News & Opinion

Inside the 2019 Longlist: Marketing & Sales

Emily Porter

November 27, 2019


Porchlight Customer Service Specialist, Emily Porter, takes us inside the best books on Marketing & Sales published in 2019.

As a relatively new staff member at Porchlight and a first time Juror in our annual awards, I was incredibly excited to delve into so many great titles. Coming from a background of film and operations, I have been reviewing films for the past few years, and I was excited to take what I have learned in the film industry and apply it to my other passion, books. Going through each title and marking up so many wonderful ideas and thoughts after absorbing so many books, I thought these five should be shared with many others, or rather the world. Their authors set the tone and standard for the Marketing and Sales category, while really bringing something fresh and exciting to the world of business books overall. These books have become a part of my world over the last few months, and I think they are all must-haves on everyone’s business bookshelves.


Junior: Writing Your Way Ahead In Advertising by Thomas Kemeny, powerHouse Books

JUST LOOK AT THIS BOOK! It is not only a joy to read; its exterior will be a blue treasure on your shelves long after you’ve had the pleasure of journeying through its pages. In this incredibly refreshing foray into advertising, Kemeny’s raw voice projects the challenges individuals just starting out in their careers are likely to face within the industry. Through personal business letters, how-to’s, and coarse, real-life moments that Kemeny has personally experienced, Kemeny shows his wit, knowledge of his craft, and full out writing skills. I actually laughed while reading this book because his soul exudes throughout his writing which is not sugar coated whatsoever. For example, Kemeny speaks to brainstorming headlines:

“The faster you can craft, the more time you’ll have for blue-sky thinking. Because they sure as hell aren’t putting time into the schedule for that. You got that space-cowboy? We’ve got deadlines to meet. […] You’ll know when you have a great headline because your pupils will dilate, you’ll burst into laughter, your palms will sweat. You will look at the line and think ‘There is no better headline in the universe!!’” 

If you are looking for a funny, seriously odd, whimsical little blue gem to guide you through the scary world of beginning your career in advertising, or just want to be inspired by real-talk, grab Kemeny’s blue treasure, Junior.

The Invisible Brand: Marketing in the Age of Automation, Big Data, and Machine Learning by William Ammerman, McGraw-Hill Education

Alexa, Siri, smartwatches, and phones. They have become staples in our everyday life, all collecting data while we live our lives mostly unaware of how the little machines working away under our noses influence us. The data collected is fed into algorithms that tell companies what we are drawn to and will most likely buy if seen again. Ammerman’s Invisible Brand shows us into this world of AI, which is developing faster than we may have expected, especially when it comes to marketing.

 “It will soon be easier for a robot to recognize a human than for a human to recognize a robot.”  

This book was not only filled with helpful information to assist with companies’ marketing strategies, but is also a massage on the brain, gathering information and facts about data, AI and how and why the world around us has changed so fast. With that change comes changes in the way we do things, like developing and consuming marketing messages. 

“We’ve gone from delivering the same message to everyone at the same time through mass communications, to technology that can deliver different messages to every individual, on demand, through mass customization.” 

Not only is this a guide to marketing for the modern business, it is also a guide for the consumer to be aware of the invisible brands operating around us and how they can influence you in your daily life. 

Winning Her Business: How to Transform the Customer Experience for the World's Most Powerful Consumers by Bridget Brennan, HarperCollins Leadership

As women, we face the world hoping it will take us seriously without unwanted comments toward our looks or domestic comments while shopping for, let’s say, a couch. As a woman in her 30s, I have definitely experienced my share of sexism while trying to make a purchase. Bridget Brennan’s book, Winning Her Business, hits the nail on the head. In our modern day and age, this book is something all businesses should pick up and study to ensure women, and all customers, receive top notch and comfortable customer service. Brennan fleshes out some more than common degrading scenarios that female shoppers experience, and how businesses could have acted to acquire the sale while creating a wonderful experience—an experience they’ll need to provide if they want to keep customers coming back.

People need a reason to get off the couch. In brick-and-mortar environments, such as stores and sales offices, the new imperative is to deliver the kind of personal, sensory-rich, and service-oriented experience that inspires people to leave their houses to seek it out.”

Winning Her Business focuses on how women tend to be the primary purchasers for households, how important it is to provide them a positive, face-to-face customer experience (or risk losing them to increasingly online competition), and the personal touches businesses can bring even in an online, AI world, to reach and retain “the world’s most powerful consumers”—women.

The Turn-On: How the Powerful Make Us Like Them—from Washington to Wall Street to Hollywood by Steven Goldstein, Harper Business

In The Turn-On, Steven Goldstein pulls back the curtain on how the most influential people in our world pull on the levers of power. Having worn many hats throughout his career, from congressional staff lawyer, to a producer for Oprah, to civil rights leader, he shows us how stories have an emotional effect on us while having a huge impact on current affairs. The big secret is choosing the right person and the right story. Why do we gravitate towards certain public figures and shun others? With an activist agenda, Goldstein has made a career of finding individuals with compelling stories and likeable personalities that he knows the masses will cling and relate to. He focuses on likeability, how celebrities and people in power or in the public eye can sculpt their outer personas in order to ensure their success. He opens our eyes in the process, showing us how every post, every news story, every campaign is carefully sculpted to grab attention, construct a narrative, and build likeability—perhaps the most effective lever of all. 

Follow the Feeling: Brand Building in A Noisy World by Kai D. Wright, Wiley

When you think of brands like Netflix, does a sound resonate in your mind? When you think of Amazon, does it make you feel good knowing you can count on your item arriving the next day? Exactly. Wright analyzes several such companies we are all more than familiar with and how they make their customers feel.

“For instance, Disney is more than its superheroes and theme parks—it is a source of happiness for its fans. Gatorade is more than colorful drinks and nutrition supplements—it is an enabler of endurance. Corona is more than just an import—it is a beach in a bottle, providing escape.”

Feelings are powerful, and Wright—a strategy advisor—shows us just how brands can impact their customers, and the market, by honing in on emotions. Wright guides you through branches every company or business should build: verbiage, audio, the visuals of your brand, the customer or company experience and culture. 

“Emotions are bound together with the thinking process, leaving us unable to truly reason without them. So if we need emotions to reason, then do we need reason to feel emotion?”

With this book, you can focus more reasonably on how your business presents itself emotionally to the world.


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