Skip to main content

For those of us who love to settle in with a good book, the options are nearly endless. In fact, statistics show that around four million books are published every single year. And while yes, the number of those on marketing topics are much more limited by comparison, it still helps to have a strong recommendation before you commit to reading.

After all, through the time we invest in reading a book, we also invest in ourselves. Benefits of reading have been shown to foster empathy, expand your vocabulary, inspire creativity, lessen stress, and even build perseverance. All in all, those skills transfer into our careers and help us to be better leaders.

Keep reading for our list of the top 13 marketing books read by CMOs in 2023.

1. The Effective CMO by Chase J. Stephen

In this book The Effective CMO the reader will discover the Polished Character Ethics and Finishing Touches required for tremendous victory as a Chief Marketing Officer. You want to serve high-paying clients on your own terms? You want to be the golden touch in every organization you find yourself? Then just don't read this book, but act!

The book The Effective CMO is a short read aimed at guiding you throughout your journey to being a top-notch CMO.

2. Quantum Marketing: Mastering the New Marketing Mindset for Tomorrow's Consumers by Raja Rajamannar

Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing Officer of Mastercard, shares breakthrough, frontier strategies to navigate the challenges that result from today’s unprecedented disruption.

As technology has continually evolved in the last several decades, marketing has had to change with it, evolving through four significant stages that build on the strategies and tools of the previous era. What happens next in the fifth stage, or Fifth Paradigm, will not be evolution but a revolution.

As Chief Marketing Officer of Mastercard, one of the world’s most recognizable and decorated brands, Raja Rajamannar shares the forward-thinking ways all businesses must rethink their marketing landscape to remain relevant and successful.

3. They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan

The guide challenges businesses worldwide to stop selling to their buyers and start answering their questions to get results.

To be successful, businesses must obsess over the questions, concerns, and problems their buyers have, and address them as honestly and as thoroughly as possible. Having the answers they need can attract thousands of potential buyers to your company—but only if your content strategy puts your answers at the top of those search results.

Using these principles, author Marcus Sheridan led his struggling pool company from the bleak depths of the housing crash of 2008 to become one of the largest pool installers in the United States. Discover how his proven strategy can work for your business and master the principles of inbound and content marketing that have empowered thousands of companies to achieve exceptional growth.

Stay Up-to-date On All Things Marketing & Leadership.

Stay Up-to-date On All Things Marketing & Leadership.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive our newsletter, and occasional emails related to The CMO. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more details, please review our Privacy Policy. We're protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

4. This is Marketing by Seth Godin

Seth Godin offers the core of his marketing wisdom in one compact, accessible, timeless package called This is Marketing. This book shows you how to do work you're proud of, whether you're a tech startup founder, a small business owner, or part of a large corporation.

Great marketers don't use consumers to solve their company's problems; they use marketing to solve other people's problems. Their tactics rely on empathy, connection, and emotional labor instead of attention-stealing ads and spammy email funnels.

You can do work that matters for people who care. This book shows you the way.

5. Loved by Martina Lauchengco

Most tech companies get marketing wrong because they don't know how to do product marketing right. LOVED shows what leaders like Apple, Netflix, Microsoft, and Salesforce do well and how to apply it to transform product marketing at your company.

Part of the bestselling series including INSPIRED and EMPOWERED, LOVED explains the fundamentals of best-in-class product marketing for product teams, marketers, founders and any leader with a product and a vision.

Sharing her personal stories as a former product and marketing leader at Microsoft and Netscape, and as an advisor to Silicon Valley startups, venture capitalist, and UC Berkeley engineering graduate school lecturer, Martina Lauchengco distills decades of lessons gleaned from working with hundreds of companies to make LOVED the definitive guide to modern product marketing.

6. Knowing the Fractional CMO Method by Casey Stanton

Casey Stanton says: “This book is your roadmap for building a Fractional CMO practice that can generate $500,000 a year or more. That’s a half-a-million dollars a year with you working less than 40 hours a week, from anywhere in the world.”

That “half-a-million dollars a year” figure is what Stanton achieved after he upped his game and figured out the solutions (passed along in his book) to the mistakes he had made as a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer).

Stanton points out that, if you’re an agency owner, marketing director, freelancer, marketing consultant, in-house marketer, or even a VP of marketing, you can follow the steps he lays out and start winning clients that each pay $3,000 to $15,000 a month or more on a recurring basis.

7.Become a CMO by Christian Brewster

Christian Brewster has 12 years of experience in entrepreneurship and here is his first book. An excellent simple guide in how to be a successful CMO (Chief Marketing Officer).

Christian is an excellent speaker with an incredible story. He has traveled all over the world from Kenya to Dubai and from Europe to America speaking about marketing, advertising and entrepreneurship. This book gives you advice on how to think about your career in business, especially as a CMO.

Christian explains what it takes for a person like him who started out working for free as an intern at Ogilvy & Mather before becoming one of their youngest Directors of Business Development ever at only 24 years old.

8. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown

Four-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Brené Brown has found that leaders in organizations ranging from small entrepreneurial startups and family-owned businesses to nonprofits, civic organizations, and Fortune 50 companies all ask the same question:

How do you cultivate braver, more daring leaders, and how do you embed the value of courage in your culture?

In this new book, Brown uses research, stories, and examples to answer these questions in the no-BSstyle that millions of readers have come to expect and love.

Whether you’ve read Daring Greatly and Rising Strong or you’re new to Brené Brown’s work, this book is for anyone who wants to step up and into brave leadership.

9. ABM is B2B by Sangram Vajre

In this book, Vajre reveals the secrets behind the framework that will sell and retain customers.

Vajre reveals the secrets behind the signature TEAM - Target, Engage, Activate, and Measure - framework to transform your approach to the market, increase sales, and retain your ideal customers.

In summary, the TEAM framework coupled with the account-based approach enables your company to focus on the target accounts, engage them in a meaningful way, activate the sales team with top-tier accounts proactively, and finally measure success based on business outcomes over vanity metrics.

10. Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses.

This method for connecting with customers provides readers with the ultimate competitive advantage, revealing the secret for helping their customers understand the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services. Building a StoryBrand does this by teaching readers the seven universal story points all humans respond to; the real reason customers make purchases; how to simplify a brand message so people understand it; and how to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures, and social media.

Whether you are the marketing director of a multibillion-dollar company, the owner of a small business, a politician running for office, or the lead singer of a rock band, Building a StoryBrand will forever transform the way you talk about who you are, what you do, and the unique value you bring to your customers.

11. Think Again by Adam Grant

Think Again is a book about the benefit of doubt, and about how we can get better at embracing the unknown and the joy of being wrong. Evidence has shown that creative geniuses are not attached to one identity, but constantly willing to rethink their stances and that leaders who admit they don't know something and seek critical feedback lead more productive and innovative teams.

New evidence shows us that as a mindset and a skilllset, rethinking can be taught and Grant explains how to develop the necessary qualities to do it. Section 1 explores why we struggle to think again and how we can learn to do it as individuals, arguing that 'grit' alone can actually be counterproductive. Section 2 discusses how we can help others think again through learning about 'argument literacy'. And the final section 3 looks at how schools, businesses and governments fall short in building cultures that encourage rethinking.

In the end, learning to rethink may be the secret skill to give you the edge in a world changing faster than ever.

12. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

What makes things popular? If you said advertising, think again. People don’t listen to advertisements, they listen to their peers. But why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others? Why are some stories and rumors more infectious? And what makes online content go viral?

Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger has spent the last decade answering these questions. He’s studied why New York Times articles make the paper’s own Most E-mailed list, why products get word of mouth, and how social influence shapes everything from the cars we buy to the clothes we wear to the names we give our children.

In Contagious, Berger reveals the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission. Discover how six basic principles drive all sorts of things to become contagious, from consumer products and policy initiatives to workplace rumors and YouTube videos. Learn how a luxury steakhouse found popularity through the lowly cheesesteak, why anti-drug commercials might have actually increased drug use, and why more than 200 million consumers shared a video about one of the most boring products there is: a blender.

13. ZAG by Marty Neumeier

"When everybody zigs, zag," says Marty Neumeier in this fresh view of brand strategy. ZAG follows the ultra-clear "whiteboard overview" style of the author’s first book, The Brand Gap, but drills deeper into the question of how brands can harness the power of differentiation. The author argues that in an extremely cluttered marketplace, traditional differentiation is no longer enough―today companies need “radical differentiation” to create lasting value for their shareholders and customers.

In an age of me-too products and instant communications, keeping up with the competition is no longer a winning strategy. Today you have to out-position, out-maneuver, and out-design the competition. The new rule? When everybody zigs, zag. In the Brand Gap, Neumeier showed companies how to bridge the distance between business strategy and design. In ZAG, he illustrates the number-one strategy of high-performance brands―radical differentiation.

That's a wrap!

Whether you want to add even more titles to your reading list or want to simply stay up to date on the latest in marketing tech, strategies, and trends, be sure to sign up for The CMO newsletter.

Stephanie Hood
By Stephanie Hood

Stephanie Hood is an experienced marketing professional and Editor of The CMO. With nearly a decade spent as Marketing Manager at Discover Holidays and Executive Editor at VIVA Lifestyle & Travel, she built her career leading editorial and marketing teams and strategies that turn six-figure budgets into seven-figure profits. She now enjoys connecting with the world's top executives to learn their secrets to business success, and shares those insights right here with her community of like-minded professionals. Curious what she’s uncovered? Be sure to sign up for The CMO newsletter.