In my time as a marketer, I’ve jumped into the craze of certain books, read a lot of hype, and literally thrown books in the bin before ever hitting the 2nd chapter. The rare few books out there that have actually impacted me, have been those that that have been the most influential in the career choices, business paths and marketing techniques I’ve developed.
The number of books that have actually been that influential, doesn’t even hit double figures. This list isn’t going to be some insane homework project for an English literature course that is going to take you 5 years to finish reading. The books I love are the books that resonate with me, clear cut, no bullshit.
So, without further ado… Let’s get into my list of the favourite marketing books I have ever had the absolute pleasure to read, and if you happen to be an author stumbling across this random post.. I thank you for your contribution of knowledge to the world, as it made a genuine change in my life and I’m sure it will (or more likely already has) make a change in others as well.
Ryan Holiday is my favourite author of all time. At age 29, he’s been an advisor to some of the most successful authors, film makers and tycoons you can imagine.. He was the head of marketing for American Apperal (600 Million Dollars/Year Revenue) before he hit 25, released a best selling book at 25, has a column in the New York Observer and has more accomplishments to his name than most will ever achieve in a lifetime. All before 30.
His modern experiences (rather than those more dated out there) resonate with me, and will likely resonate with anyone in the online/digital space more than other, more traditional marketing/lifestyle books. His style has an almost informal twist that a lot of marketing books try to hard to achieve, whilst Ryan achieves it perfectly.
Trust Me, I’m Lying is his best work, and possibly one of the best marketing books ever created. The way he shows, and teaches media manipulation in a new, emerging world that allows for it so easily made this book the only one I have EVER read cover to cover, without pausing for even a short break. I was there for a good 5 hours, I would of been a lot quicker.. but I made a shit ton of notes along the way.
Ryan splits this book into 2 books, aka 2 sections.. The first, covering exactly what is wrong with the modern mediaverse, the journalists in it and the new form of yellow journalism that’s become the accepted “get pageviews, ignore everything else” mentality. He explains the multiple examples of how it’s harmed careers and made them. This second section goes into detail (and shows real life examples, with VERY specific detail) of how he’s used this, manipulated it and gained a ridicolous amount of exposure with almost no effort at all. This translates to almost any internet marketer out there, whether you’re an SEO trying to acquire guest posts and features, or you’re a social media manager trying to manipulate some news coverage and gain traction.
Though not all of the techniques he uses are very realistic to an average joe’s strategy (he was mostly doing this for celebrities and multi-billion dollar brands/people) they’re still an insight into a world that will get any marketers brain fizzing with ideas.
In Ryan’s usual style, every chapter (and there’s a LOT of them) starts with a quote. Though the book itself could be quoted a thousand times from what’s inside.
Ryan goes into detail on the modern day education system, and the one that’s infront of your computer screen right now, totally free.. The age of the internet has brought us more information than we could ever handle, and gives us no excuse to be consistently bettering ourselves, even if we don’t spend a dime. The whole education part is just the background of the book though, his main focus is on ego, and it’s downfall when accepted as a lifestyle.
Something I will admit to relating to.. It causes procrastination, bad decision making and has led to the downfall of many a great man, and woman. Ryan showcases tens of examples throughout history, show’s you how to combat it, examples of modern day egoism that a LOT of you will relate to.
This book isn’t just for those who have made it, it’s for everyone that will make it, is trying to make it and truly helps define what you’ll actually want out of life.. Which make be a completely different plan after you read this book.
Ryan’s smallest book, at less than 150 pages and one that took me under an hour to get through.
At the extremely price of under $8, it’s worth picking up if you’re in any form of digital space. He showcases real life examples of a lot of the (mostly digital) marketing strategies he used at American Apperal to grow the revenue of the business, with strategies that can translate to all levels of business. I’ve implemented on this blog’s social/brand marketing time and time again, to great success.
He teaches how the modern day marketer MUST change, and how traditional marketing is slowly being fazed out of big business, and small business to suit. He shows how prior marketing strategies, brands and marketers themselves have fizzled out as new, more powerful marketing has taken place. Mostly because traditional marketing either hasn’t changed, or refuses to.
As I said in the first book I featured in this post, Ryan is one of the modern day marketers that is truly explaining, and to an extent shaping the modern marketing world. If you don’t at the very least overview his work, techniques and strategies, you’ll likely be left in the dust with a lot of others.
Ever heard of 37 Signals? Maybe not, but you definitely will of heard of Bootcamp.. It’s re-branded name.
Jason & David are the founders of this insanely massive business, with one of the quickest growth trajectories and valuations to ever come about in the start-up space.
This book covers exactly how they did it, using massive scale outsourcing and automation to run a business that got to over 1 million customers. With just 23 full-time staff.
Though Rework has seen it’s hayday in the best seller charts, and has was released all the way back in 2010 now.. It’s lessons still translate extremely well to the modern day, and for those SEOs (that make up the majority of the readers of my blog) will be infinitely helpful when you start to outsource/automate your own business. Trust me, that time will come if it already hasn’t when you start needing (not wanting) to scale.
One of the most underrated books of this decade.
Clifford’s professional insight into the social psychology of man and machine is one of the most interesting reads I’ve ever laid my eyes on. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a sucker for psychology, and the impact of differing things on the human psyche/ego.
This book delves into not only Nass’s thoughts on this, but showcases studies to back it all up that will have your skin crawling from the cringe of the thought of your own relationship with your beloved computing companion, or companions.
A recommended read to not only impact your own view of yourself, but look at how the vast majority of people interact with a screen, and what’s on it.
Ann’s interesting and expert insight into how to produce content in a meaningful and resonating manner is why it’s probably an unlikely mention on a reader list of this sort. When looking into what other’s featured in their recommended readings, this was one of the only books that didn’t pop up at all, despite it’s utter brilliance.
Ann is a true copywriting master, and it show’s in the way she words and formats this book, let alone the information you’ll learn from what’s inside. She goes into detail about the modern day marketer (that being pretty much anyone with a website or social media account), the benefits of this new world and then transitions into a literal (it’s in the name, but she means it) guide on exactly how you can resonate with others, create content in a timely fashion and how to go about not only improving your grammar and punctuation.. but most importantly, the true formatting of writing, which is so over looked.
Believe it or not, but I only got a B in English in high school, and my English teacher kicked me out multiple times. It wasn’t until I discovered blogging, and started writing for myself that I truly started to form my own style. My formatting style, and especially since the re-brand, was heavily based on this book.
It’s likely you’ve seen or heard of Gary Vay-Ner-Chuck, aka Gary Vee.. His story is synonyms with modern marketers around the globe, and he’s consistently trending in the top 10’s of the Amazon Best Sellers categories.
Though I’m not the biggest fan of some of his books (they can be repetitive and glorified at points), The Thank You Economy is his best work out of them all. It’s not only what launched his authorship career in the marketing space, but it also launched a new generation of marketing tactics and is what founded most of these social media based support teams you’ll likely be all too familiar with.
Gary explains how he grew his online alcohol store into an authority in the space using Twitter as his breeding ground, followed up with video in the background of his marketing efforts.
I could likely TL;DR this book into: Answer people’s questions (for free) by finding them, and you’ll grow a fan base, which translates into cold hard cash.. but Gary goes WAY beyond just that one sentence, and will teach you the proper mentality, ways of finding the audience (even if the book is 5 years old now, the techniques are still mostly relevant) and the best approach when going about it.
If you’re a social media kinda guy/gal, have f*ck all budget or simply just want to make money online with little investment. This is a book that’ll resonate with you, and give you a basis to start straight away.
Seth’s much earlier & much less experienced/up-to-date version of Gary’s Thank You marketing style.
I had to include this book, as I read it prior to ever getting my hands of Gary’s stuff, just for the shout out to the more original methodology of creating friends (or fans) that turn into a customer base.
Still a recommended read as a precursor to Gary’s book, if you have the time that is.
This is one of the books I picked up in early 2015, and though didn’t correlate much with my life/age group. It’s a fantastical story to read, and shows a lot of life lessons towards lying to yourself about your position and future. Something that genuinely helps when it comes to actually “making it” – Because not only have I spent a TON of money I’ve earned that I probably shouldn’t of spent it on.. but this was the book that actually taught me that. It was one of the only books that can teach you money management in a very unrelated way, but with more severe consequences.
Jim tells his story of going from the standard country club caddy boy to starlet trader and the consequences of losing control, gambling because of ego and lying to the worst person you can ever lie to.. Yourself.
This is one of those books that will resonate with everybody that’s looking to read a story, rather than have a direct impact on your career or life, but still a highly recommended read.
Again, not much of a life/career changer.. but it does give an overly interesting insight into the media/culture world of internet shaming. Probably one of the biggest trends to sweep the internet in modern years.
People have become justice warriors, anonymous faces to spew whatever they want and it’s given people a sense of protection. Not to mention, given otherwise pretty garbage human beings a title of “journalist”, which has ruined the meaning of the word, and distorted it from it’s true purpose and face.
Like everything in this world, money has ripped any soul from the heart of anything that was previously pure, and online journalism is a direct example of that. Journalists are so fixated (to an extent they have to be to survive in this modern world) on pageviews, which is the ultimate resulting factor of most of their paychecks.. That it’s led to them being the force being an online version of mob mentality.
Jon’s coverage of this new phenomena, from his insight into seeing those affected by it, is astounding. Making it likely one of the best (if not the best) book released on media/media culture in 2015.
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