You want to keep up with your marketing reading. But there's so much out there that you don't where to start—or, if you do... whether there'd be an end in sight with all the possibilities. Well, here are four from '04: recommended titles published last year. And as good a place to start as any.

Free Prize Inside: The Next Big Marketing Idea by Seth Godin (Portfolio, 256 pages, $19.95, Hardcover, May 2004)

In 2003, Seth Godin published a wildly popular book called Purple Cow. You may have heard of it. (I'm kidding.) That book was all about creating remarkable products and services. It answered the question, "What is a remarkable product?"

Well, Seth was back in 2004, wanting to show us how to make a remarkable product with his Free Prize Inside.

The book focuses on who within an organization should be doing the work of being remarkable. The idea is not to throw more money at R&D or advertising, but to come up with what he calls "soft innovation."

And that is as simple as coming up with a remarkable idea, he says (think Tupperware parties and frequent flier miles)—The Free Prize: the thing that makes you or your product remarkable. A Free Prize is about satisfying wants versus needs. Don't give your customers more; give them something extra.

The book takes a fresh look at coming up with remarkable ideas but also implementing them. It is not only the marketing folks' job to introduce new products and services. Every person in an organization can come up with these ideas.

Getting people in your organization to go along with your idea is crucial, of course, and Seth has nifty tactics for getting others to co-champion an idea with you. No more brainstorming. Instead, try "edgecrafting." Products and services have lots of edges, and he spends 30 pages talking about how you can find yours.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jack Covert is the president and founder of 800-CEO-Read (www.800ceoread.com). Reach him at jack@800ceoread.com.