What marketing books do CEOs, Presidents, and CMOs recommend reading? To find out, I reached out to a few from different industries. Last week, I shared a list of recommendations about leadership, performance, and business management (see here for the list). Below, I share a list of marketing-related recommendations that is sure to inspire some discussion and perhaps a little debate.
Brian Hansberry, CEO, Nonni’s Foods
How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know, by Byron Sharp. As somebody who spent my early career at Procter and Gamble, I was trained to segment a market and identify a target to focus on. Sharp’s book challenges much of this thinking, arguing instead that the key to market share leadership is broad penetration, rather than targeted loyalty. The reason why I like the book is because it challenges conventional thinking, has led to a number of debates, and has opened my mind (and others) to alternative models of thinking. Whether you agree with Sharp or not, this is a book that will have you thinking for months and years to come.
Note: Brian and I have been debating the pros and cons of this book and I heartily recommend it, not because I agree with Sharp’s point of view, but because it is thought- and debate-provoking.
Mike Marcellin, Chief Marketing Officer, Juniper Networks
Hacking Marketing: Agile Practices to Make Marketing Smarter, Faster, and More Innovative, by Scott Brinker. This is a straight-up-the-hill look at the lessons learned from software development and its transformation to agile development and how it can be applied to our increasingly fluid digital marketing world. Digital marketing and big data give us an unprecedented opportunity to change how we do marketing – more agile, more iterative, and more experimental. This book gives practical advice about implementing an agile marketing approach and customizing it to your business. It also touches on other parallels between modern marketing and software development like dynamic strategy development, placing options bets, and the impact of top talent on your success. You don’t have to know a thing about software to benefit from this book, but if you do, the immediate benefits you can gain from going agile will be crystal clear. It has certainly shaped my thinking on how to evolve my organization to be more nimble and make a bigger impact on our growth.
Norman Guadagno, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Carbonite
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, by Robert M. Pirsig. The recent passing of Robert Pirsig encouraged me to pull out this book and read it again this summer. In a time where the very notion of truth is being publicly debated, and where marketing has swung deep into the realm of more “science” than “art,” this book is very timely. It causes the reader to think deeply about the idea of quality, how to see an argument from both sides, and what really matters as we create the world around us.
Andrea Riley, Chief Marketing Officer, Ally Financial
Brand Admiration: Building a Business People Love, by Eisingerich, Park, and Macinnis. This book intrigued me from the title because it’s what we have strived to do at Ally. It’s a fascinating study of practical business sense, intersected by psychology and basic human emotions that attract us to brands. It examines the intrinsic value of admired brands and has helped me think about ways we can enhance perceptions to unlock greater value for our brand. I love the fact that the writers help make the case for the power of strong brands and back that up with empirical data and practical solutions.
Brent Walker, EVP & CMO, c2b solutions
The Power of Myth, by Jospeh Campbell: Campbell is widely known for his work on story, myth and symbols and has influenced millions of people. However, his ideas have profound implications in business and marketing, as one can more effectively frame a concept or proposition in terms that resonate with your audience. Whether it’s positioning your product or service in the marketplace or gaining alignment and advocacy to decisions in one’s own company, the ability to convey an idea in story with universally recognized elements enhances your chances for success.
Guy Burgstahler, President, Hashtag 55 Marketing
Sacred Contracts, by Caroline Myss. Sacred Contracts explores the concepts of archetypes in great detail. By identifying your own archetypes and coming to know your archetypal companions, you learn ways to accept and adapt to behaviors in a more productive manner. This understanding is directly applicable to leadership abilities, such as inspiring and motivating individuals and teams.
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