PPC professionals and marketers are crazy busy people.
How on earth how are we expected to find the time to read books if we can barely see the light at the end of the tunnel? The days are filled to the brim with strategizing, managing, optimizing and analyzing campaigns, landing pages and keywords.
If you add the information overload and FOMO syndrome is clear that our time as marketers is as stretched as it can be.
The problem is that marketing and business success doesn't come from chasing the never ending tasks on the To Do list.
With shorter attentions spans and longer To do lists, how do we filter out the not-so-great books from the really extraordinary ones? One of my personal rules is to never read recent releases. I like to give books some time.
We asked the best PPC experts in the game what is their favorite Business and Marketing book and we have the ultimate list of 20 business and marketing books that should be on your reading list.
Aaron Levy I Andrew Lolk I Purna Virji I Kirk Williams I Jeff Sauer I David Szetela I Brad Geddes I Mark Irvine I Jennifer Lopez I Mike Rhodes I Joe Martinez I Wijnand Meijer I Luca Senatore I Ed Leake I John Gagnon I Damon Gochneaur I Christi OlsonI Frederik Hyldig I Katy Tonkin I Carrie Albright I Samantha Noble I James Murray I Justin Freid
1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Recommended by: Aaron Levy, Senior Team Lead at Elite SEM
Why you should read it: "The Power of Habit it explores the science behind how our brain operates relative to habit, the uncoscious decisions we make and (frighteningly) how to influence them. As a marketer, it made me think of much of my process may be futile as I'm trying to change an ingrained habit with a touch of a button. It's a good'n!“
2. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
Recommended by: Andrew Lolk, Founder at SavvyRevenue
Why you should read it: "I like the angle of how it takes you through the mind of a struggling entrepreneur with all the ups and downs that comes with running a company. I never really took as the final advice on how to run a company or deal with specific situations as I believe there are more ways to go about running a company, but it was great to get in the mind and thought-process of a fellow, highly respected entrepreneur.''
Bonus: "I’d like to recommend Essentialism by Greg Mckeown as well. It’s not entirely a business or marketing book, but it can and should be applied to how you run your business."
3. Advanced Adwords by Brad Geddes
Recommended by: Purna Virji, Senior Training Manager at Microsoft
Why you should read it: "I really like Advanced Google AdWords by Brad Geddes. He has a knack of making the most complicated things seem simple and I've learned a ton over the years by reading and re-reading that book.''
4. Good to Great by Jim Collins
Recommended by: Kirk Williams, Founder at Zato
Why you should read it: "The reason I like this book so much, is because the author investigates both data points and philosophical questions to arrive at his conclusions. Those conclusions primarily revolve around servant leadership and focusing on the right people rather than programs to make a business successful. This book has been massively influential in helping me think through decisions for building my own agency, and I am indebted to it because of that!"
Recommended by: Jeff Sauer, Founder at Jeffalytics
Why you should read it: "Of all the business books that I have read, the one I mention the most in conversation is likely Good to Great. In particular, the concept of the flywheel, and how momentum is so important for businesses.
It helps me understand why good things happen, but also gives comfort when things don’t happen exactly as you expect in business. Sometimes it’s just because you haven’t built up the momentum in your flywheel. This and other concepts have been great for my business growth and overall mental state as an entrepreneur."
5. Positioning, The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Recommended by: David Szetela, Owner and CEO at FMB Media
Why you should read it: "My favorite business book is “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” by Al Ries and Jack Trout. It was revolutionary when it was first published in the 1970’s, it’s still a “must read” to anyone in sales or marketing. It describes how to gain the #1 position in anything – the marketplace, the workplace, etc. And what PPC manager doesn’t want to achieve position #1?"
Recommended by: Brad Geddes, Co-Founder at Adalysis
Why you should read it: "Many marketers understand how to drive traffic to their sites; however, do they know how to position their content and offers in a beneficial way for their users? This is a timeless classic (full of older examples where the message still holds today) of how to position your brand and message to win mind share. Positioning by Jack Trout is one of my favorite marketing books."
Bonus: Advanced Google AdWords is the most comprehensive book ever written about Google's advertising program. Through 3 editions, everyone has garnered 4.5+ star reviews and has been translated into multiple languages. For beginner to experts, if you want to master AdWords, you should read this book.
6. The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver
Recommended by: Mark Irvine, Senior Data Scientist at Wordstream
Why you should read it: "This may not be a conventional business or marketing book, but I originally came from a strict math background before transitioning into marketing so I’m similarly an unconventional marketer.
As the digital age brings more and more data to the hands of marketers and business leaders, the new wealth of data can also pose as an obstacle. Whether you work in-house or for clients, the decision makers you’ll be working with to evaluate and optimize your campaigns will all react differently to varied data sets and develop their own theories as to what’s impacting their results.
In his books, Nate Silver shows how to leverage your data to build objective models to evaluate and debunk theories your peers may hold as obvious or sacrosanct – and how to find the meaningful hidden trends within your data to drive smarter decisions."
7. Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Recommended by: Jennifer (Johnstone) Lopez, Global Director of Biddable Media and SEO at Piston Agency
Why you should read it: "My favorite recent read is called Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, authored by Sheryl Sandberg. I would call it more of a “leadership” book that helps women understand and navigate some of the modern-day realities of the work place, rather than a standard “marketing” book. There’s a part of the book that details the main barriers that women face in the workplace, and unlike so many other books you’ll find today, it explains that women are held back in the workplace mostly by their own fears. The fears can be linked to failure, fear of being liked, fear of being judged or perceived differently than their male counterparts, fear of being unable to balance work and a family, and so on.
Throughout my career, my personal experience has been very much the same at times, riddled with irrational fears. Also, like so many, I’ve experienced both ageism and sexism in the workplace far too often, which only helped foster additional fears of being “too young to lead a team” or “too young to earn a seat at a meeting where I am absolutelythe expert”. I’ve only been able to progress the way that I have by facing those fears, Leaning In and having the tough conversations, and consistently working toward being an example for other women in the workplace to Lean In also. The ideas in the book that resonated most with me is how we overcome those fears, and how we can “Lean In” to support other women in our workplace and our lives to do the same."
8. Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail
Recommended by: Mike Rhodes, Founder and CEO at WebSavvy
Why you should read it: "An absolute must-read by anyone that still wants to have a business past 2020."
9. Don't Make me Think by Steve Krug
Recommended by: Joe Martinez, Senior Manager Paid Media&Community at Granular Marketing
Why you should read it: "The book focuses on using common sense instead of "best practices" when designing web usability. As a PPC marketer, this book has always been an inspiration when building landing pages or implementing conversion rate improvements on my clients' websites. It all comes back to user experience, and this book nails it."
10. Scaling Up by Verne Harnish
Recommended by: Wijnand Meijer, Co-founder & CEO of TrueClicks
Why you should read it: "My favorite business book would be Scaling Up by Verne Harnish. It's rare to find a book that is so insightful and practical at the same time. It's packed with one-pagers you can fill in for your company, which you can download for free from scalingup.com (you need the book to make sense of them)."
Bonus: I'd also like to mention my favorite marketing frameworks and concepts. There are countless of tips, tricks and hacks out there, but nothing beats a great framework or model you can use over and over again. You'll find many free resources about them online and each of them also has an accompanying (e)book.
- Urbany and Davis' 3 Circles Model (Grow by Focusing on What Matters)
11. Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Recommended by: Luca Senatore, Director of Strategy at Genie Goals
Why you should read it: "It's a practical business book with loads of inspiring lessons. A gem for both the new and seasoned entrepreneurs."
12. Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat by Michael Masterson
Recommended by: Ed Leake, Managing Partner at Midas Media
Why you should read it: "Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat” by Michael Masterson is full of proven strategies for building and growing a thriving business. Masteron walks you through the 4 Stages of development he sees as common to virtually all types of business. Service or product based.
In stage 2 “childhood” your business is typically at the critical breaking even point. Sometimes you’re losing money in order to grow. Masterson takes this theme and shows you how to create cashflow and profit, by taking action and not overthinking things. Hence the title of the book.
I like that he doesn’t shy away from discussing the ‘me-2’ market where you aren’t the first in doing what you do, and shows how competing with many like-minded businesses can actually represent a big opportunity.
A big takeaway is how Masterson makes you stop assuming your customer knows what you know about your industry.
Just because your competitor isn’t mentioning those ‘obvious’ things, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t highlight them to customers. All business owners at one point or another face growth and cash challenges. Ready, Fire, Aim is full of insight and inspiration to help us achieve consistent growth and sales.
So stop your incessant planning and just take action, oh and buy yourself a copy of the book of course."
13. Influence, The Psycology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
Recommended by: John Gagnon, Sales Director at Microsoft
Why you should read it: "Without question, it's Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. Conversions in digital marketing are all about understanding your customer and getting to a yes. We read enough hardcore digital marketing articles and whitepapers -- being inspired by real world examples from other fields can drive revolutionary testing."
14. David and Goliath by Malcom Gladwell
Recommended by: Damon Gochneaur, Founder at Aspiro Agency
Why you should read it: "While not traditionally viewed as a business author, Gladwell's ability to help his reader view old ideas and concepts in new perspectives, is second to none. As an entrepreneur, it's easy to view every competitor as a Goliath, but when you see the advantage David holds and cultivates, you start to enjoy playing the role of David."
Recommended by: Christi Olson, Head of Evangelism for Search at Microsoft
Why you should read it: "A book I just recently finished that I thoroughly enjoyed is Malcom Gladwell's "David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants" which isn't a marketing or business book per se, but it's a book that has been helpful for me to think about my mindset and challenge how I look at the the world around me and obstacles I face.
It's easy to become overwhelmed and at challenges, and I enjoyed how Gladwell broke down the story of underdogs and how they've faced adversity and turned their challenges and weaknesses into learning and growth opportunities. "Through these stories, I want to explore two ideas. The first is that much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out of these kinds of lopsided conflicts, because the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty. And second, that we consistently get these kinds of conflicts wrong. We misread them. We misinterpret them. Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness."
15. How To Lie With Statistics by Darell Huff
Recommended by: Frederik Hyldig, Head of PPC at 360 A/S
Why you should read it: "Of course, it's always hard to single out just one book, but I will choose the book "How To Lie With Statistics" by Darell Huff. My reason for choosing it: Working in marketing, and especially online marketing, we are bombarded with numbers and graphs every day.
Unfortunately, we are too often mislead or deceived by them or we might mislead others even if not on purpose. In this book, you will learn what to look out for. The title might make it sound like a manual for swindlers, but as the author writes: "the crooks already know these tricks; honest men must learn them in self-defence."
16. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
Recommended by: Katy Tonkin, VP of Digital Strategy at Point It
Why you should read it: "My favorite book (and TED talk) is "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" by Simon Sinek. It's a leadership book, but so applicable to how to approach brand strategy as well.
There's always a "why" behind all that we do, whether it be buy a coffee, look for a new CRM, or find a pediatrician. Brands that provide opportunities for their customers to connect their "why" with the brand's "why" build personalization, authenticity, and loyalty that no amount of media spend or advertising unit can create."
17. Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Recommended by: Carrie Albright, Associate Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing
Why you should read it: "I'm a big fan of the 2006 Random House release "Made to Stick" (Chip Heath & Dan Heath). In an industry where everything changes so quickly, it's hard to publish content that will stand the test of time.
The strategies discussed in this book can be applied to so many of the platforms (Google, Bing, Facebook, etc) and ad formats (text, video, image) we use every day in 2017. The concepts discussed by the Heath brothers emphasize what it takes to get a compelling message to connect with your audience, acknowledging that yes, we're all selling something, but that there's a way to approach your content that truly makes it stick."
18. Audience by Jeffrey K. Rohrs
Recommended by: Samantha Noble, CEO & Founder at Biddable Moments
Why you should read it: "If I had to pick one, I think it would be Audience by Jeffrey K. Rohrs. It really got me thinking about why you can't just market to your target customers.
There are different groups of people that you need to market to in order to maximise your reach and potential which also ties into the marketing funnel. This way of thinking can be applied to every single marketing discipline."
19. The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
Recommended by: James Murray, Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft
Why you should read it: "I’ve always loved The Long Tail by Chris Anderson. The book is over a decade old, which in marketing terms is a lifetime, but it still feels fresh and relevant.
Search can be quite dense and complicated. Any book that can bring an important concept like the long tail to life, with simple, well thought out examples is essential reading for anyone in our industry.”
20. Change Management: The People Side Of Change by Jeffrey Hiatt
Recommended by: Justin Freid, Senior Vice President at CMI Media
Why you should read it: "The book I would like to recommend to others is Change Management: The People Side Of Change. This book has been extremely valuable to me throughout my career as I have attempted to lead various teams through change.
I consider it a must read for anyone looking to shift or disrupt the everyday grind of a company, process or even industry. When looking at the marketing world, there is constant change and leaders who can survive and thrive in this environment, ultimately win out."
Reading will make you a better marketer and writer, will allow you to make new associations and will provide a structure to run through your daily activity.