Peter Drucker once described learning as “a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change.” And as the rules of B2B marketing continue to change and evolve, staying on top and in front of the latest trends, techniques and best practices is absolutely essential for modern marketers.
While blogs, podcasts, video and other online content has taken center stage, good old-fashioned, printed books still remain a great way to get inspiration and stay ahead of the marketing curve. So here’s a list of 15 marketing books that are sure to educate you and inspire your modern B2B marketing.
Scott Brinker is no stranger to the marketing tech community: he’s the editor of chiefmartec.com; he’s the creator of the Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic; he’s the program chair of the MarTech conference; and he’s also the CTO of Ion Interactive. Now add to that list the author of 2016’s Hacking Marketing: Agile Practices to Make Marketing Smarter, Faster, and More Innovative. This fascinating book explores how modern marketing has more in common with software development than it does with classic marketing management. He argues that modern marketing must move faster, adapt more quickly, and manage an increasingly complex set of customer experience touchpoints. The book focuses on the concepts of “Agile” and demonstrates how marketing can leverage the approach of software development to become more effective.
Jay Baers’ NY Times Best Seller and #1 Amazon Best Seller, Youtility, shows readers that they aren’t just competing against similar products in their online communities anymore, but that they are competing against the posts of customers’ friends and family, viral videos and popular memes. In order to be heard above all of the rest, Baers shares groundbreaking information on providing helpfulness to customers in order to remain a relevant part of their online experience.
Find out more: Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype
3. The New Rules of Marketing & PR
This is probably the most practical, inspiring and actionable marketing books I’ve ever read. Written by David Meerman Scott, The New Rules of Marketing & PR has been referred to as a “marketing bible” and “modern day business classic.” First published in 2007 and now in its fifth edition, Scott’s message was incredibly forward thinking and clearly spawned a generation of modern marketers. The book informs you how to use the power of the Internet to get your message across to the right people at the right time.
4. Content Rules
Another one of my all-time favorites, Ann Hadley and C.C. Chapman’s Content Rules, teaches you how to stand out from the crowd in a digital world where everyone has been given a voice. This practical guide to creating engaging web content and building a loyal following can help you craft content that will cultivate fans and encourage them to share with others. Learn how to define your goals, write in a way to powerfully communicate these goals and use social media tools to distribute them as widely as possible.
5. Epic Content Marketing
Today’s buyers will no longer tolerate being interrupted with salesy and mediocre content that’s irrelevant and uninteresting to them. In Epic Content Marketing, Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi explains how to draw prospects and customers in by creating information and content they actually want to engage with. The book takes you step by step through the process of developing stories that inform and entertain and compel customers to act—without actually telling them to.
6. Driving Demand
Today’s B2B marketers (and sales people) have very little control of the buying process. Instead, B2B buyers are in the drivers seat, forcing the need for B2B organization to adapt to the ongoing evolution of buyer behavior. In Driving Demand, Carlos Hidalgo provides a clear roadmap and framework on how B2B organizations can implement change management and transform their marketing and demand generation.
7. Everybody Writes
In today’s content-driven marketing, writing (and the written word) matters more now than every before. In Everybody Writes, top marketing veteran (and author of the aforementionedContent Rules) Ann Handley provides an excellent manual for writing and gives expert guidance and insight into the process and strategy of content creation, production and publishing, with actionable how-to advice designed to get results.
8. Likeable Social Media
In Likeable Social Media, Dave Kerpen teaches that the secret to successful word-of-mouth marketing is to be “likeable.” It’s commonly known that a friend’s recommendation is far more powerful than any advertisement, and Kerpen shows how this can be used to your brand’s advantage on social media. Learn to listen to your customers and prospects and engage with them, and they will spread the word in return.
9. Content Chemistry
In Content Chemistry, Andy Crestodina provides modern marketers with a practical and actionable classroom-like handbook for modern, content-driven marketing. The book explains the social, analytical, and creative aspects of modern marketing that are necessary to succeed on the web and also discusses topics such as search engine optimization, websites, social media, and email marketing.
10. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook
Author and social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk provides readers a blueprint to social media marketing strategies that really work. He shows that while communication is still key, context matters more than ever. It’s not just about developing high-quality content, but developing high-quality content perfectly adapted to specific social media platforms and mobile devices. In other words, content that’s tailor-made for the specific platform it’s being shared on.
11. Get Content, Get Customers
In this modern classic, Joe Pulizzi and strategist Newt Barrett prove that customers want to consume content that they believe is useful rather than loud claims of product superiority. This is another one of the key books that helped start a seismic shift in the marketing community several years ago. In Get Content, Get Customers, you will learn how to develop this type of compelling content and deliver it in a way that doesn’t disrupt customers’ daily lives.
12. The Impact Equation
While anyone can write a blog post, not everyone can get 35,000 likes and 7,500 subscribers. InThe Impact Equation, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith show how to get your message across by connecting with your audience. Learn how to find out what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong to figure out what makes a real impact on your audience.
Lee Odden, a leading authority on content and online marketing, teaches readers how to attract, engage and inspire customers using an “Optimize and Socialize” content marketing strategy.Optimize shows how his practical approach to integrating search and social media optimization with content marketing can boost relevance, visibility and engagement with your audience and his tactics have been proven to increase online performances.
In UnMarketing, Scott Stratten teaches readers how to stop throwing yourself out at everyone and to draw the right customers in by providing new information on how to build relationships with your customers through social media. The days of cold calls are out.
Find out more: UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging
15. Permission Marketing
An oldie, but a goodie! Permission Marketing author, Seth Godin, was called “the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age” by Business Week. His concept of “permission marketing” was the basis for “inbound marketing” and teaches marketers how to shape their message so that customers voluntarily accept it. Godin informs readers how the Internet enables you with the power to reach out only to consumers who have signaled an interest in learning more about your service or product—providing you with an edge over the widely ignored concept of interruption marketing. This tactic allows you to not only build brand awareness, but to create a relationship with potential customers and, most importantly, build trust.