Articles, Book Picks & Resources

Go To Switching Tracks – Aha Moments.   Ideas for seeing your business in new ways.

Professional Services Marketing

This is a great research base on what buyers pay attention to and what successful firms do in marketing professional services.

Spiraling Up – Professional Services Marketing


Reading Picks

The Business of Belief

Business of BeliefHow the World’s Best Marketers, Designers, Salespeople, Coaches, Fundraisers, Educators, Entrepreneurs and Other Leaders Get Us to Believe

By Tom Asacker

A deceptively simple, short read … about an hour.  But then you read a bit again, and then another and another.  “The very first thing leaders do is choose a particular audience and develop a visceral understanding of their beliefs and especially their desires.”  Tom Asacker takes us an insightful journey of how beliefs shape what we do, who we follow, what we buy.

Strongly recommended for anyone who has to influence others, or wants to choose a new path for themselves.


Beating the Commodity Trap

Beating the Commodity Trapby Richard D’Aveni, Copyright 2010 Harvard Business School

If your business success is threatened by competitors who are lowering price, this is an excellent read. Research based, it is one of the better reads on price/value strategies.

D’Aveni defines three commodity traps and strategies to escape them. The first is deterioration (when low end firms enter with low-cost low-benefit offerings that attract the mass market); the second is proliferation (when competitors become locked into offering more benefits at the same or a lower price) and escalation (when new price-benefit positions proliferate, surround and erode a product’s value by targeting smaller segments of the customer base).

It is a bit of a technical read but has lots of examples which make the insights more understandable.  I think this book is probably more directly applicable to larger businesses and brands.  But if you like to have your thinking pushed about value and pricing, you’ll get your money’s worth.


Harnessing Innovation to Jumpstart Growth: Lessons from Mid-Market Companies

Forbes InsightsCopyright 2012 Forbes Insights.

This article summarizes research published in October, 2012.   Leaders of middle market companies see rapid, persistent change as a force in every aspect of their business.  Those who have the greatest optimism and success today are those who have embedded specific disciplines for challenging the status quo throughout every aspect of their business – from strategy to processes to people.   The research shows what these companies do differently than less successful companies. The results are based on a  survey of 313 executives of mid-market companies completed in July, 2012, and included companies of varying sizes and industries.

Read the article


Competitive Markets and the Rule of Three

by Jagdish N. Sheth and Rajendra S. Sisodia

This research explains the relationship between profitability and market share.  The research studied 200 industries, finding consistent patterns in market share and profitability, regardless of industry.  In mature industries with many competitors, only three will eventually dominate through size and economies of scale.  The only others who will not wind up competing in “the ditch” are those who have strategic conIvey Business Journal - Rule of Threetrol of a niche.

Read the article


The Flywheel Effect by Jim Collins

What drives success – the kind that increases the value of your company year after year?

There are no silver bullets.  Sustained revenue growth comes from focused, coordinated, correctly sequenced improvement in a very specific set of skills.

The summary of Jim Collin’s research, Good to Great — The Flywheel Effect,  is a great start to understanding those steps.

Flywheel Effect VideoRead the Article: Good to Great – The Flywheel Effect by Jim Collins  (Published in Fast Company, October 2001)

Watch the Video (2:14)


Why We Buy

Why We Buyby Paco Underhill

Why We Buy provides manufacturers, marketers, retailers and all of us who shop with Blinding Glimpses of the Obvious (or, what we here at SwitchTrack define as Aha Moments).

This book is a Classic.  Classics are relevant, compelling and timeless.  It is a must read for all manufacturers, marketers and retailers who appreciate that shopping is not only an Art, but also a Science.  The book was originally published in 1999, but was updated in 2009 to include the Internet as a key shopping channel.

We have too much data and not enough intelligence — intuitive or otherwise.  It is much easier to collect data than to figure out what it means.  People who come into your store are shoppers — shoppers who buy something are said to be converted.  But, what does that tell you and what should you do with this?  Underhill offers insights into not so much how and what people buy, but, why they buy and what influences purchase behavior — and how to leverage this intelligence.  Why We Buy is truly the marriage between The Art of Shopping and The Science of Shopping.

If we went into stores only when we needed to buy something, and if once we bought only what we needed, the economy would collapse. Underhill sheds light on why this has not happened and, likely, never will.

Download a more complete review of the book (PDF).


This is our February, 2012 reading pick.  An interesting book for thoughtful top leaders, and a short read.

7 Bad Habits of Unsuccessful People

7 Bad HabitsBy Sidney Finkelstein

Bad habits squelch our ability to generate, recognize and learn from “aha moments” – the instant in which the solution to a problem becomes clear.  Worse, they can lead us into real trouble.  This is a short, concise book that can be read in about half an hour.  The examples are dramatic, and worthy of spending some time thinking about.

For those who are open to self-examination, the book is a great reminder of the traps to watch for.  For those who are not open to self-examination, the book will not have much impact – those leaders will simply say to themselves, “Sure – but that’s not me.”

Download a more complete review of the book and specific steps you can take to avoid these bad habits (PDF).


These are our January, 2012 picks. Two great reads to lift your thinking to a higher track.  – Craig

All Marketers Are Liars (Uh, Tell Stories)

All Marketers Are Liarsby Seth Godin

While most business books have one useful page for every 10 pages you read, Seth Godin packs every page with thought provoking and enlightening examples.  You’ll learn why stories are important, what a good story is (and isn’t), and how to build a great story for your business – or yourself.  From my perspective, a great story is the final expression of a business strategy that works, and is an effective expression of your difference and advantage.  Try telling your story. Doing this will help you understand whether your strategy is a good one or not.  If the story is uninteresting, confusing or can’t be repeated, your strategy is probably off track.

How the Growth Outliers Do It

HBRby Rita Gunther McGrath
Harvard Business Review, January-February, 2012, pages 110-116

This article succinctly shows that companies that prosper over the long term are “both more stable and more innovative than their competition.”  This is the summary of results focusing on the 8% of companies in their research that achieved at least 5% revenue growth in each of the 5 consecutive years from 2005 through 2009.  The total number of companies in their research is over 4,750.  Having driven over $1 billion in new revenue growth, I can personally vouch Ms. McGrath’s research is right on the mark.