We’re all marketers in training. Our marketing acumen is the product of the knowledge we pour into our brain + the practical application of that knowledge. I think the best marketers always have a book their hand, a blog post on their monitor, and a magazine in their throne room. To help you pour some more knowledge into that marketing brain of yours, this is my list of recommended reads for marketers in training. It’s a list of books, blogs and magazines.
First start with my four essential spots of marketing, which I call “The Marketing Circle of Life.” I will frame all my recommendations below around the four essentials spots: Branding, Experience, Conversation, Promotion. Let’s dive in, shall we?
[Disclosure: I have read all the books I recommend. Also, the book links below DO contain affiliate links. You don’t pay any extra for the books, but if you buy, I make a few cents.]
1. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout
The classic book on branding. An excellent starter book on marketing.
2. Microbranding: Build a Powerful Personal Brand by T. Scott Gross
One of the best small business branding books written. Easy to understand and follow.
3. The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design by Marty Neumeier
Goes deeper into branding. Helps you understand the concepts of what makes an exceptional brand.
4. Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd by Youngme Moon
An advanced book on branding concepts and a game changer. One of the best books written on differentiation.
1. The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage by Joe Pine and James Gilmore
The realization that your business is a stage and not a product to be bought.
2. What’s the Secret: To Providing a World-Class Customer Experience By John DiJulius
Guides you through the basics of customer experience design and delivery.
3. Positively Outrageous Service: How to Delight and Astound Your Customers and Win Them for Life Service by T. Scott Gross
How to take your customer service to a new level with great real-life examples.
4. Consumerology: The Market Research Myth, the Truth About Consumers, and the Psychology of Shopping by Philip Graves
Important insights on how customers make decisions. You will adjust your product offering after reading this book
1. Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking by Andy Sernovitz
The basics of word of mouth marketing simply presented.
2. Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force by Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell
Excellent framework for creating brand fans who want to spread your word.
3. The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott
How to spread word-of-mouth conversation online.
4. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath
How to make your word-of-mouth messages memorable and make people want to re-tell them.
1. Madscam: Kick-Ass Advertising Without the Madison Avenue Price Tag by George Parker
Basic book on traditional forms of marketing and advertising.
2. Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads by Luke Sullivan
Focuses on message creation and creating advertising campaigns.
3. The Micro-Script Rules: It’s not what people hear. It’s what they repeat… by Bill Schley
Crosses the chasm between conversation and promotion. Mainly about how to create bite-size messages. Excellent for creating your tagline.
4. Advertising Secrets of the Written Word by Joe Sugarman
From the man who brought you BluBlocker sunglasses, this gold mine of copywriting tips and techniques.
1.The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber
A book every small business owner should read. How to take that “entrepreneurial seizure” and turn it into a sustainable business.
2.The Myth of Excellence: Why Great Companies Never Try to Be the Best at Everything by Fred Crawford and Ryan Matthews
Maybe the most important book a new entrepreneur can read. Dispels the notion that you have to be good at everything. One of my favorite “unknown” books.
3. Growing a Business by Paul Hawken
This gem is more than 20 years old, but Paul Hawken’s advice on growing a business is timeless. I read this book for the first time last year.
Blogs are the most valuable resource for keeping up with current marketing trends and technologies. You’ll notice an absence of social media and digital marketing books in the list above. That’s because it evolves too quickly to put it in book form. I prefer blogs for social media and digital marketing information. Here are my recommended blogs:
1. Brand Autopsy by John Moore – Former Starbucks and Whole Foods marketer John Moore deals concise and introspective branding advice with a dose of word-of-mouth.
2. Brand as Business Bites by Denise Lee Yohn – Denise shares brand advice through excellent brand analysis of popular brands.
3. Branding Strategy Insider by several authors. Deep and thorough branding strategy.
4. The Marketing Spot blog by Jay Ehret (me) – While I write about all four spots, it all starts with your brand and branding receives a lot of my attention.
It’s getting difficult to find good customer experience blogs that are consistently updated. Many of my old favorites have morphed into social media blogs. So please feel free to suggest some to me.
1. Experience Delivers by Adobe. Wide and sweeping coverage of the customer experience, and unfortunately, a bit too infrequent.
2. Customer Experience Matters by Bruce Temkin – Bruce shares customer experience insights with a good dose of research.
1. Social Media Explorer by Jason Falls
A deep dive into social media strategy, tactics and tools
2. Convince and Convert by Jay Baer
Covers a wide range of social media issues for the purpose of converting fans into customers.
3. The Digital Influence Mapping Project by John Bell
Thought-provoking analysis of social media and digital marketing
4. WOM Matters by Keller Fay Group
Online and offline word-of-mouth analysis backed up by research.
1. Post Advertising by Story Worldwide
Advertising blog with a focus on digital marketing, but not exclusively digital.
2. Direct Creative Blog by Dean Rieck
Copywriting and direct-marketing blog with lots of practical tips and how-to’s.
3. Online Marketing Blog by Lee Odden
Thorough analysis of both the strategy and tactics of digital marketing.
4. Screenwerk by Greg Sterling
Online and offline media with lots of stats and current trends.
It’s getting more difficult to get good marketing magazines in this digital age. But a few are still printed and are excellent resources.
1. Scientific American Mind
Not a marketing magazine but definitely a magazine for marketers. Helps you better understand the thinking that goes behind customer decisions.
2. Website Magazine
Practical tips and concepts for online marketing. A great resource.
3. Target Marketing Magazine
Bills itself as a direct marketing magazine but swerves into other areas of marketing.
There’s a lot here. I would start by picking just one book from branding and then proceeding with one book from each of the other categories. Don’t let the list intimidate you. This my list, and of course, it’s incomplete. Please share your recommendations in the comment section below.