Clients often ask us to weigh in on the best marketing resources to help them get their heads around the ever-changing landscape that is marketing today. Some aspects of marketing have remained unchanged over the years from a fundamental and theoretical perspective, however, in terms of digital marketing strategies, marketing campaigns and execution tactics, much has changed and continues to change.
Our B2B Marketing MUST Read List
Well if you’re looking to gain an understanding of inherent marketing concepts, best practice for strategy execution and search engine optimization (SEO), while learning the art of building a great brand, then you’ll certainly enjoy these outstanding marketing resources/books. They cover everything from marketing fundamentals to marketing strategy and everything in between. I recommend them regularly to clients, as they never fail when it comes to delivering powerful insights that can be readily applied to building strong brands, marketing strategies, brand storytelling, differentiation models and long-term search engine marketing tactics.
1. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Authors: Chip and Dan Heath
Made to Stick examines the ‘stickiness’ concept, taking a look at why some marketing campaigns, ideas and concepts resonate and ‘stick’ (a term popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point – also a favorite and highly recommended read) with the audience more than others. The Heath brothers, who taught at Stanford and Duke University respectively, penned this book to help budding business people to understand what makes an idea stick and to provide the tools to replicate this magic formula for branding success.
Using a variety of case studies and engaging examples, one of which is the infamous ‘kidney heist’ tale, the Heath brothers determine the six traits that make ideas stick in our brains, which you can then apply to your business, brand or idea. A clear message throughout this wise, energetic book is that if you want your idea to stick then it’s imperative to tell a great story, in a way that’s both simple and unexpected. If you take someone by surprise and defy the norm in a simple and straightforward manner, then there’s a much better chance that your idea will stick.
This book captivates the reader’s attention from start to finish with informative principles that can be applied to so many areas of marketing, but especially branding and brand positioning. The ‘stickiness’ principles make absolute sense and can be applied to position a brand, story or idea that is ‘made to stick’.
2. This I Know: Marketing Lessons from Under the Influence
Author: Terry O’Reilly
Terry O’Reilly, the host of the popular radio show Under the Influence, shares his career’s worth of coveted marketing secrets. This page-turner provides the inside scoop on lessons learnt from O’Reilly’s exemplary career in marketing and advertising so that companies of any size, with any budget can benefit.
Big companies spend a fortune on marketing budgets, something most small businesses can’t afford, so how do they compete? O’Reilly dissects this ever-popular conundrum by providing an insightful overview of marketing basics, strategy and the importance of storytelling, rounding off with a list of “This I Know” statements to sum up the knowledge from the previous chapters and exposes O’Reilly’s venerable underlying beliefs.
The history and story of Terry’s career in radio, advertising and copywriting are thoroughly entertaining but also deliver great value in understanding why some brands resonate while others fail. There are countless gems throughout this book that keep you turning page after page. A must-read for small businesses looking to compete with the conglomerates – This I Know.
3. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Author: Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek was catapulted into the limelight in 2009 when his ‘Great Leadership’ Ted Talk, the third most watched Ted Talk of all time, went viral. Sinek’s mission is to help people to do work which inspires them, and in-turn they will go on to inspire others.
Sinek communicates his idea of ‘the golden circle,’ which advocates that if you want to inspire people with an idea then it’s imperative to communicate the ‘why’ first and then follow with the ‘how’ and the ‘what’. This, according to Sinek, is what differentiates great leaders. The idea resonates widely, as it’s remarkably simple and universally applicable to the brilliant leaders of today as well as those of yesteryear.
This is possibly one of the most talked about and recommended business books of the last decade, but not without merit. It helps leaders, founders and marketers get back to the fundamentals of why the company, brand and product exists, peeling back the layers to get to the very clear and all-important raison d’être, the ‘why’.
4. Why Johnny Can’t Brand: Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Big Idea
Author: Bill Schley & Carl Nichols, Jr.
This is the bible of all branding books, where Schley and Nichols share their theory on the ‘Dominant Selling Idea’ (DSI) and how to create a number one brand by satisfying ‘Five Selling Ingredients’. This book takes you on a journey of provocative questions to dissect and articulate what differentiates your product or service and how this information can be used to build your brand.
This book is filled with practical steps to follow so that you can apply the theory to build a great brand. According to Schley and Nichols, in order to create a #1 brand, you must apply and follow 17 rules, which have been crafted by marketers over the past century and trialed and tested by the authors throughout the past 25 years. The hands-on nature of this book makes it incredibly engaging and relevant to all businesses, whether trying to build a brand from scratch or improve an existing brand.
This is by far my favorite branding book that takes you straight to the source, with zero BS. This book represents the dawn of the Dominant Selling Idea and showcases how to put your brand and company into a successful category of just one.
5. The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization
Now on its third edition, this is the most comprehensive Search Engine Optimization (SEO) book out there for effectively planning and executing your SEO strategy. Written by the SEO experts; Enge, Spencer and Stricchiola, delivering industry insights on the inner workings of search engines along with innovative strategies you can use to improve your ranking.
Starting with the basics of Search Engine Optimization, this book adequately explains the theory behind SEO and provides details of the important steps to plan and execute an effective SEO strategy. After the basics are outlined, next is a deeper dive into the intricacies of SEO and what’s required to execute complex SEO projects and the roles to include if you’re looking to build a competent SEO team. Finally, the book examines the future of SEO and the predictions of where this practice is headed.
This book is the ultimate SEO bible from some of the best marketers in the industry today. The answer to every single burning question you have about Search Engine Optimization lies within, and a million answers to questions you hadn’t thought of yet. It also can be used as a great monitor stand should you be overwhelmed by its girth!
Some say we have entered the age of “no physical books” but the Everything Store (a.k.a. Amazon) still seems to be selling these paperweights at breakneck speed. There are a million and ten reasons why you don’t have time to read these books in 2019, but if Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Mark Cuban can find the time, then maybe these enriching books are exactly what you need to kick-off the year by gaining the knowledge you need to make the best decisions for your business.
Let us know if you have any must-read Marketing/Strategy/Branding/Digital Marketing books to add to the list, we’d love to hear your favorites!
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