If you’re anything like me, the start of a new year signals a fresh start for new goals, new learnings, and new accomplishments. Whether it’s in your personal or professional life, a fresh calendar year creates the perfect timeline and opportunity to push the boundaries of your capabilities, better your skills and step outside of your comfort zone.
I’ve always been a big reader, so naturally, one of my recurring resolutions is to read a certain number of books per year—typically on topics that align with my career like email marketing, influencer marketing, online marketing, social media, copywriting, SEO, and the like. For this, it helps to already have a list of great books ready and waiting, and so, I present to you, 28 of the best marketing books for marketing professionals to read in 2023.
Chief Marketing Officers at Work
A book coach for high-performance entrepreneurs, Josh Steimle’s Chief Marketing Officers at Work contains 29 in-depth, candid interviews with CMOs from major organizations like GE, the Harvard Business School, Spotify, Target, and Zendesk. The book reveals not only how CMOs and other top marketers got to where they are today, but the skills they use to thrive in their roles and how they continuously adapt to changes in technology, language, and culture.
The 1 Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand Out From The Crowd
Beginning with a cheeky warning not to read this book if you hate money, Allan Dib’s The 1 Page Marketing Plan educates the reader on how to stop doing random acts of marketing and how to instead start following a reliable plan for rapid growth. It may sound easier said than done, but it breaks down exactly how you can get new customers, make more profit from existing ones, close sales, and create your own marketing plan that is literally one page.
Blue Ocean Strategy
With over four million copies sold and published in a record-breaking 46 languages, you know Blue Ocean Strategy is onto something big. A must-read based on a study of 150 strategic moves across 30 industries, authors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne challenge everything you thought you knew about strategic success, and argue how cutthroat competition results in nothing but a bloody ocean of rivals. Their alternative? Untapped new market spaces.
Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years
We all love a good success story, but let’s be honest, we’ll lap up a story about a major business failure just as fast. Arguably, it’s so we can learn from those mistakes, which is exactly the idea behind Paul B. Carrol and Chunka Mui’s book, Billion Dollar Lessons. Drawing on research into more than 750 crash-and-burn scenarios from recent times, they reveal the seven biggest reasons for business failure so you can learn from them in a far less expensive way.
Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It
Executive consultant, speaker and author April Dunford is a globally recognized expert in positioning and market strategy, and her book Obviously Awesome reveals some of the key ingredients to her secret sauce. Punctuated with witty anecdotes and case studies, it covers everything from how to choose the best market for your products to how to use distinct positioning styles to your advantage. The result? Whether you’re a startup or an already-established business, everyone will finally realize just how awesome your product really is.
Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers
A groundbreaking concept that enables marketers to shape their message so consumers will willingly accept it, Seth Godin's Permission Marketing introduces a fundamentally different way of thinking about advertising. In it, consumers receive incentives to accept advertising voluntarily, so companies only reach out to individuals who have already signaled an interest. In doing so, they successfully develop long-term, trusting relationships.
This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See
Another book by Seth Godin—which isn’t surprising since he’s the author of 20 international bestsellers—This is Marketing offers the very core of his wisdom by sharing how to do work you're proud of. No matter your product or service, or whether you're a tech startup founder, a small business owner, or part of a large corporation, this book explains how to build trust with your target market while decoding the art of positioning and the best way to achieve your goals.
How to Grow Your Small Business: A 6-Step Plan to Help Your Business Take Off
For those in the business world who want to grow their small business, this book by Donald Miller offers an easy, step-by-step approach to crafting messages that resonate with your customer so you can create a movement around your mission or campaign. Learn how to build a campaign that flows across key customer touchpoints, then utilize the same straightforward advice to create subsequent campaigns that leave a direct impact.
Hacking Growth: How Today's Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success
In our lifetime, we’ve seen many companies grow from humble beginnings into enormous powerhouses. Just think of Airbnb, Uber, Netflix and Facebook. While we know it’s possible, we often struggle to figure out exactly how such feats are accomplished, and better yet, how we can replicate that kind of success. Enter Hacking Growth, a book by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown about the Growth Hacking methodology. Not only does it act as a practical toolkit, it walks you through the process of creating your own custom strategy.
Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers
In some scenarios we love a hater—like when we’re doing something so well it’s made another person jealous—but in business, haters can cause very real and serious problems. Thankfully, marketing and customer service expert Jay Baer is here to help with Hug Your Haters. The book defines two two types of complainers–onstage and offstage–and shows us how to make even the worst scenarios positive by turning bad news into good outcomes.
Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success
A true marketing expert, Gary Vaynerchuk took his family wine business and grew it from $3M to $60M in just five years. In Twelve and a Half, he shares the 12 (and yes, a half) human ingredients that have led to his success and happiness and provides exercises to help you develop these traits in yourself.
These can help you land promotions, retain core employees, move faster than competitors, win the loyalty of customers, and build successful organizations.
The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life
It’s common knowledge that when we’re happy, other areas in our lives also improve. In fact, research shows that happy employees are more productive, creative, and better problem solvers than unhappy ones–and the more positive we are, the healthier we are. But, how do we get there? In International Bestseller The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Anchor shows us exactly how to rewire our brains for positivity and optimism to reap the benefits in our lives.
Leading Through the Turn: How a Journey Mindset Can Help Leaders Find Success and Significance
Filled with plenty of motorcycle metaphors, Elise Mitchell’s Leading Through the Turn asks three questions—where do you want to go, how do you plan to get there, and are you enjoying the journey—and provides insight on how to pick a destination, focus on the road ahead, prepare for some twists, and get ready for the ride of your life. Whether you’re just stepping into leadership or are already an accomplished one, this book offers a truly refreshing approach.
Performance Partnerships: The Checkered Past, Changing Present & Exciting Future of Affiliate Marketing
The #1 Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and international bestselling author of six books, Robert Glazer’s writing has reached millions of readers all around the globe. In Performance Partnerships, he focuses on affiliate marketing and examines its roots and evolution to share a better understanding of its impact as a vital form of direct-to-consumer digital marketing. After all, it’s a pretty good deal to pay only for marketing that delivers actual, quantifiable results.
Stories that Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business
Great storytelling can accomplish many things, from helping leaders better communicate to motivating sales teams and winning customers. In this book by storyteller and nationally-known speaker Kindra Hall, you’ll learn about four unique stories that stick—the Value Story, Founder Story, Purpose Story and Customer Story—so you can use the right marketing messages to differentiate your business, captivate your customer base, and elevate your brand.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
The concept of ‘stickiness’ continues with Made to Stick, a book by Chip and Dan Heath that explores a variety of success and failure stories to break down why some ideas thrive while others die. It covers concepts like the “human scale principle,” “Velcro Theory of Memory,” and the creation of “curiosity gaps” to improve the chances of worthy ideas and make them even more memorable. This book is a fantastic read that ultimately reveals how you can transform the way you communicate ideas and make strong marketing campaigns.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
We’ve all been there—in that deep work headspace where we find incredible focus and knock out task after task. But how do we stay there, or conjure it when we need to? In Deep Work, author and professor Cal Newport presents plenty of no-nonsense advice plus a rigorous training regimen in which you can transform your mind and habits to support the skill of deep work.
Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade
Named “the foremost expert on effective persuasion” by Harvard Business Review, Robert Cialdini is a thought leader in the field of Influence and has spent his entire career conducting, testing, analyzing, and publishing peer-reviewed scientific research on what causes people to say “Yes.” In Pre-Suasion, he explains what separates effective communicators from truly successful persuaders, and shows you how to become a master yourself.
Content Inc: Start a Content-First Business, Build a Massive Audience and Become Radically Successful (With Little to No Money)
Both the name of this book by Joe Pulizzi and his podcast, Content Inc. is the go-to guide to building a business by establishing a loyal audience before you sell a thing. Through this book, you’ll learn how to identify where your expertise meets the future of your customer’s needs, find and fill a space with cost-efficient content where little or no competition exists, establish your number-one channel, and then expand into multiple channels.
Top of Mind: Use Content to Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter to You
Coming straight to you from John Hall and the number one company dominating content marketing, Top of Mind shows how you can use content in your digital marketing strategy to keep your brand front and center in the minds of decision makers who matter. You’ll not only learn how consumer needs and expectations have changed, but also what this shift means for you and how you can build a helpful, authentic and consistent brand.
Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets
In a time when it’s no longer enough to simply create new products, companies seek instead to create entirely new categories. In Play Bigger, the founders of a Silicon Valley advisory firm rely on data analysis and interviews to understand how certain companies have found new ways of thinking or doing business. Just think of Amazon, Salesforce, Uber and IKEA—each solved a problem that we didn’t even know we had. Like them, you can also find enormous success.
Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind
We all know how difficult it is to be seen and heard in an overcrowded marketplace, be it on Google, television, radio, or through social media marketing. In Positioning, advertising gurus Al Ries and Jack Trout use their signature witty, fast-paced style to reveal their approach to creating a "position" that gets into a prospective customer’s subconscious and stays there. Learn how to capture the biggest market share, build your strategy around your competitors’ weaknesses, and become a household name.
The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
The best-known work of the Harvard professor and businessman Clayton Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma is both a Wall Street Journal and Businessweek bestseller and one of the most influential business books of all time. Offering successes and failures from leading companies and business owners, you’ll learn why most miss out on new waves of innovation and how a certain set of rules can help you to capitalize on disruptive innovation.
Contagious: Why Things Catch On
We also listed this one in our article Most Popular Books Read by CMOs in 2022, and for good reason. In Contagious, Jonah Berger reveals the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission, sharing six basic principles that can make everything from consumer products to policy initiatives popular. Complete with specific, actionable techniques for helping information spread, this book will show you how to make your ideas catch on.
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
A New York Times bestseller and business classic, Crucial Conversations offers something unique from the other books on this list: powerful skills to ensure every conversation leads to the results you want. From learning how to respond when someone initiates a crucial conversation to identifying and addressing the lag time between identification and discussion of a problem, you’ll learn how to communicate effectively, even―and especially―when stakes are high.
Principles: Life and Work
Hailed as being both instructive and surprisingly moving by The New York Times, Principles by Ray Dalio argues that life, management, economics, and investing can all be systemized into rules and understood like machines. Filled with hundreds of practical lessons, the book describes the most effective ways to make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams while offering a clear, straightforward approach to your decision-making.
Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy
Founder and chairman of a firm that operates across five continents and more than 30 countries, Martin Lindstrom has been named by TIME Magazine as one of the “World’s 100 Most Influential People.” In Buyology, he presents the findings from an incredibly deep, three-year neuromarketing study into why people buy, revealing surprising results like how “cool” brands trigger our mating instincts and how sex actually doesn’t sell.
The End of Marketing As We Know It
At the end of our article, we have The End of Marketing As We Know It, a book about how the marketing strategies of today simply don't work. Best known for reinventing the Coca-Cola Company's marketing approach through the launch of Diet Coke and New Coke (among others), Sergio Zyman explores why feel-good marketing is pointless, how marketing is more science than art, and how a well-honed strategy is far more important to success than what ads say.
Ready to Get Reading?
Armed with 28 different books for your reading list by some of the best in the business, there’s no limit to what you and your marketing team can learn from any single one. While you're here, don’t forget to subscribe to The CMO newsletter for the best strategies, tools, techniques and tips.