7 New Marketing Books to Read for 2021

December 21, 2020

Book and Hot Drink with Autumn Theme

Author Stewart Stafford has said that "time spent reading a book, even a bad one, is never wasted."

It's a lovely thought, and may hold some truth, but still — who wants to read a bad book? Certainly not marketers with keen eyes for quality content, and little patience for anything less.

Luckily, recent months have brought the publication of numerous worthwhile reads, many with direct applicability to our current business environment. Today we'll highlight seven new works that offer illuminating insight as we look ahead to the marketing landscape of 2021.

Rest assured that your time with any of these books will be well spent.

7 Marketing Books to Add to Your Shelf for 2021

1. The Hidden Psychology of Social Networks: How Brands Create Authentic Engagement by Understanding What Motivates Us, by Joe Federer

The former Head of Brand Strategy at Reddit dives deep into the social media ecosystem to methodically explore what draws users to social networks and why our online personas often differ so greatly from those we express IRL. Federer examines the spectrum of human behavior, drawing upon evolutionary biology, anthropology, neuroanatomy, and psychology — and encourages the reader to apply these findings to revamp and refine a more effective and efficient social marketing strategy. Indeed, the author fascinatingly explains how different mindsets translate into different appeals for social networks: platforms like Reddit to the Sigmund Freud’s unfiltered Id, Facebook and Twitter to the managed Ego, and Instagram to the ideal Superego. Key takeaways include establishing more innovative and thought-provoking solutions, how to balance a multi-channel social plan, the importance of authenticity, generating shareable (and clickable) content, and better use of media buys. 

2. Lemon: How the advertising brain turned sour, by Orlando Wood

In what many have described as a groundbreaking new book, the author (and Chief Innovation Officer of System1 Group) studies a blend of neuroscience, our cultural history, and advertising research … and how these often negatively affect pop culture, business, and marketing strategies. He argues that these combined forces are making advertising ineffective, stripping away creativity and innovation. It’s not that the lemon is a dud; it’s simply sour. 

Critically, the 130-page book also offers smart and incisive advice on how to reverse these unhappy trends.

3. Pandemic, Inc.: 8 Trends Driving Business Growth and Success in the New Economy, by Patrick Schwerdtfeger 

As the Bloomberg TV speaker and business futurist argues, tremendous change can equal tremendous opportunity … that is, if you know how to properly leverage it. In these uncertain times brought about by the COVID-19 fallout, Schwerdtfeger offers his readers a strategic roadmap to successfully navigate these unchartered waters. Entrepreneurs, small business owners, self-employed professionals, and job-seekers can all greatly benefit from this intriguing read. As the author specializes in technology trends (such as artificial intelligence and blockchain), this is a must-read for those in the tech and tech-adjacent industries. Major topics include big data, automation, job displacement, cryptocurrencies, social unrest, new technologies, government social programs, and more.

4. Robots Make Bad Fundraisers: How Nonprofits Can Maintain the Heart in the Digital Age, by Steven Shattuck 

Author Stattuck, Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang (a Donor Management Software CRM), wonders if the nonprofit sector should follow suit with much of the business world and go fully digital. With increasingly powerful technologies now available to even the smallest charities — and theoretically, more ways than ever to capture attention, rally donors and volunteers, generate revenue, and analyze fundraising performance metrics — growth is still stagnating. Shattuck challenges his readers to wonder why, and develop strategies to reverse course. Perhaps traditional methods of philanthropy can re-inspire us to develop and refine the way we build personal connections with supporters, even in modern times.

5. The Results Obsession: ROI-Focused Digital Strategies to Transform Your Marketing, by Karen J Marchetti

With over 30 years of experience in internet marketing and direct marketing planning, testing, and creative expertise for leaders worldwide, Marchetti shares a host of actionable insights and key takeaways, and offers an informative step-by-step roadmap that appeals to marketers at various stages in their careers. She shows how to measure success with the right metrics — such as how to determine which KPIs to focus upon, whether you should narrow your attention to the marketing channels that serve you best (or how to improve the others), and how to analyze results that will drive traffic to generate the best leads for your business. Other impactful strategies that she shares include Google Analytics and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. Additionally, she emphasizes ROI with your website, SEO, email, and other strategies.  

6. The Age of Influence: The Power of Influencers to Elevate Your Brand, by Neal Schaffer

Welcome to the Evolving Age of the Influencer Era. From an internationally recognized social media marketing expert comes a comprehensive book that teaches readers that if today’s brands want to continue to find success, they need to integrate an effective, creative, and sustainable influencer marketing plan. Social media has revolutionized and transformed business models of even a decade ago, democratizing influence and the myriad ways that information is created and consumed. Schaffer explains that Influencer Marketing is about establishing important relationships, turning fans into influencers themselves and leveraging this to enhance a brand’s authenticity and credibility. 

7. Brand Storytelling: Put Customers at the Heart of Your Brand Story, by Miri Rodriguez

At its core, marketing is often a study of storytelling — and which brand can share their story better. Named the “Best Public Relations Book of All Time” by Book Authority and shortlisted for a Stevie Award, NYC Big Book Award, and Porchlight Book Award, Rodriguez’s book is a must-read. The author argues that brands must look beyond standard content strategy to recognize the value of storytelling in creating loyalty among customers. She explores how brands that resonate emotionally with consumers strengthen brand engagement for the long-term, and inspires readers with fascinating case studies and interviews from brands like Expedia, Coca Cola, Adobe, Google, and more. 

Set Yourself Up for Success in 2021!

Read, lead, and succeed. There’s no question that the grand majority of the world’s most successful leaders are avid readers. Information is knowledge and knowledge, of course, is power. 

Set yourself up for new levels of success and achievement in the coming year with these intriguing reads — but don’t stop there! You can find even more marketing books that we highly recommend:

And subscribe to our blog for even more helpful advice to ensure a successful year ahead!

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