Top athletes must exercise on a regular basis to maintain peak physical fitness and win competitions. Award-winning musicians and actors are constantly rehearsing their craft to ensure their performances make audiences cheer, laugh, and sometimes cry. Yet even for elite performers, practice alone doesn’t make perfect. High-performing professionals in every industry learn from recognized thought leaders and those who have accomplished admirable results throughout their career.
To get inside the minds of top B2B marketers you’ll want to get your hands on these great books, many of which you can complete in a weekend or even on a plane trip to a customer event.
If you are feeling stuck on a project or need to give your imagination a jolt of caffeine, Who Moved My Cheese is a great read. Though it’s not about B2B marketing specifically, Dr. Johnson (co-author of The One Minute Manager) spins a fun tale about creating an attitude and mentality for change in life, work, and relationships. If you are looking for a light and motivating read, add this to your collection. There are even editions for kids and teens. You can probably get through this book in less than an hour.
Seth Godin is a marketing guru, there’s no denying it. His blog is the stuff of legend, and his books are all best sellers. Purple Cow is about transforming your business by making it stand out from your “herd” – just as a purple cow would in a field of black and white ones. Telling stories from top companies like Starbucks and Apple, this book is credited with influencing the development of truly remarkable products as well as transforming companies. Just over two hundred pages, this isn’t the quickest read, but Godin’s writing makes the pages and insights fly.
This book (and the hugely popular TED Talk based on it) stresses the need for companies to market themselves differently. As opposed to the usual “here’s my product or service”, companies need to focus on the WHY, instead – “why I manufacture this products” or “why I provide this service”. To inspire action in others (like prospects and customers) you need to communicate WHY it is important to act. The book discusses how the most influential leaders (like Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, and Martin Luther King) help people buy into products and movement because of the WHY within the Golden Circle. The sequel, Find Your Why is a great way to find inspiration and communicate your company’s motivation for being.
You probably know Handley’s company, MarketingProfs as a great resource for content marketing training. Or perhaps you’ve seen her speak at B2B conferences. Handley writes about how to communicate more effectively with the written word, whether it’s on social media, in articles, emails, or long-form content marketing pieces like eBooks and whitepapers. If you are looking to improve your writing with proven tips and techniques from a true professional, pick up Everybody Writes.
Kawasaki is another revered influencer in the marketing space, including best practices in social media. A former chief evangelist of Apple, and now the CEO of Canva, Guy teams up with social media maven Peg Kirkpatrick on this book. You’ll find around two hundred pages of proven social media tactics that produce results. Guy was a true pioneer of business blogging and social media, and his advice is well worth the price of this illustrated book.
You may or may not agree with Kramer’s idea that “B2B marketing should be more human”. However, he does raise some solid arguments that are worth sharing, including the need to eliminate B2B lingo from industry language, and the need to craft marketing campaigns with emotional messages. Kramer captures wisdom from top tech and digital marketing leaders. He also does a noble job of disrupting an often-conservative industry.
When sales and marketing teams are aligned on goals, messaging, and expectations, companies can achieve great success. This book is all about building trust between marketing and sales, creating customer-centric marketing campaigns, and driving greater results with more revenue.
Do you have these books on your bookshelf or on your eReader? Are there other fast, inspiring B2B marketing reads you think we’ve forgotten? Tell us about them! Many of the marketing gurus on this list like Kawasaki and Kramer have given keynotes and TED Talks, so if you don’t have time to read, watch them present on YouTube or listen to their podcasts.