20 Books Every Marketer Should Read in 2016

December 21, 2015

Let’s face it: Everyone you know has enough ties, coffee mugs, or assorted knick-knacks to last a lifetime. The older you get, the harder it is to buy gifts that delight the recipient without destroying your budget.

This holiday season, steer clear of the clutter and give the gift that keeps on giving: A marketing book chock-full of great ideas, insightful thoughts, and inspiration. The best marketers are always improving their craft. These books can help them on their journey.

We started with ten great books, then asked the authors to recommend a book that would make a great gift for that special marketer on your shopping list. These books are must-reads for marketers in 2016. Any one of them would make a great gift—but don’t forget to add them to your wish list, too.

1. Joe Pulizzi

Content Inc

Joe's Book: Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses

As the Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe knows how to create an empire around stellar content. His latest book is a blueprint for building a new kind of business. Rather than developing a product, then building an audience for it, it’s about building an audience and then developing a product for them. Content Inc. is a how-to guide with plenty of real-life examples to inspire.


Think Grow Rich

Joe’s Pick: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

“Simply put, a must read for any marketer who wants to succeed in life.”


Content Chemistry

Andy’s Book: Content Chemistry: An Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing

Andy brings his years of experience with Orbit Media Studios to bear in this comprehensive guide for content marketers. It covers the basics of social media, email marketing, even search engine optimization, but Andy doesn’t neglect the creative side of the equation either. The result is a book that doesn’t skimp on practical advice, but is still a light, fun read.



Best Damn Marketing Checklist

Andy’s Pick: The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period! by Stoney deGeyter

“This stocking stuffer is stuffed with practical advice. It’s a series of checklists, so it’s a great reference guide. But the best part is how thorough it is. Web marketing is a game of inches, with hundreds of details. It’s easy to miss something. But Stoney’s book has all-inclusive checklists for everything you can imagine: logos to navigation, home pages to thank you pages. It’s so comprehensive, you’ll be referring back to it long into the New Year.”

Driving Demand

Carlos’ Book: Driving Demand: Transforming B2B Marketing to Meet the Needs of the Modern Buyer

The B2B market has changed dramatically in the past few years, and many organizations are still playing catch-up. Driving Demand is a step-by-step guide to adopting a new, buyer-centric demand generation model. Carlos supplements the practical advice with case studies of businesses that have successfully made the switch.


Content Inc

Carlos’ Pick: Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses by Joe Pulizzi

Carlos shares our enthusiasm for Joe’s new book: “In Content, Inc. Joe brings to light not just why you should build content, but how organizations big and small can produce compelling content to engage their audience and build a following.  So many books tell you the what, but in this book, Joe also tells you the how and following his guide for success will ensure marketers improve the value of their content and drive better audience interactions.”


Data Driven Business

Their Book: The Big Data-Driven Business: How to Use Big Data to Win Customers, Beat Competitors, and Boost Profits

Russell and Sean demystify the complex subject of data-driven marketing in this book, sharing the winning strategies of leaders in the field. It’s a must-read for modern marketers seeking to use technology for more precise targeting, expanded reach, and better business outcomes.



Russell’s Pick: The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christensen

“It’s fascinating to see how change overtakes businesses that (very rationally in the short term) stick with tried-and-true tactics instead of innovating. This book is a wake-up call for any business owner. A lot of what Clayton advises here can be difficult to execute, but the Internet and new innovations have only made these concepts more important to understand."

X: Experience

Brian’s Book: X: The Experience When Business Meets Design

X is that “wow” factor you feel when you have a great experience with a brand. In this book, Brian details how to design those experiences, purposefully and mindfully, to go beyond great customer service or good storytelling all the way into X. The book itself is proof of Brian’s thesis—it’s a beautifully designed experience on its own.


Brian’s Pick: Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing, by Jamie Holmes

The ability to handle ambiguity is a survival skill for every aspect of life, but especially in business. Author Jamie Holmes successfully argues that “in an increasingly complex, unpredictable world, what matters most isn’t IQ, willpower, or confidence in what we know. It’s how we deal with what we don’t understand.”


Linked to Influence

Stephanie’s Book: Linked to Influence: 7 Powerful Rules for Becoming a Top Influencer in Your Market and Attracting Your Ideal Clients on LinkedIn

At LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, using LinkedIn to build influence is a subject close to our hearts. We live and breathe this stuff, so it’s remarkable that Stephanie’s book manages to tell us a few things we didn’t know. Her blueprint for LinkedIn success is the kind of advice that we like to give marketers, wholly in line with our ethos of building trust and influence by providing value.


The Slight Edge

Stephanie’s Pick: The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success by Jeff Olson

“Whenever I try to wiggle out of a challenge, this book just keeps me going...and keeps me honest! It's as easy to say yes as it is to say no. To achieve your goals, you have to say yes to those little things every day that can bring you a step closer to your goals. Small and consistent ‘yes’ actions ultimately lead to personal and professional achievement.”


Bernadette’s Book: Meaningful: The Story of Ideas that Fly

Meaningful upends the normal business process: What if instead of creating something, then telling people why they need it, we have people tell us what they need, then create the product? Or, as Bernadette puts it: “thrive by doing the right thing and by making things customers love, instead of by trying to get customers to love their things.” In addition to the great business advice, this is a heartfelt, emotionally moving book—don’t expect to get past the introduction with dry eyes.

Who do you want your customers to become?

Bernadette’s Pick: Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become? by Michael Schrage

“This is a book that invites us as marketers to think holistically about our customers, and the impact our products and services might make in their lives if we build them right.”

The Content Forumla

Michael’s Book: The Content Formula: Calculate the ROI of Content Marketing & Never Waste Money Again, with Liz Bedor

Measuring the ROI of content marketing is a major concern for marketers, especially when it comes time to ask for more budget or justify what’s already been spent. Michael built his business on content, so he is uniquely qualified to talk about measuring content marketing success in business terms.


Everybody Writes

Michael’s Picks: Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley (plus three bonus books!)

“I've read four books this year that I really think are worth mentioning. First is Ann Handley's Everybody Writes. In this book Ann teaches anyone how to create content that is bigger, braver and bolder so you can stand out in the crowd. In Joe Pulizzi's book Content Inc., he shows us how anyone can create a content-first business by building an audience, and then monetizing it. I also love Andrew Davis' Town Inc., in which he implores small towns to find that one thing they can be known for. It's a book about branding for small town America but can really be applied to anyone, in any business. Finally, I loved Robert Rose and Carla Johnson's Experiences - The 7th Era of Marketing which talks about how we are moving into a customer-centric, content-driven age of relationships built on amazing customer experiences.”


Welcome to the Funnel

Jason’s Book: Welcome to the Funnel: Proven Tactics to Turn Your Social Media and Content Marketing up to 11

In Welcome to the Funnel, Jason lays out a blueprint for success in the digital age. Jason’s attitude and personality perfectly complement the advice he’s gleaned from years of experience with Marketo, Curata, and, of course, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

Before Happiness

Jason’s Pick: Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change by Shawn Achor

Shawn Achor’s book “Before Happiness” will change the way you think about the relationship between happiness and success. Achor, who is the CEO of Good Think, says, “Happiness is the precursor to greater success – success is a result of happiness, not the other way around.” He even has the stats to prove it, because studies show that a positive mindset results in 23 percent greater energy and 31 percent higher productivity in times of stress. The bottom line? As Achor puts it, “The greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy is a positive and engaged brain.”


Bryan’s Book: Shareology: How Sharing Is Powering the Human Economy

As modern marketing becomes increasingly technology-based, it’s important to remember that the tech is a means to an end: sharing stories, information, and emotion to make a human connection. Shareology explores the history of sharing and how it will continue to drive value in the future.

Stand Out

Bryan’s Pick: Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It by Dorie Clark

“Too many people believe that if they keep their heads down and work hard, they’ll be lauded as experts on the merits of their work. But that’s simply not true anymore. To make a name for yourself, you have to capitalize on your unique perspective and knowledge and inspire others to listen and take action. But becoming a recognized expert is a mysterious and opaque process. Where do the ideas come from, and how do they get noticed?

Featuring vivid examples and drawing on interviews with Seth Godin, Robert Cialdini, Daniel Pink, David Allen, and other thought leaders, Dorie Clark explains how to identify the ideas that set you apart, promote them successfully, and build a community of followers. It’s not about self-promotion. It’s about changing the world for the better while giving you the ultimate career insurance.”


These books are sure to warm the heart of any marketer on your gift list. And in this case, it might not be better to give than to receive. Pick up a few for yourself, and settle in for hot-cocoa-and-blanket season with a full reading list. Spend your holiday season and beyond with these books, and you will be in great shape in 2016.

For more holiday marketing inspiration, advice, and strategy from industry leaders, download LinkedIn's A Marketing Carol.