7 Must-Read Marketing Books of 2020

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With the number of marketing books on the market, it may seem like there’s nothing more to say. But since marketing is all about what makes people tick, and people are always evolving, there are new things to discover and learn with every passing year.

Whether it’s a shift in marketing medium, changes in what’s most important to consumers, or generational differences, the ways we reach people have to be tweaked and amended regularly. So while it’s great to read the marketing classics, like Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind (1980) or the much older Robert Collier Letter Book (1937), it’s also smart to keep up with the new marketing wisdom. 

Here’s a list of the seven best marketing books to come out of 2020. Add them to your reading list, if you haven’t already!

1. Fanocracy by David Meerman Scott & Reiko Scott

Why do some businesses inspire the kind of adoration that used to be reserved for movie stars?  Fanocracy: Turning Fans Into Customers and Customers Into Fans, written by a father/daughter writing team, explores what turns consumers into raving fans of brands. 

It’s all about adding value to your product or service through building community and relationships. The book theme breaks down how to do it in nine actionable steps. 

2. The Age of Influence by Neal Schaffer

The Age of Influence (HarperCollins Leadership, March 17, 2020) – The Age of Influence is a playbook for learning how to execute successful influencer campaigns and collaborate on a long-term basis for maximum ROI for any business.

In a climate where everyone is hunting for authenticity, meaningful relationships with actual people are how you get it. The Age of Influence: The Power of Influencers to Elevate Your Brand teaches marketers how to harness the power of influencers to build those relationships, from choosing the right people to work with to measuring the ROI of your campaign. 

This book takes a topic that’s often treated as superficial, and dives deep into how you can make influencer marketing a key part of your social media strategy.

3. Banking on Digital Growth by James Robert Lay

There are digital marketing books aplenty, but James Robert Lay niches down even further. In his 2020 book Banking on Digital Growth: The Strategic Marketing Manifesto to Transform Financial Brands, Lay explores digital marketing for the banking and lending industry.

While it’s written with finance in mind, this can be a helpful read for anyone In a conservative industry that’s slow to adopt change.

4. Who Not How by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin P. Hardy

Sullivan and Hardy’s Who Not How: The Formula to Achieve Bigger Goals Through Accelerating Teamwork is not a marketing book at first glance. Rather, it encourages readers to focus on not what you can do, but who else can accomplish tasks for you. It’s about outsourcing what you can’t accomplish, either through lack of time or skill, and therefore multiplying your productivity.

Why is it important for marketers? Because marketing — and content marketing in particular — is a huge time investment. These concepts may help marketers to see that the best way to create enough content is to get help.

5. Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller

After the success of 2017’s Building a StoryBrand, Donald Miller is back with Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step StoryBrand Guide for Any Business. This book helps marketers to apply the lessons of the previous book to their business with actionable to-dos and steps. 

After reading and following along, brands will have improved their messaging and shared it with your funnel. The book is clear and includes plenty of examples to use as a guide. 

Start with Building a StoryBrand if you haven’t read it already!

6. The New Rules of Marketing and PR, 7th Ed by David Meerman Scott

Is it cheating to include a book that was first released in 2007? If it hadn’t been updated, maybe. 

But David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Content Marketing, Podcasting, Social Media, AI, Live Video, and Newsjacking to Reach Buyers Directly has been revised for the modern age. The new 7th edition includes sections on artificial intelligence and machine learning to help marketers automate repetitive tasks.

7. Subprime Attention Crisis by Tim Hwang

With a name designed to mirror the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis that crippled the economy, Tim Hwang’s new book gets your attention. Subprime Attention Crisis: Advertising and the Time Bomb at the Heart of the Internet takes a wholly original look at digital marketing and advertising, and it’s not a rosy one. 

Instead of trumpeting the value of current digital ad trends, Hwang argues that the market faces major issues, like data inaccuracies and a bad auction process. And if the ad model goes, does a free and open internet go with it? This is a short but valuable read with a fresh perspective.

Curl Up With a Good Book

Temperatures are dropping and we’re still being encouraged to stay home as much as possible. This makes it prime reading season. Pick up a couple of these titles to stay sharp in the new year. 

What are your favorite marketing books to come out of 2020?

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