As marketers, the stacks of books on our nightstands have been getting shorter - only to be replaced by endless Amazon carts; Kindle queues and backed up bookmarks to our favorite reads on our smartphones. However, summer is on its way, and with it beach time where squinting into an electronic screen just doesn't have the same joy as hefting around a paperback and spilling the sand from its pages on your return home. Plus, there are planes and airports to read in, and time off from constantly putting out marketing emergencies so that you can think about your overall business strategy for a change. So which books are worth reading? We've selected a variety of marketing essentials, old and new, to put the fire back into your belly and get your fingers and brains twitching in anticipation of marketing success in the second half of 2015.
The original Mad Man, this book is woefully underrepresented among digital marketers. Until five years ago, there were few real books written about social media marketing. Let's not forget that digital is a channel and tactic, not a strategy. To truly understand the messages and channels we use in our marketing, it's time to go back to the source - and that's the grandpappy of advertising, the model of Don Draper, Mr. David Ogilvy. A fundamental book on the principles of creating campaigns that entice, excite and most importantly - sell.
The term "Inside Google" is almost a magic keyword for marketers seeking books, with every digital lover looking for insight into the secret sauce of how Google does their magic from inside their hallowed walls. Instead of the traditional tell-all or stories from inside the company, "Work Rules!" is written by Google's head of People Operations to illustrate exactly how the famed cool kid of tech employment does such a fantastic job attracting and retaining talent. A must for anyone in management, this book is packed with useful tips along with the vicarious thrill of peeking behind the glamorous curtain of the Googleplex.
It's easier to retain an existing customer than find a new one, but that oft-quoted marketing adage is often ignored by marketing departments focusing on metrics like new users, growth, and acquisition rather than retention, engagement, and sustainable long-term growth. This essential summer read focuses on the "evergreen" element of a business: one that remains beneficial to its users for the long term, becoming consistently profitable over a long period of time even without the exciting but not necessarily profitable flash-in-the-pan successes of a high-growth new company. Learn how to attract, nurture and retain the right customers with Fleming's 3 Cs: character, community, and content, using digital tools to market in a manner that isn't just exciting, but effective as well.
The long-awaited font of wisdom from veteran investor, Paypal founder, and overall Silicon Valley guru Peter Thiel is finally open to more than just his Stanford class of Startup students. With his book "Zero to One" coming out in paperback this summer, it's the perfect beach read for anyone who wants to educate themselves on starting and growing a business! Learn how to future-proof your business and study the mistakes of the past and the successes of the present to compete, activate, and grow your startup, no matter the vertical or industry.
A favorite in the inbox of many marketers, Joe Pulizzi's Content Marketing Institute has long been instrumental in helping marketers craft the ideal in online content - from the social posts and guest blogs of the 2010s to the comprehensive content marketing campaigns of today, Pulizzi's written about it all. This 2014 book is the perfect summer read, outlining methods for capturing your audience's attention (hint: think about what they want to hear from you - not what you want to tell them); setting your goals; understanding your audience; creating a content team and using marketing channels to promote, distribute and measure content.
Another inbox favorite, citing Joe Pulizzi without Ann Handley is like talking Google without Facebook. Another content marketing expert of the digital world, Handley's role as Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs means she's seasoned in creating content consistently to a notoriously picky audience, also known as digital marketers. "Everybody Writes" gets back to the basics of how to create quality, fresh content quickly and frequently, including blogs, social media posts and longform content. Whether or not content marketing is part of your job description, there's no doubt that writing effectively for a variety of audience is a key marketing skill - and in this content-dependent world of information, one that is becoming increasingly important.
Another classic favorite, this easy to read branding bible teaches marketers all there is to know about creating a competitive advantage for your product and positioning it among your audience and in the greater marketplace. From product marketers to communications strategists; this book won't just tell you how to create and innovate - it also highlights how to find out the key competencies of your company so you can communicate them effectively, translating all your efforts into the digital marketing realm.
"We're done with college!" you cry, throwing your enormous textbooks into the proverbial campfire. Not so fast, though: there are those rare cases in your professional life when a fragment of a paragraph might drift back to you to finally illustrate a point in a client meeting - and this book is one of them. A college mainstay for business majors, Kotler's words may be dated (there was no tracking attribution or big data in 1962, for instance) but the concepts still hold true. From understanding the fundamentals of buyer behavior to the dynamics of a marketplace and its competitors, Kotler highlights the channels used by buyers during their process to get the information they seek to make a purchase - now that sounds pretty digital, doesn't it? Do yourself a favor and take this tome down from the shelf and give it a read this summer.