Great Additions to Your Summer Reading List: 25 Marketing Books to Educate & Inspire

July 26, 2016

Summer Reading

I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But someone has to say it: We’re officially in late summer now. June is a distant memory. We’re burning through July at an astonishing rate. The lawn chairs and sprinklers are going on clearance to make way for back-to-school displays.

But don’t dismay! There’s still time to take advantage of your vacation or weekend leisure time. There’s still time to kick back in your hammock, relax on the grass, or curl up in air-conditioned comfort to read a good book.

And when it comes to marketing books, there’s an embarrassment of riches out there. So to help you fill out your late-summer reading list, we picked 12 of our current favorites. Then we asked each author to recommend one of their favorites, for a grand total of 25 books. Some are tactical guides for marketers; some take a broader look at the world, but are especially relevant to our profession.

This list will keep your marketing education going through the end of summer, into fall, and all the way to the New Year. Here’s your summer reading list, alphabetized by author.

Your Late-Summer Reading List: 25 Must-Read Books

1. Jay Baer

Jay’s Book: Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers

Why should you be grateful when people complain about your business? Because they’re giving you an opportunity to deliver better customer service. That’s Jay’s powerful premise for this book. He starts with the sobering statistic that 80% of companies think they deliver great customer service, while only 8% of customers say they have received it. From there, he breaks down the types of haters, their motivations, and the best strategies for dealing with them in a positive way.

Jay Recommends: Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time, by Rory Vaden

“Marketers should read Procrastinate on Purpose, by Rory Vaden. It’s not a marketing book, but rather a book that helps you multiply your time and improve your life. Every successful marketer is BUSY, and this book will change the way you look at your to-do list, make you way more efficient, and boost your happiness along the way.”

2. Mel Carson

Mel’s Book: Introduction to Personal Branding: 10 Steps toward a New Professional You

If you want to brush up your personal brand with a quickness, this slim eBook is a great place to start. Mel keeps it lean and tactical, covering the basic hows (and more importantly, whys) of personal branding in under 40 pages. It’s inspiring, it’s actionable, and it’s efficient.

Mel Recommends: Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, by Brian Tracy

If your procrastination is less than purposeful, this book can help. Mel says, “Eat That Frog is my go-to book for productivity in marketing. I read it at least once a year to remind me that, while our industry moves very quickly and there’s always a lot to learn, focusing on the big rocks in my company and client’s plans is of huge importance to my bottom line. I tend to leave research into new tools, tactics, and all round quiet thinking until after I’ve broken the back of bigger projects in any given day. Otherwise, I’ll end up down a rabbit warren of insight and intrigue from which it will be difficult to recover.”

3. Dorie Clark

Dorie’s Book: Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It

Many marketers aspire to become a thought leader, but it’s not exactly a position you can apply and interview for. In Stand Out, Dorie sheds light on the process of differentiating from the crowd and being recognized for your expertise. Along the way, she shares advice from others who have built their own following, including Seth Godin and Daniel Pink. The best part? It’s not a book about hollow self-promotion; it’s about enhancing your ability to make a positive change in the world.

Dorie Recommends: Surge: Time the Marketplace, Ride the Wave of Consumer Demand, and Become Your Industry’s Big Kahuna, by Mike Michalowicz

There's a reason why Facebook is now worth $245 billion and Friendster is out of business: timing. Surge helps entrepreneurs and marketers learn how to get ahead of trends and understand the right moment to make their move.”

4. Sally Hogshead

Sally’s Book: Fascinate, Revised and Updated: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist

Like some people, some brands have an elusive je ne sais quoi that draws people to them. Call it allure, call it mystique, call it brand cache—whatever you call it, it means the brand knows how to fascinate their customers. But it turns out, the ability to fascinate isn’t an innate quality of a brand or product. Fascination can be strategically developed, and Fascinate explains how. It’s a riveting read for anyone looking to fascinate on a personal or brand level. To get started, you can take Sally’s Fascination Advantage test for free, using this special code: LinkedIn.

Sally’s Recommendation: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

“Every day, without realizing it, you experience daily victories and choices and mistakes. Why? This book illuminates the astonishing and unforgettable answers.”

5. David Nihill


David’s Book: Do You Talk Funny? 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker

To overcome his fear of public speaking, David concocted his own version of immersion therapy: He became a stand-up comic, with no experience, and began performing at clubs. His insights from the comedy world apply equally to aspiring keynote speakers and marketers looking to add humor and personality to their brands.

David Recommends: The Man Who Tried to Save the World: The Dangerous Life and Mysterious Disappearance of an American Hero, by Scott Anderson

 “This book is far from a marketing book, but it taught me everything I needed to know about positioning and selling something you believe in, and just how far you can get.”

6. Jeff Rohrs


Jeff’s Book: Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers

In the digital world, campaign-based marketing can only take you so far. There’s more power in strategically building audiences over time, creating sustained interest in the brand. In Audience, Jeff shows how to use paid, owned, and earned media to build a loyal audience and a sustainable, profitable new business model.

Jeff’s Recommendation: Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers

“The classic that launched Seth's career as a marketing guru, it still holds up today. The proliferation of channels and devices means that consumers control the on/off switch to your messaging like never before. And while Seth spoke of permission mainly in the context of email marketing, we can now unlike, unfollow, unsubscribe, and delete any digital channels we don't find relevant or useful. Heck, in Facebook and Twitter, it's so granular that I can hide individual, sponsored messages. Permission Marketing is the book that saw this all coming and can still help today's marketers align themselves better with consumers' needs and interests.”

7. Robert Rose & Carla Johnson

Robert & Carla’s Book: Experiences: the 7th Era of Marketing

If you are tasked with creating meaningful content at scale (in other words, if you’re a modern marketer), this book is an indispensable part of your toolkit. Robert and Carla have created a roadmap to help marketing become more like media companies, delivering value to potential customers and building a following.

Robert Recommends: The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business, by Rita Gunther McGrath

“This is a must-read for those looking to rebuild their marketing operation into an agile, flexible and adaptable team. It talks through how ALL competitive advantage is now transient, and recommends a playbook for how to build into an organization that moves as fast as the competition does.”

Carla Recommends: Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

“This book is great for showing marketers how they can go from coming up with a big idea to having something workable in a very short amount of time - 5 days to be exact. It shows how to streamline teams, ideas and actions so that marketers focus on the right things to move ideas forward faster and with consensus.”

8. Stephanie Sammons

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

To get ahead on LinkedIn—as in life—you need to build trust and influence with others by being valuable to them. Stephanie’s book explains how to build lasting, mutually beneficial relationships on LinkedIn—and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Stephanie Recommends: Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior, by Jonah Berger

“This book is a must read for anyone who is interested in understanding how our behavior is influenced by others. It will also give you new ideas and insights into growing your own influence!”

9. Tim Sanders

Tim’s Book: Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends

There are plenty of books full of cutting-edge marketing tactics out there, and that’s great. Love Is the Killer App takes a more timeless approach, though. Tim proposes the one enduring strategy for business success is to be a likeable, generous, compassionate human being. His book is all about how these qualities can be expressed in a business environment to make friends, build relationships, and ultimately improve your life and the lives of those around you.

Tim’s Recommendation: A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, by Brian Grazer & Charles Fishman

“Too often, marketing focuses on what we say or statistical research we conduct. According to legendary movie and TV producer Brian Grazer, the secret to breaking through to others lies in asking questions. Curiosity is the spark that leads to creativity.  His key advice is to embark on curiosity conversations with interesting people in order to understand how they think and what drives them.”

10. David Meerman Scott

David’s Book: The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly

The New Rules of Marketing & PR was one of the most comprehensive guides to digital marketing when it came out in 2007. Since then, David has released four new editions of the book to keep up with the rapidly-changing landscape. The latest edition, published in October of last year, continues to be fresh and relevant required reading for savvy digital marketers.

David Recommends: Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, by Ann Handley

“With wisdom and an infective wittiness, Ann shows you how to take your writing from awkward or awful to electric or elegant. She’s your favorite teacher, cracking you up while her tough love gets you to do the work to improve.”

11. David Spark

David’s Book: Three Feet from Seven Figures: One-on-One Engagement Techniques to Qualify More Leads at Trade Shows

Companies invest thousands of dollars to attend a trade show. The attendees are pre-qualified to at least have some interest in their offering. But success hinges on the behavior of the people running your booth. David’s book teaches marketers how to “perform” at a trade show—how to close the final three feet from the main thoroughfare to their booth.

David Recommends: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

“This book is for everyone obsessing over "how" to tell their story so people care, remember, and want to tell others. That's pretty much what every marketer should be doing, but isn't. Instead, they think about what they should do, or adhere to their corporate messaging, and nobody cares. Stop making that same mistake over and over again and read this expertly researched book with tons of fantastic examples of ideas that stuck.”

12. Nick Westergaard

Nick’s Book: Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small

Every marketer could stand to do more with less, regardless of how big your budget might be. Nick’s plan transforms old-school marketing processes to get the same (or better) results with less effort and fewer resources. He proves you don’t have to be a big brand to succeed in digital marketing; you just have to maximize what you have to work with.

Nick Recommends: Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers, by Jay Baer

“Hug Your Haters is the best customer service book of the digital age. Beyond tired customer service axioms and tropes, Baer reminds us why a focus on customer service is some of the best marketing you can do. And Jay doesn’t just wax philosophically on his own opinions — he actually commissioned research for the book on the latest customer service trends.”

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