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The 10 Best Marketing Books

Jacob Brain


Recently at a New North event, we gave away a package of what we consider to be the 10 most impactful marketing books. Since there could only be one lucky winner of that raffle, we’ve replicated our little list here, with a synopsis of each book to give you some idea of what you’re missing. Enjoy.

The Business of Expertise by David Baker.

This is an essential book for those who want to think deep about their company or their expertise. I reference this book almost daily and definitely weekly in most conversations I have with clients around positioning. It’s a game-changer in helping businesses to understand their unique data the marketplace. There’s a reason why this is one’s at the top of the list. Buy it.

Ask by Ryan Levesque

This is a great book about conversion optimization and understanding your customer’s true needs. It’s very tactical, very hands-on, and gives you lots of methodology. You’re going to have to bend it to fit your particular context, but for almost any context, the information is invaluable.

Traction by Gino Wickman

This book took our company from 0 to 60 in terms of our operations and our understanding of how to run a scalable business. I consider it the elementary version of something like Rockefeller Habits. If you want to get some traction and need to get your hands around your business as a CEO or owner and just don’t know how to do it (or you’ve never been trained), this is a great intro. In fact, I’d bet that you’d increase your profits probably 10 to 20% just by implementing the ideas in this book. We’ve been a traction firm for about two years, and I can see the impact throughout the business.

Database Marketing by Hughes

This is the thickest book in the list, but it’s for good reason. This is a great essential guide (read: textbook) for how to market to a database. For those customers who are lucky enough to have a customer list in the thousands, thinking strategically about CRM, list management, demographics, and segmentation of your database is going to be critical. I would put this on the desk of any new account exec or any new email marketer you have in your firm as a way to think seriously about growing a database for marketing.

Entreleadership by David Ramsey

As a business classic, it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s fun, entertaining, and insightful, and gives you great thoughts into how to lead, scale, and manage a business, all with a little bit of southern grit. I learned a lot from this one – it’s helpful in cutting through the crud of management fads, and in really getting to scale and grow a business effectively using clear, concise communication and no-nonsense tactics.

How to Advertise by David Ogilvy

A book like this is a bit of a classic; there’s not much to say about it, besides the fact that you should read it almost as a duty to those who have come before you. It’s chalk-full of insights (some of which are a little dated), and it’s a great foundation if you’ve never been in an agency or had to sell creative services. It gives you some great ideas around how to do messaging and pitch actual creative and advertising services. You’ll be thinking about Mad-Men-type scenarios if you read this book. And rightfully so. It’s worth the read.

Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

Why do people make the decisions they do? This book covers a few of the recent decision-making research studies, and applies them to your marketing and sales contexts. From anchoring to tier price models, this is a great book if you are thinking about pricing or positioning your product in the marketplace.

Inbound Marketing by Hlligan & Shah

This is the book that started it all in terms of inbound marketing. We make all team members read this book at New North as a first-week activity. It covers the essentials of the whole inbound methodology, as well as some general marketing insights. It needs to be updated for our current world, but as a on-ramp to digital marketing, it’s a great read.

Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore

If you’ve ever developed a product or piece of software, you’ve heard this term. If you haven’t, you’re likely still on the other side of the chasm. This book discusses the market dynamic of going from niche product to industry standard by “crossing the chasm” of customer acceptance. A great read, and it gives you some fundamental steps to complete the process.

Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Homes

A great jump-starter for doing sales in the real world. Full of real life experience, not pomp and theory, this book will help any sales person develop the sales machine needed using 12 key strategies. Buy it for your sales and marketing team, and discuss the 12 points over lunch to see where you fall on the curve.

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