It’s never too late to make professional development a part of your everyday life and there is no better way to do that than to catch up on your reading (either e-reading or a good old fashioned physical book). What follows are some of the best books ever written about marketing and if we were putting together a comprehensive reading list for both recent business school graduates and business veterans wanting to understand the mindset of some of the youngest, brightest voices in the field, these books, many of which are classics, would be on that list.
Here’s how we did it. We ranked Inc.’s, Ad Age, Forbes and Wall Street Journal lists of best marketing books and averaged out their place on the list to come up with a top 50. Whether you agree with our assessment or not, there can be no disputing the fact that these are some of the best written and informative business books out there, and available.
50. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay
(Dover Publications, August 27, 2003)
Marketing means understanding groups of people and how they think. While technology has changed over the decades, people haven’t, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that in 1841, Charles Mackay captured the essence of bonehead group-think. Read this, and you’ll never be surprised by events like the Great Recession of 2008 or the popularity of the Real Housewives.
English writer Charles Mackay was a 19th-century chronicler of culture and events. As a journalist he worked for London’s Morning Chronicle (1835-44), Glasgow’s Argus (1844-47), the Illustrated London News (1852-59) and, as a correspondent reporting on the American Civil War, the Times (1862-65). Mackay also was an associate of Charles Dickens. Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is a chronicle of various market crazes and irrational fads, is considered a classic in the field of market psychology.
49. Buy-ology by Martin Lindstrom
How much do we really know about why we buy? What truly influences our decisions in today’s message-cluttered world? By injecting neuroscience into the art of marketing, Martin Lindstrom, voted one Time Magazine’s most influential people of 2009, explains how everything we think and do is influenced by mental forces of which we are only vaguely aware (if at all). Lindstrom shows how these impulses might be scientifically measured and then used to hone marketing campaigns. Examples: An eye-grabbing advertisement, a catchy slogan, an infectious jingle? Or do our buying decisions take place below the surface, so deep within our subconscious minds, we’re barely aware of them?
In Buy-ology, Lindstrom, presents the astonishing findings from a three-year, $7-million-dollar neuro-marketing study, an experiment that peered inside the brains of 2,000 volunteers from all around the world as they encountered various ads, logos, commercials, brands, and products. His results shatter much of what we have long believed about what seduces our interest and drives us to buy.
48. The Long Tail: Why the future of business is selling less of more by Chris Anderson
(Hachette Books; Revised edition, July 8, 2008)
While the 20th century was dominated by hit products, the 21st century will be dominated by niche products, according to Chris Anderson’s groundbreaking explanation of web-based purchasing habits. As useful as this book is, you can get the gist of it from his original article in Wired magazine.
The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare. Interesting theory. Fascinating book by a terrific writer.
47. Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords: How to Access 100 Million People in 10 Minutes by Perry Marshall and Bryan Todd
(Entrepreneur Press, November 29, 2006)
This is an instruction manual for Internet marketing success. Perry, who is regarded by many people, as THE AdWords expert, knows that if you want to succeed brilliantly in online marketing, you need to know a whole lot more than just how to gain Google’s trust and get cheap, targeted clicks on AdWords ads.
The book covers a wide range of closely related topics, including how to identify your USP, how to build an unforgettable personality, how to put personality and pizazz into your email marketing, search engine optimization, remarketing, and so on. There’s a fascinating chapter – Chapter 16 – on how to use social media indirectly – especially Facebook – to do your market research and produce a treasure trove of insights about what your customers really want. These tactics could also be used by affiliates looking for ideas for “money pages” – pages that generate revenue because they hit the spot exactly, targeting problems that are crying out to be solved right now.
46. The Anatomy of Buzz by Emanuel Rosen
(Crown Business, May 2002)
A classic book that every marketer should read. Before word of mouth marketing became a profession unto itself, Rosen figured out why certain brands get attention and how they do it. In The Anatomy of Buzz, former marketing VP Emanuel Rosen pinpoints the products and services that benefit the most from buzz-a universe that embraces everything from high-tech equipment to books, various consumer and entertainment products to legal and other support services-and offers specific strategies for creating and sustaining effective word-of-mouth campaigns.
Drawing from interviews with more than 150 executives, marketing leaders, and researchers who have successfully built buzz for major brands, Rosen describes the ins and outs of attracting the attention of influential first users and “big-mouth” movers and shakers. He also discusses proven techniques for stimulating customer-to-customer selling-including how companies can spread the word to new territories by taking advantage of customer hubs and networks on the Internet and elsewhere.
45. The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business by Peter Coughter
(Portfolio Hardcover; New edition, November 12, 2009)
If you are in marketing, you will have to get good at presenting and selling your ideas. There are countless books on the topic, and this is the only one worthy of reading, studying and applying. Woe the marketer that doesn’t heed these words. Sometimes a great idea will sell itself. The other 99% of the time, you have to find a way to persuade others that it is, in fact, a great idea.
Most executives spend the vast majority of their time creating their work, and almost no time on the presentation. Through an engaging and humorous narrative, Peter Coughter presents the tools he designed to help advertising and marketing professionals develop persuasive presentations that deliver business. Readers will learn how to hone their individual natural presentation style, how to organize a powerful presentation, how to harness the elegant power of simplicity, how to truly connect with an audience,
44. The Cluetrain Manifesto by Chris Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger and Rick Levine.
(Basic Books; Anniversary Edition, April 5, 2011)
If you could point your finger at one book that changed the face of marketing, it would be this one. The entire social media movement came out of this book. Long before Facebook and Twitter, this visionary book told the tale of everything we believe and hold dear in these times of inter-connectedness.
Today’s biggest trends—the mobile web, social media, real-time—have produced a new consumer landscape. The End of Business As Usual explores this complex information revolution, how it has changed the future of business, media, and culture, and what you can do about it.
43. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, by Clay Shirky
(Penguin Books; Reprint edition February 24, 2009)
This book is not for the timid. Shirky is more academic than fluff, and this book dives deep into technology and social media with beautiful and high-brow writing. So well written and researched. It is a gem.
Welcome to the new future of involvement. Forming groups is easier than it has ever been: unpaid volunteers can build an encyclopedia together in their spare time, mistreated customers can join forces to get their revenge on airlines and high street banks, and one man with a laptop can raise an army to help recover a stolen phone. The results of this new world of easy collaboration can be both good (young people defying an oppressive government with a guerrilla ice-cream eating protest) and bad (girls sharing advice for staying dangerously skinny) but it’s here and, as Clay Shirky shows, it’s affecting everybody. For the first time, we have the tools to make group action truly a reality.
42. Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads by Luke Sullivan
(Wiley; 4 edition, February 10, 2012)
When was the last time that you read a business book and laughed out loud? Yes, this book is that funny, but it’s also one of the best books out there on what makes an ad great, and how to push yourself to create a great one as well. Written by a copywriter, this book demonstrates the power of words and the power of spending the time to find the right words.
Hey Whipple, Squeeze This has inspired a generation of ad students, copywriters, and young creatives to make their mark in the industry. But students need new guidance to ply their craft now in the digital world. This new fourth edition explains how to bring brand stories into interactive, dynamic places online, in addition to traditional television, radio, print, and outdoor ads.
41. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition by Robert Cialdini
(Harper Business; Revised edition, December 26, 2006)
Another classic, this one on the art of persuasion. Author Cialdini explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply these understandings. Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior has resulted in this highly acclaimed book. You’ll learn the six universal principles, how to use them to become a skilled persuader—and how to defend yourself against them.
Perfect for people in all walks of life, the principles of Influence will move you toward profound personal change and act as a driving force for your success. An incredible book about how we make decisions and what influences them (hint: it’s not what you think)… and this was published long before behavioral economics became so very cool. This is profoundly powerful because of all of the science and research behind this book. Most marketers haven’t paid any attention to this book, and it shows in the vast majority of terrible work that we’re exposing the public to.
40. The Innovator’s Dilemma: he Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business by Clayton Christensen
(HarperBusiness; Reprint edition, October 4, 2011)
Marketing isn’t just about the ads. Marketing is also about the product and how to bring it to market. So many companies do everything right and yet still lose market share. If you’re interested in marketing and you haven’t read this book, it is a must-read.
The book is about the failure of companies to stay atop their industries when they confront certain types of market and technological change. It’s about the failure of good companies, which is an interesting angle for the authors to have taken.
39. Life After The 30-Second Spot: Energize Your Brand With a Bold Mix of Alternatives to Traditional Advertising by Joseph Jaffe
(Wiley, May 25, 2005)
This is another one of those seminal books that you can look back at and marvel at just how prescient it was. Imagine this: it’s almost a decade old, but still resonates with some very deep thinking about where advertising is going.
If you think that mass media is a viable business, please read this book. The fragmentation and proliferation of media touch points and content alternatives makes reaching massive audiences difficult at best. This book is the blueprint for anyone searching for fresh, revolutionary ways to get their message out beyond traditional media.
38. The Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness by Jeffrey Gitomer
(Bard Press; 1st edition, September 25, 2004)
Jeffrey Gitomer, the sales guru and author of the bestselling The Sales Bible, has produced another terrific book that addresses sales with a lively combination of humor and professionalism to help salespeople get their feet in many more doors. For those who are running into dead ends, stale leads, price objections, and unreturned phone calls, Gitomer has created The Little Red Book of Selling to show them how to get past the usual obstacles and sell their products and services with new zest and vigor.
Don’t be fooled by the title. This simple, fun and short book is full of how to better position, market and sell both yourself and the products and services that you represent. In fact, anything by Gitomer is well-worth your time. This just happens to be one that is worth re-reading each and every year.
37. Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip And Dan Heath
(Random House; 1st edition, January 2, 2007)
There have been countless books written on viral marketing and how brands should tell a better story. None of them hold a candle to this one. Perhaps one of the best books ever written on how a brand can (and should) tell a story (and how to do it). Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath tackle head-on these vexing questions. Inside, the brothers Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the “human scale principle,” using the “Velcro Theory of Memory,” and creating “curiosity gaps.”
Made to Stick is a book that will transform the way you communicate ideas. It’s a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures)–the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of “the Mother Teresa Effect”; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.
36. Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keeith Ferrazzi
(Crown Business; Exp Upd edition, June 3, 2014)
Don’t you love this title? The book is even better. A key component to better understanding the power marketing is to learn about how to network and connect with others. Do you want to get ahead in life? Climb the ladder to personal success? The secret, master networker Keith Ferrazzi claims, is in reaching out to other people. As Ferrazzi discovered in early life, what distinguishes highly successful people from everyone else is the way they use the power of relationships—so that everyone wins.
In Never Eat Alone, Ferrazzi lays out the specific steps—and inner mindset—he uses to reach out to connect with the thousands of colleagues, friends, and associates on his contacts list, people he has helped and who have helped him. And in the time since Never Eat Alone was published in 2005, the rise of social media and new, collaborative management styles have only made Ferrazzi’s advice more essential for anyone hoping to get ahead in business.
35. The New Rules Of Marketing And PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly by David Meerman Scott
(Wiley; 4 edition, July 1, 2013)
This book has been updated many times over. If you’re looking for the ultimate primer on social media, what it means and what it can do, this is it. The New Rules of Marketing & PR, 4th Edition is the pioneering guide to the future of marketing, an international bestseller with more than 300,000 copies sold in over 25 languages. It offers a step-by-step action plan for harnessing the power of modern marketing and PR to communicate with buyers directly, raise visibility, and increase sales. It shows how large and small companies, nonprofits, and other organizations can leverage Web-based content to get the right information to the right people at the right time for a fraction of the cost of big-budget campaigns.
Including a wealth of compelling case studies and real-world examples of content marketing and inbound marketing success, this is a practical guide to the new reality of reaching buyers when they’re eager to hear from you.
• Includes updated information, examples, and case studies plus an examination of newly popular tools such as Infographics, photo-sharing using Pinterest and Instagram, as well as expanded information on social media such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
• David Meerman Scott is a marketing strategist, bestselling author of eight books including three international bestsellers, advisor to emerging companies including HubSpot, and a professional speaker on topics including marketing, leadership, and social media. Prior to starting his own business, he was marketing VP for two U.S. publicly traded companies and was Asia marketing director for Knight-Ridder, at the time one of the world’s largest information companies.
34. Re-Imagine!: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age by Tom Peters
(DK Publishing; 1 edition, October 6, 2003)
Not exactly a full-bore marketing book, but still Peters delivers in spades with this one. It’s also beautifully designed, which makes it fun to read. There are countless brand stories about excellence in this one.
More than just a how-to book for the 21st Century, Re-imagine! is a call to arms — a passionate wake-up call for the business world, educators, and society as a whole. Focusing on how the business climate has changed, this inspirational book outlines how the new world of business works, explores radical ways of overcoming outdated, traditional company values, and embraces an aggressive strategy that empowers talent and brand-driven organizations where everyone has a voice.
33. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
(Back Bay Books, January 7, 2002)
A wise individual once said that Gladwell has a knack for writing books that business leaders feel stupid for not having on their bookshelves. Pretty poignant and true. The Tipping Point is great because it helps marketers better understand the inflection point that happens when a product is ho-hum and how it then takes off like a rocket. It’s not really science so much as cultural, but it’s fascinating.
The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.
32. Waiting For Your Cat To Bark?: Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing by Bryan and Jeffrey Einsenberg
(Thomas Nelson; Har/Com edition, June 13, 2006)
The Eisenberg brothers are experts at understanding and explaining the power of marketing optimization. Sadly, this is one of the most important aspects of the marketing sphere that most professionals spend little-to-no-time working on. This book filled with practical and powerful advice about consumers and how to help them by making your marketing easier to follow.
Evolving from the premise that customers have always behaved more like cats than Pavlov’s dogs, Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? examines how emerging media have undermined the effectiveness of prevailing mass marketing models. At the same time, emerging media have created an unprecedented opportunity for businesses to redefine how they communicate with customers by leveraging the power of increasingly interconnected media channels. The Eisenbergs don’t simply explain this shift in paradigm; Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? introduces Persuasion Architecture™ as the synthetic model that provides business with a proven context for rethinking customers and retooling marketers in a rewired market.
Readers will learn:
• Why many marketers are unprepared for today’s increasingly fragmented, in-control, always-on audience that makes pin-point relevance mandatory
• How interactivity has changed the nature of marketing by extending its reach into the world of sales, design, merchandizing, and customer relations
31. Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity by Avinash Kaushik
(Sybex; October 26, 2009)
This book adeptly address today’s business challenges, as explained by web analytics thought leader Avinash Kaushik. Web Analytics 2.0 presents a new framework that will permanently change how you think about analytics. It provides specific recommendations for creating an actionable strategy, applying analytical techniques correctly, solving challenges such as measuring social media and multichannel campaigns, achieving optimal success by leveraging experimentation, and employing tactics for truly listening to your customers.
The book will help your organization become more data driven while you become a super analysis ninja! Kaushik, by the way, is the digital marketing evangelist at Google. In fact, the notion of Sex With Data from CTRL ALT Delete was heavily inspired by Kaushik’s work/thinking. Most marketers eyes glaze over when they hear the word ‘analytics,’ but thankfully Kaushik is here to help make it fascinating and important.
30. Where The Suckers Moon: he Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign by Randall Rothenberg
(Vintage, October 31, 1995)
Most people know Rothenberg as the President and CEO of the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau). What most people don’t know is that in 1995, he authored this book. A book that is, without a doubt, one of the best books on the advertising industry.
In Where the Suckers Moon, Rothenberg chronicles the brief, turbulent marriage between a recession-plagued auto company and an aggressively hip ad agency (whose creative director despised cars), capturing both the ad world’s tantalizing gossip and the broader significance of its creations.
29. Great Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message by Michael Masterson
(American Writers & Artists, Inc., July 18, 1905)
This book can change how you write copy, from ads to emails and sales pages. It’s written by Michael Masterson (Ford) & John Forde. Michael is the chief growth strategist for Agora, Inc. Rumors in the industry say that Agora makes as much as $600 million per year, maybe more, selling newsletters and coaching. One sales video, “The End of America” is said to have earned over $250 million dollars for a division of Agora called StansberryResearch.
When word came out that he was writing a book about his writing process ad writers everywhere must have tripped over themselves to buy a copy. Inside you will learn the difference between writing sales copy to warm leads and perfect strangers.
28. Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz
(Bottom Line Books, January 1, 2004)
If ever there was a holy grail of marketing passed down from father to son, it would be this book. Eugene Schwartz is arguably the world’s greatest copywriter/marketer to ever live.
You want to know how good it is? It’s available for free online, yet people STILL pay as much as $400 for a used print version. Inside you’ll learn how to make average copy, great. For example, chapter 4 is titled “38 Ways You Can Strengthen Your Headline Once You Have Your Basic Idea.”
27. Marketing Warfare by Al Ries and Jack Trout
(McGraw-Hill; 1 edition, November 22, 1997)
Have you ever had a GIANT competitor in your market? One so big you felt like being #2 is the best you’ll ever be because they’ve got the #1 spot on lock? Then Al Ries & Jack Trout have got some tricks you’ll love. Like their flanking strategy which can be used to overcome your own 800lb gorillas.
Inside this book you will learn strategies for dealing with competitors of all sizes. Including how to deal with smaller competitors trying to take your throne.
26. Cashvertising: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone by Drew Eric Whitman
(Career Press; 1 edition (November 3, 2008)
Just like a magician and a sword swallower have tricks that wow their audience, so do New York’s elite advertisers. They use consumer psychology. Powerful methods that influence people to read their ads… and buy like crazy.
In this book you will learn the “tricks” that New York’s biggest ad agencies use every day. As long as your customers are humans it doesn’t matter what you are selling… these tricks work for every business. Plus, they’re 100% legal, ethical, and very powerful. You’ll discover the 8 human motivators that cannot be ignored. They’re embedded into us at an emotional level. When you can learn to pull on these strings your ads will tug at their heart strings and have them ready to buy what you are selling.
25. Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing by Roger Dooley
(Wiley; 1 edition (November 22, 2011)
According to leading neuroscientists, 95 percent of all thoughts, emotions, and learning occur before we are ever aware of it. Yet, most marketing efforts forgo the vast subconscious and instead target the rational, conscious mind. If you want to get ahead of your competition, it’s time to stop selling to just 5 percent of your customer’s brain! Through the wonders of modern neuroscience, tools now exist that can help explain the brain’s cognitive processes. When you understand how your customers’ brains work, you can appeal to the powerful subconscious—and get better results for less money.
Brainfluence explains how to apply neuroscience and behavior research to better market to consumers by understanding their decision patterns. Neuromarketing studies the way the brain responds to various cognitive and sensory marketing stimuli. Analysts use this to measure a consumer’s preference, what a customer reacts to, and why consumers make certain decisions. With quick and easy takeaways, Brainfluence contains key strategies for targeting consumers through in-person sales, online and print ads, and other marketing mediums.
24 .The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies by Chet Holmes
(Portfolio Trade; Reprint edition, May 27, 2008)
R.I.P. Chet Holmes. As a service seller, this book has become biblical for many companies. Chapters 4, 5, & 6 can take you from begging for business in Craigslist to being hunted down by market leaders.
Inside this book you will learn how to create presentations that win large deals, to craft a pitch so good that people ask to be pitched by you, and how to build a sales army of top performers who love commission based pay. This is the book that takes average consultants or service providers to elite status. Every B2B business should have a copy of this book in their office.
23. Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer by Christopher Penn
(Amazon Digital Services, Inc.)
Basics for the Digital Marketer today. In this guide, join Christopher Penn, Vice President of Strategy at Blue Sky Factory and professor of Internet Marketing at the University of San Francisco, as he covers the 4Ps, SWOT, Strategy, ROI, funnels, and many other basics in a tight, compact format that will help bring you or a colleague up to speed very quickly in the basics of marketing.
This book contains just about everything you need to get someone started on marketing basics, while not being overly dense (and thus productivity-dampening). Each concept has a series of exercises that will let you test your knowledge and apply it to the business situations you’re facing at your company.
22. Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition by Jay Abraham
(St. Martin’s Griffin; 1st edition October 12, 2001)
Written by the great Jay Abraham. Who is trusted by America’s top corporations and is considered one of the greatest marketers of all time. Jay’s specialty is in seeing what you can’t. He comes into a company and surgically slices away fat and revealing hidden opportunities.
For example, are you using your product purchase receipts as a marketing tool? Have you ever seen a company offer you a coupon on your receipt of purchase… that’s classic Jay Abraham! There are 21 of these little profit boosters inside this book.You owe it to yourself and your company to read this.
21. Words that Sell: More than 6000 Entries to Help You Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas by Richard Bayan
(McGraw-Hill; 2 edition, April 5, 2006)
This is not a book you read, it’s a book you use. And use.
And use again.
Inside this book you’ll find hundreds of words and phrases to help you start your emails, sales letters, or Adwords ads. As well as hundreds of other words and phrases that help with other points in your ad copy.
It’s just as useful, or even more useful than a thesaurus or dictionary. It reads like one also. It’s the perfect companion for anyone who has ever looked at a blank page and not known where to start.
20. Purple Cow by Seth Godin
(Portfolio; New edition, November 12, 2009)
19. Tribes by Seth Godin
(Portfolio; 1 edition, October 16, 2008)
18. Linchpin by Seth Godin
(Portfolio; 1 edition, January 26, 2010)
You either love him or hate him. [Guess which one we do?] Godin is the author of 15 fast-read bestsellers, many of which have changed the way people think about marketing and work. Purple Cow Tribes, and Linchpin are three of his best. Tribes is a bout the most powerful form of marketing–leadership–and how anyone can now become a leader, creating movements that matter.
He has three extraordinary books on this list. His book Tribes came out in 2008; Purple Cow came out in 2009; Linchpin came out in 20010 and was the fastest selling book of his career. Linchpin challenges the reader to stand up, do work that matters and race to the top instead of the bottom. More than that, though, the book outlines a massive change in our economy, a fundamental shift in what it means. Since Linchpin, Godin has published two more books, Poke the Box and We Are All Weird, through his Domino Project.
Godin is founder and CEO of Squidoo.com, a fast growing recommendation website. His blog (find it by typing “seth” into Google) is the most popular marketing blog in the world. Before his work as a writer and blogger, Godin was Vice President of Direct Marketing at Yahoo!, a job he got after selling them his pioneering 1990s online startup, Yoyodyne.
17. Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete against Brand Leaders by Adam Morgan
(Wiley; 2 edition, February 17, 2009)
An international bestseller, revised and updated for 2009, this second edition gem of a book contains more than 25 interviews and case histories, two completely new chapters, introduces a new typology of 12 different kinds of Challengers, has extensive updates of the main chapters, a range of new exercises, supplies weblinks to view interviews online and offers supplementary downloadable information.
Author Adam Morgan is a partner in eatbigfish (www.eatbigfish.com), an international brand and marketing consultancy specializing in Challenger brand strategy, behavior, and culture. Previously an executive with TBWA\Chiat\Day, one of the world’s largest advertising agencies, he has worked with clients like IKEA, Unilever, Virgin, and Apple. He and his partners together run The Challenger Project, the evolving research into how Challenger brands think and behave, on which their thinking, writing, and speaking is based.
16. From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-Line Dispatches from the Advertising War by Jerry Della Femina
(Simon & Schuster; 1 edition, July 20, 2010)
A classic. Ok, if you like “Mad Men” these musings are vividly reminiscent of the goings-on at Sterling Cooper—the late nights, the three-martini lunches, the sex on couches, and, of course, the actual work of plugging products—this is the story of what Madison Avenue was really like in the ’60s. A worldwide bestseller when first published in 1970, this frank, irreverent, and hilarious memoir is a one-of-a-kind marketing book for the ages.
Just check out this quote from the back cover: “I refuse to apologize for telling the truth about advertising, and if it offended some people, that’s just too bad. If I had wanted to be loved by those people I would have joined the Peace Corps.”
15. Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers by Jeffrey Rohrs
(Wiley; 1 edition, November 5, 2013)
Through research data and case studies, this book details how marketers can gain a competitive advantage with proven strategies, including how to:
• Embrace “Hybrid Marketing” to squeeze more value from “Fossil Fuel Marketing” (i.e., paid media)
• Build “renewable energy sources” (owned email, mobile, and social audiences) that provide long-term competitive advantage
• Create your own Proprietary Audience Development strategy
• Market with the Red Velvet Touch: Serve the individual, honor their preferences, deliver relevant content, surprise them with access, and delight them with your company’s humanity
• Test and evolve your efforts on an ongoing basis
14. Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less by Joe Pulizzi
(McGraw-Hill; 1 edition, September 24, 2013)
Joe Pulizzi is first and foremost a content marketing evangelist. He began using the term “content marketing” back in 2001. He’s the founder of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), the leading content marketing educational resource for enterprise brands, recognized as the fastest growing business media company by Inc. magazine in 2013.
CMI is responsible for producing Content Marketing World, the largest content marketing event in the world, as well as the leading content marketing magazine, Chief Content Officer. CMI also offers strategic consulting for enterprise brands such as AT&T, Petco, LinkedIn, SAP and many others.
13. Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer- Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier
(Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition, March 5, 2013)
Revelatory exploration of the hottest trend in technology and the dramatic impact it will have on the economy, science, and society at large. Which paint color is most likely to tell you that a used car is in good shape? How can officials identify the most dangerous New York City manholes before they explode? And how did Google searches predict the spread of the H1N1 flu outbreak?
The key to answering these questions, and many more, is big data. Big Data refers to our burgeoning ability to crunch vast collections of information, analyze it instantly, and draw sometimes profoundly surprising conclusions from it. This emerging science can translate myriad phenomena—from the price of airline tickets to the text of millions of books—into searchable form, and uses our increasing computing power to unearth epiphanies that we never could have seen before. A revolution on par with the Internet or perhaps even the printing press, big data will change the way we think about business, health, politics, education, and innovation in the years to come. It also poses fresh threats, from the inevitable end of privacy as we know it to the prospect of being penalized for things we haven’t even done yet, based on big data’s ability to predict our future behavior. Big Data is the first big book about the next big thing.
12. The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World by Frans Johansson
(Portfolio Hardcover, August 30, 2012)
Consider this book the millennial response to carpe diem, along with pretty explicit instructions on taking advantage of Lady Luck. Johansson actually borrows some techniques and tools from the creative world, especially following one’s curiosity to spotting momentum and intensity. He sets the stage for reader endorsements of his principles through tales of random successes, for instance Obama’s rapid rise after his keynote at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and Stephenie Meyer’s evolution of a dream into the Twilight saga. Their properties are simple to describe: they occur when two separate concepts, ideas, or people meet; they’re impossible to predict; and they elicit an emotional response, like awe or excitement.
But creating them? That’s the focus of this book; a far more resonant subtitle might be How to Harness Purposeful Bets. It’s not in the luck of the draw, Johansson says; it’s maximizing the world around you.
11. Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football . . . Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas by Grant McCracken
(Harvard Business Review Press (May 15, 2012)
Ever wonder how the strangest things become viral phenomena – and inspire hundreds of copycat productions? The latest book from renowned anthropologist Grant McCracken collects more than a dozen cultural trends and then looks as their evolution to introduce the concept of a “culturematic” – a little machine for making culture.
Whether you are introducing a new product or service, or trying to share an idea widely, this book will help you understand the forces that help ideas to become cultural landmarks. Lots of people try to explain the success of ideas that go viral – but hardly any of them has the combined track record and smarts of McCracken to produce quite so credible of a guidebook on how to do it.
10. The Internet Marketing Bible: by Zeke Camusio
(CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, August 11, 2011)
This book was written for business owners, not IT geeks. Anybody can understand it.All the useless information about “the history of the Internet” and other similar topics were left out. This is a clutter-free step-by-step tutorial that shows you exactly what you need to do to become successful online. This book takes a holistic approach to Internet marketing. Covering everything from Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing (SMM), Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and Website Design; this book shows you all the available tools and tactics and helps you figure out which ones will work best for your business. This is the most comprehensive guide to Internet marketing you’ll ever read.
9. Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results by Bryan Eisenberg
(Thomas Nelson, October 31, 2006)
Call to Action includes the information businesses need to know to achieve dramatic results from online efforts. Are you planning for top performance? Are you accurately evaluating that performance? Are you setting the best benchmarks for measuring success? How well are you communicating your value proposition? Are you structured for change? Can you achieve the momentum you need to get the results you want? If you have the desire and commitment to create phenomenal online results, then this book is your call to action.
Within these pages, New York Times best-selling authors Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg walk you through the five phases that comprise web site development, from the critical planning phase, through developing structure, momentum, and communication, to articulating value. Along the way, they offer advice and practical applications culled from their years of experience “in the trenches.”
8. Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization by Olivier Blanchard
(Que Publishing; first edition, March 4, 2011)
Filled with best practices and practical solutions, this book demystifies the business of social media. It’s an invaluable tool to anyone trying to sell social media strategy in a “traditional” business environment. Use this book to bring true business discipline to your social media program and align with your organization’s goals.
Top branding and marketing expert Olivier Blanchard brings together new best practices for strategy, planning, execution, measurement, analysis, and optimization. You will learn how to define the financial and nonfinancial business impacts you are aiming for–and achieve them. Social Media ROI delivers practical solutions for everything from structuring programs to attracting followers, defining metrics to managing crises. Whether you are in a startup or a global enterprise, this book will help you gain more value from every dime you invest in social media.
7. Marketing Management, by Philip Kotler
(Prentice Hall; 14th edition. February 18, 2011)
The holy grail of marketing. If you take any marketing course, you will surely be referred to it. It covers the basics, and it’s an essential tool for anyone interested in the subject. It will dedicate specific chapters to each of the four traditional Ps of marketing (product, price, promotion and place), analyze consumer markets and buyer behavior, will give you tips on how to deal with the competition, discuss segmentation, etc. It is a lot of information, and some readers will complain that the topics are not explored in depth. The text will, however, give you a general, if a bit superficial, overview of marketing as a whole.
Kotler developed new concepts in marketing including atmospherics, demarketing, megamarketing, turbomarketing and synchromarketing. He believes that marketing theory needs to go beyond price theory and incorporate the dynamics of innovation, distribution and promotion systems into analyzing, explaining and predicting economic outcomes.
6. Guerrilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business by Jay Conrad Levinson
(Houghton Mifflin; fourth edition, May 22, 2007)
A timeless classic that everyone should own, no matter what business you’re in. Thirty-one years ago, in 1983, Jay Conrad Levinson took marketing out of the world of Mad Men and huge corporations into the hands of entrepreneurs and small businesses. The book explains why it’s no longer necessary to spend a great deal of money to gain visibility, as long as you’re willing to get creative. Amazingly, the book got it “spot on” way before anybody was talking about “going viral.”
When Guerrilla Marketing was first published Levinson revolutionized marketing strategies for the small-business owner with his take-no-prisoners approach to finding clients. Based on hundreds of solid ideas that really work, Levinson’s philosophy gave way to a new way of learning about market share and how to gain it.
5. YOUtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help Not Hype by Jay Baer
(Portfolio Hardcover (June 27, 2013)
Want your marketing efforts to succeed? Try being helpful. YOUtility provides real-world examples of companies that have moved beyond selling to provide real value — and built a fiercely loyal audience along the way.
Youtility is marketing upside down. Instead of marketing that’s needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers. Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers. The difference between helping and selling is just two letters. But those are the most important letters in modern business. Youtility shows you why, and how.
4. Converge: Transforming Business at the Intersection of Marketing and Technology by Bob Lord and Ray Velez
(Wiley, April 29, 2013)
Marketing and technology have been two separate worlds, speaking different languages, using different processes, and valuing different kinds of talent. For businesses to succeed today, this has to change. Marketing and IT must “converge,” the authors say, in order to create rich, technologically enabled digital experiences that engage, delight, and serve the consumer. It’s easier said than done, but the reality is stark: the lines between creativity, technology, and media are rapidly blurring, revolutionizing marketing and business strategy and empowering the consumer. It’s a convergence that’s filled with opportunity and fraught with challenge—and one your organization can’t afford to ignore.
Authored by the CEO and CTO of Razorfish, one of the world’s largest digital marketing agencies, Converge shares their firsthand experience working closely with global brands—including Unilever’s AXE brand, Staples, and Mercedes-Benz USA—to solve business problems at the collision point between media, technology, and marketing. With an in-depth look at cloud computing, data- and API-enabled creativity, ubiquitous computing, and more, Converge presents a road map to success. It explores why and how this convergence is happening and explains how to restructure your organization to thrive in an age of constant disruption.
3. The 22 Immutable Laws of Advertising: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! by Al Ries and Jack Trout
(HarperBusiness; first paperback edition edition, April 27, 1994)
This book is the exact opposite of Ca$hvertising, which is full of tricks and tactics. In this book the prolific Al Ries and Jack Trout lay the foundations of marketing for those in the business. If ever there was a rule book for marketers, this would be it. Plus, they not only teach the lesson but provide real-world case studies where big brands used these fundamental laws successfully. It’s also an extremely thin book as far as business books go. You could read it in a weekend.
As Ries and Trout note, you can build an impressive airplane, but it will never leave the ground if you ignore the laws of physics, especially gravity. Why then, they ask, shouldn’t there also be laws of marketing that must be followed to launch and maintain winning brands? In The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Ries and Trout offer a collection of 22 innovative rules for understanding and succeeding in the international marketplace. From the Law of Leadership, to The Law of the Category, to The Law of the Mind, these valuable insights stand the test of time and present a clear path to successful products. Violate them at your own risk.
2. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
(Vintage, March 12, 1985)
What would a list like this be without a nod to one of the most well-known Mad Men of our time? David Ogilvy had a passion for advertising. He believed that it was a noble pursuit and a profession that should be taken seriously. This book is an example of how to think like an advertising executive whose sole purpose it is to help brands sell more. Sometimes, in our digital times, it’s fun to read books like this and re-think all of the analytics and optimization talk we have and get back to the advertising as a form of art.
In his years as an advertising executive and copywriter, Ogilvy created some of the world’s most successful and iconic marketing campaigns, including the legendary Man in the Hathaway Shirt, plus notable efforts for Schwepps, Rolls Royce, and the island of Puerto Rico among many others.
1. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout.
(McGraw-Hill; 1 edition, December 13, 2000)
Ok, let’s begin with this: Positioning was named by Advertising Age the best marketing book of all time. Whether you agree with that or not, this is one of the “must have” books if you’re in marketing. It covers a ton of space on the topic of how to brand products and services and how to place them both in market and in the mind’s eye of the consumer. This should be the first book that anyone reads when they enter a Marketing 101 course.
Ries and Trout describe how positioning is used as a communication tool to reach target customers in a crowded marketplace. Jack Trout published an article on positioning in 1969, and regular use of the term dates back to 1972 when Ries and Trout published a series of articles in Advertising Age called “The Positioning Era.” It wasn’t long after that when Madison Avenue advertising executives began to develop positioning slogans for their clients and positioning became a key aspect of marketing communications.