Here's my curated list of the best marketing books. The lens on this list is that it has to be arguably a book that every marketer should read – books that should stand the test of time. The other two rules for this list, is that I can't include ...

Best Books for Marketers [continuously updated] and more | bwagy

Best Books for Marketers [continuously updated]

Here’s my curated list of the best marketing books. The lens on this list is that it has to be arguably a book that every marketer should read – books that should stand the test of time. The other two rules for this list, is that I can’t include anything published in the last two years, to help focus on the books which are weighty and I must have read them first hand.

This does introduce constraints but should mean we have a slow moving rather than a fast changing list.

For any suggestions tweet me @bwagy, I’ll add to the list to read and update.

Timeless Marketing Books

These are books I think ALL marketers should read.

How brands grow. A refresh on the latest research on how brands grow and what you can do to help.

22 Immutable Rules of Marketing (and Branding). A solid reminder of the power of the basics – and as marketers we do tend to over complicate things.

80/20 Principle by Richard Koch.

Ignore Everybody by Hugh Macleod. Coming at it from the creativity angle, the best marketers are creative, or can at least manage or create the conditions for creativity to happen.

Confessions of an Advertising Man and Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy. The classics.

And finally, whilst it’s not a pick off your shelf and read the whole thing, Philip Kotler (yes from university) does keep an up to date on the latest thinking in marketing management.

Old trends but still relevant

Free by Chris Anderson and The Long Tail.

Permission Marketing by Seth Godin (and actually any Seth Godin, All Marketers are Liars and Purple Cow).

Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

Upcoming potentials

I haven’t yet read these but have been suggested via peers. Once I read may/may not add to the list.

Where the Suckers Moon: The Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign

Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Huge Trends

Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins. Oft recommended by the greats of advertising.

Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz

The Content Trap by Bharat Anand.

The Cluetrain Manifesto by David Weinburger.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini.

Any I’ve missed, you’d vouch for or recommend? Tweet me @bwagy or send me an email.


Setting yearly goals

I have done this as far back as I can remember.

One neat thing (which I love) is that my wife/I will formulate ours independently.

Then a couple of weeks in to the year we sit down, compare and identify our shared goals. We then write them and put up on the wall.

It keeps us both accountable but is a way more fun process. And means we know what we’re working so hard for.


Personal Media, the next ‘actual’ frontier of digital

As we begin the second order effects of a post-social world.

We are zagging back to closer, more personal networks but enriched with the benefits that social brought us.

Case in point, Instagram sending stories only to close friends.

Apples Photo Memories, or Google Photos

iMessage/FB Message/Snap threads, groups.

Social provided the email layer to organize our broader networks, now we’re going deeper with our closest peers.

An interesting by-product of this, is how attention is shifting from the broad to the nice and more relevant.

And also, how you can spend 40 minutes looking at memories in Photos, prior videos or stories of trips.

I think this next frontier is from social to personal media.



Reducing to the bare essentials.

What (and only) what is required, at the bare minimum.

When we built Nudge we went through this process, stripping away anything that wasn’t essential to the product.

How we got there was:

  • Phase 1, we reduced our rough version to the bare basics.
  • Phase 2, we then dramatically expanded out the functionality we needed.
  • Phase 3, we then used an existing library to display all of this functionality (it was terrible).
  • Phase 4, we then dramatically reduced, removed colours, layers, buttons, menus, just to the absolute bare minimum.
  • Phase 5, iterate and continue to refine.

This helped make the product distinctive and create an air of simplicity – for a product that is data centric, a great outcome.

As we grow though, there is always the tendency to creep. Why don’t we sneak this in here, or maybe we just put this in this menu. Complexity sneaks up on you.

That’s ok, as long as we keep our commitment to reducing. For some periods of time we’ll be off but we’ll mostly be on track.

It’s like any project it takes commitment, discipline and focus.

And that’s the fun part of the journey.


The end of the beginning

Really enjoyed this talk from Benedict Evans.

It’s fast paced 🙂 but follow along. He speaks to where we’ve come from in the past 20 years and to where it’s going.

Well, as much as you can at this juncture.

Give it a watch, or do a walk and listen. It’s 23 minutes but well worth it.


The practical segway (i.e. how you can think about it). Is if you are in business today through this change – is attention rationalization.

For the past 20 years the amount of attention consumers have given digital screens has gone up year on year. With growing attention it was easy for us all to get more of it – as there was growing appetite.

However that will slow dramatically, for the sheer fact that there is only so much attention in a day.

Pair this, with at this point, most (if not all) of your customers are connected to the internet. And expect some or all of your service to be digitally enabled.

In that world, the amount of attention is a real currency.

The nearest proxy today is a CPC or CPV. Once you remove all the ‘fake attention’ from juiced metrics and bots. It really is a fixed currency, where everyone is competing against everyone else, all the time.

Seems silly but a Netflix show is competing with your reddit thread, is competing with the time you have to research a new doctor.

^ Someone right now is nodding as they read this.

Businesses which don’t adjust will simply evaporate. If they can’t earn digital attention, they are invisible to the market.

A blunt example is the rise of DTC brands, the brands flooding Instagram. Being top of mind drives sales – and if you can’t ‘earn’ attention in the feed. You lose out immediately. This small extrapolation can roll out to the entire digital mix.

As Ben alludes to, software eats attention.


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