Want to reward yourself for an awesome year?
Plan to spend some holiday downtime to learn how to take your game to the next level?
Or maybe you are looking for something inspiring for your team or a co-worker to help get a jump on 2016?
Now is the perfect time to grab the biggest discounts.
I’ve compiled my picks for the 15 Best Marketing Books published in 2015 to help you with your wishlist.
These books are fresh. They’re full of instantly actionable tips.
And all are great reads.
Two big themes jumped out at me in this year’s batch.
1. Social Media and Content Marketing remain red hot
The last 5 or so years have seen an onslaught of books sharing winning social media strategies and content marketing playbooks. 2015 has been no exception.
The marketing results haven’t faded from these strategies, but the tactics continue to evolve… quickly.
You have to constantly adapt to optimize your acquisition funnels and to improve your customer retention marketing.
To keep your edge several of the books on this 2015 list definitely deserve a spot on your shelves with their fresh advice on these proven strategies.
2. Startup tactics apply to big businesses too
Everybody loves the entrepreneurial marketing tales of going from a zero to a hero with no safety net and risking everything by going out on your own.
The reality is that most of us have great marketing careers in big or medium sized businesses.
The entrepreneurial startup book can make the grass look greener on the other side of the fence. But sometimes it’s best to just use the same fertilizer that fueled their startup success and just apply it to the powerful resources you have at your disposal.
Let’s check out who made the list this year.
15 Best Marketing Books of 2015
Time to start turning the pages and taking notes. Or fire up your Kindle Paperwhite. Or plug in your earphones to listen via Audible.
Here is my list of the best marketing books of 2015.
And I’m sure you’ve read some great books this year too. Please share what you’ve been reading in the comments below.
I was introduced to a fantastic book The Challenger Sale 3 years ago when I was at PayPal. That book pushed our lead gen marketing approach to produce truly disruptive content.
The results for our sales team were dramatic – more leads, bigger opportunities, and higher conversion rates.
Now the same authors have uncovered a big mistake that sales and marketing teams are making every single day.
We are going after the wrong customer.
Your most common picture of the ideal customer is – friendly, eager to meet, and champions your products. Perfect, right?
It turns out that’s the last person you need.
The Challenger Customer is who you want. And this book gives you the playbook to find them, to engage them with disruptive content, and to win the sale.
Ryan Diess is a highly successful online entrepreneur who founded Digital Marketer. In the Invisible Selling Machine, he unveils his step-by-step approach to moving traffic through online sales funnels.
But this book is not just for online products or services. Any business, no matter what they sell, can take advantage of the detailed tactics offered and can automate the whole system.
He walks you through the 5 action phases of the customer lifestyle – indoctrinate, engage, ascend, segment, and re-engage/win back.
But this book delivers more than a high-level walkthrough. It provide copy-and-paste email content, like the “gain, fear, logic” email series that can boost your direct marketing conversions big time.
If you do email marketing, this is a must have addition to your library.
Thankfully I was wrong.
DotCom Secrets is a great tactical how-to guide to growing online sales. In fact, Richard breaks down what are often seen as the problems with poor results for your website.
You don’t have a traffic problem. And you don’t have a conversion problem.
It’s more likely that you have an offer problem and a “right” customer problem.
That’s where the book is incredibly helpful. It delivers a blueprint for researching other successful funnels, uncovering the right offer for your business, and qualifying ready-to-buy customers upfront.
With both the Invisible Selling Machine and DotCom Secrets, you’ve pretty much got your online sales systems laid out and optimized for you.
Here in Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs is legendary and is bigger than life in the movies. But there’s another audacious entrepreneur that dreams even bigger dreams – Elon Musk.
Elon Musk wants to change the world.
He does so with a rare mixture of inventor and industrialist. And the results are undeniable.
- Tesla Motors is recreating the auto industry.
- Privately funded space flight started by SpaceX is now the norm for sending rockets and the experiments they carry into orbit.
- Solar City is bringing solar energy to the masses.
- PayPal changed the way we pay online and ushered in ecommerce.
This is a fun read.
The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million
Big data is more than terabytes of information into everything our customers and prospects do.
Big data provides us with the insights needed to generate predictable sales revenue. That’s powerful.
No more hope and pray marketing. No more sales teams pointing the finger at marketing when results miss the target.
The Sales Acceleration Formula provides a predictable and scalable approach to growing revenue and building a winning sales team.
This book delivers an action plan that you can copy to improve the harmony between sales and marketing teams so that you can crush your sales goals together. It covers everything from sales hiring and training to accountability to demand generation to accelerating your sales cycle.
And it’s all a step-by-step formula thanks to the amazing data we now have at our fingertips.
Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses
First up is Content Inc., Joe Pulizzi’s follow up to Epic Content Marketing. In the 2 years since Epic Content Marketing was published, the landscape for content marketing has changed.
Competition is much fiercer. Customers are more fickle. And the same approach to content marketing is just the status quo.
This book shares an advanced approach to building content that gets results. To me the secret sauce recipe that Joe divulges is finding your content sweet spot and then “tilting” it to create disruptively better content that nobody else can offer.
Even though this book is geared toward entrepreneurs, I think there are huge lessons learned for those of you producing content and doing product marketing in larger marketing organizations.
In fact, Content Inc. and The Challenger Customer make for a good 1-2 punch for creating the truly high impact content marketing that your management is probably craving.
The Content Code: Six essential strategies to ignite your content, your marketing, and your business
First, I’ve always enjoyed Mark Schaefer’s advice and style. He’s got a great blog and his previous marketing books are very helpful deep dives into social media marketing.
Second, The Content Code is FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. You can’t go wrong.
You can definitely improve your content marketing using Mark’s six essential strategies. They are tried and true content and social media marketing winners.
But for me the A-HA moment is the need to develop a “Heroic Brand.”
The previous book Content Inc. gives you the elements to tilt your content into remarkable content that nobody else can deliver. But even that is likely not enough without developing a trusted, heroic brand to help it go massive.
Most of us are used to buying products as we need them. One at a time.
Only media has been successful at delivering to customers via subscriptions. Netflix, cable TV, newspapers, and magazines.
Not anymore. Dollar Shave Club has revolutionized buying razor blades via subscription. Same thing for Birchbox and buying cosmetics.
Even classic box software is now primarily available via monthly subscriptions. For example, I’m a big user of QuickBooks Online and Adobe Creative Cloud.
The lifeblood of your business is repeat customers. Subscription customers are those repeat customers that can dramatically increase your cash flow, reduce your delivery costs, and ignite your growth.
The Automatic Customer does a fantastic job at giving you the blueprint to 9 of the most popular ways to offer any product or service as a subscription. My personal favorites are the Surprise Box Model and The Simplifier Model.
The Membership Economy: Find Your Super Users, Master the Forever Transaction, and Build Recurring Revenue
The Membership Economy also digs deep into how you can set up a sustainable subscription business. You get many great examples of how both online and offline businesses have successfully used the membership model to propel their business.
There are two elements of this book that are uniquely powerful and instantly actionable to us marketers.
First, this book guides you how to transform freemium customers into “superusers.” These superusers are the key to the profits of any freemium business.
Specifically, you’ll learn how to find them, get more customers like them, and accelerate their purchase conversion to super status.
Second, I find retaining a paying subscriber for longer is the most critical (yet most overlooked) success factor for any subscription business. I always look at average lifetime metrics as the key indicator for this model.
Working to increase the subscription length of your customers is not easy. The Membership Economy gives you some secret tactics that other businesses use that you can easily apply.
One of the first product marketing books that I read was Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm. Whenever I see the word “traction” that’s exactly what I think back to.
It’s still a problem today for most startups. It’s a big challenge to get the traction needed to launch a product into exponential success.
And traction is not just a startup issue.
It’s even more critical to new products or initiatives within larger companies.
I’ve seen it dozens of times. The sexy, new project gets top priority and all resources are focused on making a big splash.
But if you don’t quickly show results, your project can be discarded.
It’s all about traction. Traction is hard evidence that shows a startup or a startup project can deliver results.
But how do you get traction?
According to the authors there are 19 traction channels. Yikes!
That’s where their “Bullseye” framework comes into play. The book details how to find which channel will help you launch.
And more importantly, what channel you need to shift to in order to make things truly take off.
Linked to Influence: 7 Powerful Rules for Becoming a Top Influencer in Your Market and Attracting Your Ideal Clients on LinkedIn
I had thought I had already learned most of what I needed to know in order to max out my exposure on LinkedIn. In fact, I’ve read a lot of great actionable blog posts on Social Media Examiner on LinkedIn… by the same author, Stephanie Sammons.
Again, I couldn’t resist downloading this book because it was free on Kindle Unlimited. And if you want to pay, it’s just $0.99!
Here’s the deal. Yes, there is a lot of LinkedIn 101 basic information covered.
But I learned a ton that I didn’t know. In particular, Stephanie really drives home what it takes to be a trusted influencer.
And better yet, she provided several hacks to making a big impact on LinkedIn without spending hours of my time. That’s what I really need.
For the price, you cannot get a better guide on LinkedIn. You’ll get way more LinkedIn power tips and for a fraction of the price of other similar books.
The Elon Musk biography is fascinating and inspirational. Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World is the how to guide for that type of moonshot thinking that can impact billions of lives.
Bold features three parts.
- Exponential technologies that are accelerating business growth to incredible scale and global impact. Synthetic biology was particularly cool to me.
- The psychology of being bold. What’s the mindset of billionaires who take a revolutionary approach? Tons of examples here, including Elon Musk.
- The power of the crowd. This section dives in to best practices for tapping into hyper-powerful, highly connected communities to make your mark. Crowdfunding is at the core of many successes… and not just because it helps to fund your venture.
Bold offers a good blend of inspirational insights and tactical how-to that make it an excellent read.
Steal the Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life
We have to speak effectively every day. For most of us marketing pros, that’s simply making an impact in meetings or getting what we need from our boss.
But it’s not that simple, is it?
Steal the Show is a fantastic primer to boost your communication skills. Michael emphasizes three key takeaways that give you the confidence to deliver no matter the occasion:
1. Develop a clear focus for every “performance.” I love this… and I need to do it more frequently.
2. Make sure you engage with your “audience.” A classic tip, but you can’t start every conversation with a joke can you? Nope.
3. Find the best role for you to have the biggest impact. We always think we are the center of everyone’s focus, even when you’ve got a mic and are standing in front of 2,000 people. That’s not always the best role.
Maybe you may not get a standing ovation from your boss or colleagues after your next big meeting. But they will remember when it comes time for performance reviews and bonuses.
Complexity in our lives most often causes one thing… gridlock.
At some point, your inner being overrides our hyperdrive and makes us stop.
We know this in marketing design too. Too much information, readers stop reading and move on. Too many fields to fill out in a form, the perfect prospect doesn’t convert to a lead.
Simplicity saves us.
Simple Rules offers fascinating and entertaining insights into how we can move forward faster by creating simplicity through rules.
The results of these simple rules are improved decision making (we often create our own complexity if unchecked) and flat out getting things done.
The book provides a set of six types of rules that you can apply:
- Boundary rules – deciding between two mutually exclusive alternatives
- Prioritization rules – ranking alternatives and assigning priority
- Stopping rules – stopping and taking a different course
- How to rules – guiding how get stuff done
- Coordination rules – getting things done when multiple people are involved
- Timing rules – triggering when to take action
Personally, my first simplifying rule was to just make one rule. That way, I can turn the positive behavior in that rule into a habit. Then I can go onto a second rule later… and so on and so on.
My first rule turned into an inner mantra that I repeat to myself when I sit down at the computer the first thing in the morning, “500 words before email.” Now I’m dramatically improving my writing creativity and productivity… and not getting derailed by email.
Very powerful stuff.
I picked up Big Magic because of the author, Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s hugely famous for Eat Pray Love.
Big Magic definitely opens up your mindfulness and awareness that fear should not hold you back. But Gilbert focus is unique from general self-help books on the same subject. She really is speaking to creative talents, especially writers.
So this is perfect for us marketing pros.
I won’t give you much of the specifics, only that her approach was impactful to me.
You have to go on that journey yourself to make this book meaningful for you.
I highly recommend that you grab at least one of these top marketing books. Some holiday reading can help propel you into a new and improved way of getting results.
And you can get a jump on 2016.
What great marketing books do you recommend?
I’d love to know what books have helped you get results. Please share by adding a comment below.
Disclaimer: The links to Amazon are affiliate links. However, my recommendation of these books is not based on my financial gain. These are the best, most relevant books I’ve read that were published this year. And I felt they are worth sharing.