With 2017 kicking off, now is a good time to think about your 2017 marketing reading list. Here are our suggestions for the must-read marketing books this year.
6 great marketing books for 2017
To help you get the most out of your time with a short list of the best marketing books, these six publications written by well-known marketing experts provide top-notch best practices and practical how-tos spanning several foundational areas of marketing.
From new takes on influence to effective multi-channel marketing and mastering big data to getting down to basics with ridiculously good writing and content, these six must-reads are likely to boost your marketing results in 2017.
by Robert Cialdini, 2016
4.6 rating on Amazon
#768 on Amazon
Cialdini wrote the seminal work on Influence in 1984; Pre-Suasion is the long-awaited sequel, and it delivers. Both books belong on a marketer’s bookshelf because marketers’ work to influence people to take particular actions.
In Pre-Suasion Cialdini goes deeper into the subtleties of persuasion, covering privileged moments, attention and importance, focus and causality, identity, place, crowds, and shared action. The book seemed particularly insightful and relevant after watching the momentous 2016 US presidential election.
These insights help a marketer in two primary areas: 1) persuading internal colleagues and executives to support the marketing plan and its initiatives, 2) persuading the consumers to take appropriate action.
Though the book is primarily sociological and psychological, Cialdini does give examples of how to influence purchase behavior and willingness to spend more. He cites studies that showed how free gifts increase tips dramatically, that people are pre-suaded to purchase by commonalities and getting compliments, and how social proof works. A compelling read.
by Ann Handley, 2014
4.7 rating on Amazon
#6102 on Amazon
Marketing is driven by content, so our second pick on the list of the best marketing books is about content creation. To create really good content, you need the writing skills to make your ideas come alive in an engaging way.
In this book, marketing guru Ann Handley gives insightful guidance that everyone can use to uplevel skills, write like a pro and develop high-quality content that gets results. The book covers all things writing, from grammar and organizing ideas to creating a compelling brand story.
From the author “That means you’ve got to choose words well, and write with economy and the style and honest empathy for your customers. And it means you put a new value on an often-overlooked skill in content marketing: How to write, and how to tell a true story really, really well. That’s true whether you’re writing a listicle or the words on a Slideshare deck or the words you’re reading right here, right now. And so being able to communicate well in writing isn’t just nice; it’s necessity. And it’s also the oft-overlooked cornerstone of nearly all our content marketing.”
This book has dozens of useful insights for how to produce really good writing content. Highly recommended for all the marketers who write or edit content. Read more on Ann Handley’s site.
3. Content Inc: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses
By Joe Pulizzi, 2014
4.8 rating on Amazon
#18,096 on Amazon
Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute walks readers through his process of creating great content. He believes that when brands take the time to find an audience, and develop products that address their hard-hitting problems, the company will have an easier time finding success. He calls upon examples and case studies, including ones from his own quickly-growing Content Marketing Institute.
Simply put, it’s about developing valuable content, building an audience around that content, and then creating a product for that audience. The book is about how to create a business based on content or what we used to call a magazine and for that it is very useful. Pulizzi discusses the power of content in a world where marketers still hold fast to traditional models that often no longer work. In Content Inc., he breaks down the business-startup process into six steps, making it simple for you to visualize, launch, and monetize your own content business. These steps are:
- The “Sweet Spot”: Identify the intersection of your unique competency and your personal passion
- Content Tilting: Determine how you can “tilt” your sweet spot to find a place where little or no competition exists
- Building the Base: Establish your number-one channel for disseminating content (blog, podcast, YouTube, etc.)
- Harvesting Audience: Use social-media and SEO to convert one-time visitors into long-term subscribers
- Diversification: Grow your business by expanding into multiple delivery channels
- Monetization: Now that your expertise is established, you can begin charging money for your products or services
The book is organized to explore the above points and includes recommendations for content planning and staffing. The book is big on how to build a content business but light on takeaways for using content to market products or services. Read more on the Content Marketing Institute’s site.
4. 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, 2015
4.5 rating on Amazon
#9,430 on Amazon
The rules of digital marketing are constantly changing. Using case studies and real-life examples, David Meerman Scott explores the latest best practices that lead to marketing success. Updated in 2015, Scott’s book also delves into the latest in social media, including Periscope, Meerkat and Snapchat.
Excellent introduction to the role of social media for marketing and PR. First part is an argument why organizations, especially smaller businesses and nonprofits, should emphasize social media and how the efficient use of social media depends on a different way of thinking compared to traditional media. The second part discusses the different tools of social media and how they could be used to support marketing and PR. Defining niche and mission, providing information and targeted content, thinking about virtual audience, and dialog with members and related organizations. He covers the implications for web site content as well.
Scott’s essential message is that you can now bypass the traditional marketing channels and reach out directly to customers, provided you have a worthwhile offering and message. To do this, you must philosophically move from monologue to dialog and from propaganda to participation. These necessary changes in marketing approach are the result of the Internet’s expansion of communication channels from one-to-many . . . to many-to-one . . . to many-to-many . . . to one-to-one. These four communication modalities combined with the ability to bypass land-based distribution channels and transact commerce online represents a sea change in marketing. See more at David Meerman’s site.
This is by far the oldest book on the list and one that has become a classic resource over the last 10 years. Maybe because of this book, good storytelling is more in vogue than ever. From the board room to the chat room, marketers have come to see the value of strong openers and sticky stories to assist the messages getting traction.
When it comes to urban legends or conspiracy theories, it is amazing how quickly ideas can catch on and spread. At the same time, however, there are great ideas that have died a quick death, getting lost in the shuffle until they are forgotten. This book explores what makes some ideas memorable and others short-lived.
Authors Chip and Dan Heath developed a proven approach that transforms how people communicate ideas. Using success stories to show what can be accomplished with sticky messaging, this book beautifully illustrates the power of good communication.
6. The Big Data-Driven Business: How to Use Big Data to Win Customers, Beat Competitors, and Boost Profits
by Russell Glass and Sean Callahan, 2014
4.8 rating on Amazon
#253,137 on Amazon
Big Data is no longer just a buzzword. It has grown to become a critical part of marketing. As the industry continues to mature, there is no question that data will be the cornerstone of future marketing efforts.
Better information allows for better decisions, better targeting, and better reach. Big data has become an indispensable tool for the most effective marketers in the business, and it’s becoming less of a competitive advantage and more like an industry standard. This book is an excellent read for those seeking to understand the evolution of big data, and the bridge between information and customer relationships. It covers it all – from technology to marketing to implementation to measurement and testing – in a way that’s easy to understand.
This set of marketing books will set you up to move your audiences with pre-suasive insights, well-written copy, content to build a business around, modern PR and communication, sticky stories, and the big data to build and track it.
And here’s a bonus read: A New Era of Content, based on industry research by BrightEdge and iProspect, packs a slew of the latest content and online marketing best practices into 20 short pages. Learn how to create content that performs and drives better results online with four proven steps to digital marketing success. Download this Ebook Now