To be a good marketer, one needs to always be learning, it’s essential to keep yourself updated with the latest industry reports, trends and insights.
Here are 14 essential books for the savvy marketer
1. The Whole Marketer: How to become a successful and fulfilled marketer by Abigail Dixon (2021)
As marketing roles continue to evolve, expand and embrace the complexities of the modern world of business, marketers are under increasing pressure to perform as individuals and teams.
The Whole Marketer argues that now is the time to take stock of technical skills required, examine the latest thinking, identify capability gaps and discover how to be fulfilled in a professional context and as a human.
Abigail Dixon looks at the functions of a marketing team through the lens of personal development. Her rich experience comes from leading marketing teams, and training hundreds of marketers at varying stages of their careers to achieve formal qualifications. She is passionate to help marketers to be a better version of themselves tomorrow.
2. Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life by Rory Sutherland (2021)
“Sutherland, the legendary Vice Chairman of Ogilvy, uses his decades of experience to dissect human spending behaviour in an insanely entertaining way. Alchemy combines scientific research with hilarious stories and case studies of campaigns for AmEx, Microsoft and the like. This is a must-read.” —Entrepreneur (“Best Books of the Year”)
Alchemy is the revolutionary book by Ogilvy advertising legend Rory Sutherland, whose TED talks have been viewed nearly seven million times.
Based on thirty years of fieldwork, Alchemy decodes human behaviour, blending leading-edge scientific research, absurdly entertaining storytelling, deep psychological insight, and practical case studies from Sutherland’s extensive career working on campaigns for AmEx, Microsoft, and others.
His unconventional and relentlessly curious approach has led him to discover that the most compelling secrets to human decision-making can be found in surprising places:
- What can honey bees teach us about creating a sustainable business?
- How could budget airlines show us how to market a healthcare system?
- Why is it better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong?
- What might soccer penalty kicks teach us about the dangers of risk-aversion?
Better “branding,” Sutherland reveals, can also be employed not just to sell products, but to promote a variety of social aims, like getting people to pay taxes, improving public health outcomes, or encouraging more women to pursue careers in tech.
Equally startling and profound, Sutherland’s journey through the strange world of decision making is filled with astonishing lessons for all aspects of life and business.
3. The new marketing playbook: The latest tools and techniques to grow your business by Ritchie Mehta (2021)
The New Marketing Playbook is a dynamic set of action-oriented marketing tools, techniques and principles to keep you at the top of your marketing game, in a period of hyper-change.
With its easy to understand and actionable marketing framework, your organisation will be able to navigate a dynamic and changing environment in order to grow and thrive.
It’s a ‘must have’ playbook you can keep coming back to that combines theory, practise, insights, and case studies.
You will learn to:
- Transform your marketing activities to unearth undiscovered insights about your customers.
- Develop new propositions and customer experiences to meet their needs,
- Create compelling communication and engagement strategies,
- Measure and improve your marketing with a roadmap of strategies your organisation should take.
Just remember the old adage splendidly fitting our times: what got us here, won’t take us there.
4. Watertight Marketing: The proven process for seriously scalable sales by Bryony Thomas (2020)
Are you wasting time on marketing?
The sad truth is that most businesses are. But there is an answer, and it’s in this book!
Even the smartest businesses can find themselves exhausted by yo-yo marketing and paralysed by the overwhelm of big ideas, big promises and the next big thing. Money and energy are wasted on running the marketing taps, whilst potential revenue pours from a very leaky bucket.
You will learn to:
- Use the tested and trusted Watertight Marketing methodology
- Discover how to put it into action to cut through the hype
- Make a clear plan and take control of your marketing
- Create consistent routes to customers you’ll love,
- Successfully scale your sales results
- Significantly and sustainably increase your profits.
5. Brand Bewitchery: How to Wield the Story Cycle System to Craft Spellbinding Stories for Your Brand by Park Louis Howell (2020)
Brand Bewitchery is for leaders of purpose-driven brands who seek a proven system to clarify their brand story, amplify their impact and simplify their life.
You will learn to:
- Craft your overarching brand narrative with the Story Cycle System, a process that has grown business by as much as 600%;
- Focus all your messaging for more compelling communications with the And, But & Therefore foundational narrative framework;
- Apply the Five Primal Elements of a short story to create a big impact.
Brand Bewitchery features 12 precise story quests: individual and team-building exercises that help the brand creator find, craft and tell true stories that sell. These real-life stories not only support their new brand narrative crafted within these pages but ensure their content hacks through the noise to hook the hearts of their customers.
The storytelling structures in Brand Bewitchery, tested over more than a decade through hundreds of businesses and thousands of people, simply help leaders excel through the stories they tell.
6. Stories That Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business by Kindra Hall (2019)
In Stories That Stick, Kindra Hall, professional storyteller and nationally-known speaker, reveals the four unique stories you can use to differentiate, captivate, and elevate:
- the Value Story, to convince customers they need what you provide;
- the Founder Story, to persuade investors and customers your organization is worth the investment;
- the Purpose Story, to align and inspire your employees and internal customers; and
- the Customer Story, to allow those who use your product or service to share their authentic experiences with others.
Telling these stories well is a simple, accessible skill anyone can develop. With case studies, company profiles, and anecdotes backed with original research, Hall presents storytelling as the underutilized talent that separates the good from the best in business.
She offers specific, actionable steps you can take to find, craft, and leverage the stories you already have and simply aren’t telling.
7. How not to plan: 66 ways to screw it up by Les Binet & Sarah Carter (2018)
The original inspiration for the book was a set of articles that authors Les Binet and Sarah Carter at Adam&eveDDB wrote for Admap over 6 years.
In these, they set out to bust a lot of myths and nonsense that swirl around marketing and communications by using evidence-based approaches and interesting examples to make their points.
How not to plan turned this treasure chest of wisdom into a practical guide. It is a handbook that leaves room for your scribbles and notes and can be read as a guide or used as a constant helpful reference point.
The book is loosely based on the Planning Cycle and is grouped into themes that are important at different stages in the process, covering everything from how to set objectives, the 4 Ps, research and analysis, to briefing, creative work and media and effectiveness.
At the end of each chapter, you’ll find a simple 2-minute checklist for how to do it better, a short case study showing how it’s done brilliantly, a space for your notes and further reading for the intellectually gifted.
8. Pixar Storytelling: Rules for Effective Storytelling Based on Pixar’s Greatest Films by Dean Movshovitz (2018)
Pixar Storytelling is about effective storytelling rules based on Pixar’s greatest films.
The book consists of ten chapters, each of which explores an aspect of storytelling that Pixar excels at.
You will learn to:
- Discover what Pixar’s core story ideas all have in common,
- How the animation studio creates compelling, moving conflict
- What makes their films’ resolutions so emotionally satisfying.
- Study Pixar’s character development, unique, intricate story structure and use of theme, all of which are key to the studio’s storytelling achievements.
This book is great for writers interested in writing for animation or mainstream feature films, animators or aspiring directors who want to know how some of the best-animated films work, and even Pixar fans or film buffs who are interested in learning more about the awesome world of storytelling.
9. Marketing in the boardroom: Winning the Hearts and Minds of the Board by Ruth Saunders (2017)
It’s no secret: marketing punches below its weight in the boardroom. CEOs and other board members perceive that marketers lack commercial credibility when compared to their peers.
Marketing in the Boardroom helps marketers to be more commercially credible and thereby more successful in the boardroom. The author offers a mix of practical solutions and varied case studies drawn from her years of industry experience.
You will learn:
- The importance of marketing in the boardroom
- Why marketers often struggle to engage the board
- How to develop compelling marketing strategies that the Board will buy into,
- To better understand the Board mindset and language
- How to win over the board members’ hearts, minds and confidence.
Marketing in the Boardroom is an important book for any aspiring marketers who are moving up the career ladder, particularly those who are writing or giving presentations to the Board.
It is also an important book for their organizations, particularly those that struggle to give marketing the support it needs to create customer-led strategies that will drive business growth.
10. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger (2016)
Contagious: Why Things Catch On reveals the secret science behind why products, services, and ideas become popular.
Discover how six basic principles drive all sorts of things to catch on. If you’ve ever wondered why certain stories get shared, brands get more word of mouth, or videos go viral, this book will explain why, and show you how to leverage these ideas to craft contagious content.
Contagious is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestseller and has been translated into over 35 languages. Amazon named it one of the best books of the year and it received the Berry Book Prize from the American Marketing Association as the year’s best marketing book.
Contagious provides specific, actionable techniques for helping information spread—for designing messages, advertisements, and content that people will share.
Whether you’re a manager at a big company, a small business owner trying to boost awareness, a politician running for office, or a health official trying to get the word out, Contagious will show you how to make your product or idea catch on.
Looking to get your content viral? Meet Jonah Berger at BRAND MINDS 2022!
11. The 12 powers of a marketing leader: How to Succeed by Building Customer and Company Value by Thomas Barta & Patrick Barwise (2016)
The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader, by former McKinsey partner Thomas Barta and senior London Business School professor Patrick Barwise, is the first research-based leadership book for marketers in the 21st century.
Based on the largest ever research study of its kind, with detailed data on over 8,600 leaders in more than 170 countries, this game-changing book identifies 12 specific behaviours – or Powers – that drive marketers’ business impact and career success.
You will learn how to:
- Mobilize your boss: Make an impact at the highest level and align marketing with the company’s priorities.
- Mobilize your colleagues: Inspire and motivate your nonmarketing colleagues to deliver a great customer experience.
- Mobilize your team: Build and align a winning marketing team.
- Mobilize yourself: Focus on goals that will benefit your customers, your company, and yourself by meeting your own needs and ambitions.
By zeroing in on the value creation zone (V-Zone) – the all-important overlap between your company’s and customers’ needs – you’ll be able to help the business win in the market – and achieve your career goals.
12. How Brands Grow: Part 2: Emerging Markets, Services, Durables, New and Luxury Brands by Byron Sharp and Jenni Romaniuk (2015)
Following the success of international bestseller How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know comes a new book that takes readers further on a journey to smarter, evidence-based marketing.
How Brands Grow Part 2, by Jenni Romaniuk and Byron Sharp, is about fundamentals of buying behaviour and brand performance – fundamentals that provide a consistent roadmap for brand growth, and improved marketing productivity.
You will learn how to:
- Ride the next wave of marketing knowledge with insights such as how to build Mental Availability,
- Build metrics to assess the strength of your brand’s Distinctive Assets
- Underpin your brand’s Physical Availability strategy.
- Find smart ways to look at word-of-mouth and the sort of advertising needed to attract new brand buyers.
This book is also a must-read for marketers working in emerging markets, services, durables and luxury categories, with evidence that will challenge conventional wisdom about growing brands in these markets.
If you’ve ever wondered if word-of-mouth has more impact in China, if luxury brands break all the rules of marketing or if online shoppers are more loyal to brands or retailers, this book is for you.
13. The long and the short of it: Balancing Short and Long-Term Marketing Strategies by Les Binet & Peter Field (2013)
This book is the eagerly anticipated update of Marketing in the Era of Accountability. Les Binet and Peter Field return to explore a vital new area: how campaign results develop over time.
The long and the short of it is a report focusing on a growing tension that exists between short-term response activity and long-term brand-building.
Increasingly, there is a tendency to use very short-term online metrics as primary performance measures and this has dangerous implications for long-term success.
Anyone involved in the complex world of multi-channel campaign development and evaluation needs to have a clear understanding of how short-term and long-term effects are different.
You will learn to:
- Examine the impact of timescales of effect,
- Explore the tension between long and short-term strategies for brands and businesses
- Approach investment in advertising the right way.
14. Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy by Phil P. Barden (2013)
In this groundbreaking book, Phil Barden reveals what decision science explains about people’s purchase behaviour, and specifically demonstrates its value to marketing.
Decoded is the first book to apply Daniel Kahneman’s Nobel Prize-winning work to marketing and advertising.
The author shares the latest research on the motivations behind consumers’ choices and what happens in the human brain as buyers make their decisions. He deciphers the ‘secret codes’ of products, services and brands to explain why people buy them.
And finally, he shows how to apply this knowledge in day to day marketing to great effect by dramatically improving key factors such as relevance, differentiation and credibility.
You will learn:
- How the latest insights from the fields of Behavioural Economics, psychology and neuro-economics explain why we buy what we buy;
- How to use a pragmatic framework and guidelines for day-to-day marketing practice on how to employ this knowledge for more effective brand management – from strategy to implementation and NPD.
Packed with case studies, this is a must-read for marketers, advertising professionals, web designers, R&D managers, industrial designers, graphic designers in fact anyone whose role or interest focuses on the ‘why’ behind consumer behaviour.
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