“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Just when you think you’ve mastered marketing, out comes a new theory, best practice, piece of advice, or philosophy to try. The best way to keep on top of change is to expand your mind through continuous learning and professional development. 

At the end of every episode of our FiredUp! podcast, we ask our guests to share the books they’re currently reading or often recommend to others looking to expand their marketing knowledge. Some of our guests are even authors themselves! We’ve compiled some of the top recommendations for you here:

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

There’s no better place for this list to start than with a book that comes recommended by both  Scott Schwarzhoff and Katie King. If you’re one of the 11 million viewers who have watched Simon Sinek’s famous TEDx Talk on YouTube, then you’ll be familiar with his Golden Circle approach. It has become a popular model for many marketers worldwide and feels especially relevant in this era of purpose-led communications. Start with Why explores the model in far more detail and is essential reading for startup marketers tasked with crafting messaging, voice, and identity at a time when customers crave authenticity.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

As every marketer can attest, not every tactic will have its desired effect and not every campaign will be successful. If there was some secret formula for getting it right every time, then we’d all either be fabulously wealthy and acclaimed or out of a job entirely. Scott Schwarzhoff’s second recommendation of Made to Stick is the closest we’ll get to understanding why some of our messaging resonates while other attempts fall flat, and is full of really interesting psychosocial studies on memory, emotion, and motivation. 

The Diary of a First Time CMO by Alice de Courcy

Wouldn’t it also be nice if there was some sort of handbook to being a startup CMO? It’d be impossible to write, as no two CMO roles are the same, but there’s still a lot we can learn from others who have held the title. Our next selection comes from Jamie Hallitt, who recommends The Diary of a First Time CMO, Alice de Courcy’s personal reflections as the CMO of Cognism. The book spans four years and gives insight into Alice’s experiences helping grow her team from 3 to 39, scale ARR to $50+ million, and shape Cognism into a market leader. It’s honest, vulnerable, and offers loads of brilliant advice and knowledge for those in the role or aspiring to it.

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

Open source businesses and startups face the same challenge: Where do you find uncontested space in which you can grow? And once you find that, how can you start to move into more contested space? Those are the questions that Jonathan Symonds’s recommendation, Blue Ocean Strategy, answers with a systematic approach for beating competition and capturing market share. You may be familiar with the strategy from the popular 2004 HBR article where it originated, but the book modernizes the theory and provides actionable strategies for marketers to apply today.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott

Our own VP of Content Marketing Nicole Pytel often describes content marketing as the “then what?” of all PR and digital marketing activities. SEO and PR usher prospects in, but content is that next step that guides them down the funnel. More businesses are beginning to understand the value of content, but don’t know how to use it strategically to their advantage.

That’s where Bill Odell’s “must read” recommendation can help. The goal of content isn’t to sell – though that is of course the desired outcome – but rather to inform and engage. Customers don’t want to immediately talk to a salesperson; they want to learn. The New Rules of Marketing and PR challenges businesses to behave more like media companies and explores how to use a mix of written content, podcasts, social media, video, and more to engage in the digital age.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

What marketer hasn’t wished for more hours in the day? We may be stuck with the 24 we have, but there are ways to make the most of them. Erik Dietrich’s recommendation Getting Things Done offers some actionable tips and tricks for maximizing personal productivity, organizing time effectively, and relieving the cognitive stress of feeling like you have things to do that you’re forgetting about. Sign us up for that!

The B2B Sales Blueprint and Relationship Sales at Scale by Dan Englander

While most of us struggle to carve out time to even read a book, CEO and Founder of Sales Schema Dan Englander has somehow managed to find the time to write five of them! We recommend all of Dan’s books highly, but to avoid overcrowding this list we have narrowed our picks down to The B2B Sales Blueprint and Relationship Sales at Scale

If lead gen is a trouble spot for your business, The B2B Sales Blueprint is the one to read. It does exactly as the title suggests and provides a blueprint for bringing in new business that guides you from systematically outsourcing your lead generation, through the initial conversation, all the way through to conversion.

When Dan joined us on the podcast, he changed our skeptical minds about the effectiveness of cold email. Many of the insights he shared come from his most recent publication, Relationship Sales at Scale, which offers a modern approach to outbound marketing that marries old school tactics with new to to help marketers identify and open doors with the prospects who live within their existing circles of influence. In an age where marketers are under immense pressure to scale quickly and efficiently, Dan’s strategies are actionable, practical, and straight to the point.

Branding for Dummies by Bill Chiaravalle and Barbara Findlay Schenck

Speaking of being straight to the point, we all know those yellow “For Dummies” books that take even the most complex of concepts and explain them thoroughly in layman’s terms. Well, FiredUp! guest Bill Chiaravalle co-wrote the one on branding. Branding is one marketing discipline that many people foolishly think they could easily do, but few actually can do well. Startup marketers are often tasked with covering multiple disciplines within the business. If branding isn’t your strong suit, this book is a great place to start.

Brand Naming by Rob Myerson

Once you’ve got the basics down, you can move on to Anthony Shore’s recommendation, Brand Naming. Startup marketers may join a company at its inception where all that exists is an idea with no name. Others will be responsible for naming new products, features, and capabilities as the business grows. In either case, the education this book provides will be of use. And while you read, keep an eye out for Anthony’s contribution!

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus

Building a brand can feel a lot like pushing a rock up a hill, which is why there’s actually a lot that we can learn from Kate Harris’s recommendation of The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. This staple of the philosophical genre may not have anything to do with marketing outright, but provides an interesting insight into various philosophical influences that are applicable to the psychology of branding. It rethinks the ideas of winning and losing, challenges expectations of culture, and explores how we can shift how ourselves and others behave. If you’re looking to indulge in a non-marketing book and still derive valuable insights you can apply to your career, this is the one to read. 

Using Artificial Intelligence in Marketing and AI Strategy for Sales & Marketing by Katie King

Dan Englander and Bill Chiaravalle aren’t the only authors we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing on the podcast. CEO of AI in Business Katie King has been in marketing and PR for over 30 years, and was one of the first in the industry to take note of the growing potential of AI. She got in on the ground floor of the trend and published two books on AI, Using Artificial Intelligence in Marketing and AI Strategy for Sales and Marketing, before ChatGPT even entered the scene! Both books feature some fascinating case studies of global businesses across industries and interviews with some of the top minds in business, government, technology, and education. 

The books on this list ought to keep you busy for a while, but if you need a break from all that reading, you can listen to all episodes of our FiredUp! podcast here

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