can’t wait to find out.

The Secret Language of Symbols by David Fontana

When I was at the Strand bookstore in New York last Fall, I picked this up. I was intrigued because we’re surrounded by symbols — from icons to emojis. It has over 300 full-color illustrations, so it’s a very pretty book to look at.

It covers how symbols have evolved starting in antiquity. It encompasses history, art, literature, religion, and so much more across multiple cultures. Cats, as an example, stood for different things to ancient Egyptians, Celts, Chinese and South Americans.

This just scratches the surface of my reading list. There’s more. I have the last two issues of Mohawk Paper’s “Maker Quarterly” waiting for me. And A Game of Thrones, plus some C.S. Lewis …

What’s on your list? Or what have you read recently that’s worth sharing? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

My Summer Reading List Includes Facts About Direct Mail

The “dog days” of summer are about to end, so I’d better wrap up my summer reading fast. Of course, my summer reading list really is my only opportunity to delve into those volumes of research that have been accumulating, that I’ve been meaning to get to, that I really should be on top of

The “dog days” of summer are about to end, so I’d better wrap up my summer reading fast. Of course, my summer reading list really is my only opportunity to delve into those volumes of research that have been accumulating, that I’ve been meaning to get to, that I really should be on top of … to be the best professional I can be … but I just can’t shoehorn the time because of daily demands.

Thankfully, the Direct Marketing Association’s “Statistical Fact Book 2014” has provided me with invaluable Cliff Notes. The team there has done some surfing and sifting for me and my readers.

For example, did you know?

  • In 2013, direct mail spending in U.S. reached $44 billion, while teleservices topped $41 billion. Digital media spend (search, display, other) came in at $44.2 billion (Winterberry Group, 2013). Talk about a direct marketing triumvirate!
  • While today might not be the “Golden Era of response rates,” some marketers—such as retailers—are seeing dramatically higher response to their direct mail than in the 1980s (USPS Household Diary Study, 2013).
  • Also according to the USPS Household Diary Study, those earning $65K per year or more evaluate their mail “useful,” “will read” or “will respond”—up virtually across the board when compared to 1987.
  • According to DMA’s own research, cost-per-order and cost-per-lead costs for direct mail are in line with print and pay-per-click, not all that more than email, and significantly less than telemarketing. I’ve always maintained that those few pieces of direct mail are marketing gold when compared to the 5,000 ad messages we’re exposed to each and every day.
  • Who’s your best customer, USPS? According to the USPS Revenue, Pieces and Weight by Class of Mail and Special Services, direct mail accounted for 39.9 percent of total mail volume in 1990—and topped a record 56.2 percent in 2013.
  • Catalog mail volume actually increased in 2013 to reach 11.9 billion—the first recorded increase since 2006.
  • Yet there’s less overall competition to worry about in the mailbox: Households received an average 8.9 pieces of Standard Mail per week in 2012—down from 13.8 pieces in 2008. That seems like an opportunity for any brand that wants to have a high-touch engagement.

I’m a multichannel, integrated marketing fan. But sometimes in our digital, mobile age we forget, or overlook, or even dismiss the value of printed communication in the mailbox. I’ve been busy reading my mail these summer months, too.