10 books that should be on every marketer’s shelf

The author separates the wheat from the chaff to provide a list of tomes that can boost your knowledge and help you succeed at work.

There’s an endless supply of business, marketing and communications books for sale, but which ones are worth your time?

How do you separate the fluff from the good stuff that can actually help you grow, learn and succeed?

To save you time and trouble, I’ve compiled a list of the best-reviewed marketing books that cover crucial issues for today’s marketing and PR professionals:

1. Content Trap: A Strategist’s Guide to Digital Change

Author: Bharat Anand

Why should you read this book? Bharat Anand, a Harvard Business School professor, discusses Harvard’s innovative approach to digital transformation. The secret sauce is to foster connectivity instead of fussing over content.

Organizations face two big challenges—getting noticed and making money. Anand’s book examines companies that are doing it right and those that are failing. He posits that companies don’t necessarily need to create the best content, but they must learn how content enables connectivity.

This book is a modern playbook for how organizations can navigate digital change, transform their business models and thrive in a hyper-competitive era.

2. They Ask, You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer

Author: Marcus Sheridan

Why should you read this book? Sheridan’s work shows you how to develop your content marketing strategy. In a nutshell, you should answer pressing questions.

By anticipating people’s questions and providing helpful, timely answers via your content, your organization will climb search results and reap the rewards of being a Google search darling.

This is a smart framework upon which to build your content marketing infrastructure.

3. The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results

Authors: Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, Pat Spenner and Nick Toman

Why should you read this book? The bestselling authors of The Challenger Sale have new research that suggests being a “challenger seller” is not enough.

Now, it depends on whom you challenge.

Challenger sellers do best when they target “challenger” customers, who have the credibility, persuasive skill and will to effectively challenge his or her colleagues to pursue more than the status quo.

Based on data from thousands of B2B marketers, sellers and buyers around the world, this book helps organizations find and engage challenger customers.

4. The Future of Management

Author: Gary Hamel

Why should you read this book? Long-term business success is driven by management skills such as mobilizing talent, allocating resources and creating new strategies. In this book, Gary Hamel explores why the management paradigm of control and efficiency is no longer an advantage—success today hinges on adaptability and creativity.

Learn management tips from companies like Google, Whole Foods, IBM and Best Buy.

5. Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends

Author: Martin Lindstrom

Why should you read this book? Big data’s great, but what about small data?

This book reveals the secrets behind how major products are conceptualized and launched—including how the process changes companies along the way.

Anecdotes include how a worn-down sneaker led to LEGO’s incredible turnaround, how a stuffed bear changed a fashion retailer’s 1,000 stores, and how a bracelet helped Jenny Craig increase customer loyalty by more than 150 percent.

6. SEO for Growth: The Ultimate Guide for Marketers, Web Designers & Entrepreneurs

Authors: John Jantsch and Phil Singleton

Why should you read this book? SEO has become a key area of digital marketing.

The authors distill a notoriously complex topic with clarity and simplicity, which should provide all the guidance you need to implement a winning SEO strategy.

7. The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Authors: Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

Why should you read this book? This bestseller examines the importance of focusing on one thing.

Whether in work or personal matters, targeting one issue at a time will help you achieve better results, lower your stress, increase your energy and master what matters most.

8. The Agile Marketer: Turning Customer Experience into Your Competitive Advantage

Author: Roland Smart

Why should you read this book? It’s a modern marketer’s guide to platforms and practices.

Marketing today is all about creating a seamless customer experience. Marketers should aim to deliver the right experience at the right time via the right channels.

Smart’s book can help you become a better, wiser, more effective steward of customer experience.

9. Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade

Author: Robert Cialdini

Why should you read this book? Social psychologist Robert Cialdini reveals that the secret to persuasion doesn’t lie in the message itself, but rather in the key moment before the message is delivered.

Cialdini demonstrates how to maximize the time before you deliver an important message. To change minds and make a good impression, a “pre-suader” must also change a person’s state of mind.

The book explains how diverting attention can get your targeted audience to accept your call to action.

10. The Conversion Code

Author: Chris Smith

Why should you read this book? This book is about web traffic, leads and sales, says Neil Patel, co-founder Crazy Egg. Smith details the science behind selling, and he provides a blueprint for increasing sales in today’s digital age.

If you’re keen to learn more about digital lead generation, inbound marketing and improving sales, this book is for you.

What marketing books would you add to this list?

Matthew Royse is a digital marketing director of Forsythe Technology, a global IT firm in Chicago. A version of this article originally appeared on his blog, Knowledge Enthusiast.


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