Interview after interview with top performers tends to reveal similar daily habits: an early wake time; a regular exercise regimen; and a designated time for reading.
Reading a lot won’t necessarily make you a great leader, but it seems great leaders tend to read a lot with rare exceptions. Great leaders read because it’s the most efficient way to gain the condensed information, guidance, and insights they need to excel at their jobs. Who wants to reinvent the wheel when others have provided the blueprint? This is especially valuable in the marketing world, where the challenges facing chief marketing officers and other marketers are changing daily.
If you’re ready to take your marketing game to the next level, here’s a rundown of 10 of the best new marketing books to dive into this year:
1. “They Ask You Answer” by Marcus Sheridan
Marcus Sheridan is a legend in the digital marketing world after he used content marketing to lift his failing pool company from the brink of bankruptcy to become one of the largest in the country. Sheridan’s strategy is based on two fundamental assumptions: your customers are smart readers who want you to educate them and your best resource for doing so (the internet) is free.
shows you how to become the authority they’re looking for and gain their trust, you need to think hard about who your customers are and what they want. What are they confused about? Afraid of? Longing for? What are their pain points and their dream scenarios?
Answer those questions with your content, and you’ll have a whole new cadre of brand ambassadors to do your advertising for you.
2. “Non-Obvious 2017” by Rohit Bhargava
Georgetown Professor and founder of the Influential Marketing Group, Rohit Bhargava is a self-professed non-obvious trend curator. His series has been tracking trends since 2011 in the areas of culture and consumer behavior, marketing and social media, media and education, technology and design, and economics and entrepreneurship all of which digital marketers should be following.
identifies five brand new trends including fierce femininity, passive loyalty, and moonshot entrepreneurship, and reviews over 60 trends from earlier editions, providing longevity predictions for each. Bhargava also teaches his readers the skills necessary to do what he does cut through the noise and identify the emerging trends and patterns others miss.
If you want your marketing to resonate (and who doesn’t?), this is the book for you.
3. “SEO for Growth” by John Jantsch and Phil Singleton
Since Google is a crucial source of web traffic and lead generation, companies can’t help but question how strong their search engine visibility really is. If you don’t have a handle on the basics by now or haven’t kept up with the many Google algorithm changes affecting your website, it’s time to get caught up.
John Jantsch and Phil Singleton put their years of experience and research to work for you, showing you how to leverage the new rules of search engine optimization to maximize your website’s organic ranking potential.
4. “Hug Your Haters” by Jay Baer
For Jay Baer, a complaining customer is not a company’s problem, its one of their best assets.
Most unsatisfied customers won’t ever tell you where you went wrong, leaving you guessing how to do better. But a complaining customer actually gives you a major opportunity for growth and corrective action. Far too many businesses┬ácare too little about retention, placing much emphasis on outbound marketing and the attraction of new customers, with comparatively little attention paid to the customers they’ve already paid to get, writes Baer.
outlines the two types of haters any business is likely to come across, identifies what they want and tells you how to give it to them. And it’s full of concrete and hilarious case studies so you can see their responses in action.
Follow their lead and you’ll be turning haters into brand advocates before your very eyes.
5. “Pre-Suasion” by Robert Cialdini Ph.D.
To truly persuade someone, according to Robert Cialdini, you need to do more than change their mind; you need to change their state of mind. In , the long-awaited sequel to his New York Times bestseller, “Influence,” Cialdini directs our attention to the time immediately preceding the message, or what he calls the privileged moment for change. It is at this crucial juncture when you can prime your target to be more receptive to your words. Get them in the right mindset, he argues, and they will be much more likely to agree with you. The book outlines tips and technique that you can use in a variety of contexts to convince people of your message, even before you say a word.
6. “Get Scrappy” by Nick Westergaard
Afraid you can’t compete because you’re a mom and pop shop in a big block store environment? Then you’ll take solace from and find a useful roadmap inNick Westergaards . Host of the popular On Brand podcast, Westergaards simple message is exactly what you want to hear: you can punch above your weight. More than just a collection of tips, he provides an entire system for scrappy marketing, starting with the steps you can’t miss, how to do more with less, and concluding with simplifying your methods for the long haul. It’s a practical guide to helping you achieve big results on a small budget.
7. “What Customers Crave” by Nicholas Webb
Nicholas Webb wants you to rethink customer service and your targeting mechanisms. Forget age, geographic location, or race, Webb argues. It’s much more important to know what your customers love and what they hate. What customers truly crave are amazing experiences and you can only give them that if you know their likes and dislikes. For Webb, customer service is not a technical process; it’s a design process, and it demands innovation. He walks you through how to identify different customer types, so you can figure out how to create superior experiences across all of the different customer touch points. will change the way you think about customer service and how to boost those conversion rates.
8. “Invisible Influence” by Jonah Berger
People assume they have much greater control over their decision making than they actually do. But as Wharton School Marketing Professor Jonah Berger demonstrates in , the reality is that we are all subject to the power of social influence. Berger uncovers the forces that subtly shape our behavior and shows how, contrary to common belief, this is often a positive thing. As an example, Berger sites the social facilitation phenomenon, in which doing an activity with someone else (say running) helps us do it better (faster). And for those cases in which social influence is a hindrance to good decision making, such as in the case of group think, Berger provides practical tips for overcoming it. We may all be subject to invisible influences on our behavior, but just knowing what those are can put some of the power back in our hands.
9. “Hacking Marketing” by Scott Brinker
According to Scott Brinker, marketing systems are lagging behind the rapidly changing environment in which they’re operating. He identifies five digital dynamics (speed, adaptability, adjacency, scale, and precision) that have transformed the work of marketing, and proposes a relatively simple way of bringing order to the chaos. As marketing becomes more digital and marketers are increasingly reliant on software to do their jobs, the art of managing marketing increasingly resembles the art of managing software. Therefore, marketing managers should adopt the successful frameworks and processes software managers have already developed. provides a hands-on (and non-technical) guide to creating your own agile marketing processes and serves as a much-needed reminder that when our environment and tools have changed, our work processes should as well.
10. “Digital Sense” by Travis Wright and Chris Snook
Travis Wright and Chris Snook recognize that marketing today is all about customer service. And like Jay Baer, they see it as an age of opportunity. They have devised a whole new marketing system based on two frameworksThe Experience Marketing Framework and the Social Business Strategy Framework to help you understand and surpass customers expectations at every stage of the buyer’s journey and get all of your employees on board. Their learn, plan, do approach allows you to reach customers while also allowing for discovering, design, deploy innovation to improve everyday operations. is full of data, exercises, and specialized knowledge to help you understand their approach and customize it to suit your needs.
These must-reads are fresh takes on our rapidly evolving field, chock full of guiding frameworks, helpful tactics, and actionable tips. It’s a fair amount of homework, but it does promise a major return on the investment.
Josh Steimle is the author of Chief Marketing Officers at Work and the CEO of MWI, a digital marketing agency with offices in the US and Asia, and despite being over 40 can still do a kickflip on a skateboard.