It’s safe to say that marketing isn’t the same industry it was even five years ago. If you’re a CMO, you know how crucial it is to stay ahead of industry trends — and how challenging that can be when the industry is constantly evolving.
Although we receive the majority of our news through sound bites and social posts, there’s nothing quite like sitting down with a good book to learn new perspectives on such a dynamic field. To get your reading list started, here are 11 marketing books that I believe every CMO needs to read in order to keep growing:
1. Top of Mind by John Hall Hailed as “an absolute must-read for any professional or company seeking to build influence and lead their industry,” John Hall’s “Top of Mind” sheds light on just that: how you can become top of mind with your audience and lead your industry. In this insightful, personable, and straightforward book, Hall explains how he built both his brand and his business relationships through helpful and engaging content. In the rapidly changing digital landscape that marketers are navigating right now, the need to foster authentic business relationships built on trust is even more important — and Hall’s book gives CMOs the tools to stay top of mind with their networks and their industry.
2. Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer One of Business Magazine’s top three business books of 2016, “Hug Your Haters” is a hilarious and relevant twist on the traditional customer service book. While 80 percent of companies claim they provide superior customer service, only an alarming 8 percent of their customers agree. Jay Baer explains the reality of customer service today: that marketers should spend more time interacting with consumers on social media, not through phone or email. Baer uses research to make a compelling argument for addressing every complaint and handling internet trolls in an age when one-third of customer complaints go unanswered.
3. Outside Insight by Jørn Lyseggen If you’re like me, you may occasionally feel oversaturated by marketing industry news and trends. In this book, Jørn Lyseggen advises professionals to step outside their industry bubble and to look beyond internal data. Using real-life examples from Nike to L’Oréal to Barack Obama, “Outside Insight” is packed with tools to aid forward-thinking industry professionals in making innovative and, most importantly, data-driven decisions.
4. The Content Formula by Michael Brenner and Liz Bedor Content marketing can be a monster of a task for many CEOs. The very idea of consistently churning out engaging and informative posts across the internet is daunting — especially at the frequency that many content consumers have come to expect. Michael Brenner and Liz Bedor simplify the whole process, breaking down the numbers behind content to help keep you from breaking your brain — or the bank — with your content marketing campaigns.
5. They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan After the housing crisis in 2008, Marcus Sheridan’s pool company struggled to bring in customers. Today, it turns down millions of dollars in business each year that it just can’t take on. The secret to Sheridan’s success? Content marketing, pure and simple. In “They Ask You Answer,” he explains how his team expanded the company’s web presence and produced winning content in order to create advocates for the brand. He says that CMOs are likely overspending on television, radio, and print; by dropping the “marketing speak” and simply answering questions, they’ll begin to build trust.
6. Leading Through the Turn by Elise Mitchell We’ve all read the classic leadership book outlining how to set and achieve your goals. Elise Mitchell, the motorcycle-riding business maverick, takes a different approach. Focusing on journeys instead of destinations, Mitchell helps CEOs and marketers alike to build plans centered on enjoying not only the achieving of goals, but the path that gets you there, as well.
7. I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Anybody who believes that humor is a great equalizer, as Ajayi does, is ok in my book. And then some. Her 'manual' debuted at No. 5 on the New York Times best-seller list this past October. The New York Times calls her "The Internet’s newest comic phenom."
Publishers Weekly says the book is "a light, 21st-century discussion of manners and morals, with Ajayi taking people to task for oversharing on social media or for being casually bigoted." And Redbook Magazine calls it “The ultimate handbook on the dos and don’ts of socially navigating the digital era. Brilliantly witty and heartful.” No, this is not a marketing book by any means. But it is a book every CMO, marketer and human being should read for it causes all of us to take that hard look in the mirror at ourselves but does so with a smile on its face. Quite the accomplishment.
8. Chief Marketing Officers at Work by Josh Steimle As data becomes more widely available, industry leaders have begun claiming that marketing and communication are becoming less art, more science. The value of analytics, especially within digital marketing and marketing automation, can’t be overstated. However, in a field dominated by data, some CMOs still stress the importance of not becoming too dependent on data.
Josh Steimle’s “Chief Marketing Officers at Work” examines this balancing act between analytics and intuition from the perspectives of 29 CMOs and C-level executives from GE to Harvard Business School to Spotify. Steimle sheds light on how to work effectively in a culture of ever-increasing collaboration between CMOs and CTOs, as well as CEOs and COOs, and how these powerful executives can learn to thrive amid these industry changes.
9. More Is More by Blake Morgan With more and more (no pun intended) CMOs overseeing the entire customer experience to go along with the million other things they're doing, there is an undeniable need to provide superior customer service. The full title of Blake's book in fact is More Is More: How the Best Companies Go Farther and Work Harder to Create Knock-Your-Socks-Off Customer Experiences.
A mouthful for sure but every word carries the same amount of weight of importance behind it. In his Amazon review of the book, John Venhuizen, President & CEO, Ace Hardware Corp put it best: "Every executive gives lip service to great customer service, some even have sincere intentions; but the troops thin out a bit when it comes down to actually delivering an exceptional customer experience. More Is More, is a much deserved - and very practical anvil to the head for anyone in business who desires to differentiate by truly amazing the customer."
10. Performance Partnerships by Robert Glazer This brand-new book (seriously, it just came out May 2) was a fantastic new addition to my library. In “Performance Partnerships,” Robert Glazer uses his decade of in-depth experience to make a compelling case for affiliate (or “performance”) marketing, a strategy in which marketers only pay for quantifiable outcomes. In addition to examining misconceptions about the tool, Glazer delves into how affiliate marketing evolved, how it impacts the changing digital marketing landscape, and how it can be used to better your business.
11. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley In today’s internet and social media-saturated world, every one of us is marketing ourselves through our words, whether we realize it or not. Instead of fighting this trend, Ann Handley strives for everyone to embrace their inner writer. She uses her knowledge as a marketing veteran to guide readers through the entire process of content creation — from hard and fast grammar rules to nebulous elements of storytelling to the science of publishing. By the end of this book, even the most wordplay-averse among us will be expert content creators.
Although this list only contains eleven good ones, I’m confident it offers enough material to present a variety of perspectives and insights within marketing for you and your team to consider. I truly believe each book contains lessons that you can apply to your day-to-day work and use to continue growing with this industry.
Every single one of these authors knows the same thing you and I do: that the customer experience is the key to success for any brand across any industry.
Much of the customer experience is broken however, because the marketing experience is broken. But it’s not marketing’s fault. With legacy technology, marketers only get a distorted view of the customer because data silos cannot be shared across channels.
Download Customer Experience Simplified to discover how to provide customer experiences that are managed as carefully as the product, the price, and the promotion of the marketing mix.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.
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