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Leaders are readers.
Top CEOs read a book per week.
A study of 1,200 incredibly successful people showed they had one thing in common: They self-educate by reading.
When asked how he learned to build rockets, Elon Musk said, “I read books.”
Bill Gates says he learns by visiting interesting places, meeting with scientists, and watching lectures online… “But reading is still the main way that i both learn new things and test my understanding.”
You’ve heard the crazy stat about Warren Buffet, too right? The billionaire investor reads 500 pages every day.
Check this out, 42% of college grads will never read a book again after college.
So, you want a competitive advantage?
Buffet recently explained the value of reading this way: “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
World-class leaders read broadly (and often).
Marketers are no different. We’re a breed who lives in a fast-paced, rapidly-evolving, wickedly high-stress world.
If you stop growing (or even slow down) the few who apply their minds to master new skills and assimilate knowledge will outpace you.
It’s just how things work.
Since you’re reading this, I know that isn’t you.
So, if you’re the kinda’ marketer who is:
Then I have two amazing things for you.
First, I have this curated list of the 10 best marketing books for you to read this year.
Second, I’m going to give you a shortcut in the line to your next promotion.
You can grab the first chapter of 10x Marketing Formula: Your Blueprint For Creating ‘Competition-Free Content That Stands Out And Gets Results for free!
Alright, now here’s one of the wickedly cool things about working for CoSchedule, we get a sweet learning allowance every year. Which, in my case, basically means as many books as I can read.
So, to fill my shelves with the best marketing books around, I asked our entire marketing team for their most-impactful reads.
Now, find a highlighter, brew some coffee, and make room in your book budget.
10 Picks from the CoSchedule Team
10 Classic Books Every Marketer Should Read
The Top 10 Marketing Books on Amazon (As Of Winter 2018)
This book is the perfect way to kick off our best marketing books list.
In Youtility, Jay Baer lays the groundwork for success in content marketing. It can be summed up in this powerhouse statement: “What if — faced with more competition than ever before — you stopped trying to be amazing, and just started being useful?”
At CoSchedule, we’ve wholeheartedly embraced Jay’s Youtility framework. It lays out a path to make your marketing inherently useful, rather than inherently self-promotional.
This pick is from Eric Piela, our Head of Brand & Buzz.
“With the glut of content that organizations tend to put out – it’s so easy to fall into hyping your product or service and not focusing on helping your prospective customers. It shifted the way organizations think about content and being useful – I still go back to those philosophies with every piece of content I create.”
In this book, you’ll learn:
You’re probably one of the 37.7 million people who have watched Sinek’s famous TED talk. But Sinek and his golden circle crystallized key principles from a few of the world’s most important leaders in recent memory.
It’s all about working from the inside out: starting with why.
According to Sinek, great leaders inspire people to take action via the same pattern. They all think, act, and communicate in the same way — and it’s exactly opposite of how everyone else does…
…everybody knows what they do.
…some know how they do it.
…few know why they do it.
This pick comes from Kathryn Nyhus, our Head of Product Marketing.
“It fundamentally changed the way I understand human emotion and clarified why people do what they do. It changed the entire way I write copy.”
Kathryn’s biggest takeaways:
Next up on our best marketing books listicle is Kristina Halvorson’s Content Strategy for the Web.
In this book, Kristina shows that the linchpin of an effective website is meaningful content. But creating and delivering said content can feel like a black box if you’re new (or if things haven’t been going so hot).
Content Strategy for the Web explains how to create and deliver amazing content for just the right people, when and where they need it most.
It also packs the following punches:
This pick comes from Leah DeKrey, our Content Marketing Strategist.
Leah says this book made a huge impression on her from the start:
“I read this book straight out of college – It was my first foray into the world of Content Strategy and its business value. For any business that is struggling to produce great content, consistently, this book is for you.”
In this book you will learn:
Yep, content marketing is all the rage (and has been for a number of years)…
According to Rose and Pulizzi, brands are putting money behind the trend too. In fact, they say the average brand spends over 25% of their total marketing budget on content marketing.
In their opinion, what’s missing from the success equation isn’t first dollars, it’s process.
Managing Content Marketing will teach you to:
This pick comes from Nathan Ellering, our Head of Demand Generation.
“You know you need to create and publish amazing content that attracts an audience. This book lays out foundational strategy to turn ideas into actual process you can execute. It’s the book that gave me the opportunity to break into content marketing.”
In this book, you’ll learn:
UnMarketing makes our best marketing books list because of its emphasis on listening to your audience, engaging them in something meaningful, and then building trust that leads to a purchase.
The book puts it well:
“No one likes cold calls at dinnertime, junk mail overflowing your mailbox, and advertisements that interrupt your favorite shows. If this is ‘marketing,’ then the world would probably prefer whatever is the opposite of that.”
It’s a great primer on permission marketing rather than interruption marketing.
Scott’s advice is to, “Stop marketing. Start UnMarketing.”
This pick comes from Rachel Wiinanen, our Inbound Marketer.
“Scott unapologetically casts aside traditional marketing techniques that are outdated and disconnected from the needs of the customer. It’s full of brutal honesty that slaps some sense into you accompanied with a side of humor… like Sour Patch Kids but in written form.”
In this book, you’ll learn:
This pick is from Ashton Hauff, one of our Graphic Designers — and while it’s not marketing in the traditional sense, it’s packed with value on growing your skillset (and career).
Ashton counts it as essential reading for marketers because the authors push you to become better.
What does this look like? Hustle… Stepping outside of your comfort zone… Bouncing back from failure… Tapping into your true potential… And plenty more.
“The way in which they feature several different authors while having a consistent theme is great. You get different point of views with unique practical tips.”
In this book, you’ll learn:
In content marketing, color is an emotional cue. Great design becomes part of a brand’s voice.
In Draplin Design Co., you get some of that plus a whole lot more! This book is filled with inspiring design work, case studies, inspiration, how-tos, and advice from one of the great designers of our time.
Author Aaron Draplin has worked with brands like Esquire, Ford Motors, Patagonia, Nike… The Obama Administration… And has a wealth of insight (and hilarity) to share.
Marketers and designers alike can learn from the design process that fueled projects like Field Notes.
This pick comes from Danny Kvale, one of our Graphic Designers.
“Author Aaron Draplin (one of the greatest contemporary designers) provides amazing insight for young people on how to pursue a career as a designer in a fantastic storytelling format. His ‘no BS’ tone compels the reader to get out there and start designing, despite hurdles the career has early on.”
In this book, you’ll learn:
As a marketer, the more you grow, the quicker you realize the best marketing books really do span disciplines.
Storytelling is an essential skill today. That’s why this pick is so important!
In Wired for Story, author Lisa Cron takes a deep dive into what keeps an audience “transfixed,” and their brains craving more.
The book is a brilliant how-to on doing what engaging copy must do: “ignite the brain’s hardwired desire to learn what happens next.” With nods to the evolutionary purpose of story to electrify human curiosity, marketers will be equipped to spin yarns that drive traffic, engagement, and brand-audience relationships that drive sales.
This recommendation comes from Emma Tupa, one of our Product Marketing Specialists.
“As a copywriter, my job is write..and do it well – which is infinitely more complex than simply being ‘creative.’ It’s about hooking readers from the very first sentence, and knowing how to use my words to ‘ignite the brain’s hardwired desire to learn what happens next.’ And this book shows you how to do just that! It changed the game for how I think about my copy and its purpose.”
In this book, Emma says you’ll learn:
Essentialism is another one of our best marketing books picks that’s an outside angle for us marketing folks…
…but check out the questions author Greg McKeown asks to any would-be readers:
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like many a marketer I’ve met.
And unless you’re Elon Musk who can outwork a robot 🤖…sustained productivity feels like searching for a unicorn.
This book provides answers and methods collectively termed “the way of the essentialist.” In essence, it’s a systematic discipline for doing the critical “few” and pruning the chaotic “many.”
This pick comes from Ben Sailer, our Blog Manager.
“While Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less isn’t a marketing book in the traditional sense, it does offer a useful method for overcoming common struggles marketers face when it comes to setting priorities and staying focused. I haven’t mastered the philosophy it promotes perfectly, but I have been able to apply its lessons both at work and at home with some level of success, and it’s helped refocus my priorities while cutting stress immensely.”
In this book, Ben says you’ll learn:
Alright, while I wanted everyone else’s top picks for best marketing books to read, I’m not about to miss out on the fun…
My pick is the hot-off-the-press (and critically acclaimed best-seller) 10x Marketing Formula.
This book, by our co-founder and CEO Garrett Moon, is an absolute game changer. And I know it can feel suspect when someone is singing the praises of their own Koolaid, but here’s why this book is so dang good.
It’s the exact formula we used to grow from zero customers, no web traffic, and a non-existent audience to 8,000+ customers, 1.3M+ monthly pageviews, and 250k+ email subscribers in four years.
If content is part of your marketing program whatsoever, this book will put you lightyears ahead.
But… My all-time favorite way to explain the crux of crushing your content marketing with the 10x Marketing Formula is with this lovely recipe for marketing success!
These books are well-loved classics packed full of knowledge any marketer can learn from.
This fundamental book is full of information any beginning marketer should check out. In fact, its possible your first boss may have handed you a copy. Even for those with experience, there’s nothing wrong with brushing up on the basics.
One of the most classic tomes on copywriting ever published. If your job is to write to sell, then you need this book on your shelf.
The CoSchedule crew are big fans of Seth Godin. This book explains the importance of standing out in crowded marketplaces, like a “purple cow” might in a field of, well, ordinary cows.
No individual has had a greater impact on advertising and the art of copywriting than David Ogilvy. Ogilvy on Advertising collects his thoughts on a wide variety of aspects of the industry.
Joe Pulizzi knows his stuff about content marketing. As the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, there are few better authors in the business to learn from.
Getting the public to notice your brand in a cluttered media environment isn’t easy. So, what’s the key to cutting through? Positioning. And this book clearly illusrates exactly how to make sure you don’t get lost in the noise.
David Ogilvy is one of the most influential figures in marketing and advertising history. That much is widely-known, and at this point, doesn’t need to be reiterated. This book was instrumental in cementing his place in history back when it was first published in 1963, and it’s still worth reading today.
If you read just one book about copywriting, you could make a solid case for reading The Copywriter’s Handbook. It’s a classic guide to mastering the craft, and it deserves a place on every wordsmith’s bookshelf.
If anyone should know copywriting inside and out, it’s the folks at Adweek. Joseph Sugarman’s tome on writing marketing copy is another must-read.
The underlying principles that drive creative thought never change. This timeless classic should be required reading for anyone tasked with being an idea person (and on some level, that’s all of us as marketers).
So far, the above recommendations have been based on the CoSchedule team’s own opinions, and what are generally considered industry classics. But, what are the top-selling marketing books on the world’s largest e-retailer for books? Take a look at this list.
This book is a #1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller. An Instant New York Times Bestseller. And is so popular, it cracked the Amazon Marketing Books Top 10 three times (hardcover, kindle AND audiobook). This book covers everything from building trust with your target audience, the art of positioning, why old approaches no longer work, and more. It’s one you’ll want to add to your must-read list.
Marketers know better than anyone – the words you choose to use are powerful. In Exactly What To Say, Phil shares principles and examples to help you win more business, have more influence, and grow your persuasiveness using the magic words for influence and impact.
It comes as little surprise to see Gary Vaynerchuk on this list. To call him immensely influential would be an understatement, and his latest book is a great read whether you’re a long-time fan or have never picked up any of his stuff before.
Josh Kaufman’s The Personal MBA, teaches the essentials of sales, marketing, negotiation, strategy, and much more – without the cost and time investment of an MBA program. It’s reviewed as “a creative, breakthrough approach to business education.” Read this book and learn the principles it takes most people a formal education + years of working experience to master.
Marketers are often told storytelling is key to brand-building. But, when it comes to actually infuse their strategy with a story, things get a bit fuzzy. Donald Miller’s Building a Story Brand removes that shroud of mystery.
In Influence, Robert Cialdini provides an in-depth explanation of the principles of ethical persuasion: reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency. All marketers and sales pros can learn the strategies and techniques – backed by psychology – to convince buyers to convert.
If you’re giving presentations, public speaking, or pitching to clients, Bill McGowan’s book, Pitch Perfect can help you craft the right messages and deliver them with the right language every time. Ever find yourself thinking, “I wish I could have said it this way…” after a meeting – then this book is for you.
Marketing strategy isn’t dead, but 30-page marketing plans most certainly are. In The 1-Page Marketing Plan, Allan Dib explains how to get to the point, without losing strategic substance.
How do certain ideas or products break through and spread across the public consciousness? That’s exactly what Malcolm Gladwell explores in The Tipping Point.
Every marketer should understanding how sales and prospecting leads works. This guide is the perfect place to start.
Alright, now that you’ve done all of this reading about reading… It’s time to go read 🤓
Go load up your Amazon account, learn to develop a daily reading habit while they’re on their way, and then let the pages flutter.
Ready for the best news of the day?!
You don’t have to wait for that lovely box of books to become a better marketer… You can start 10x-ing your results right now by nabbing the first chapter of 10x Marketing Formula on the house.
Now, read it and weep (for your competition, that is).
This post was originally published on April 12, 2018. It was updated and republished on Dec. 13, 2018.
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