Most successful marketers credit reading as one of the main factors that contributed to their success.
Seth Godin has authored a dozen of books, and he is known as a voracious reader who usually writes about book recommendations on his blog.
Even if you were to search about past marketing outliers, you’d see that history is littered with avid readers. I’m talking about the likes of Steve Jobs, David Ogilvy, and Mary Kay Ash.
There’s something undeniably special about reading – I’m not talking about fiction.
Space X founder Elon Musk so reveres his library that he reads about 60 books every month.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you should read 60 books per month.
All I’m saying is that reading is one of the quickest way to accelerate learning, improve intelligence and acquire new insightful information.
So, as marketer, which books that are a must read for every marketer?
Well, the list is endless!
But since you’re already here, I won’t let you leave empty handed. I reached out to my network on LinkedIn and asked about the must-read books for marketers:
Here’s a list of all the books that they recommended, we’re going to check each one out and give some thoughts about it.
Set back, relax and enjoy my rundown of the books, the order doesn’t matter by the way.
Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters
This is such an interesting book to read by Richard Rumelt, in it he goes all over what makes a good strategy and how do you differentiate between good and bad strategies.
In this book, he gives you some examples of good and bad strategies and a ton of good advice on what to look for in a good strategy.
My favorite example is how IBM in 1993 fixed its declining sales by looking at what it offered and decided that in order for them to succeed they need to consolidate its departments to become a leader in just one thing.
And it worked like charm, IBM was a market leader in providing customer solutions and focusing solely on that rather than offering also personal computers for home users.
Here are their reported revenue figures according to the “New York Times”.
“For the fourth quarter, I.B.M. had earnings of $1.23 billion, or $2.06 a share, more than three times the $341 million, or 55 cents a share, it reported a year earlier. Analysts had estimated earnings of about $1.75 a share.
Revenue was $19.9 billion, up 6.6 percent from $18.66 billion in the 1993 quarter. The figures exclude the results of a subsidiary that developed computers and software for the Federal Government; the subsidiary was sold last January.”
So if you’re struggling with taking your business to the next level, you should definitely consider reading this book.
The Cold Start Problem
Thanks to Foti Panagiotakopoulos for recommending this book over on the Growth Mentor Slack Channel.
Andrew Chen was one of the people responsible for taking Uber from a small company to what it is today.
In this book, he breaks down the different stages that a startup goes through and how can you leverage them.
What I like the most about this book is definitely his approach to building a network that drives growth.
One of the top factors alongside a good market fit and a product that solves a problem is building a network definitely.
This is how Khalid Saleh Invesp landed some of the agency’s biggest clients, corporates like eBay, Dish, 3M, and more.
So if you’re in the market and trying to build up traction for your product definitely give this book a read.
Thanks to Simba for recommending this book.
Conversion optimization is such a huge thing nowadays, whether you’re a multi-billion dollar company or just a small startup with limited resources.
Conversion rate optimization or CRO for short is one of the most highly sought-after skills that you need to learn if you want to get the most out of your marketing efforts.
You heard me right, not just website optimization, but overall in marketing.
Because CRO consists of things like doing JTBD ‘jobs to be done’ interviews it makes writing copies and creating killer website content a walk in the park.
There’s much that goes into this that I’m not covering because this is a round-up but I highly suggest you read this book.
The 1-page marketing plan
Thanks to Nada Adel for recommending this book.
I first heard of this book on the “Every One Hates Marketers” podcast by my favorite french marketer Louis Grenier.
And I remember just being amazed by how amazing this episode was because I was mainly struggling with creating a marketing plan and I couldn’t crack the code.
Needless to say, this is a best seller book and an absolute delight to read and just apply what it says you know, I mean I like reading books, but I love reading books that just throw me in the action right of the bat.
This book is catered toward small businesses because they’re the ones that need to be scrappy when it comes to resources.
Most of them don’t have the luxury of hiring an agency that can deliver a marketing plan but cost an arm and a leg.
So I highly recommend this book as it’s also one of my favorite books when it comes to marketing.
Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered!
Thanks to Yusuf Filifal for recommending this book.
You might be familiar with Austin Kleon as he wrote the one and only “Steal Like an Artist”, and that book was just amazing.
So it comes as no surprise, to be honest, that “Show Your Work” would be another masterpiece by Austin.
And let me tell you masterpiece it is, it just talks to your soul directly.
But jokes aside the book is actually great because most of us marketers fail to show our creatives, we fear judgment or rejection.
The best thing about this book is that it deals with all of that it frees you from the shackles that keep you from spreading your wings and just showing off.
And this is what marketing is all about, it’s showing off and sharing what a creative person you’re.
So if you’re a bit of an introvert like myself, I’d definitely take a look at this blog and just give it a chance!
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
Thanks to Radwa Ismail and Jen Bryan for recommending this book.
Where do I start with Hooked? It’s super hard to list all the reasons you would want to read this book.
But haven’t you wondered how addicting products become so addicting as they do?
I mean take a look around you, you probably are addicted to certain products, Netflix?
I know I’m addicted to Audible and Blinkist which are my favorite got to 2 apps for audiobooks and stuff.
I’m sure that you always dreamed of building a product that people are addicted to, and Hooked gives you the blueprint for the book.
If you’re a small business and you want to take your business to the next level, I’d highly suggest keeping this book on top of the to-read list this year!
What is Growth Hacking?: 100 Growth Hacks to Grow Your Business And Nail Online Advertising
What is Growth Hacking will take you from the earliest of business stages, and teach you about the various hacks you can implement to accelerate your growth at every stage.
Man, I love this book, I kind of hate the name because growth hacking is such an overused term that’s been thrown around for quite a while now.
But here’s where the book sets itself different from most other growth hacking books it tells you what to do from the company’s earliest stages to scaling, and it gives you the tips you need at every stage of the business.
But you know what is the best part of this book? It is that it doesn’t sell you dreams and fantasies about what growth hacking would do to your company.
The book will provide you with all the information that you need to decide is growth hacking is for your business or not, dead simple.
And what I like about it also is that I can see what he did and do try it out for my business myself.
Olaf has 7 years of experience working as a growth hacker so I love that I’m getting the experience of someone who’s been battle-tested before.
The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future
Thanks to Jen Bryan for recommending this book.
This book is written for small business owners to help them get over barriers that get put in front of us by ourselves and other people.
These barriers could be not having enough money, knowledge, experience, etc., and they sometimes cause us to just stop moving forward or even launch off the ground.
If you’re a small business owner or still in your early stage of growth this book is going to be very helpful for you.
What I really appreciate about this book is that it gives you case studies that you can study and see what worked for them and why.
I find this very crucial because sometimes we need someone to try something out to see how it performs and then decide to give it a try ourselves.
Sometimes even for large companies, we need to go back to basics and see what’s wrong and how can we fix it, because as time goes you might find yourself lost but you don’t know why.
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t
Thanks to Jen Bryan for recommending this book.
What makes a company that is not doing good or doing below average go over and beyond?
What do they all have in common? That is what Jim Collins set out to discover in his book Good to Great.
Jim Collins and his team studied 11 publicly traded companies that performed at or below the market average for 15 years, then outperformed the market by more than threefold over the next 15 years.
Collins compared these ‘Good to Great’ companies to nearly identical companies (same industry, size, and access to resources) that failed to outperform the market.
Collin’s and his team discovered that the Good to Great companies mastered three concepts the comparison companies did not.
You can use these three concepts to determine if the companies you invest in, the company you work for, or the business you own can go from good to great.
I find this book to be really great because a lot of companies nowadays find themselves in the trap of not performing as well as expected, which can be solved by implementing what this book says.
Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers
Thanks to Jen Bryan for recommending this book.
Well, Seth Godin is just a staple when it comes to marketing at this point, he’s like a godfather to most of us marketers nowadays.
And one of the first books Seth wrote was Permission Marketing, and what a great book it is.
What I like about this book is it removes the sense of oh I’m being marketed to and transforms it into oh I’m building a friendship.
We as human beings have been over-marketed, everyone wants to sell you something, a tool, a book, a subscription, etc.
And that just causes us to have fatigue from all of this marketing that we’re being bombarded with.
So having an approach that leads to the same results but also makes the user feel like he’s just at home is such a huge plus.
I can’t recommend this book enough at this point, and while I didn’t include other Seth’s books I feel like you need to read them all at this point.
No matter what you do, reading will always be the go-to when it comes to learning new stuff.
And there’s nothing wrong with that, but there are too many books now on the market and you can feel a bit overwhelmed if you decide to read a book about marketing.
So I decided to venture out and see what other experts think you should read to upskill your marketing skills and listed them for you.
Now tell me, which one is your favorite?