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7 Takeaways from > 200 Marketing and Sales Books Every Modern Marketer Needs To Know
How many marketers in the room?
Let’s think about the future.
Think about what your age will be in 5 years, the year 2024. Do any of you have kids?
Think about what age they will be in 2024.
Now think about what your current salary is.
If you doubled that salary, do the mental math of what that amount is.
What would change in your life if you were making that salary in 2024?
A lot of the research and trends are predicting that the salaries of marketers could
easily double in the next five year - if they have the right skills
Today I’m going to share 7 takeaways from over 200 hundred marketing and sales
books featured on The Marketing Book Podcast that can help make you the kind of
marketer every CEO wants to hire and can’t afford to lose.
After I got out of the army and was getting my MBA I was considering several
different lines of work for after I finished that degree. One of the things I’d do is read
a book about a different field and then determine if I wanted to learn more about it.
One day one of my army buddies working on Wall Street in New York City asked me if
I’d ever thought about working in advertising. I didn’t know anything about it so I
asked one of my business school professors to recommend a book about advertising
so that I could determine if that might be of interest.
She gave me a copy of Ogilvy on Advertising. I devoured it! I loved it! I set the book
down and said “that’s what I want to do!” I found it!
Looking back, that one book had an enormous impact on my career and life’s
trajectory. The right book at the right time can do that.
So in 1988 I went to work in New York City on Madison Avenue at ad industry giants
J. Walter Thompson and Grey Advertising.
Most of my career was in advertising. When I started my own firm, it was an
I loved it. When I was an ad man (and long before) there was a captive audience and
when clients bought advertising, your target audience would see it. It was hard to
escape the power of advertising. It was the 800 pound gorilla in the room.
And then a few years ago I started to notice some tectonic changes occurring in that
world. Media commissions were starting to go away. With technology, people could
increasingly avoid unwanted marketing and sales messages.
I was having to go to meetings with website designers. And I had no idea what they
were talking about. Who were these Google guys and why am I getting all these
questions about this social media “fad?”
The ad industry carnage from the growth of the internet had begun.
I was becoming a dinosaur. I was beginning to feel increasingly irrelevant. I began to
worry that dinosaur scales would start to show. I hated that. My gig was up. It was
So I started to cast about figuring out what the next chapter was going to be. My
company still had advertising clients but I could see the writing on the wall and was
searching for where things were going.
So just like when I was in grad school, I turned to books to get started figuring out
what to do next.
One day I read David Meerman Scott’s first edition of The New Rules of Marketing
and PR and had a eureka moment. That’s where things were going. I learned about
digital marketing and social media - I started a blog and my company and I were off in
a new direction.
But I didn’t stop there. I started reading more marketing and sales books because the
more I read, the more the dinosaur scales were shed.
Then, when I went to a marketing conference, if I knew an author whose book I had
read on a Kindle, was going to be there I would purchase the hard copy of the book,
put it in my suitcase, fly to the conference, meet the authors and get them to sign
Hey, some people collect autographed sports memorabilia. I collect autographed
marketing and sales book.
So four years ago I launched The Marketing Book Podcast where each week I publish
an interview with the author of a new marketing or sales book. I’ve published 218
interviews and the podcast has listeners in 150 countries has been named by
LinkedIn as one of “10 Podcasts That Will Make You A Better Marketer” and by
Forbes as one of “11 Podcasts That Will Keep You In The Know.”
But before we get to the “7 Takeways from 200 Marketing and Sales Books Every
Modern Marketer Needs To Know,” let me answer a question I often get from
listeners which is which book has been your favorite?
Has it been perhaps a book by bestsellers like Seth Godin or David Meerman Scott, or
perhaps Philip Kotler, the father of modern marketing?
I’ll tell you which book it is. It’s by Sarah Cooper.
The book is 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings: How To Get By Without Even
Let’s look at a couple of the tricks, so you can appreciate the power of this book.
One is to translate percentages into fractions. So, if someone says, “about 25% of all
users click on this button,” quickly chime in with, “So about one in four,” and make a
note of it. Your math skills will be the envy of everyone in the room.
Another is ask the presenter to go back a slide. It doesn’t matter where in the
presentation you shout this out, it’ll immediately make you look like you’re paying
closer attention than everyone else is. Then you can go back to what you were doing
– checking Instagram.
I’ve got good news and bad news. Let’s start with the bad news and end with the
And when I say “bad news” – beware – some of you might be upset at what I’m
about to say
1 - Marketers have an image problem
Not too long ago there was a study by the Fournaise Group about perceptions of
marketers by CEOs.
Who can guess what percent of CEOs in that study trust marketers. (20%)
And why do you think they don’t trust marketers?
Because CEOs believe marketers are too disconnected from the financial realities of
There’s a perception BY SOME of marketers as the arts-and-crafts party planners who
work in the make it pretty department.
In The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader the authors fielded one of the largest studies
of marketers and the people who work with them which revealed insights like this…
Early in our study, we spoke with international CMOS about their work, asking “what
do you do?” It was interesting how different people answered. Some said things like,
“I manage the brand” or “I run our marketing.”
Words like these don't go down well with company leaders. In the words of
marketing professor and columnist Mark Ritson, “Too many marketers go into a room
full of executives from their company and warble on about the need to build brand
awareness and brand equity. No one gives a f***, except you – and presumably you
are already on board. Good marketers work out how to link what they do with what
other stakeholders within the organization want – employee retention, improved
profits, clearer leadership.”
In the 4A’s of Marketing by Jagdish Sheth and Rajendra Sisodia, they also talk about
this negative perception of marketers.
… CEOs and corporate boards are growing increasingly skeptical of the marketing
function’s ability to deliver reasonable returns on resources invested. Scholars have
suggested that marketing has lost its seat at the table when it comes to making
strategic decisions at many companies, because of its failure to perform.
So what’s a marketer to do?
Barta and Barwise offer this simple recommendation:
Get in the revenue camp.
That’s what the most successful marketing leaders do – in the minds of company
leaders and also in reality.
In my Marketing Book Podcast interview with Debbie Qaqish, author of Rise of the
Revenue Marketer she said several times...
“...the CMO who is related to revenue stays, and the CMO who is not related to
It’s as simple as that.”
As a marketer, one of the most helpful question to ask which can start to align what
you do with revenue is to ask question like
Revenue Camp Questions
What are our company financial goals?
What are our company sales goals?
Who is our most profitable customer?
What is the average lifetime value of a customer?
As a marketer seeking admission to the revenue camp, answers to these types of
questions can help tremendously.
In Seth Godin’s latest book “This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to
See,” he writes…
… marketing, the effective kind, is about understanding our customers’ worldview
and desires so we can connect with them. It’s focused on being missed when you’re
gone, on bringing more than people expect to those who trust us. It seeks volunteers,
There are three types of companies. Think about which type of company you’re in.
Companies that are focused primarily on themselves, their own products and
Companies that are focused primarily on their competitors.
Companies that are focused primarily on their customers.
Which kind of company do you think Amazon is?
When Jeff Bezos attends an internal meeting he insists on there being at least one
empty chair in the room. That empty chair represents the customer. Invariably during
meetings he’ll point at the chair to remind people what their primary focus needs to
And the last time I checked, Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world
In this era of the customer, companies who are focused on and have a deep
understanding of their customers are the most successful.
So how can you help your company to develop a deeper understanding of your
customers in order to give you a competitive edge?
Has anyone here introduced the concept of buyer personas at your company?
As defined in Adele Revella’s bestselling book Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight
into Your Customer’s Expectations, Align Your Marketing Strategies, and Win More
In the simplest terms, buyer personas are examples or archetypes of real buyers that
allow marketers to craft strategies to promote products and services to the people
who might buy them.
The backbone of her book is the 5 insights that about your customers that will give
you a big competitive understanding of your customers and an unfair advantage.
The most important aspect of developing your buyer persona is that you must
actually speak with customers.
I encourage you to visit buyerpersona.com and learn about the 5 insights of buying
that are outlined in her book. She has some e-books about the buying insights and
there’s no registration required.
In Kristin Zhivago’s book Roadmap to Revenue: How to Sell the Way Your Customers
Want to Buy, she outlines what successful companies do to increase revenue and do
you know what the linchpin of her entire book and process is? INTERVIEW YOUR
Of course, you need to do it the way she prescribes in the book because many
companies don’t know how to properly glean the right insights from their customers.
Similarly in Martin Lindstrom’s book Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge
Trends, he writes about a very successful company that now requires all employees
to have an annual visit in a customer home to help them to gain meaningful insights
into their customers.
As David Cancel and Dave Gerhardt underscore in their book “Conversational
Marketing: How The World’s Fastest Growign Companies Use Chatbots to Generate
Leads 24/7/365 (And How You Can Too)… “Remember: whoever gets closest to the
To wrap up this section –the most important word in marketing and sales… is
Empathy is the capacity or ability to imagine oneself in the situation of another.
That’s not the same as sympathy.
Sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another
person encounters, while empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another.
If you are able to put yourselves in the shoes of your customers, even just a little bit,
you will be amazed at the positive effect it can have on your company’s ability to
become known, liked and trusted.
3-The Most Effective Marketing Plans… Are Not Overly Complicated
According to Malcolm McDonald in his 2nd edition of “Malcolm McDonald on
Marketing Planning,” (his 46th book) there are only two questions that need to be
answered in a marketing plan.
And if you as a marketer start with the answers to these two questions in a marketing
plan, you will more likely find yourself in that 20% of marketers trusted by your CEO,
management and colleagues.
Here are the two questions that a marketing plan need answer.
You may think that Allan Dib’s book, The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers,
Make More Money, And Stand out From The Crowd has a gimmicky name but don’t
be fooled by that. It’s a terrific book and marketing plans need not be more detailed
than the 9 areas that you can summarize on one page.
I won’t go through each of the 9 sections but notice that there are three parts to the
1-page marketing plan:
Before – when prospective customers have never heard of you
During – when they become aware of you until they decide to buy (which could be
much later), and
After – what kind of experience are your customers going to have, how can you sell
more to them and what can you do to get referrals
Take note of that last section, “after.”
Lots of companies don’t include that in their marketing plans. A lot of the marketing
and sales activity seems go limp at that point.
And that’s because businesses are addicted to SEX!
Maybe I should explain that.
In Noah Fleming’s book Evergreen: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty that
Keeps Your Business Thriving he explains that businesses are addicted to the sexiness
and excitement of the hunt – the thrill of the chase. The conquest.
And then, like after a one-night stand, they never call again.
Retaining existing customers on the other hand, which is proven to be where the real
money and profits are is more like farming. Not quite as thrilling. Not quite as sexy.
But have you ever heard that it’s less expensive to keep a customer than to get a new
Let’s talk some more about that.
4-Your most powerful marketing is the experience you deliver
A powerful quote from Maya Angelou comes to mind as it relates to customer
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Why is this more important now than in the past?
The internet. Social media. Ratings and review sites. Everyone has a megaphone with
which they can tell the world about being treated badly by a company (even if they
Anthony Iannarino explains in The Lost Art of Closing, we’ve moved from the era of
caveat emptor to caveat venditor.
We’ve gone from the era of let the buyer beware to let the seller beware.
But companies are only beginning to understand this.
In X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, Brian Solis cites a Bain & Company
study of 362 companies. 80% of those companies thought that they were delivering a
In truth, according to their customers, only 8% were.
And how did that 8% do it?
They purposefully designed their customers’ experience.
This is why there is are a growing number of excellent books about engineering a
better customer experience that I have interviewed for The Marketing Book Podcast.
So why do companies really want to engineer a better customer experience? Is it
because they don’t like being yelled at?
The reason for this interest in customer experience is that’s also where the money is.
In Nicholas Webb’s book What Customers Crave he explains that...
70% of Americans are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide an
excellent customer experience.
Plus, keeping your customers is where the really big money is:
The probability of selling to a new prospect is less than 20%, while the probability of
selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent.
On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
The experience you engineer for your customers is your most powerful marketing.
I interview many authors of sales books for The Marketing Book Podcast because the
best marketers have a deep understanding of the sales process
That’s always been true but it’s even more important now because of the changing
way people buy.
When I was a kid and my dad wanted to buy a car, where was the first place he would
go to get information?
Why did he have to go to the car dealership?
This is what Daniel Pink in his book To Sell is Human refers to as “information
asymmetry.” The buyer wanted information and the seller had it. And the seller used
that information as leverage to guide (or strong arm) the buyer toward a purchase.
We are now in an era of Information Symmetry
Fast forward to a couple of years ago when my wife wanted to buy a car – where was
the absolute last place she went to get information?
Where do you suppose she got her information?
Your buyers are no different.
Many of you may have heard of the landmark study a few years back from CEB/
Gartner about how in a B2B buying situation, the buyers are AT MINIMUM 57%
through their purchase process before first reaching out to the seller. Forrester puts
that number as high as 90%. It varies by industry and product, of course.
So as shown in Debbie Qaqish’s book Rise of the Revenue Marketer that I mentioned
earlier, this shows the role of sales when my dad was buying a car where you see
sales involved throughout the entire buying process.
And here’s a chart that shows where sales is now involved much later in the
customer’s buying process like when my wife was buying her car.
So who best to fill that void?
As stated repeatedly in Aligned to Achieve: How to Unite Your Sales and Marketing
Teams into a Single Force for Growth, by Tracy Eiler and Andrea Austin
Sales can’t do it alone and marketing exists to make sales easier.
6. Content is the atomic particle of marketing
I didn’t discover this myself – it’s also the title of Rebecca Lieb’s excellent content
strategy book “Content - The Atomic Particle of Marketing”
Marcus Sheridan started a fiberglass pool company in Virginia with two friend in
2001. They did pretty well and before long they were spending hundreds of
thousands of dollars in advertising in their primary markets of Richmond Virginia and
When the real estate crash of 2008 happened the number of people interested in
investing in a fiberglass pool plummeted. Business almost completely stopped. They
were out of money. Their financial advisors advised them to declare bankruptcy.
At the end of his rope, Marcus began posting answers to every question they
regularly got from customers like “how much does a pool cost?” What are the pros
and cons of a fiberglass pool? Hundreds of questions like this.
Within one year it was the highest trafficked pool website in the world. The fear that
his prospective customers had in doing business plummeted and their trust soared.
The New York times dubbed his approach “revolutionary.”
Another tactic that the New York Times has dubbed “a revolutionary marketing
approach” is to answer your customer's questions.
For more, I recommend Marcus’ excellent book “They Ask, You Answer.”
I interviewed Tom Fishburne, also known as The Marketoonist about his book Your
Ad Ignored Here: Cartoons from 15 Years of Marketing, Business, and Doodling in
Tom Fishburne is a graduate of Harvard Business School and worked for several blue
chip companies in marketing before he became a full-time cartoonist.
Has anyone here seen his cartoons?
In the interview I asked him about his sources of inspiration for so many years of
hilarious cartoons. His response was interesting. He said that his best source of
material is making fun of marketers and businesses who think they still have a captive
Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen the movie “Monty Python and The Holy Grail.”
Do you remember the scene where King Arthur and his Knights go up to a castle and
demand entrance but are spurned by the French soldier on the parapet?
The soldier, played by John Cleese, insults them and said things like “your mother
was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries.“
That is the metaphor for trying to reach your customers in this modern era.
They are not going to lower the drawbridge and let you in their castle unless you can
offer them something helpful, entertaining or educational.
And that's where content comes in.
Seth Godin describes content marketing as “the only marketing left.”
In Joe Puliizzi’s book Epic Content Marketing he defines content marketing this way…
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and
distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-
defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Additionally, I encourage you to learn more about storytelling in marketing and sales.
Granted, it’s a misunderstood word that you should avoid using outside your
marketing department and it doesn’t involve making facts up, but it involves
communicating information in story format.
And it’s very powerful.
Here’s why: The human brain is wired for stories. But you need to do it correctly and
we don’t have time to go into the details, but in most cases, you want the customer
to be the hero of your story, not your company.
Facts tell, but stories sell.
Finally, there’s a growing challenge with content marketing.
7. Measure What Matters
In a study by Adobe, a remarkable 76% percent of marketers thought marketing has
changed more in the previous two years than the past 50.
So while marketing has changed a lot, it has also become much more measurable.
That’s why in that same study, 68% of marketing professionals feel more pressured
to show return on investment on marketing spend.
So what should you measure?
Any military history fans here? Are there any Vietnam vets in the room?
I recently watched Ken Burns documentary “The Vietnam War” and was reminded
about a strategy the Americans pursued that was deeply flawed.
In an effort to find a metric that would prove that they were winning the war, body
counts of enemy dead versus the lower numbers of American dead were carefully
counted, so the leadership thought, could prove success.
One Vietnam vet and historian said this. The same is true of what marketers are
Things like email open rates and click through rates, social shares and likes, social
media reach, impressions, etc.
In a similar vein, in Paul Roetzers book The Marketing Performance Blueprint he
offers an example of meaningless metrics when he reminds us
Social media reach is a deceptive metric that can give a false sense of progress.
As a first step toward connecting marketing activity with revenue, the authors of
Aligned to Achieve recommend focusing on pipeline.
Pipeline refers to the opportunities the sales team believes could convert into
revenue. This is different from leads, people who have expressed very early interest,
because pipeline holds actual opportunities that are qualified through both the
marketing and sales process.
So bear in mind the paradox of measurement from two of the greatest Americans
who spoke with German accents.
So back to the first book I talked about The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader. I talked
about the disconnect many marketers have with their companies.
But here is what the successful marketers are doing…
Our interviews with the most successful marketers have one thing in common: a top
management viewpoint. Rather than talking about marketing, they spoke of the
business as a whole. They didn't talk a lot about advertising, branding, or customer
insights. They spoke about revenue, costs, and profit – and how they could serve the
customer better. The real marketing leaders were concerned with one thing: how
marketing helps the company achieve its biggest priorities.
Additionally, that same book talks, as do so many about the skills gaps when the
21st century marketing is suffering from a skills crisis.
It’s for this reason that the marketing salaries of marketers who know what the hell
they’re doing are predicted to double in the next five years.
And there’s another silver lining for marketers: the role of marketer is becoming a
training ground for CEOs.
With successful marketers having the deepest insights into the customers, the
competition and revenues, a growing number of CEOs are coming from the ranks of
CMOs, and according to Gartner, that trend will continue.