Marketing Books – What’s Worth Your Time

Back in October, a colleague of mine asked me for recommendations for books on “affiliate marketing, social or interactive media.” I apologize to her because I literally took months to get back to her on this. It’s honestly taken me this long because there are so many mediocre books out there, I wanted to be sure to give her solid recommendations that I would stand behind. That said, I still don’t have much for her.

I tend to gravitate and find most value out of books that challenge the way marketing, interactive and business are done because they provide insight on both how things have been done and where the author feels it is going or should be done. I feel if you learn what to look for, how to approach everything from an analytic point-of-view and some general basics, you can learn and understand a good chunk of marketing, despite it’s rapid-changing nature. 

The other important thing to remember is that all forms of marketing center around one thing — influencing behavior. When it comes to learning on how influence behavior, the scope of learning material stretches far beyond marketing and even business. I look to those around me who inspire me and cause me to change my behavior. What are they saying and doing that is prompting my shift? How can I apply this to X, Y, or Z?

Scott Belsky, CEO and Founder of the Behance Network, wrote a fantastic book last year, “Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality.” No, Belsky is not a marketer, he is a creative. A creative who has committed his professional life to help organize creative individuals, teams, and networks. I read this book in two days and it immediately changed my behavior. I go back and reference it often and have referred to at least a dozen people.

Seth Godin. I’d hire him to copywriter, give inspirational speeches or manage a team anytime. Pick up any of his books. Pick up three. It doesn’t really matter. Godin’s gift is in his ability to change the way that people think. Through his repeated successes, he has garnered a massive audience and a world of respect from a wide field of professionals and entrepreneurs. His most popular publication, “Tribes” focuses on leadership. Recommended books on leadership is an entire different blog post but one best to venture down after you have a better grasp on changing behavior.

Another popular favorite, Malcolm Gladwell. In particular, “Blink.” The number one reason I recommend this novel over his former and more successful, “Tipping Point“, is that Gladwell discusses how marketers can manipulate our first impressions. Through his fantastic storytelling, he provides some key insights into our jobs as marketers which some of us subconsciously manufacture campaign after campaign. Taking a step back and analyzing these insights can open great new ideas and approaches to further sharpen our craft.

That might be it. I am instantly turned off by excessive typos, cheap grammar and preachy texts which disqualifies ninety percent of the rest of the options out there. (Not that I’m an expert at avoiding any of these things but I’m not publishing books.) One hundred thousand Twitter followers doesn’t lead me to believe you are capable of helping me learn through your experiences. Pick up an old text on viral marketing — all of the same concepts are relevant to social media marketing. They haven’t changed; only the tools have. Delve with two feet into social psychologies.

Others I read and constantly learn from are linked in my blogroll on this blog, in the right column under “Game Changers”. They’re from many different backgrounds, disciplines and beliefs but continuously make me question everyday tasks. Subscribe to them.


  1. I have heard Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink” referenced before in one of my classes by a guest speaker. My class was told that this book will definitely be a useful tool for us when we enter the “real” world. I have since forgotten about the book and the suggestion but after reading your blog, I will definitely go buy the book. It has to be a great tool if two people have suggested it!

  2. Let me know what you think of it! Gladwell’s an entertaining writer so it’s an easy read.

  3. You’re right about the foundations. Social psychology is what informs most of the marketing I do, and anyone does, I’d argue. I think being a psych major in college who also liked the internet were quite perfect feeders into a marketing job, despite the notion that psychology majors will struggle to get jobs having just bachelors degrees.

    Re: Malcolm Gladwell- his book Outliers was alsoexcellent. It’s more behavioral economics than social psych. Have you read it? He demonstrates that a lot of success is a result of timing and place or effort. One neat example: the cultural psychology of Americans dictates that young U.S. students give up on difficult math problems more easily than Japanese students. The two populations do not differ in intelligence or IQ but in attitude.


  1. My New Years Revolution « Keri Lyons's Blog - [...] Blink ( Suggested by Tessa Horehled) [...]

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