Here are some thought provoking marketing and business books from my personal collection. These are my favorite, share-worthy marketing, creativity, innovation books from amongst the many many books I read across years. Each book here gave me something of value. Among the favorites, I have mentioned a few major disappointments too (books that were supposed to be ‘must-read’ yet were anything but).
Either got me clarity on the way forward, gave me a new way to look at a current situation, helped me think of ideas in a different way, enhanced my creativity/ imagination, etc.
Give them a shot. They may reveal different things to you.
If you don’t want to read the entire book, you could read my notes and highlights from the respective links.
Only the Kindle editions have notes and highlights (of course). For those I read in hard copy, I can simply recommend the name here. You would have to do the heavy lifting of actually reading the book to mine its gold. But trust me, if the name is here, it will be worth the reading time and effort.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business-Charles Duhigg (Hardcopy)
Thought of reading the book from marketing point of view. For effective advertising and marketing, the consumption habits of people have to be targeted. I liked more than half the book. The last few chapters didn’t seem relevant to me as a marketer. They were about social movement.
I loved the entire episode of Alcom company and how one small organizational habit transformed the entire organization. There were just a few company related examples. The science behind the book was partly new for me …more
Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping-Paco Underhill (Hardcopy)
Recently, I got a project on Shopper Marketing. Its a very interesting field of marketing. In college, i had read Paco Underhill’s Why We Buy. Had loved it. It was eye opening. So thought, lets brush up on shopper marketing by reading the same author’s latest work. Hence, this book.
The book may have worked well when launched but in today’s world, reading about malls is akin to reading historical fiction. It is a walk down memory lane (even if not your own memory). Things like this used to exist but they barely register now. In today’s times of ecommerce madness, offline shopping is suffering in general, including malls….More
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die- Chip Heath, Dan Heath (Hardcopy)
The book is filled with anecdotes, stories and examples. That makes for an easy read. Yet the stories convey the core message of what makes ideas stick. They have suggested a framework to help anyone improve their communication and ideas. It explains HOW to make ideas stick. Clubbing this book with Jonah Berger’s Contagious which explains the WHY of virality makes for a complete education on virality of ideas. The SUCCESs framework recapped at the end is a handy reference tool. The book is a must read for any communicator/ marketer for sure.
Contagious: Why Things Catch On – Jonah Berger (Hardcopy)
I had taken the Viral Marketing MOOC conducted by Jonah Berger. It was based on Stepps principle that Contagious is built on. It was good that he wrote it down in book format because it makes for better referencing. I cannot keep revisiting the MOOC lectures but I can keep browsing through the book as and when I need to.
Content wise, to the point, no faff and every point mentioned was supported by scientific evidence. As a marketer, the book was invaluable . It helped sharpen certain thoughts a …more
Make Your Mark- Jocelyn K. Glei (Hardcopy)
The book was super generic and the information given was common knowledge. Nothing new, nothing different. Very boring. Felt like it was compiled from a dozen existing and old marketing and entrepreneurship books. Not at all worth spending on. You can simply read noteworthy passages from my notes and highlights here.
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (Hardcopy) Walter Isaacson
When you start reading the book, it feels heavy and for a non-technical person like me, it went over my head- because it was too technical- the initial chapters were about mathematicians, followed by chapters on programmers and transistor etc. The people parts of these chapters were good though.
Then as you proceed further into the book, things start becoming less technical. Or maybe because you start moving closer to the technologies we use currently, they were easier to understand.
Through all …more
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow- Yuval Noah Harari, Andreas Wirthensohn (Hardcopy)
After reading Homo Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, I thought this book started out as a rehash of Homo Sapiens. but as it progressed, it turned out to be as interesting as Homo Sapiens. intriguing. gave a very different way to look at the fast paced developments taking place all around us.
For both the books by this author, one thing that amazed me was the depth of research he did to put together these two. outstanding tomes.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind- Yuval Noah Harari (Hardcopy)
Though this page lists marketing and business books, this book Sapiens deserves special mention because it completely changes your perspective about the most fundamental things like family, humans, religions etc. Change in perspective will have a rub off effect on all aspects of your life- personal or professional. Hence, this book makes it to this list.
When you call on your colleagues to learn the going rate for an upcoming job, you might try one of these conversation starters: “I’m talking to a client about [type of job]. Have you done anything like that recently?” [After loosening up the consultant, add the next line.] “Would you mind telling me how much you charged?” “I have the possibility of [describe work]. Do you know the typical rates for this kind of job?” “A client has asked me to do [type of work]. Do you know anyone who’s done this sort of job who might be willing to talk to me, especially about rates?”
negotiation involves distinct steps, and what is on the table differs at each stage: Stage 1: dollars—Talk about how much money you will receive. This is what the client expects when discussing the consultant’s fee. If you feel there is wiggle-room in your initial price, you may offer a lower price at this stage should the client balk. Stage 2: the job description—If the client simply cannot come up with the money you feel is appropriate, try to alter the parameters of the job. Useful negotiating points at this stage include the timetable or schedule, the size of the job, the number of times …more
“I want to apply to work with you at Facebook,” she said. “So I thought about calling you and telling you all of the things I’m good at and all of the things I like to do. Then I figured that everyone was doing that. So instead, I want to ask you: What is your biggest problem, and how can I solve it?”
The book is less a biography, more a chronicle of two unique companies- SpaceX and Tesla. It is fairly detailed in the founding stories and successes and failures of the two companies. Also in the role Elon Musk plays in both.
Elon Musk comes across as Steve Jobs version 2.0. He is as driven, as focused, as insensitive, as visionary as Jobs. Having read Steve Jobs’ biography too, the comparisons are inevitable.
But reading the book, I came away with a sense of hope for the future, knowing there …more
The DEAL of deal making is also an acronym for the process of becoming a member of the New Rich. The steps and strategies can be used with incredible results—whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur. Can you do everything I’ve done with a boss? No. Can you use the same principles to double your income, cut your hours in half, or at least double the usual vacation time? Most definitely.
A year later, fashion retailer Nordstrom made dedicated areas of their bricks-and-mortar stores designated Pinterest sections, which included some of the most pinned products from the Nordstrom Pinterest page that week.
Another great example comes from S-Oil. The South Korean petroleum provider’s ‘Here’ campaign chose a simple solution to one of the biggest problems faced in modern cities: finding a parking space. Hi-tech solutions to the issue include Germany’s ParkTag app, which uses smartphone-enabled crowdsourcing to create a map of free parking spots to be shared among friends. But S-Oil sought a solution not reliant on smartphones or sensor systems, and joined with Korea-based advertising agency Cheil to tackle the issue – with balloons.
Bright yellow arrow-shaped balloons were placed in the middle of parking bays, tethered to the ground by a piece of string. The arrows were boldly emblazoned with the word ‘HERE’, to indicate a free space. When a car drove into the spot, the string was pulled under the vehicle, drawing the balloon down. When it left, the balloon floated back up again, instantly alerting those nearby that the space was being vacated
My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire- Michelle Goodman (Hardcopy)
There were so many places in the book that I said ‘true that’!!!!! it was very relatable and hence, helpful. Nicely written- with a good dose of humor. It covers all the steps that a person, specifically a lady, would need to cover when venturing into the freelance waters. There are many books on this topic. But this was fun to read and helpful too. The content was not clutter breaking but covered…More
The 48 Laws of Power- Robert Greene (Hardcopy)
I read half the book. I couldn’t proceed because i found it too negative. power need not come only if you manipulate, lie, cheat, betray. there are other ways to get power too. I completely disagree with 48 laws because each law and examples therein were too black, extreme.
The Medium is the Massage-Marshall McLuhan, Quentin Fiore, Jerome Agel (Hardcopy)
This was supposed to be one of the ‘all time marketing greats, all marketers should read’ kind of a book. I thought the book would about how the medium should be used to convey the communication message. A marketing book from media perspective but it was not that at all. it turned out to be a social and media history of human civilization. hardly any connect with marketing and advertising. the book should be classified under sociology or history, not marketing.
One way of overcoming the mind’s natural stinginess when it comes to accepting new information is to work hard at presenting your message as important news. Too many advertisements try to entertain or be clever. In so doing they often overlook the news factor in their story. The Starch research people can demonstrate that headlines that contain news score better in readership than those that don’t. Unfortunately, most creative people see this kind of thinking as old news. What they should be focused on is the need to dramatize that selling message or news. If people think you’ve got an …more
To stay inspired, we’d perpetually hunt for ideas together, devouring hundreds of magazines and newspapers. Our living room table was a collage of media. We’d flip through copies of Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Time, Newsweek, Car & Driver, Automobile, Motor Trend, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc., Forbes, and National Geographic. We’d examine each new product, quizzing each other on whether it would be successful and how we might change it.
Prolific + Brilliant + Healthy=producing great work consistently and in a sustainable wayBrilliance, on the other hand, is about rising to the occasion, seeing clearly and incisively to the core of the problem, and identifying great solutions quickly.
A good strategy honestly acknowledges the challenges being faced and provides an approach to overcoming them. And the greater the challenge, the more a good strategy focuses and coordinates efforts to achieve a powerful competitive punch or problem-solving….
The types of companies hiring strategists snowballed beyond agencies to include innovation consultancies, start-ups, and even the marketing departments on the client side.
The development of genuine expertise requires struggle, sacrifice, and honest, often painful self-assessment. There are no shortcuts. It will take you at least a decade to achieve expertise, and you will need to invest that time wisely, by engaging in “deliberate” practice—practice that focuses on tasks beyond your current level of competence and comfort. You will need a well-informed coach not only to guide you through deliberate practice but also to help you learn how to coach yourself. Above all, if you want to achieve top performance as a manager and a leader, you’ve got to forget the…
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, by Ed Catmull
If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better. The takeaway here is worth repeating: Getting the team right is the necessary precursor to getting the ideas right. It is easy to say you want talented people, and you do, but the way those people interact with one another is the real key. Even the smartest people can form an ineffective team if they are mismatched. That means it is better to focus on how a team is performing, not on the talents of…
A Technique for Producing Ideas – the simple five-step formula anyone can use to be more creative in business and in life!, by James Webb Young
An idea, I thought, has some of that mysterious quality which romance lends to tales of the sudden appearance of islands in the South Seas.
A book like Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class therefore becomes a better book about advertising than most books about advertising.
an idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of elements. In advertising an idea, results from a new combination of specific knowledge about. products and people, will general knowledge about life and events.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad- Robert Kiyosaki (Hardcopy)
I have forgotten the number of times I have recommended this book to friends and family. It is like a crash course in personal finance, explained in a manner that even school kids would understand. Though some of tax ideas may not work in India, use this book to get a clarity of financial concepts. Once you have that clarity, you can apply those concepts to any country, any business…. More
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion-Robert B. Cialdini (Hardcopy)
This book, combined with Contagious and Made to Stick, can be treated as a diploma in marketing. It explains the principles that are the foundation for communication, persuasion and influence i.e. the objective of any marketing effort. Marketers HAVE TO read this book. It will help build smarter, more effective ad campaigns, creative communication.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success-Carol S. Dweck (Hardcopy)
Repetitive but the basic concept is good.
Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All- Tom Kelley, David Kelley (Hardcopy)
Design thinking is the new buzz word. Everyone from marketers to businessmen to creative people to managers are talking about Design Thinking and how it applies to every field. Well, Tom Kelly is the founder of IDEO, a design behemoth. I wanted to read the book purely because it was written by someone from that firm. The explanation is crisp. Relevant. With examples. Good to read.
Steve Jobs– Walter Isaacson (Hardcopy)
Walter Isaacson is a phenomenal biographer. Steve Jobs is the perfect subject. What a guy!!! You want to hate him. You want to admire him. You want to follow him. You want to shout at him. He inspires all these feelings when you read his biography. Steve Jobs the person was definitely not one of the good guys. Especially did not like what he did to Steve Wozniak. But Steve Jobs as a marketer is awe-inspiring. As a business person, he is legendary. He rightly deserves to be called a visionary. There is so much to learn from him. It was not enough to read the hard copy. I got a kindle version too for easy referencing.
Unusually Effective: 25 Unusual yet Effective Social Media Marketing Strategies for Creating an Irresistible brand, Ultimate Business Growth and Massive Profits, by Akshay Desai
Families on the other hand tend to get together for a home cooked dinner or go out for one. A lot of bars, restaurants have discount offers especially for weekends, search a few in your locality and inform your followers about these discounts.
Unusual Strategy #4 #MondayMorning routine No one…including you, likes to be marketed to on a Monday morning but we all could use a little inspiration and motivation. A simple Google search will give you enough inspirational quotes and memes about Monday morning to share with your followers…and you will be surprised to see how many of these get retweeted and shared. When you do this, don’t forget to use relevant Hashtags like; #mondaymorning #mondaymotivation #monday #coffee #dayofpositivity #goodmorning
Marriott’s “Travel Brilliantly” TV, digital, and mobile advertising campaign is a prime example of a hotel chain that reinvented the way it interacts with its guests to be relevant in the age of social media. The campaign asked guests to be co-creators of the lodging experience, by sending the company their ideas to make their stay better or sharing their travel adventures. When a traveler suggested that Marriott install “healthy” vending machines, the chain partnered with Farmer’s Fridge to dispense salads-in-a-jar. Marriott also lends its guests a GoPro camera so they can record and share…
Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine- Candace B. Pert (Hardcopy)
I like reading books on science, psychology etc. The title of the book piqued my interest. Started reading. Continued. Stopped only when it was done. Never once did i expect a science book to be so engrossing. It was very well written in an engaging manner, in a language even non-science folks can understand.
But as a marketer, what I found interesting was that if we think in a certain way, it can have an impact on our physical bodies. As they say, mind matters. But the reverse may also hold true. If we consciously undertake some physical act, it may trigger some specific emotion. Think laughter clubs. We force ourselves to laugh from the belly and it has an impact on our emotions. Can we as marketers use this understanding while designing customer activations? I wonder.
Good book. Not all 75 were useful or doable for me. But quite a few were. Happy with the book. The content in the book was useful enough to encourage me to sign up for a free online course offered by the author Regina. Even that was neat.
Big Data, Analytics, and the Future of Marketing & Sales- McKinsey Chief Marketing & Sales Officer Forum
Our new shopper is the mobile shopper “Today, 30 percent of our traffic is coming over a mobile device — mostly iPhones, iPads, Apple devices. On weekends, we watch nearly a quarter of our revenue move through mobile devices too. So that was a big change we didn’t anticipate. Those were people who were basically responding to the time-based nature of our selling. They’re jumping on the site from the sidelines of the soccer game on the weekend or from a meeting during the week. One of our top shoppers is a leading defibrillator implant surgeon. And she pops out for five minutes from the …more
Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder- Arianna Huffington (Hardcopy)
Decent book. Not too great not too bad. If you have time and nothing better to do, you can read it. It is not worth making time for. Main takeaway- get a goodnight’s sleep. That is the most important and impactful activity for not just living but thriving.
49 Quick Ways to Market Your Business for Free: An Instant Guide to Marketing Success, by Sarah-Jane White
05 Create very short presentations which carry very focused messages about your products and services and share them on the web. These are a great way to reach out to customers and in just a handful of slides deliver a short crisp message about your business. Need inspiration? Then why not start by taking one of your frequently asked questions and presenting the answer in a slideshow, then share. Remember to link back to your website and blog.
Edward De Bono is supposed to be an institution. His concepts like 6 thinking hats, lateral thinking etc are taught in B Schools. So I thought it was high time I read the marketing classic- Lateral Thinking. It was such an anti climax. I don’t think I even reached the end. It was very very boring. I thought maybe at the time of its release, its content would have been unheard of. Hence, it reached such popularity. But that is just giving it benefit of doubt. Even if it was pretty clutter breaking in its time, it is not a timeless classic. Because reading it in 2017, it sounds cliched, over rated, boring.
Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder- Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Hardcopy)
Pinterest Power: Market Your Business, Sell Your Product, and Build Your Brand on the World’s Hottest Social Network- Jason Miles (Hardcopy)
Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles for Connecting with Your Customers, Your Products and Your People- Joseph A. Michelli (Hardcopy)
Productivity for Creative People: How to Get Creative Work Done in an “Always on” World, by Mark McGuinness
The Calendar Game Here is a simple game I invite coaching clients to play1 when they are struggling to put in consistent daily work on a project or practice on their art: Buy or make a monthly calendar and hang it somewhere prominent so you will see it every day. Each day you actually do your creative work (hours put in, word count, etc.) color that day red. The aim of the game is to turn the month red. Each time you skip a day, color that day blue.
Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius- Michael Michalko (Hardcopy)
The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results- Gary Keller, Jay Papasan (Hardcopy)
My key takeaway from this book was the focus on just the one thing. Though this is a productivity book, it applies equally well to marketing and to every other sphere of life. Cut the voluminous amounts of crap and get down to the one thing that matters the most. It could be the one thing for that moment or for your entire life, doesn’t matter….More
Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think- Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler (Hardcopy)
Most business books paint a bleak picture about the future. Movies are made, books are written expounding the doomsday scenario. This book is a loud, firm, affirmative answer to all the naysayers. It gives hope that not all is lost.
The book is based on reality, based on current research in science and assorted fields. The upcoming technologies highlighted are not light years away but…. More
Mastery- Robert Greene (Hardcopy)
The book is based on hardcore research into what results in mastery. It is proven that its not just your inherent talent that makes you a master. It is hard work. There are cases where hard work creates talent you were not born with. The most memorable takeaway for me from the book was the figure of 10,000 hours….More
The most exciting creativity, I believe, is the alchemy of blending apparent opposites, what we often call ‘art’ and ‘science’, recognising that they are not opposites at all, from which we have to choose either/or in a binary fashion, but the yin and yang of a whole.
Successful creative enterprises need to have a creative product or service; they also need to invent a special and workable formula of all the essential ingredients of business.
The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users- Guy Kawasaki (Hardcopy)
The book was highly ok. Barely any tips that were unheard of. More than half the content was rinse and repeat from a hundred other online resources. Better to take up some online course instead of turning to this book for help.
Outliers: The Story of Success- Malcolm Gladwell (Hardcopy)
The book was a mix of sorts- some of the concepts and examples shared were similar to what we would find in books like Mindset by Dr. Carol S. Dweck and Mastery by Robert Greene wherein we realise that the reason why some people far outdo the majority is because of their mindset, their hardwork, their attitude. More
The Dictionary of Corporate Bullshit: An A to Z Lexicon of Empty, Enraging, and Just Plain Stupid Office Talk- Lois Beckwith (Hardcopy)
As marketers, we often create communication for B2B customers. This book is a good reference of what NOT to say in the communication. It is a witty, sarcastic take on how corporate communication is convoluted, jargony and unnecessarily difficult. The best marketing is that which even a kid can understand. So steer clear of the terms mentioned in the book and similar and be simple and straightforward to have maximum impact in your marketing communication and campaigns.
Scott Adams, the king of sarcasm. This book needs no review, no intro. It is classic Dilbert. Love it.
The Joy of Work: Dilbert’s Guide to Finding Happiness at the Expense of Your Co-Workers (Dilbert: Business #4)- Scott Adams (Hardcopy)
If you are a Dilbert fan, which almost all 7 billion are, then read this. You cannot go wrong with any Dilbert book or rather any Scott Adams book.