12 Best Books for Marketers Looking to Boost Productivity, Find Inspiration and Develop New Skills

Reading is a huge part of the company culture here at Akkroo. Everyone on the team gets a quarterly book budget to spend on new reading material, which is a fantastic way to encourage people to keep learning and prioritise personal development.

For the marketing team, the books we read inspire us to try new experiments, to change the way we work together, and to develop new skills. I asked the team to pick out their two favourite marketing books that they’ve read recently, and to share how it’s inspired them in their work.

Here are our top 12 marketing books that power our team’s growth, help us to generate new leads, and stand out from the crowd.

Mike Robinson – Head of Marketing and Demand Generation

Driving Demand by Carlos Hidalgo

If you work in a B2B organization where marketing, sales and customer success don’t get along or don’t understand how closely all of their work is linked, buy a copy of Driving Demand. In fact buy a copy for each team member.

Carlos Hidalgo’s book introduces modern day approaches to demand generation, from challenges modern marketers need to overcome, to aligning content to buyers and managing people through change.

This is a book you can easily read from start-to-finish but also one that should sit at arm’s length, because it’s a good reference if you are struggling on a specific aspect of B2B demand generation.

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Education and providing value is at the core of great marketing, and content is a key component of this.

Here at Akkroo, we’re working in an emerging category, so education forms a big part of what we do as a marketing team. From blogs and guides to podcasts and videos, we aim to deliver value to our audience. If you are looking to improve your written content, Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes makes the perfect desk companion. Ann describes the book perfectly in the intro:

“I wrote this book because I couldn’t find what I wanted–part writing guide, part handbook on the rules of good sportsmanship in content marketing, and all-around reliable desk companion for anyone creating or directing content on behalf of brands.”

If you or your team write or want to start writing this book is for you.

One word of warning: no paper-back versions of this book exist. Amazon may have one listed but this is not a legit and official version:

Stefan Cordery – Marketing Manager

The Brand Handbook by Wally Olins

This is a handy reference guide that hasn’t left my desk. The book lays out an end-to-end process for creating, planning and deploying a new brand. It’s really well laid out, with clear explanations and includes real-world examples. The book is ideal for any stage of your brand, whether it’s starting from scratch or simply understanding the various stages of brand management.

Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

Great book for developing any piece of content for your potential customers, whether it be website copy, a blog post, guide or video. I like how it uses Hollywood screen writing techniques (that nearly every successful movie uses) to teach you the building blocks: present a character, that has a problem, who meets a guide, who gives them a plan, that calls them to action, that ends in success and avoids failure.

It’s interesting to read the book and then analyse your favourite movies or any piece of content to see if they use this methodology. Also loved that one of the examples was “Star Wars: A New Hope” – I’ve seen that film countless times so makes complete sense!

Emily Byford – Content Marketer

The Content Advantage by Colleen Jones

This is one of the best content marketing books I’ve read in recent years. It’s a fantastic reference for developing a content strategy, with variations for different stage companies or companies with different levels of content maturity. It’s not just a high-level guide: it also offers actionable tips for developing effective content, along with examples of effective pieces of content from diverse companies (not just the big-name SaaS companies and ‘usual suspects’).

Highly recommended for anyone in a content marketing role – or if you’re managing a content marketer and working with them to build out your company’s content strategy.

This Won’t Scale by the Drift marketing team

I really loved this book. It’s only 100 pages, but it’s packed with inspiring ideas from the Drift marketing team, to help with branding, positioning, and standing out from the competition. It’s really accessible, broken down into 41 different ‘plays’, so it’s quick and easy to read.

This is great to dip in and out of, with tons of ideas for new marketing experiments, quick wins, and longer-term plays. As a marketing team we’re constantly impressed with the work the Drift marketing team are doing, so it’s great to have this book as an extra source of inspiration when planning our own projects and campaigns here at Akkroo.

Finn Sims – Video Producer

The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

This book taught me to minimise distractions, allowing me more space to be creative, and the ability to feel free with my time. There were a few specific tips that I took from this book that have immediately impacted my work for the better:

I’ve stopped looking at emails first thing, and only allow a small window just after midday to deal with them. I then don’t go back to them the next day.
I’ve also removed all my apps from my Mac’s dock, so the only things that show up there are applications I’m currently using. If I’m not working on it, I don’t need it in my dock.
Both of these have helped removed distractions from my work life, making it easier for me to focus and concentrate on doing my best creative work.

Drive by Daniel Pink

This book has really helped me understand how to be my most creative within a fast paced team, balancing creativity with demanding turnarounds and deadlines to meet.

It’s taught me the importance of intrinsic motivation, so focusing on this makes my work feel more satisfying and rewarding. Ultimately, this means I’m creating much better work in Akkroo. One thing that’s really helped with this is for the whole marketing team having our own goals within a bigger team project. Having ownership over even just a small part of a larger project is really rewarding.

I’ve really seen the benefit in allowing time to be ‘playful’, too. If you’re in a creative role like me, I really recommend giving yourself time to experiment with new ideas. Have confidence that it will be worth-while, even if nothing obviously tangible comes out of it.

Pip Brewster – Digital Designer

Tribes by Seth Godin

This is a great book about becoming a leader in the workplace and in everyday life. It dispels the idea that we have to be in a higher position (manager/senior) to lead and encourage those around you.

I picked it up because I know leadership/management is a natural progression for me, as with most people moving up the career ladder. At some point in the future I’ll get the opportunity to manage other designers/creatives and deep down, I want to be able to help them as best I can. I found it a very inspiring book and although it doesn’t give an exact strategy/best case answer, it did help to open my eyes and put me in the right mind frame.

Shoe Dog: A memoir by Phil Knight

This was a really enjoyable read. I bought it after it was recommended on a podcast I listen to and, to be honest, I couldn’t put it down! It’s a year by year account of Phil Knight’s creation of Nike, an autobiography but written more like a fictional story, which is why I think it’s so hard to put down.

I would recommend that everyone reads this book as there are lots of interesting points and actually some really valid takeaways, one which links back to leadership: ‘Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results’. 10/10 from me.

Rosie Day – Events Manager

Fusion: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World’s Greatest Companies by Denise Lee Yohn

Denise Lee Yohn explains how fully integrating a brand and culture can effortlessly create meaningful and powerful results that permeate the whole business: “First, brand-culture fusion aligns your workforce, increasing the efficiency of your entire organisation and the quality of your outcomes”.

By merging brand and culture it enables companies to scale and create in a way that that is difficult to copy. Competitors may be able to copy in terms of features and processes for example, but it’s much harder to embody the unique how and why.

Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord

In this book, Patty McCord documents her 14 years with Netflix and the creation of a radically different company culture: building one of high performance and profitability, that’s helped Netflix become the company we know today.

Some of the key ideas are that:

  • Achieving these results requires us to challenge the way we think about work, and the traditional ways we manage ourselves and teams.
  • Companies don’t exist to make happy employees. People’s happiness in their work comes from being deeply engaged in solving a problem with equally engaged and talented peers.
  • That said, some of the points that Patty describes might not be applicable to all companies. She makes it clear that the Netflix culture isn’t for everyone, with many employees soon burning out.

But there is still lots to take from the underlying mindset though which she advocates throughout – whether it’s the importance of ‘radical honesty’ or letting people exercise their power.

Looking for more marketing book recommendations? In the latest episode of The Big Event podcast, Mike, Emily and Stefan discuss the books that have sparked new ideas and changed the way we as marketers create, collaborate and generate new leads.