Back to school. 10 books email marketers should read to get ahead

There is so much information for marketers to consume today. Blogs, guides, webinars, reports, talks and presentations. The options for self-education are almost endless.

But what happened to sitting down and reading a good book?

In a world where we are obsessed with immediacy, multi-tasking, and distractions. Taking the time out to engage with a book seems less of a priority.

But unlike online content which is regularly adapted, updated, or replaced. Many of these well-thought out, well-researched, and well-loved books have stood the test of time. Helping generations of marketers to get ahead.

So, if you need to reignite your love of a good book, then we’re here to help with our 10 books that marketers should be reading to get ahead.

Influence by Dr Robert Cialdini The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

We’ll start with a New York Times bestseller that has sold over 4 million copies. If that doesn’t persuade you to check this book out, we’re not sure what will.

For marketers, understanding what makes their audience tick, and ultimately buy, is an essential but often overlooked skill. Many brands understand the activity that works, but not the underlying reasoning. Meaning that similar activity cannot easily be replicated.

Written by Dr Robert Cialdini – the seminal expert in the area of influence and persuasion – this book takes a deep dive into explaining the psychology of why people say yes. And how you can apply his principles ethically in business, as well as everyday situations.

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman Thinking Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman is a world-famous psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. Impressive.

In this book, he takes readers on a tour of the mind by introducing and explaining the two systems which drive the way we all think. Namely, intuitive, emotional thinking. And more deliberate, logical thinking.

By reading this book marketers can glean insight into the choices that they make, and how they can avoid those ‘mental glitches’ that can cause challenges and problems.

Of course, as well as their own thinking. Kahneman’s book offers further insight into the logic of consumers and their own decision making processes.

Friction/Reward: Be your customer’s first choice by Richard Hammond Friction/Reward

Customers have access to a lot of choice, to say the least.

And this choice can often become overwhelming. Leading to decision fatigue, and sometimes avoidance of making a purchase or enquiry entirely.

In his book, Richard Hammond explains how brands can make it simpler for consumers to choose them by introducing the concept of high friction. And the pros and cons this concept can bring to the buying journey.

With the help of Hammond, marketers will learn how to understand and improve every single customer interaction in their buying journey. All with the use of the straightforward tactics he outlines in his book.

The Hidden Psychology of Social Networks by Joe Federer The Hidden Psychology of Social Networks by Joe Federer

Leading marketing thought leader, Joe Federer, utilises Freud’s model of the human psyche – Id, Ego, and Superego – to demonstrate how the internet is actually a digital reflection of the collective human psyche.

Specifically, the way that different social networks coincide with these different mindsets.

This book is ideal for brands who have, or wish to have, a significant social presence. And to understand how they can utilise this presence to deliver engagement strategies that target each specific audience on social networks.

Marketing Myopia by Theodore Levitt Marketing Myopia by Theodore Levitt 

Theodore Levitt is a highly influential scholar and former editor of Harvard Business Review, who has drastically altered the way that marketing is both studied and practised. So you immediately know that any of his books are going to be an insightful read.

In this book, Levitt utilises the failures of past companies that became obsolete due to not fully understanding the business they are in. And therefore the needs of their customers.

Levitt draws on these examples to support businesses and business leaders in focusing on their customers’ real needs. As opposed to internal ideas of what the business should be offering.

Permission Marketing by Seth Godin Permission Marketing by Seth Godin 

Former dot com business executive and Vice President of Direct Marketing at Yahoo!, Seth Godin, is one of the best-known names in the marketing industry.

Godin’s bestselling book delves into the concept of Interruption Marketing; the way that traditional advertising aims to steal our attention away from whatever we are doing. And how this no longer works.

Instead, Godin introduces Permission Marketing. Which provides incentives for consumers to engage with marketing and advertising, voluntarily.

The long-term effects of Permission Marketing are much more positive. Enabling businesses to create trust, brand awareness, and build long-term relationships with their customers.

The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar

Every day we are faced with endless choices, both big and small. And all of these choices go on to shape our futures and lives.

Sheena Iyengar is considered the world expert on choice. And her award-winning research explores how much control we really have over these choices that we make every day.

She delves into why choice is so powerful, and how we can make the best choices so we are not disappointed.

Choice can be overwhelming for consumers. Iyengar’s book is the ideal companion for marketers looking to manage the amount of choice that their consumers have, and support their decision-making process.

Fictional novels

I’ve covered a lot of business-focused books in this post. However, I am an advocate of marketers expanding their horizons through fiction as well.

Any book that gives insight into the different cultures, needs, and aspirations of audiences will always benefit marketers. And help motivate us all to gain a fuller understanding of consumers, to be more creative, and remain reflective of the customers we serve.

The Go-Giver by Bob Burg & John D Mann The Go-Giver by Bob Burg & John D Mann

The Go-Giver offers an inspiring story of an ambitious man called Joe, who is desperate for success.

He meets a series of Go-Givers, who introduce Joe to the power of giving. Soon Joe realises that by focusing on giving, putting others’ interests first, and adding value to their lives, he will soon reap the benefits in return.

The Go-Giver is a lovely tale that encourages marketers to focus on customer needs over just their business needs, and how they can go about achieving that.

Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

I likely won’t have to summarise what Alice in Wonderland is about. Chances are if you haven’t read the book you have seen one of the movies.

The reason I recommend this book for marketers is the way Caroll invites us to leave our preconceptions behind, to think outside the box, to remain curious, and not to be bound by our past experiences.

Many marketers can be stung by trying to do the same thing over and over again. By being restrained by common strategy and tactics. And not experimenting enough.

But modern-day marketing is all about being agile, reacting to events, cultural shifts, new learnings, and of course our own results.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Back in the ’90s, Neal Stephenson launched his breakthrough novel, Snow Crash.

The book is a whirlwind of cyberpunk exploration of (back then) future technologies, such as mobile computing, VR, wireless internet, smartphones, and AR headsets.

Fast forward to 2017, and Stephenson’s novel had become a hit in Silicon Valley.


Because whilst Stephenson claims he was simply “making shit up.”, he had actually predicted an astonishingly accurate depiction of today’s tech landscape.

And while we haven’t quite realised the reality of Snow Crash, this novel acts as a portal into a future we may not be far from.

Are you looking for more marketing inspiration?

As well as book suggestions, we have a wealth of experience in providing strategic and tactical inspiration for all types of marketing campaigns.

Get in touch with our team of experts to learn more.

Meet the author

Komal Helyer

VP Marketing