Best Business Books: 50+ Marketing Experts Will Make You Smarter

Albert Jan (AJ) Huisman – of Y Content (content marketing consultancy) and co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Content Marketing Fast Forward  (platform to inspire and educate marketers). AJ lives in an old Bakery dated back to 1732 in a small historic village 40 miles north of Amsterdam.

The Go-Giver, Bob Burg – Content marketing essential: “Create value”, with every piece of content you produce, ask yourself “Does this help my audience?”
50 Ways to Yes, Dr. Robert Cialdini – It’s a much needed “Weapons of Influence” for every marketer.
Made to Stick, Dan & Chip Heath – How to avoid “The Curse of Knowledge” in your content marketing.


Neen James – Author of Attention Pays

The Thought Leaders Practice by Matt Church – it’s my business ‘bible’ and a great template of how thought leaders commercialize their expertise.


Greg Jarboe – President and co-founder of SEO-PR, an award-winning content marketing agency. Author of YouTube and Video Marketing as well as a contributor to 4 other books. Jarboe is the Video and Content Marketing faculty chair at Simplilearn and an instructor in Rutgers Business School’s Executive Education program

Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain. Under the tutelage of the most celebrated Mississippi pilot, Twain learns to navigate a constantly changing river. As a result, he avoids potential collisions with other boats and traversing winding channels. In today’s world, there is a lot of wisdom to learn from 1857.
The Fourth Part of the World, Toby Lester – For millennia Europeans believed the world consisted Europe, Africa, and Asia. They drew the 3 continents in different shapes and sizes on their maps. Occasionally, they hinted at the existence of a “fourth part of the world.” It was a mysterious, inaccessible place, separated from the rest by a vast expanse of ocean. This book is a must-read for anyone who experiences a paradigm shift. It’s a thrilling saga of geographical and intellectual exploration, full of outsize thinkers and voyages. Taking a kaleidoscopic approach, Lester traces the origins of our modern worldview.


Carla Johnson – Co-author of Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing and CEO of Type A Communications.

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, Daniel Pink – I love this book because it points how much of the work that people do can quickly be commoditized. If you want to create value for your customers and be valuable as a professional, we need to think differently. It’s not art versus science, it’s art and
Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, Jake Knapp – Moving anything forward – projects, ideas, momentum in general – often die a slow death. There’s too much bureaucracy and too many people weighing in. This book shows how to take a small group of the right people, test an idea, and understand if it’s valid or not in a very short amount of time.
You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader, Mark Sanborn – Many marketers give away their power by saying something or someone has to be different before change can happen. This is a great, short and entertaining read about how anyone in any position in any organization can lead, make a difference and usher in positive change.


Christian Karasiewicz – Social Chefs, a social media training and education business. We create an immense amount of videos, blog posts and downloadable content.

The ONE Thing, Gary Keller – has been instrumental at helping me cut through the weeds and develop a stronger focus on what we work on. We can’t do everything so it is important to prioritize.
Uncontainable, Kip Tindell – Has helped me develop a core list of principles that we value at my company.
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, Michael Bungay Stanier – Has given me insight into ways to improve my coaching practice.


Carrie Kerpen – Likeable Media. Author of Work It: Secrets for Success from the Boldest Women in Business.

Built to Sell by John Warrilow helped me understand how to build a scalable business.
Onlyness by Nilofer Merchant taught me to value my own unique self.
Profit by Mike Michalowicz first taught me how to make my business profitable in a simple way.


Dave Kerpen – Likeable Local. Author of Likeable BusinessLikeable Leadership.

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. This easy read will change the way you think about your work. It is so simply written, with small words and big pictures – and yet contains profound wisdom about how to be more productive and successful without being a workaholic or sacrificing anything.
What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles. I read this book when I was 21 years old and didn’t know what to do with the rest of my life. It helped me go from a Crunch n Munch vendor at the ballpark to a top salesperson at Radio Disney.


Marti Konstant – Constant Change. Author of Activate Your Agile Career: How Responding to Change Will Inspire Your Life’s Work

The Gray Rhino by Michele Wucker. She highlights the abundant early warnings preceding economic, environmental, and economic crisis situations. The Global Financial Crisis, a catastrophic bridge collapse, the failure of an industry like Kodak are examples. She states a Gray Rhino is a highly probable, high impact threat; something we ought to see coming, like a two-ton rhinoceros aiming its horn in our direction and preparing to charge.


Jeff Korhan – Founder of Landscape Digital Institute. Author of Built-In Social.

Growing a Business, Paul Hawken – Has great lessons about bootstrapping your business. Traditional wisdom says businesses fail due to being undercapitalized. Often the opposite is true.With ready access to cash there is little incentive to learn the tough lessons.


Hannah Kovacs – Community Manager at PostBeyond. Created  11 Steps to Enterprise Social Media Advocacy

Lean InSheryl Sandberg – As a young female professional early in my career, this book had a huge impact on me. Yes, it talks about balancing motherhood and work, but more importantly, it addresses the challenges we as women face in “getting ahead” in a professional context. Her discussion inspired me to reflect on how I plan to grow as both a person and a professional, in a society where sexism and gender bias still plagues the workplace.
Think Like a Freak, Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner – Thinking outside the box doesn’t need to complicated. The authors tell you it’s ok to say “I don’t know” – if that’s what helps you approach an obstacle from a different perspective. This helped me immensely as a marketer – approaching something from a different angle allows you to tap into your more creative side.


Arnie Kuenn — CEO of Vertical Measures, a full-service Internet marketing agency. Author of Accelerate & Content Marketing Works.

A Passion for Excellence by Tom Peters. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. But it taught me the art of measuring your internal quality and having a passion for what you do.
Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. This book taught me the various phases almost every business goes through.


Ian Lurie – CEO & Founder, Portent, Inc. Creator of several training Lynda courses. Author of One Trick Ponies Get Shot: How To Succeed In The Business Of Consulting.

Edward Tufte – He writes and creates the most amazing books about data visualization. I learned most of what I know about reporting, presentation and even blog layout from him.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini. It’s the best look at how we influence customer decision making I’ve read.


Cathy McPhillips – President of Marketing, Content Marketing Institute

Daring Greatly, Brene Brown – This book was just given to me by a friend, and it really hit home on how I “know” I can put myself out there, take risks with my work, – and dare greatly…but sometimes I doubt myself. It’s empowered me in a way not many books have.
The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg – As my career, my family, my personal life and beyond all keep me on my toes, knowing my habits – and embracing them – have made me more productive, and in turn happier when things are in order, so I can focus on the right things at the right times. It’s also helped me learn a lot about how to work and live with others


Jason Miller – Group Manager, Content Marketing, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. Author of Welcome to the Funnel: Proven Tactics to Turn Your Social and Content Marketing up to 11 (book) and The Sophisticated Marketer’s Series for LinkedIn. (Editor’s note: Miller is also a photographer. Check his heavy metal photos!)

Ignore Everybody, Hugh MacLeod – The best book I’ve ever read on creativity.
Fascinate, Sally Hogshead – A brilliant look at the science of fascination and how to captivate an audience.
Me Inc., Gene Simmons – Entrepreneur, rock god, self-made millionaire, Gene Simmons splits the book into two parts. The first about how he got to where he is today and the second how you can find your true potential and unleash your inner rock star.


Stephanie A. MillerIs a marketing automation expert. She writes a ClickZ column.

How to Make Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie – It’s a classic.
Hope is Not a Strategy, Rick Page – This book is amazing!
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Al Ries and Jack Trout – I recently re-read this book and it’s still amazingly current.  It should be required reading every 2 years for everyone in marketing!


Donna MoritzSocially Sorted

Thrive, Ariana Huffington – I’m reading this book for the second time.  Ariana Huffington shares her journey behind the scenes of the Huffington Post success, after complete burnout and literally collapsing from exhaustion.  Entrepreneurs get caught up in what we do, sometimes at the expense of sleep and self-care. This is why I loved this book for it’s not-so-subtle reminder to re-define the idea of success. It talks about the importance of sleep, meditation, mindfulness, unplugging and giving as new benchmarks to measure.  It’s been a powerful book for me.


B.L. Ochman – Publisher of What’s Next Blog. Marketer, digital and video content creator, speaker, coach and strategist.

Winchell: Gossip, Power, and the Culture of Celebrity, Neal Gabler – This is the story of one of the greatest journalists of the early days. It helps you to understand the lure of celebrities and gossip.
Reality is Broken, Jane McGonnigal – Shows the science behind games with theories about how we can use principles of gaming to fix the real world.


Jess Ostroff – Don’t Panic Management. Author of Panic Proof: How the Right Virtual Assistant Can Save Your Sanity and Grow Your Business.

Body of Work by Pam Slim was the first book that helped me get clear about what my unique value proposition is and how my work can impact the world. I was able to drill down into all the things that I love and care about, both in my personal and professional life, so that I could craft a life that fulfills me every day while also helping others.


Michael Pinto – Founder, Very Memorable, Inc.

Paul Rand: A Designer’s Art, by Paul Rand – Rand was one of the pioneers of branding. While that isn’t the focus of this book you get a really good sense of how he really defined the branding field. It’s much more than the mere placement of a logo.
Essays, Paul GrahamAs one of the Y Combinator founders, Graham wrote countless essays on the subject of startups. I always find myself thinking back on his essays.


Joe Pulizzi – Founder of Content Marketing Institute and Content Marketing World.  Author of 4 content marketing books (Editor’s note: many are noted on this list!), including most recently, Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses.  Here’s a free chapter of Content Inc.

Disney Wars, James Stewart – It’s a bit of a soap opera. But, this book gives an amazing inside look at one of the greatest media companies ever built.
Automate This, Steiner – Recommended to me by my friend Paul Roetzer, author of The Marketing Performance Blueprint (Amazon link).  Much of the future of content will hover around machine learning.  This book is a primer for that upcoming revolution.
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