I've long enjoyed the subject of marketing, not entirely sure why. Probably in part because one can change his circumstances with ideas, which cost only the time to study the subject, and the time to devise the methods. We're locked in this world of physical parameters and circumstances which are difficult to change, it's nice to be able to do something about it.
Anyway, one of the books I'm reading, and highly recommend, is called (I didn't name it!) "Your marketing sucks" by Mark Stevens. He gives a number of actual events where people started with completely wrong motives or methods, and threw away thousands or millions of dollars on ineffective marketing campaigns. He's continually bringing your feet back down to the ground, to the bottom line in fact, by saying that all efforts should be measurable and return more money than they cost.
Just today I thought that it would be easy for me to sell a stack of these books. I remember how many people became members of a sign forum -to the tune of $50 a year- because I was so glad to tell them about it. I wasn't implying that they sign up for the paid status; it has only a few perks more than the free status. I was just saying that I liked it so much I paid the money. So they did too.
The thing about this book is that EVERY business owner or manager should have a copy. It's a relatively small paperback, but thus far, not a word is wasted. Most of the small business owners I encounter don't have a bad marketing plan, they have none at all. I'm moving in the direction now of trying to be sure that the signs I sell are part of a comprehensive marketing plan for the business. Here in Appalachia, it's difficult to sell ideas; people have a hard enough time buying the actual items: business cards, signs, ads, etc. I'll need a very solid track record to sell consultations or campaign packages.
Again, the name of the book is "Your marketing sucks": I haven't read the others. If you want a copy of the book, you can get it from the store at his blog.