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Book Review: Sales in the Information Age

Two of Inc.'s writers review three new books that apply the latest technologies to marketing.
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First there was cyberspace. Now there's cybermarketing as well. No sooner do new technologies hit the market than authors are advising businesspeople how to use them to make money. Inc. sampled a few of the recent crop of books that apply the latest technologies to marketing:

Cybermarketing, by Len Keeler (Amacom, New York City, 1995, $24.95), gives readers short introductions to subjects ranging from CD-ROMs to Electronic Data Interchange to the Internet. The author writes clearly about technical topics and includes comprehensive lists of practical resources. His book features the kind of sensible business details that so many technology books omit: for example, if you're checking out an Internet access provider, he suggests you ask about restricting employees' access to news groups. In general, Keeler has put together a solid, practical primer.

eMarketing: Reaping Profits on the Information Highway, by Seth Godin (Perigee Books, New York City, 1995, $14), addresses a similarly wide range of subjects. However, Godin's interest lies less in providing how-to details and more in giving illustrations of the ways companies are using or could be using each marketing method. He focuses more on older technologies like fax-on-demand services and audiotext and less on the Internet. Like Keeler, Godin offers many resources and phone numbers. His tone is sometimes overly breathless, and at times his suggestions of potential marketing applications seem contrived. Still, this book is an easy-to-read overview that covers enough ground that it's bound to give you some new ideas.

Lawyers Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel made Internet history when they posted an unsolicited ad in 6,000 of the Internet discussion groups known as news groups. They've since written a book based on their experiences: How to Make a Fortune on the Information Superhighway: Everyone's Guerrilla Guide to Marketing on the Internet and Other On-Line Services (HarperCollins, New York City, 1994, $20). But do you really want technomarketing tips from people who received so many angry responses that not one but two Internet access providers temporarily cut off their service? Canter and Siegel say they made money on their controversial mass posting. However, unless you love conflict, we'd suggest finding other marketing mentors more in touch with the Internet's potential for targeted communication.

-- Martha E. Mangelsdorf and Phaedra Hise




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