10 Books Every Marketer Needs to Have on their Shelf

Jeannette Dike

Written by Jeannette Dike on Fri, Jan 22, 2016


In the sea of content out there, must-have marketing advice has been written and repurposed to exhaustion. Unfortunately, the further away from source of truth the content comes, the less reliable a marketer’s words really are, right? Have these top marketing titles? Do, and you’ll never be left wondering where the truth starts and the opinion begins.

What: Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

Why: If you aren’t already crushing on this Yahoo Direct Marketing VP turned author, entrepreneur, marketer and public speaker, you should be. With 18 best-sellers under his belt and counting, Seth Godin writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. This book personifies/animalizes that one thing astronomically successful companies like Starbucks, JetBlue and KrispyKreme have that other tried-and-true brands don’t. If you want people to really notice your business (like easily picking out the purple cow amongst a homogenous herd of browns) this title is a game-changer.

What: Inbound Marketing: Attract, Engage and Delight Customers Online by Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah

Why: The duo of Halligan and Shah (CEO and CTO respectively, of HubSpot, the gold standard in inbound marketing platforms), co-authored this comprehensive guide to increasing online visibility and engagement. Need the newest on customer behavior and preferred digital experience? It’s in here. Have a lead nurturing concern? It’s in here. Foaming over remarkable content created by the other guys? Create your own (Part 2, Chapter 4)! In short, this title is your go-to read for everything around inbound marketing, visibility, converting customers and making better decisions throughout the process.

What: All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin

Why: Godin wins again with this tongue in cheek title which illustrates that good storytelling is a game-changer when it comes to message authenticity and public perception. Through examples of recent content marketing success (think Dyson vacuums, Fiji water or iPod) and lessons learned, Godin shows us how marketers succeed when they tell us a story that fits our worldview, a story that we intuitively embrace and then share with our friends. Whether your story needs a few tweaks or a major overhaul, this one is more than handy.

What: Brands in Glass Houses, by Dechay Watts and Debbie Williams, with Said Baaghil

Why: Brands in Glass Houses shines light on businesses that are revealing themselves authentically, not just as a marketing tactic, but also as a way of doing business. As principles at leading inbound marketing agency, SPROUT Content, Watts and Williams show you how to provide interesting content so customers can connect with your brand on an emotional level, making them more likely to buy from you, talk about you, share their experiences about doing business with you, and, ultimately, listen to what you have to say.

What: Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne

Why: Subtitled: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant, Blue Ocean Strategy authors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, prove that head-to-head competition isn’t the only (or the most successful) path to competitive success. In this eye-opening and immensely popular book, Kim and Mauborgne argue that creating untapped new market spaces (“blue oceans”) will make competition irrelevant much quicker (and for longer) than a “fight-to-the-death” approach to grabbing profits. Based on a study of 150 strategic moves (spanning more than 100 years across 30 industries), Blue Oceans turns traditionalist theory of business strategy and on its head—and might be just what your business needs to turn that next corner. 

What: Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

Why: With chapters laid out in steps including “Finding Your Growth Hack” and “Going Viral,” this book by bestselling author and American Apparel marketing guru, Ryan Holiday is your guide through the uncharted but successful paths a new generation of brands are taking to grow big despite modest marketing budgets. Page after page of sound advice for emerging start-ups and the time-tested (think Facebook, Dropbox, Airbnb) alike.

What: Marketing Performance Blueprint by Paul Roetzer

Why: For those who want to (or must) be able to see under the marketing hood, The Marketing Performance Blueprint is a processed-focused, actionable guide to the emerging technologies and strategies that power the best marketing engines in the industry. In an industry where incremental yet highly impactful improvements define success (often in real-time), this step-by-step, scientific and technical take on building a performance-driven organization is a must have for tech-savvy (and not-yet-so-savvy) marketers alike.

What: The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott

Why: Need to reach a niche market without breaking the bank? Internationally-acclaimed strategist, David Scott, is here to reassure you that the old (often pricey) rules of marketing no longer apply. Effective marketing can be had today without costly mass media investments, as easily (and cheaply) attained formats like RSS, vodcasts and viral marketing have taken its place.

What: Youtility by Jay Baer

Why: The most retweeted person in the world by digital marketers, Baer’s marketing wisdom is borne from 22 combined years as a strategist for The United Nations, Cisco, Nike and more—as well his experiences as founder of 5 multi-million dollar companies. Youtility asks companies to look inward at how they can be more than a marketing mouthpiece, but be truly, inherently useful to someone—a sure way, Baer’s words promise, to create a customer for life.

What: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout

Why: Last, but certainly not least, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is an anchor in the rolling sea of shifting marketing theories and strategies. From the Law of Leadership, to The Law of the Category, to The Law of the Mind, these 22 laws are much, much more than well-meaning suggestions, they are, well…the title says it all. 

Whether you are just beginning to build your marketing library or need to make room for a few titles on this list, these are ten must haves for any serious marketer. Some words of advice—read fast and leave room for next year. 

To get started on building your marketing library, download a free chapter of Brands in Glass Houses, by Dechay Watts and Debbie Williams, with Said Baaghil.

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