10 Books That Permanently Changed How I Think About Marketing (Vol 1)

I think books tend find us at the right time.  That has certainly been true for me with non-business books, but it’s also been true with books about business strategy, marketing, new media, sales, etc.

Being a lifelong learner AND a book nerd, I’ve been thinking about this blog post in my head for months.  I had a very difficult time choosing only 10.  But then I realized that I can post as many Top 10 Lists as I want!

So here is 10 Books That Permanently Changed How I Think About Marketing (Volume 1):

Strategy Seeking

Strategy: Seeking and Securing Competitive Advantage by Michael E. Porter

I consider this book (and Porter’s Competitive Strategy book as well) to be foundational, fundamental reading for any one who’s getting serious about market(ing) strategy. Dense, durable stuff.

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Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

O Seth, you chrome-domed purveyer of thought products… Not only do I envy your business model, but I must admit you nailed it on this one.  This book is permanently in the demand gen bible.  It’s an easy read that sticks with you.

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Kotler On Marketing: How to Create, Win and Dominate Markets by Philip Kotler

I participated in a course that Kotler taught many years ago.  It was like meeting a rock star. (I’m a geek, I know.)  There is nothing innovative about this book at all, really.  Except that it is a fantastic primer about marketing fundamentals.  Even if you’re an experienced marketer, I defy you to read this book and not have at least one significant “Oh yeah!” moment.

Crossing the Chasm

Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore

What can you say about this one?  His metaphor has been abused / overused, I suppose.  But that’s just a symptom of how much it still resonates.  The big win on this one was tying buyer personas (and their unique quirks) to the market adoption curve.  That general lesson should not be ignored.

Why We Buy

Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill

Why I love this book: This guy Paco did what not enough of us marketers do.  He observed real people shop in their natural (retail) habitat.  A LOT OF THEM.  This book is based on hard-earned field data, my friend.  Sure, I like it because it teaches you about retail marketing/merchandising.   But the whole time I was reading it, I kept having a sneaking suspicion that I was reading a book about web usability and conversion.  Read it and I bet you’ll see what I mean.

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

I suppose some of the best books say things that are so obvious that no one thought to really consider the wide-reaching implications. Read it and you’ll start seeing tails everywhere.

Competitive Strategy

Competitive Strategy by Michael E. Porter

See above.

Laws of Marketing

22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by All Ries and Jack Trout

I know, I know.  This is kind of a cocktail party marketing book.  But I like it.  Sue me.

Blue Ocean Marketing

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Great competitive strategy tome.  I especially liked their model for evaluating competitors’ value propositions… and how to change the game.

Complex Sale

Lead Generation for the Complex Sale by Brian Carroll

True: it’s a bit dry.  (Drink several cups of coffee before and during reading.)

Also true: It’s a fantastic walk through demand generation theory and best practices.

There you go!  I’m already thinking of books that could have / should have been on this list.  But I’ll save them for Volume 2…

What books have changed how YOU think about marketing? Comment below or contact us today and let us know.

John is Intelligent Demand’s founder, chief strategist and CEO. His energy and enthusiasm for transforming companies with modern approaches to marketing, sales, and customer success is palpable. He’ll happily geek out with you during a 2-hour conversation about your customer journey. He’ll cover any whiteboard or tablecloth in sight with revenue growth strategies, messaging concepts, and program designs. But his primary passion is connecting those ideas to highly executable programs that deliver measurable results.


    • That’s a good one too. Weird story… that book had been on my “I must read this” list for a while and randomly, while on vacation in New Mexico, I found it in the “free book” section of a coffeehouse. I grabbed it, of course. I suppose I should leave it in some public place to complete the karmic loop.
      What would your Top 10 look like?


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