In the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of inbound marketing, the key to success is to always be observing, adapting, and learning. You need to be a lifelong student of the industry and how it changes. And sometimes, like all great students, that means you need to hit the books.
There is a wealth of business and marketing books out there for new or even seasoned marketers to indulge in, but with so many options, it can be difficult to know which ones deserve the time of day.
In this article, I’ve shared a collection of ten must-reads that every marketer should have on their business bookshelf.
From growth hacking and copywriting to performance and PR, each title touches upon an essential part of the inbound methodology, in hopes that you’ll walk away with a well-rounded understanding of it as you turn the last page.
Don’t worry; there won’t be a pop quiz after this, but I can’t guarantee it won’t show up on the test during your next team meeting.
So, grab your Kindle (or if you’re like me, your old school bookmark), here are the 10 books every marketer needs to have in their library.
1) Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
When I first started at IMPACT, this is all that anyone would talk about. I just sat there thinking “Dang, am I the only one who’s never seen a purple cow before?”
Ok, no. I never really thought that, but I would’ve considering how popular the book was in the office and throughout the industry.
In Purple Cow, world-renowned Marketer and Author, Seth Godin, urges businesses big and small to create remarkable products (or offer remarkable services); things that people in their industry would talk about and would ultimately market and sell themselves.
While the book offers a great deal of inspiration and noteworthy examples, it also ends with an actionable checklist for creating a remarkable product.
Overall, it is a must-read for any budding entrepreneur.
2) Inbound Marketing: Attract, Engage and Delight Customers Online by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah
No one is more at the forefront of inbound marketing than HubSpot’s Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. In this must-read, the technology giants outline the intricate Inbound Methodology in a way that is easy to understand and follow.
From using your website as a marketing hub to attract leads, right down the sales funnel, this read from Halligan and Shah is a wonderful introduction to the world of inbound marketing for any beginner.
3) All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin
Another page-turner from Seth Godin, All Marketers Are Liars talks about the importance of authentic storytelling as a brand and the role it plays in inbound marketing.
It is scientifically proven that human beings respond to stories. They make messages easier to remember and make a deeper emotional impact than standalone statements. It is because of this that Godin, contrary to his title, calls all great marketers storytellers, not liars.
He then goes on to use examples of organic products, the Goodyear Blimp, and even Cold Stone Creamery to illustrate the power of marketing an authentic story and how to do so effectively.
4) Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne
In Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne explore the idea that success lies in making your competition irrelevant. In other words, businesses need to create “clear waters”, free of competition, in order to corner their market and thrive.
As the team explains, this is achieved through offering unmatched value using these four principles:
- Creating uncontested market space by reconstructing market boundaries,
- Focusing on the big picture,
- Reaching beyond existing demand
- Getting the strategic sequence right
5) Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday
Much like Purple Cow, Growth Hacker Marketing starts from the ground-up, arguing that great marketing starts with the product at hand. If you’re creating a product that people actually want and need, then half of your battle is already won; you won’t have to sell it to the masses, they’ll demand it.
With this strong product to begin with, Holiday teaches that businesses then need to think-outside of the traditional marketing avenues and make use of low-cost digital alternatives. He helps illustrate his point using examples from his own meteoric rise in marketing as well as stories from tech giants like Hotmail, Dropbox, and Instagram.
6) Marketing Performance Blueprint by Paul Roetzer
While in it, Paul Roetzer of PR 20/20 tackles inbound from more of an agency standpoint, Marketing Performance Blueprint has a number of valuable insights for marketers in general.
Aside from his personal research and experience, Roetzer shares the processes, tools, and strategies needed to build successful, performance-driven organizations, while also touching upon creating remarkable customer experiences and building a strong team.
7) The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott
This addition to our collection is now in its fifth edition -- so I think it’s safe to say that it’s just that good.
In this must-read, international best-selling author and marketer, David Meerman Scott, teaches traditional marketers how to use both new and old methods to reach modern buyers. From social media and blogs to press releases and online video, Scott lays out all of the basics for any marketer looking to balance the inbound and outbound worlds.
8) Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
I have to admit; I’m a bit of F-Ann Girl.
Inbound marketing success depends greatly on the quality of content that you produce, and quite frankly, no one produces more high-quality content than Ann Handley in my book.
In her baby, Everybody Writes, Ann teaches readers how to write more valuable, relatable copy that will truly resonate with their target audience and increase conversions. In addition to these content creation tips, Ann also includes a long list of resources that you can use to keep learning and get your message out to even more people.
(Not to mention, with her unique sense of humor and pop culture references this one’s full of tweet-worthy quotes.)
9) Youtility by Jay Baer
Are you helping or selling? That’s the question Jay Baer poses to businesses in this New York Times Best-Seller.
As he explains, Baer believes that if you sell a product to someone, you get a customer for today, but if you help that person through valuable content, a unique experience, and a high-quality product, you’ll have a customer for life.
With this in mind, his book teaches businesses how to be “genuinely and inherently useful” in order to stand out from their competition. In an age where everyone (and their mom) can create and share content, this is the only way your brand can stand out from the noise and Jay wants to make sure you do.
10) The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout
Last, but not least, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing strives to investigate the “science” behind marketing success. According to the authors, all successful marketing campaigns can attribute their accomplishments to the 22 laws outlined in their book.
Using examples from big brands like Nordstrom and Crest, Ries and Trout help prove their point and show you how to apply the 22 laws to any organization’s marketing.