21 books every senior marketer should read or listen to
By Pete Winter

21 books every senior marketer should read or listen to

We’ve scoured our shelves, e-readers, and audiobook apps to recommend these essential titles, full of insight and inspiration.

These reads are sure to spark new ideas and reveal useful techniques and ways of thinking that you can apply to the pursuit of your marketing goals. Like in our series, The New Rules of Content Marketing for 2020 and Beyond, we’re focusing on what we see as the four key areas to optimize: Your Audience, Your People, Your Technology, and Your Success.

Your Audience


Permission Marketing
Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog)

Interruption is out, permission is in. That’s the central premise here. Godin focuses on how companies can cultivate meaningful, ongoing relationships with their audiences, founded on trust and active engagement. He explores how you can incentivise and motivate your prospects to not only tolerate, but accept and embrace your marketing.

– – – – –


Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Robert Cialdini (@RobertCialdini)

A classic almost as soon as it hit the shelves, Cialdini’s book centers on the universal principles of influence. Spoiler alert: they are Reciprocation, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, and Scarcity. These are backed up by solid research. If you want to influence people’s behavior, start here.

– – – – –


The Art of Social Media
Guy Kawasaki, Peg Fitzpatrick

The promise made is ‘Great stuff, no fluff’. And The Art of Social Media delivers. it’s filled with useful insights, actionable advice, and practical ways to win at social media. Kawasaki is former Chief Evangelist at Apple, while visual marketing expert Peg Fitzpatrick headed Social Strategy at Canva. Together, they deliver a tour de force.

– – – – –


Secrets of Successful Sales
Alison Edgar (@thealisonedgar)

The self-described ‘Entrepreneur’s Godmother’ divulges 25 years of sales experience in these pages, covering everything from decoding online behaviors to handling objections. For too long, sales and marketing have been siloed, holding companies back. Any marketer keen to understand the principles of successful sales would do well to start here.

– – – – –


Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog)

Serial entrepreneur and marketing thought leader Seth Godin sets out the power of tribes and how you can harness them to drive action and effect change. In our interconnected, global times, this phenomenon of networks and community-building can give a powerful boost to your marketing efforts.

– – – – –


Epic Content Marketing
Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi)

As the rather verbose subtitle suggests, this book is all about How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less. With content marketing now a basic given for almost every company, the challenge for marketers now is to stand out in a crowded content landscape. Pulizzi gives great tips on how to do that.

– – – – –


Delusions of Brandeur
Ryan Wallman (@Dr_Draper)

Hilarious and brutal, this is a useful reminder to marketers not to believe our own hype and instead, get back to basics and focus on the customer. Wallman criticises the prevalence of gurus and big personalities, and takes aim at jargon and pseudoscience. Described by some as a ‘how-not-to’ guide, this book will have you laughing, wincing, and nodding along.

Your People


Superengaged: How to transform business performance by putting people and purpose first
Nikki Gatenby (@NikkiGatenby)

Gatenby is a truly impressive leader with a commitment to people. Her UK-based company Propellernet is consistently rated among the best places to work. In Superengaged, Gatenby shares guidance for senior executives on how to build people-focused workplace culture that drives performance and profits.

– – – – –


Shoe Dog
Phil Knight

From a $50 seed fund to $30 billion annual turnover is no mean feat. But this founder-told tale of how Nike became Nike is not really about the numbers, nuts, and bolts of business growth. It’s more about uniting people around a vision. Entertaining and inspirational, Shoe Dog highlights the pivotal role person-to-person relationships play in building success.

– – – – –


Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team
Alina Wheeler (@alinawheeler)

Branding (or rebranding) is a notoriously tricky exercise that calls for skillful and effective management of people. The principles set out in this book are easily applied to other key initiatives, from ‘Establish clear responsibilities’ to ‘Commit to a small decision group and never bring in decision-makers in the middle of the process’.

– – – – –


Principles: Life and Work
Ray Dalio (@RayDalio)

Dalio, a highly successful investment entrepreneur, shares the principles for developing his ideal company culture. He describes ‘an idea meritocracy that strives to achieve meaningful work and meaningful relationships through radical transparency’. Expect many valuable ideas and strategies for building teams, making decisions, and dealing with challenges.

– – – – –


Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
Keith Ferrazzi (@ferrazzi)

We all know the importance of networking, but how many of us are truly connecting? This book drives you to take a fresh and more meaningful approach, offering practical tips on how to establish, maintain, and leverage relationships. In our hyperconnected age, each of us has potentially thousands of contacts to draw on. Ferrazzi explains how to do it effectively.

– – – – –


Red Team
Micah Zenko (@Micah_Zenko)

Subtitled ‘How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy’, Zenko’s book is all about strategic devil’s advocacy. In other words, how teams and organizations can benefit from structured opposition as a way to interrogate, analyse, and ultimately improve their activities. Examples from law enforcement and the military as well as business bring the concept to life.



Data-Driven Marketing with Artificial Intelligence
Magnus Unemyr (@UnemyrMagnus)

While marketing will always need creativity and innovation, the dial has moved inexorably from art towards science. It’s essential for any modern marketer to understand data-driven marketing and the opportunities presented by the rise of AI. Unemyr provides a comprehensive and helpful overview of the new data-centric landscape.

– – – – –


Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years as CEO of The Walt Disney Company
Bob Iger (@RobertIger)

As the world’s biggest media company, Disney is no stranger to the challenges and opportunities presented by technical advancements. Among Iger’s lessons on leadership is the strong imperative to embrace and ride the wave of new technologies, as Disney’s recent launch of a streaming service demonstrates.

– – – – –


Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
Nir Eyal with Ryan Hoover (@nireyal)

Drawing on a background in the gaming and advertising industries, plus years of research, Eyal unveils the secrets of ‘addictive’ products. Discover the four-step Hook Model that brings people in and keeps them coming back for more. Detailed examples abound, featuring many of the apps and social networks you know and are hooked on.

– – – – –


The Design of Everyday Things
Don Norman (@jnd1er)

Why do some products ‘just work’? And why do others somehow miss the mark? The Design of Everyday Things goes back to basic principles, exposing and explaining the link between design, customer experience, and product success. In a fiercely competitive and crowded marketplace, the most human-centered technology wins.



One Plus One Equals Three: A Masterclass in Creative Thinking
Dave Trott (@davetrott)

Rethink everything with this masterclass in creative imagination. It’s funny, unexpected, at times controversial and always inspiring. This is the perfect antidote to formulaic thinking and cookie-cutter campaign strategies. Trott sets out to galvanize even the most jaded marketer and bring back the magic.

– – – – –


The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
Gary Keller (@garykeller)

How to bring simplicity from complexity’ could just as easily be the title of this book. Keller advocates a ruthless approach to streamlining your work and life: identify and focus on one key thing in each area, rather than chasing many different goals. While the purest form of his philosophy may be too extreme for some, we could all benefit from a little more simplicity

– – – – –


Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality
Scott Belsky (@scottbelsky)

What do the most productive creative people and teams all have in common? After conducting hundreds of interviews with them, Belsky came to this conclusion: they know how to make ideas happen. Shifting the focus from innovation to execution, this useful guide is all about how to turn a great vision into a successful reality.

– – – – –


David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
Malcolm Gladwell (@gladwell)

One of the leading thinkers of modern times offers a highly encouraging outlook on the power of smaller entities, teams, groups, and organizations to achieve success and effect change. The rise of social media and digital communication play an important role in this, but so too, for Gladwell, does the enduring strength of the human spirit.

Harness the best ideas to succeeD

Marketing and marketers are increasingly taking their rightful place at the strategic core of businesses. With that in mind, it’s time to think big and harness the best of ideas, approaches, and success stories from across the world of business, innovation, and technology but with consistently changing consumer expectations it is imperative that we use these ideas to create a loyal, engaged and interactive community that is driven by putting the customer at the heart of the business. Find out more about how forward-thinking CMOs are putting customers at the heart of their business in Putting Your Audience First: The New Rules of Content Marketing for 2020 and Beyond

Read the latest positioning trends and insights.

Tap into our brand and product positioning, storytelling, and creative expertise to inspire your next strategic move.

Subscribe to insights.