13 Inspiring Business Books Marketing Pros are Reading

The kind of people who work at Avalaunch Media are people who want to constantly improve their game. We also want to follow this advice from Forbes about reading books that sounds a little like a fortune cookie message:

“Make sure to read a book a month (fiction or non-fiction) and your career will blossom.”

We asked everyone on staff to come up with business books they want to read this year as a team. If you knew any of us, you could likely accurately predict who recommended which books. Either way, this should keep us busy for years. If you’d like to follow along, here’s our list of

13  business books we’re reading and why you should read them too

1. Your Network Is Your Net Worth – Porter Gale 

Having a strong network can get you jobs, save your job and make you smarter. This book, written by Porter Gale, who is a woman sometimes assumed to be a man (read the Amazon reviews), will help you build yours. Porter has tested this out. She blogs for AdAge and The Huffington Post. She’s also the former Vice President of Marketing at Virgin America, a topic that will come up again later in this post.

2. Contagious: Why Things Catch On – Jonah Berger

ContagiousIf you’re in marketing or PR you’re judged on pickup. What makes some things go big while other ideas fall flat? Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger studied that. He looked at “why New York Times articles make the 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 …” He distilled his findings into 6 basic principles that makes something become contagious (or go viral) and follows it up with lots of stories and case studies. Of course there’s no magic formula for creativity, that’s the ingredient every marketer must add, but it helps to see what has actually worked to inspire you.  

3. The Tipping Point: How Small Things Can Make A Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell

You’ve likely heard of this book, but have you read it? Its point? In our world, major changes can happen rapidly (like the recent news that Jeff Besos, CEO of Amazon, is buying The Washington Post for $250  million). Word of mouth is how this rapid change happens. Since we’re all in the business of creating change that keeps our business and careers growing, we better be good at it.

4. The 4-Hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss

4-Hour-Work-Week-by-Tim-FerrisThis is the book that brought  lifestyle design to the mainstream. It also worries Greg Young a bit. He wrote: “I imagine from the sound of this book it would just encourage us to quit here and start something on our own…so maybe not a good book for us, but I was interested in reading it.” Truthfully, we’re all worried he’ll launch his own fashion business, but we hope he’ll stay and manage PPC campaigns like a boss. While few people may want  or actually achieve a 4- hour workweek, there’s are solid ideas about how to be more efficient at work. The inspiring stories and examples from Tim Ferris will have you dreaming about crossing things like “take tango lessons in Brazil” from your bucket list.

5. Losing My Virginity – Richard Branson

A salacious title, but this book  is not about what you might think so get your mind out of the gutter. Instead, its about PR genius Richard Branson and what he learned from starting companies like Virgin Airlines. He’s probably the king of doing it your way. He’s built successful businesses and looks like he’s having a good time. If losing his virginity was anything like the publicity stunts he pulls, you can be assured it won’t be boring!

6. Crush It! – Gary Vaynerchuk 

The most memorable part of this book, besides his spot on business advice, is how Gary was born to be an entrepreneur. As a kid, he didn’t just set up a lemonade stand, he set up a lemonade business. He opened franchises on the block and the other kids paid him an override on all of their sales.  After reading this book, we’re thinking the first time he saw his parents, he didn’t cry for the reason most newborns cry. Instead it was from happiness that comes from having a deep passion for life. In other words, he was born this way.

google-marketing7. Google+ Marketing for Dummies – Jesse Stay

Most marketers and businesses are reluctant or not as interested as they ought to be in using Google+ for marketing. Google is still the powerhouse in search (with 67% of the search market) and Facebook is still a closed network, so marketers need to get on board. From optimizing your profile with photos that show up in Google Carousel, to ranking your content better (esp. with Google authorship), you’ve got to do Google+ better (or at least pay us to help you). Not only that, we know the author, who is from the amazing state of Utah.

8. Business Model Generation – Alexander Osterwalder

“Business Model Generation is a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers…If your organization needs to adapt to harsh new realities, but you don’t yet have a strategy that will get you out in front of your competitors, you need Business Model Generation.” While most of our book list focuses on ideas and inspiration, this one is about execution and evolving your business, by following a plan.

9. Lean UX – Jeff Gothelf

UX Design stands for “User Experience Design” and its about improving the “user experience”. This skill is vital for creating effective landing pages, websites and products. The book promises to tell you “how to rapidly experiment with design ideas, validate them with real users, and continually adjust your design based on what you learn.” Rather than focusing on what you want in the end, you learn to design so that you deliver an experience the whole time. There is a method in the madness and we want to learn it.

10. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – Simon Sinek 

The almost 300, practically perfect reviews on Amazon alone are enough to make me read this book. That and his approach which is to lead by inspiring others. His bio describes it in this way: “Simon Sinek is an optimist. He teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people.” One reviewer called it the best business book she’s read in the past 5 years. The premise? The best qualified, most funded or educated people or businesses are not necessarily the greatest.

If it’s too long, listen to his TED Talk that has over 11 million views: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

11. All Marketers are Liars – Seth Godin

Who is Seth Godin calling a liar? Oh wait, what he’s really doing is pointing out how good marketing really works, that is, it tells a great story. And the story is more about connection and entertainment than merely a collection of facts. Stories are effective because, Godin says, people prefer fantasy to reality. They expect us to lie. So rather than being honest, he says be convincing and when you’re lying, “live the lie, fully and completely”. So basically you’ll learn how to be a better liar.

12. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future – Dan Pink

whole-new-mindCongratulations right brained coworkers, Dan Pink says you rule the future. Seth Godin would absolutely agree with him when he says, “The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic “right-brain” thinkers…” Rather than Godin’s style of sharing, Pink makes a list of specific traits you need. He cites six “fundamentally human abilities that are absolute essentials for professional success and personal fulfillment–and reveals how to master them.”



13. The Art of Enchantment – Guy Kawasaki

enchantmentEnchantment is such an enchanting word. It describes something that “transforms situations and relationships…converts hostility into civility and civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers and the undecided into the loyal.” We don’t usually think of being enchanted at work, but if we can enchant people we can wield more power over them than “traditional persuasion, influence, or marketing techniques.” This is our first book. We’re prepared to be enchanted, and as anyone who’s heard one of Guy’s moving speeches, we expect that he will not let us down.

Of course we want to know what you think of our list. Any titles you want to add?

9 thoughts on “13 Inspiring Business Books Marketing Pros are Reading

    • newspapergrl says:

      Go ahead, blog it anyway (and share the link – we’ll tweet it). I want to read what you have to say, even if you chose some of the same books.

      • Lyndon Antcliff says:

        Thanks. I should, but it always gives you pause when someone comes out with something just as you are thinking about it, as no one wants to get accused of ripping an idea off. As these were similar books I was going to use, I may tack another way.

        All good stuff though and I guess great minds think alike 😉

  1. Carrie Hill says:

    I have 3 to add – they’re my favorites 🙂

    FISH! by Lundin, Paul and Christiansen is a MUST for anyone who manages anyone, from 1 person to 100,000 people. Do you need to follow their principles? No – but it gives some great insight into how your employees HEAR your message and interpret your actions. I read this years before I started in marketing, or even managed an employee. It still sticks with me.

    Made to Stick – by Chip and Dan Heath – This book was one of the first “business books” I read and it was really inspirational to an intermediate marketer.

    The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau inspired me to start my own business, instead of spending my life working for someone else.

    The theme here? Inspirational and easy to read 🙂 From your list, my faves are The Tipping Point and Crush It! Great post idea as well.

  2. Cris Trautner says:

    I picked up “Youtility” by Jay Baer because of a recommendation; not finished, but it’s solid so far. I also plan to start “White Papers for Dummies” by Gordon Graham before too long; we’re working on developing our content marketing along with our redeveloped website. It also came recommended.

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