9 Books Every Marketer Should Read

As I’ve said beforemarketing is a busy career.

A characteristic of any good marketer is keeping yourself busy, especially in periods of downtime, by constantly working to improve your skills. One of the best ways to do this is to consume literature that will increase your understanding of the field.

If you have an Amazon account; are in possession of a library card; or can transport yourself by plane, train, or automobile to a bookstore, you should absolutely pick up one, or all, of the following books:

Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah

inbound_marketing_cover.jpgWritten by the co-founders of HubSpot, Inbound Marketing is a field guide to marketing success. Learn about customer behavior and preferred digital experiences. Understand how to effectively nurture leads, create compelling content, increase your visibility and engagement online, and make better decisions for your company as a whole.

Aside from invaluable expert advice, the book also includes resources to help you achieve the steps listed above. With a strong grasp on the detriments of outbound marketing, you’ll be well-prepared to utilize the tips contained in Inbound Marketing to the fullest possible extent.

Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

growth_hacker_marketing_cover.jpgToday’s society is different from what it was five, ten, twenty years ago. People today won’t be affected by the marketing tactics that were prevalent in the past. Instead, they'll be impacted by growth hacking, which has emerged as a popular marketing strategy for the changing time.

Growth hacking encourages testing and experimentation to provide insight for product and business improvement. The goal is to continue learning from the data aggregated until a point of maximal impact is reached. This book explains the basics behind this approach.

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

purple_cow_cover.jpgSeth Godin, perhaps the most well-known marketing expert today, is the author of Purple Cow. The metaphor that drives his book is simple but brilliant. Purple cows are exciting to see because they’re new, and people will remember them over the hoards of boring brown cows they come across every day.

Bottom line: marketers need to incorporate the traits of the Purple Cow into everything they create. That’s the only way they’ll make an impact. (For more, watch his TED Talk.)

Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

permission_marketing_cover.jpgThis is another masterpiece by Seth Godin. (In fact, most of his books are brilliantly insightful and if I could add each one to this list, I would.) Permission Marketing describes the phenomenon of providing consumers with incentives to accept advertising voluntarily.

Permission marketing strays from traditional advertising in that it doesn’t penalizing you by interrupting your family dinner or favorite television program. Rather, it rewards you if you accept it and intentionally invite it into your life.

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

how_we_decide_image_with_border.jpgHow We Decide is an exploratory journey into the brain. Lehrer analyzes findings from neurological research, as well as real-world examples, to determine how people decide. The book is not necessarily aimed at marketers  rather, anyone interested in the science behind the decision-making process will not only enjoy but benefit from How We Decide.

It’s a worthwhile read because marketers need to understand how to move people along the buyer’s journey understanding what goes into a person’s determinations is critical. 

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

the_tipping_point_cover.jpgMalcolm Gladwell, in this book from 2002, explains the tipping point phenomenon. This curious occurrence is when an idea spreads, seemingly out of the blue. The idea of virality vigorous circulation, exponential growth  has been tremendously influential for the marketing industry, revolutionizing the way people think about selling products and services.

Although its publication date was almost 15 years ago, the fundamental points are as relevant today as they were then, and will continue to be relevant for years to come. 

Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

made_to_stick_cover.jpgMade to Stick expounds upon the topic covered in The Tipping Point, listed above. The underlying thesis of Made to Stick explores the fundamental question: Why do some ideas thrive while others die?

This book has been lauded as one that will change the way you communicate. It’s a thought-provoking read that will bring another perspective to The Tipping Point and surely strengthen your marketing skills.

Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky

here_comes_everybody_cover.jpgThis book explores the impact the internet has had on groups and organizations. Social technology has shifted in a way that has presented its ramifications in a number of interesting ways.

While some of the references may be dated (no one uses MySpace anymore), marketers today are more than comfortable with the new pillars of social media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. This book will resonate with any critical-thinking professional in the digital marketing space.

Good to Great by James Collins

(A quick note: This was included in Dayna’s list of books to read for sales, but it’s completely relevant here, too.)

good_to_great_cover.jpgThe focus of this book is on management and business tactics that push a company from — can you guess? — good to great. It provides insight into next-level leadership, out-of-the-box thinking and ways to achieve quantifiable results.

James Collins collected and analyzed data from nearly 30 different companies to answer the question every marketer (and salesperson... and business person in general) asks: how can we improve our business?

Bonus: Syrup by Maxx Barry

Final Thoughts

It’s never a bad idea to read more books. And when the books you read can help advance your career and the success of your company, it’s truly a win-win situation. If you’re pressed for time or want a limited selection of recommendations, this list is a good start. If you’d like to add any books I missed, feel free to do so in the comments!

If you’re interested in implementing some new strategies into your company’s marketing agenda, contact us.

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