I’ve never seen a Marketing Book Recommendation list that I personally found helpful. A lot of them overlap, as well, sharing many of the same books in common.
And a lot of these marketing books are slogs to read. A former boss forced our company to purchase and read Measure What Matters by John Doerr. Never met the man, but I gave up on the book before I was halfway done. Just wasn’t for me.
So, I created a list that represented the books that made me the marketer and storytelling I am today. Maybe they’ll help you shift your thinking about what marketing, and storytelling, can be. Maybe not.
None of them are boring, however.
“…algorithmic oppression is not just a glitch in the system but, rather, is fundamental to the operating system of the web. It has direct impact on users and on our lives beyond using Internet applications.”
The algorithms that order, control, and deliver information are racially biased. There is discrimination baked into search engines and online advertising. This book shows you how.
The message of this book is important to me as a Black digital marketer. Not only do I need to fight against the comfort of the norms provided by search engines, but I also need to fight against them staying the norm.
“While my dad’s passion was animation, I realized that the part of the animation process I love the most was the big picture, the story itself, the invention of characters and the adventures they would go on.”
Written by a former Pixar writer, this book gives you anecdotes and examples of how to weave storytelling into your marketing and sales.
Stories are important to me. I have a degree in Creative Writing and thought I’d make my money publishing books. That didn’t happen, but my storytelling DOES help in talking to potential and current clients about marketing strategies and data.
“…The play’s the thing/wherein I’ll catch the conscious of the king“
I’m not gonna waste your time telling you what Hamlet is about. I will tell you why it’s on this list:
Don’t fall for Groupthink.
Every Shakespeare lecturer will tell you about Hamlet’s “tragic flaw,” that he procrastinates too much. That’s a bunch of bloodthirsty bullshit.
Reading the stage notes, you can count that the play takes place over 10-14 days. Hamlet isn’t procreating. He’s gathering evidence against Claudius. Also, he spends a couple of days AT FUCKING SEA! Hard to extract revenge when you’re on the ocean, away from Denmark.
Do your own research. Don’t fall for Groupthink.
“My friend Mel McGinnis was talking. Mel McGinnis is a cardiologist, and sometimes that gives him the right.”
Outside of starting to work on poetry, Raymond Carver’s writing style had a huge influence on the way I think about words. Carver’s style is about the economy of words. Tell the reader what they need to know: no more, no less.
This is what marketing needs. Simple, concise communication and storytelling.
“With the approach of autumn, a layer of long golden fur grows over their bodies. Golden in the purest sense of the word, with not the least intrusion of another hue. Theirs is a gold that comes into the world as gold and exists in this world as gold. Poised between all heaven and earth, they stand steeped in gold.”
Murakami also taught me the economy of words. Stands to reason, as he counts Raymond Carver as an inspiration. I cannot tell you much about this book, as it will ruin the story. But, suffice to say, this is a multiple read. It’s full of fun, creativity, insightfulness, and fantastical moments. Pure Murakami.
“All writing is imaginative. The translation of experience or thought into words is of itself an imaginative process. Although there is certainly such a thing as truth in writing, and we can spot falsity when we encounter it in print, these qualities are hard to define, hard to describe, and do not always depend on factual accuracy or inaccuracy. Often what is most original, that is, imaginative, is precisely what ‘rings true.'”
This was the first writing book I paid attention to. The examples are amazing, and don’t rely on the normal canon. You’ll find pieces you’ve probably never read here to illustrate her points. My first copy is still on my bookshelf, and I treat it like a child.
“Both Shepp and Davis recall having received spoken instruction before the recording began…Shepp maintains that though Coltrane ‘had a small scrap of paper himself with some chords on it, he gave it to McCoy’…Davis likewise remembers that, despite his seeing some music on paper, the direction was mostly verbal.”
John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” is the perfect album. Not just the perfect jazz album: THE PERFECT ALBUM. It’s Coltrane at the height of his powers. It’s Coltrane’s quartet at the height of its collective powers.
You’d think that this perfection was created in a lab, with every ingredient measured out, perfectly. Not so. Coltrane gave his bandmates simples notes, what key they should play in, and how long. That’s about it.
To create perfection, Coltrane gave his bandmates freedom.
Understanding this makes me a better marketer. You cannot control everything. You give your teammates instructions and freedom and expect them to deliver. Simple.
“Once we see the relationship between structure and behavior, we can begin to understand how systems work, what makes them produce poor results, and how to shift them into better behavior patterns.”
I’m going to be honest: I’m still working on fully understanding this book.
But I need to.
I believe that everything can be put into a system, and that once you understand that system, you can tame a lot of the chaos that comes with marketing, and SEO specifically.
I’m a control freak. The more I learn to recognize the systems around me, the more I’ll be able to control. Not everything, of course, but enough that I can make a bigger difference for clients.
And that’s enough.
There we go. That’s my list. So, now it’s your turn. What books would you put on a list?