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Top 15 Marketing Books of 2016

What a year it’s been!

So what about marketing? Well, the world of marketing continues to evolve and change at breakneck speed, leaving marketers racing to keep up with what’s new and what’s actually working and what’s becoming less effective.

Enter marketing books. This year has yielded a bumper crop of great books that are helping marketers masterfully navigate what must seem like uncharted waters.

As the host of The Marketing Book Podcast, each week I publish an interview with the author of a bestselling marketing or sales book. And yes, I read every book featured on the podcast (which, sadly, has caused my Scotch drinking to plummet).

This month the podcast celebrated its 100th episode in grand fashion with Dr. Philip Kotler, “The Father of Modern Marketing” talking about his new book "Marketing 4.0: From Traditional to Digital."

So I offer this list of the top 15 marketing books of 2016. This list includes books that were published in 2016 and which were featured on The Marketing Book Podcast.

Were there other great marketing books? Undoubtedly so, but these books I’ve read and recommend. Please share your book recommendations in the comments section below.

1. Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital by Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya, and Iwan Setiawan

Philip Kotler is the author of over 55 marketing books and is widely regarded as the Father of Modern Marketing. He has been on the faculty of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management since 1962.

“Marketing 4.0” book does a masterful job at explaining the tectonic shifts that have occurred in the marketing world which are largely a result of technology and connectivity. If you want to better understand the new rules of how to market and grow your business in today’s era of the empowered and connected customer, “Marketing 4.0” will explain it for you like no other book. (Marketing Book Podcast episode)

2. Malcolm McDonald on Marketing Planning: Understanding Marketing Plans and Strategy (2nd Edition)

Malcolm McDonald, the author of 46 books, enjoys a global reputation as a leading authority on marketing, particularly marketing planning.

In this updated second edition of his bestseller he states: “This book is, quite simply, about how to develop a strategy for making lots of money.” In the book, he explains that most companies cannot answer the two simple questions that are required for a successful marketing plan. The book walks you through exactly how to go about getting (or developing) answers to those two questions. And don’t be surprised when you find that the answers to those questions are found not in promotional activities, but in business strategy. (Marketing Book Podcast episode)

3. Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers by Jay Baer

Jay Baer is the New York Times bestselling author of five books and is the most retweeted person in the world among digital marketers

In “Hug Your Haters” Jay explains that “haters are the canary in the coal mine.” 95% of unhappy customers will not complain. They will just go away. But that five percent of your unhappy customers who do care enough to complain give you a roadmap for how to fix whatever ails your business and increase your customer retention. And a five percent increase in customer retention boosts profits by 25 to 85 percent. (Marketing Book Podcast episode)

4. Hacking Marketing: Agile Practices to Make Marketing Smarter, Faster, and More Innovative by Scott Brinker

Scott Brinker is the editor of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, and may be best known for his marketing technology landscape supergraphic (which currently shows the logos of over 3,500 marketing technology companies).

It turns out that modern marketing has more in common with the software development than it does with classic marketing management. Not surprisingly, some of the first companies to discover this were software companies. But the idea of managing your marketing like the ongoing development and refinement of software is moving beyond tech companies. And fortunately, you don’t have to be a techie to understand how this more effective approach to marketing management can be implemented. (Marketing Book Podcast episode)

5. Aligned to Achieve: How to Unite Your Sales and Marketing Teams into a Single Force for Growth by Tracy Eiler and Andrea Austin

The co-authors are the Chief Marketing Officer and the VP of Enterprise Sales at InsideView, a software as a service company that has profitably aligned its sales and marketing efforts.

According to SiriusDecisions, when sales and marketing teams are aligned they are averaging 19 percent faster revenue growth and 15 percent higher profitability. That’s why sales and marketing alignment is not some nice to have, feelgood corporate kumbaya. It’s a requirement for faster, more profitable growth. “Aligned To Achieve” walks you through granular details of how to achieve greater sales and marketing alignment. (Marketing Book Podcast episode)

6. Disruptive Marketing: What Growth Hackers, Data Punks, and Other Hybrid Thinkers Can Teach Us About Navigating the New Normal by Geoffrey Colon

Disruptive Marketing by Geoffrey Colon

Geoffrey Colon is a Communications Designer and Social Data Expert at Microsoft. Prior to joining Microsoft in 2013, Geoffrey was vice president of digital strategy at Ogilvy & Mather.

This book is like a lit Molotov cocktail being thrown on the barricade of the sclerotic traditional marketing that is holding companies back as their upstart competition eviscerates them. The book walks you through all the change that has occurred, but more importantly points to where the future of marketing is going.  Geoffrey includes sections on the mindset and skills of successful future marketers, the end of the marketing department and the rules for disruptive marketers. (Marketing Book Podcast episode)

7. What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint by Nicholas Webb

What Customers Crave by Nicholas J. Webb

Known as the “Innovation Evangelist” Nicholas Webb is the author of several books and has been awarded over 45 patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office. He is a Senior Partner at Cravve, a customer experience consulting firm.

In this hyperconnected, hypercompetitive business world everyone has a megaphone, and if the experience your customers have is a bad one, they will not return. And, they’ll tell the world on social media and review sites how awful you are. But, if your customers have a great experience and you delight them, not only will that be surprising, they will remain loyal customers and tell others.

But more important, customer experience is where the money is: 70% of Americans are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide an excellent customer experience. And, the probability of selling to a new prospect is less than 20%, while the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent. (Marketing Book Podcast episode)

8. Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small by Nick Westergaard

Get Scrappy by Nick Westergaard

Nick Westergaard is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, where he helps build better brands at organizations of all sizes — from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies.

In “Get Scrappy,” he explains that there is a firehose of shiny new things online: new channels, platforms, tools and networks constantly coming at you. There’s also a myth that only big brands with big budgets, big teams, and big technology can do big things with digital marketing. And there’s a growing obstacle the author refers to as “checklist marketing” where marketers focus on checking things off lists instead of on what makes the most sense. “Get Scrappy” demystifies marketing today in a way that makes sense for businesses and lays a foundation for action that will produce measureable business results. (Marketing Book Podcast episode)

9. SEO for Growth: The Ultimate SEO Guide For Marketers, Web Designers & Entrepreneurs by John Jantsch and Phil Singleton

SEO for Growth by John Jantsch and Phil Singleton

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and bestselling author of four other books including "Duct Tape Marketing." Phil Singleton is a self-described “SEO grunt” who is the founder of a marketing agency whose services include search engine optimization.

never would have thought I’d get so fired up by a book about search engine optimization, but “SEO for Growth” did it. Here’s why - SEO has changed a lot recently and there are a lot of lingering misperceptions about what you need to do to get your company to show up on the first page of a search engine. Plus there is a staggering amount of money being paid to many SEO firms and experts that is wasted. In fact, a lot of that work being done is actually causing harm to their clients.

“SEO For Growth” is like the scene in "The Wizard of Oz" when Toto pulls back the curtain on the mysterious and all powerful Oz. For too many businesses, SEO has been perceived as Oz. But now the curtain has been pulled back for all to see how it actually works and discover why SEO is not such an ominous, intimidating thing. (Marketing Book Podcast episode)

10. UnMarketing: Everything Has Changed and Nothing is Different by Scott and Alison Stratten

UnMarketing by Scott Stratten and Allison Stratten

In 2009 Scott and Alison Stratten wrote the bestseller “UnMarketing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging.” In that book, they explained that the landscape of business-customer relationships was changing, and it offered up innovative alternatives to the old “push and pray” approach. The book showed how to unlearn the old way of interruptive, irritating marketing and attract the right customers and build trust through listening and engagement.

In this second edition, Scott and Alison are back with all the brilliance and gut-busting laugh-out-loud humor of the first edition, but with new content and commentary to reflect the rapidly changing landscape we all live, buy, and work in today. (Marketing Book Podcast episode)

11. Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini

Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini

Dr. Robert Cialdini is best known for his 1984 book on persuasion and marketing, "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion." The book has sold over three million copies and has been translated into 31 languages.

In “Pre-Suasion,” Dr. Cialdini draws on the same combination of rigorous scientific research and accessibility that made his book “Influence” a bestseller. But what is surprising about the techniques presented in Pre-Suasion is that you don’t have to change a listener's attitudes or beliefs – all that’s required is to redirect their focus of attention before a relevant action. In other words, the secret doesn’t lie in the message itself, but in the key moment before that message is delivered. If you liked Dr. Cialdini’s book, “Influence,” you’ll absolutely love “Pre-Suasion.” (Marketing Book Podcast episode)

12. Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends by Martin Lindstrom

Small Data by Martin Lindstrom

Martin Lindstrom is one of the world’s premier brand building experts, a New York Times and Wall St Journal best-selling author of five other groundbreaking books, and was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the top 100 Most Influential People in the World.

In “Small Data” he demonstrates that marketers’ preoccupation with digital data is endangering high-quality insights and observations, and that if companies want to truly understand consumers, big data offers a valuable, but incomplete solution. The small data that companies are missing comes from spending time with consumers in their daily lives, observing them and probing for their real emotional desires, not just what they say they want. (Marketing Book Podcast episode​)

13. Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior by Jonah Berger

Invisible Influence by Jonah Berger

Jonah Berger is a Marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and is the author of the bestseller “Contagious: Why Things Catch On.”

At the beginning of the book, Jonah Berger makes a joke about the fact that most people don’t think they are influenced by others but by themselves. He states, “Sure, other people might follow the herd, but not me.” That’s what I thought.

The book then walks you through the how and why of this invisible influence that is exerted on people. But it’s not a matter of monkey see, monkey do. We’re talking about humans here, so things are not so simple. Sure, in some cases we conform, or imitate others around us. But in other cases we avoid particular choices or behaviors because other people are doing them. (Marketing Book Podcast episode)

14. The Agile Marketer: Turning Customer Experience Into Your Competitive Advantage by Roland Smart

The Agile Marketer by Roland Smart

Roland Smart serves as the VP of Social and Community Marketing at Oracle.

The Agile Marketer is not the very first book to explore how engineering your customer’s experience will give you an enormous competitive advantage. What’s different about this book is that Roland Smart explains how using an agile approach to managing your marketing can dramatically improve your customer’s experience. (Marketing Book Podcast episode)

15. Chief Marketing Officers At Work by Josh Steimle

Chief Marketing Officers At Work by Josh Steimle

Josh Steimle is the founder and CEO of MWI, a digital marketing agency. He has written over 200 articles for publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc., Mashable, TechCrunch, and Time.

In “Chief Marketing Officers at Work,” we have a very revealing look at what chief marketing officers are spending their time on and thinking about. You’ll be surprised. The book contains 29 in-depth interviews with chief marketing officers from companies like, GE, Harvard Business School, The Home Depot, Nestle´ and Target.

One of the most interesting insights I gained from this book is how given the changes in marketing and how it’s much more directly connected to revenues and growth, it’s no surprise that the CEO position is increasingly being filled by former CMOs. (Marketing Book Podcast episode)

These Top 15 marketing books are just a part of what you need to be succeed in Modern Marketing. Click below to subscribe to weekly highlights from the blog to keep up with the latest marketing trends and best practices.

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