Improve Your Marketing Knowledge With This Reading List
Estimated Read Time: 5 minutes
Intended Audience: B2B Business Owners, Chief Marketing Officers, Business Strategists
Revised June 2023
Our B2B Marketing MUST Read List
1. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
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 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 or brand. 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
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 expose 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
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
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 our 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. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind
Considered as one of the seminal works in the field of marketing, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, offers invaluable insights into the art of positioning and how this concept influences consumers’ perception of a brand. Ries and Trout, two of the world’s foremost marketing strategists, delve into the subject with a wealth of knowledge, making this book a classic in marketing literature.
The core of the book is the notion that the battle for your customers’ minds can be won by creating a unique position in that mind for your product or service. The authors emphasize the importance of being first in the consumer’s mind and being perceived as original in your category.
Through a series of captivating case studies, real-world examples, and thought-provoking concepts, the authors guide the reader in understanding the power of strategic positioning and its application in today’s cluttered marketplace. The concept of positioning, as explained by Ries and Trout, has influenced generations of marketing professionals and will continue to shape marketing strategies for years to come.
This book is a timeless classic, a marketer’s bible that simplifies the complex world of brand positioning into digestible bits. Whether you’re trying to establish a new brand or need to reposition an existing one, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind provides the insights, tools, and strategies to help you win in the marketplace.
In the world of marketing, the dream of every brand is to create something that becomes Contagious. That’s exactly the landscape that Jonah Berger explores in this compelling book. Berger, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School of Business, breaks down the complex world of social dynamics and how they make things popular.
Berger’s Contagious paints a clear portrait of the six fundamental principles that drive things to become contagious, from word-of-mouth to virality. He presents them as a checklist – Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories – an acronym for STEPPS, a framework that any business or individual can apply to increase the visibility of their idea, product or message.
This book brings together groundbreaking insights from academic research with captivating stories of successful viral marketing campaigns. From how a 100-year-old product became popular again overnight to the hidden psychology behind top-charting songs, Berger’s Contagious gives readers a new perspective on how to make their ideas stick.
Whether you’re a marketing executive, an entrepreneur, or simply interested in understanding the mechanics behind why things catch on, Contagious offers a fascinating, fast-paced tour through the secret science of popularity.
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 2023, 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 Digital Marketing books and reach out to the Mavens for any B2B marketing support!