Top Marketing Books for Your Fall Reading List


As word people, there are few joys more precious in life than those moments we can sit still and enjoy a good book for an hour or two.

This summer, the Tier One team made the time to check out some of the best books for PR and marketing pros, so that this fall you can add one or two of these to your own reading list. We covered marketing, brand identity, healthcare, content creation, and more.

So, if you didn’t find the time to sit down with a good marketing book this summer, don’t worry. Sit back, relax, and soak in the latest, greatest literature on marketing and PR trends.

Brand Admiration: Building a Business People Love

by C. Whan Park, Deborah J. MacInnis, and Andreas B. Eisingerich

I picked up a copy of Brand Admiration after a client suggested it. It's one of those business books that's a super quick read and a great reminder of what really drives brand admiration and loyalty. The authors break it down into three essential ways brands can build trust, love, and respect, which they call the "Three Es": Enable, Entice and Enrich.

The process, as they see it, starts with a brand enabling customers in some positive way, either empowering them to solve a problem or do something better or more efficiently than they could before. From there, a brand needs to entice the customer to engage on an ongoing basis through approaches that make the customer feel good. Examples of this might be using methods of entertainment, rewards, or special recognition programs. Lastly, the admired brands find ways to make their customers not only feel rewarded and recognized but enriched by their relationship with the company. What they mean by enriched is that the customer feels his/her relationship with the brand is about more than just a simple purchase transaction. It's about living their values—e.g. making their families healthier or more secure or promoting causes they care about, such as diversity, protecting our environment, or job creation. To me, this last point is where the wheat is separated from the chaff—every brand—big or small, BtoC or BtoB—should be actively thinking about how they can enrich the lives of their customers. This book offers some great practical ways to do that.
Sue Parente, Managing Partner

Meaningful: The Story of Ideas that Fly

by Bernadette Jiwa

In her book Meaningful, master brand storyteller Bernadette Jiwa reveals what she believes is the secret sauce behind product innovations that steal the hearts and minds of their users. She explains through colorful storytelling how companies like Zappos, Apple, Nest, Shopify, and Patagonia created “ideas that fly,” not by developing products with clever bells and whistles, but by developing products that fulfill unmet needs or solve unmet challenges. As a result, they created products that become meaningful to the people who use them.

Drawing upon her years of experience working side by side with innovators, creatives, and entrepreneurs, Jiwa teaches Meaningful readers the art and science of developing a storyline that will unlock the value of a new product or service and make it truly relevant and meaningful among its target audiences—a process she calls The Story Strategy Blueprint. Jiwa brings her Story Strategy Blueprint to life by applying her formula to real world case studies including GoPro, Canva, and Khan Academy. Meaningful was an energizing book with fresh thinking about brand storytelling. It’s a quick and engaging read that promises to outfit you with a few new approaches to shaping winning storylines for clients.
Marian Hughes, Managing Partner

Rescuing Healthcare

by Anthony Bell and Denis A. Cortese, MD

Healthcare is under siege in unprecedented ways: whether it’s the uncertainty surrounding access and cost driven by the fate of the Affordable Care Act, to industry consolidation that drives up expenses, to the healthcare system buckling under the weight of its own inefficiency and waste. Rescuing Healthcare addresses what it calls the three big questions in healthcare: 1) What should healthcare be providing us? 2) What obstacles are preventing it from doing so? And 3) What kind of leadership will it take to overcome these obstacles? According to the book, healthcare should be providing the public with the best possible care at the lowest possible cost. This means thinking about healthcare delivery in new ways, including different payment models and approaches, such as initiating more costly treatments earlier on if it avoids other treatments later. It also means pivoting healthcare to focus more on outcomes than process. And lastly, it requires a new model of leader who puts a renewed focus on the patient, the vision to create a new culture of healthcare, and the competence to execute on their strategy. Rescuing Healthcare offers a practical guide to reshaping the healthcare industry to serve consumers in the way we need to be served.
Kathy Wilson, Managing Partner

Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior

by Jonah Berger

If you were one of the many marketers who had the pleasure of reading the New York Times bestseller Contagious: Why Things Catch On, then you are familiar with author Jonah Berger’s unique style of taking what could otherwise be trite scientific data and bringing it to life with powerful stories and conclusions that inspire the reader to look at brand influence differently and take action. This was the case in his latest book, Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior. This book explores human behaviors around decisions we make–from the clothes we buy and wear on a given day, to the food we eat, the music we listen to, and to a certain degree, even the college or university we choose to apply and attend. Berger does a great job of giving descriptions and examples of subtle behaviors around brand decisions and purchases that are very relatable, but then offers an unexpected “invisible” twist on the more common perception. For example, the majority of us tend to believe that the choices we make in our lives are driven by our unique individual tastes and opinions. We wear a certain jacket because we like the way it looks, and choose a hairstyle that’s most flattering to our personal features. But according to Berger’s research and theories, none of this is by chance or “personal tastes.” Rather, it’s the result of social influence. Whether we make a decision that goes with the tide or purposely goes against it, Berger believes that “Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of all decisions are shaped by others.” This “must read” for marketers offers valuable observations and intuition that can be applied to brand campaigns for engaging and influencing customers. It will persuade you to make smarter decisions on simple branding decisions, from the logos you chose and placement of brand labels on consumer goods and packaging, to how you’re marketing these items to your target audience and the channels you’re using. If you’re interested in having a better understanding of human behavior and why we all make the purchases that we do (along with other everyday decisions), Invisible Influence uncovers this mystery in an insightful and entertaining way.

Colleen Irish, Senior Account Director

Get Scrappy

by Nick Westergaard

Get Scrappy is a great book for any modern marketer who is trying to 1) keep up with industry changes and 2) do more with less. I was especially pleased to see that the author emphasized the basics: The importance of branding and storytelling, planning and goal setting, and understanding why you should do something before you do it. Moreover, this material was presented in a practical, actionable way that made me want to take a step back and apply the process to my client’s current strategies and execution to make sure we didn’t miss anything. It’s also a great primer on digital marketing, focusing your attention on the “point” of being on social media which can be overlooked as we rush to just “be present” on every platform. The other thing I appreciated about this book is how “real” it is. Westergaard manages to touch a chord in marketers of all stripes, from solo practitioners to non-profits and mega-brands. We all face similar challenges, like lacking the time or money to do all the things we want to do. He also puts an emphasis on being authentic – marketing with heart and truth. The book is full of examples of underdogs that got “scrappy” and, as a result, were able to achieve the results they were after. As a communications professional who has spent a career working with emerging companies, these stories were very inspirational!
Sarah Mees, Senior Account Director

Hug Your Haters

by Jay Baer

Jay Baer’s Hug Your Haters is an interesting read, as every company has “haters” and needs to determine a protocol as to how to deal with them across the board. Baer supports his argument with third-party research and provides a lot of real world examples, which I found to be particularly interesting and a great way to show how his response model finds success in the real world. Haters come from different places and view things differently but are generally making a complaint because they mean well and hope for improvements. Hug Your Haters provides useful tactics on how to navigate complaints and turn the conversation into what could be a wonderful experience for the customer, thereby creating brand loyalty. Baer also takes time to discuss how to handle haters who are just in it for a reaction, with recommendations on how to respond to them. The book’s cadence is nice - I never found it lagged unnecessarily (full disclosure: I actually listened to the eBook), and I liked how the second half went into social listening and tools. Overall, I found Hug Your Haters offered useful tips and lessons on navigating unhappy customers that I will keep in mind in the future.
Celena Fine, Senior Account Associate

Big Magic

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Whatever the reason may be, picking up a new book is nothing short of a new and exciting adventure. When it came time for Tier One's summer reading 2k17, one of my favorite Albert Einstein quotes, "Creativity is intelligence having fun," drove me to reach for Big Magic. Broken down into six parts—Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust and Divinity—Elizabeth Gilbert (you may know her as the author of Eat, Pray, Love) takes you through her creative process. A pro at fostering creativity, Gilbert instills the right to create and chase passions in each reader, helping you to look beyond the naysayers and jump right over the hurdles. Through reading, you’ll soon realize it's impossible not to bubble over with the excitement and courage to pursue your interests as you recognize ideas the moment they spark. Big Magic is the perfect read for any professional looking to get out of a rut of for their next big idea. Inspiration will strike, I promise.
Bianca Lev, Account Associate/Senior Content Specialist

Where Good Ideas Come From

by Steven Johnson

“Both evolution and innovation thrive in collaborative networks where opportunities for serendipitous connections exist. Great discoveries often evolve as slow hunches, maturing and connecting to other ideas over time.”

In marketing, PR, and advertising, the chase of the ever elusive ‘big idea’ is constant. Where Good Ideas Come From is an exploration of where exactly these ideas originate, and that answer is obviously not a simple one. The book provides plenty of food for thought on how to stimulate your thinking, how to examine old concepts and make them new again, and what the best catalysts for having the light bulb moment are. This is a fantastic read for industry professionals for a science-based take on innovation that will get your wheels turning.
Grace Rasulo, Account and Content Specialist

The Tipping Point

by Malcolm Gladwell

As a recent post-grad, I still cling to the advice of my wisest public relations professors, including the advice to read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell every couple of years. It contains golden advice for those in the PR and marketing fields. Even though it feels academic at times, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it this summer (imagining I was) by the poolside. The Tipping Point takes you through real-life examples of marketing trends that changed the game over the years, guiding readers through the factors that caused this particular trend to "tip." Understanding the key role communications plays in the lifecycle of social trends is vital when you communicate with a variety of people on a daily basis. This is the type of classic educational resource that everyone in the industry should read and re-read every couple of years; the examples may be from years past, but the lessons are evergreen and sure to stir up new ideas every time!
Christie Leist, Account Specialist

Everybody Writes

by Ann Handley

I am admittedly late to the party with this guide to writing for writers of all skill levels and professions, as Everybody Writes made its debut in 2014. As the title suggests, the pervasiveness of writing as a skill persists, and so does the relevance of these tips which cover everything from emails to press releases to tweets. I imagine that many a college course has adopted this as a text in the years since it was first published, (a span of time during which an unfortunate typo featuring the beloved author Jane Austen [Austin in the original text] has been fixed).

The book’s thorough index makes it as much a manual for modern content creation as it is an entertaining read. If it’s written or even adjacent to the written word, this book covers it. It’s a style guide in some ways, but covers so much more as a resource for SEO, when to include visuals, where to find them, how long your Facebook posts should be, and everything that modern writing entails, or as Ann refers to it at the start, your “web currency.” The sentiment rings true and this book is most definitely a worthwhile investment.
Stephanie Malkus, Content Strategist

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