Marketing, like business itself, is an evolving practice, so marketers need to stay on top of alternative approaches, ideas or advice. There are many amazing B2C and B2B marketing books out there we can learn from, ranging from business models to psychological analysis to new marketing practices.
We’ve chosen a few that resonate with us and what we think is important in marketing. Namely, we’ve handpicked some books that embody sustainable and strategic techniques, and/or discourage negative, disingenuous, or unethical impact.
So, in no particular order, here are some great reads that will definitely add value to your next marketing strategy!
1. ‘Founder Brand’ by Dave Gerhardt
The art of storytelling
Dave Gerhardt is a well-known B2B marketing savant, so this book is definitely one that CMOs and entrepreneurs alike should take note of. Released this year, it provides very tangible advice on how to market in today’s world.
The bit we love – it’s all geared towards authenticity. The main idea is that audiences engage much more with people than brands. Telling the honest story of your business does a much better job of building trust than simply spouting the hundreds of features and benefits of your products and/or services.
And so, Gerhardt recommends building your company brand around your founder’s brand. Not only does it set you apart from an increasingly noisy marketplace, but it also makes use of the expertise, original insight, and personality that your founder has to offer. All of which does wonders for your thought leadership position.
Gerhardt talks more about how this delivers truer value and creates deeper relationships than other techniques, something we believe the (near) future of marketing will embrace.
You can buy the book and hear about how Gerhardt has applied these strategies himself here.
2. ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition’ by Robert B. Cialdini PH.D
This book has been around a while now and is New York Times bestseller as well as an industry classic.
Although less about marketing specifically, this is must read for marketers who want to understand their audiences better. Cialdini covers what boils down to the ‘why’ behind human behaviour – specifically, why people say yes. And what influences them to say yes.
What’s interesting is that while Cialdini discusses how business owners can leverage this understanding, he actively dissuades using this skill with malicious intent. His exploration and advice instead have an ethical lilt. This is an important perspective for the modern marketer!
The observations made within Cialdini’s six principles are both fascinating and scientifically important (according to the scientists themselves!). So, if the hows and whys of human behaviour interests you, you can pick up a copy here.
3. ‘How Brands Become Icons’ by Douglas B. Holt
Creating a lasting effect
It’s always important to look at successful brands for inspiration or guidance.
Holt calls out household names like Nike, Coca-Cola, and Volkswagen, digging deep into what makes these brands so perennial and emblematic.
This takes two focuses. One being the importance of fundamental marketing techniques, such as targeting, positioning, brand equity, and brand loyalty. This is a much-needed reminder of something that we at EV firmly believe; that the most successful businesses put strategy first and build a foundation for their brand marketing.
The second focus he notes is culture. That, to become truly iconic, these companies have dug deeper than audience pain points, tuning into something much more inherent. Although many examples are B2C, this advice can be applied for successful B2B marketing strategies.
If you’re looking to turn your brand into a lasting phenomenon, take note from the market leaders here.
4. ‘Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers’ by Seth Godin
Being a better kind of marketer
Seth Godin is another big name in the marketing world, with over a dozen best-selling books on the market.
In this book, Goden essentially rejects the all-too-common form of business marketing which yells for attention, interrupts your day, and, ultimately, annoys more than engages. He instead poses an alternative – ‘permission marketing’.
The focus of this strategy is driving demand and engagement by targeting the people who want to be spoken to. So instead of interrupting, brands are delivering value. This represents a much more sustainable approach for marketers, building longer lasting and stronger customer-brand relationships. This applies to business to business, especially in today’s crowded B2B marketing world, as well business to consumer.
Get your copy on Amazon here.
5. ‘Hacking Growth’ by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown
Strategies for the leading scalers
Growth is the highest priority for businesses of a certain size – from start-up to scale up.
This is another one that is not specifically about marketing, but the principles are applicable across most areas of growing companies. Ellis and Morgan talk about how to attract, retain, and monetise customers, in the context of achieving high-impact growth.
While this may sound like it’s going down an unsustainable, short-term success route, the pair’s strategy is actually designed to create consistent, replicable, and useful results. This is achieved through efficient testing, analysis, and data-driven agility.
Get the book here if you want to implement your own Growth Hacking strategy.
6. ‘Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant’ by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
How to find a unique approach
Blue Ocean Strategy is another classic – renowned by industries, organisations, marketers, and business leaders across the globe.
In this book, Kim and Mauborgne present the core concept that finding ‘blue oceans’ is much more effective than competing. In other words, finding (and claiming) unchallenged market space.
This really boils down to: What is your niche? What is your unique proposition? Blue Ocean’s premise has only become more essential since it’s publishing.
As markets grow more saturated, this environment only exacerbates the use of noisy, interruptive, and unsustainable techniques that most the of the above books are encouraging against. This approach instead allows businesses to be more conscientious, authentic, and sustainable with how they grow and position themselves. Marketers would be wise to read up on the approach here.
Visit our blog page to read more sustainable marketing advice, get tips and guides on techniques, and learn about B2B marketing.