Jan 30, 2014
By Jen Ribble
Digital Marketing

Now that we're almost a month into the new year, you've probably already broken or abandoned most of your New Year's resolutions. Or maybe that's just me.

But it's not too late to make a professional development resolution for the year. How about catching up on your reading? Staying sharp is difficult in an industry that changes as quickly as ours, but it will be much easier if you can set aside an hour or two each week to learn from the experts.

The only question is… what to read?

A quick Google search will yield plenty of opinions about the "best marketing books" or "best business books." But this is my blog post, so I'm going to list MY favorites. Some of them are classics while others are relatively new. Some take a bit of effort to consume while others (like #10) are just plain fun. But each one has something important to teach us. Enjoy!

  1. Permission Marketing (Seth Godin)
    For digital marketers, this is really the book that started it all. The concept of "permission marketing" seems obvious today, but in 1999 it was ground breaking.
  2. Contagious: Why Things Catch On (Jonah Berger)
    This book provides brilliant insights into the psychology behind infectious content , techniques to create "triggers" that make people think of your brand, and the secret ingredients to drive word-of-mouth marketing.
  3. Social Media ROI (Olivier Blanchard)
    Chock-full of best practices and practical solutions, this book demystifies the business of social media. It's an invaluable tool to anyone trying to sell social media strategy in a "traditional" business environment.
  4. YOUtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help Not Hype (Jay Baer)
    Want your marketing efforts to succeed? Try being helpful ! YOUtility provides real-world examples of companies that have moved beyond selling to provide real value -- and built a fiercely loyal audience along the way.
  5. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion  (Robert Cialdini)
    This classic book on persuasion is one of the all-time bestsellers among psychology-based business books. While not specific to digital marketing, it definitively explains what makes people say "yes."
  6. Epic Content Marketing (Joe Pulizzi)
    As a content marketer, this one is truly close to my heart. Joe Pulizzi provides a roadmap for developing content that is so engaging and so moving that people will actively seek it out -- in other words, EPIC content.
  7. Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity (Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn)
    While not strictly a marketing  book, this fascinating (and quick) read shines a light on the overly complex, hyper-technologized rabbit warren of choices that we've all come to accept as "normal."
  8. Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans, and Followers (Jeff Rohrs)
    Full disclosure: Jeff is both a friend and a colleague, but that doesn't change the fact that this book is brilliant. Building and engaging a long-term audience is no longer optional. It's mission-critical for any business that wants to survive -- and "Audience" shows you how.
  9. Creative Confidence (Tom Kelley and David Kelley)
    Required reading for anyone who's ever thought "I'm just not the creative type." In fact, creativity is a skill that must be developed and exercised regularly. Through inspiring examples and entertaining narrative, this book demonstrates how to build that creative "muscle."
  10. QR Code Kill Kittens (Scott Stratten)
    Unlike almost every other business and marketing book on the market, this one tells you what NOT to do. And shows you what NOT to do. In hilarious fashion. Do yourself a favor and just buy this book, before another kitten dies.

Have you read any of the above? What did you think? What other books would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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