Favorite Books of 2018

This year I read a handful of books that really helped in my marketing learning. It’s crazy to think about how many books are published each week. But these are the ones that I enjoyed the most.

Originally, I titled this post “Marketing Books I Enjoyed in 2018,” but then when I went back through my list, I realized I didn’t read as many pure marketing books as I have in years past. This year I found myself going deeper into some areas of marketing (branding), while also branching out into other areas that can impact marketing (sales, blockchain).

Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business by Tiffani Bova

Tiffani Bova has spent her career advising companies how to better grow their business. I originally listened to this book on Audible as soon as it came out. But there was so much good information in here that I went back and repurchased it as a hardcover. I wanted to be able to use it as a reference book. Bova has outlined ten pathways for companies to follow. Each path has a series of case studies detailing how some companies succeeded by following the path, whereas others failed because they didn’t follow the path. 

Branding: Brand Identity, Brand Strategy and Brand Development by K. L. Hammond

This book is a high-level introduction to how to better interact with your customers and prospects. Branding is essential to any successful company. Hammond goes into detail about how a brand is more than just a logo. It’s how you feel about the company. This book would be ideal for someone that is just starting out in branding. 

Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy from Products to Customers by Niraj Dawar

This is an older book, but I just read it this year. The basic concept of the book still holds true to this day. Companies must focus on the customer. As globalization of business opens up, the products are becoming commoditized. Everyone is selling the same thing and telling you that they’re the best. But, if a company can focus on the customer and their experience with the product or brand, it will enable that company to win. Amazon.com is a great example of putting the customer experience first by making it easier for people to purchase the items they want at any time, from any location. 

Brand Identity Breakthrough: How to Craft Your Company’s Unique Story to Make Your Products Irresistible by Gregory V Diehl

This book takes an approach that combines the previous two books. It focuses on the combination of brand and the customer experience to create irresistible products. Diehl discusses the value of a unique selling proposition and how telling a good story is the best way for your brand to breakthrough the noise. 

Blockchain: Trust Companies: Every Company Is at Risk of Being Disrupted by a Trusted Version of Itself by Richie Etwaru 

Richie Etwaru has become an authority on Blockchain through his TEDx Talks, writings, his teaching at Syracuse University, and his work at Hu-manity.co. This book takes the reader through the history of transactions (going all the way back to cavemen) through today, and toward the future where trust is necessary. That trust is established thanks to Blockchain. Every day we’re seeing how the Internet is changing and challenging businesses. The next evolution is Blockchain and establishing trust between different parties around the globe. We’ll eventually get to a place where customers will be able to choose between a secretive company or a trusted company.

This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin

Seth Godin needs no introduction, so we can skip right to the concept of the book. This book reads like a culmination of Godin’s years of marketing mastery. It’s impossible to read this book without getting distracted by the possibilities that you can use in your own business. One thing I found fascinating with the concept of creating tension to get someone interested in what you have to say. There is always tension in learning because right before someone learns something, they realize they don’t know something. 

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr

At one point, John Doerr owned 12% of a startup called Google. If that doesn’t grab your attention for a few hours, nothing will. Google had vision and engineering, and Doerr was able to bring OKRs to Google. Doerr had proven that Objectives and Key Results goal setting worked at Intel and Sun, and now he was going to apply it to Google. The book details how OKRs are more effective than KPIs. The way it works is you define the objective, and then the milestones it will take to get you there. The WHAT and the HOW. Simple as that. 

Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies Is Changing the World by Alex Tapscott and Dan Tapscott 

This was one of the original books on Blockchain. If you ever wanted to know the foundation of the technology that will revolutionize the world, this is your chance to dive deep. 

The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea, at the Right Time by Allan Gannett

Everyone is creative. This is the key takeaway from TrackMaven founder Allan Gannett. Gannett has spent years talking to creative people to learn their secrets and it turns out that anyone can do it. Creativity is not a gift. I’ve often told people that creativity is a muscle that just needs to be exercised. This book backs up that assumption. This is the book I wanted when I was in high school and college and I was telling everyone there is no such thing as talent. The skills I have are due to hours of work and practice. Learning how to tap into the science of what is appealing or not is what separates “creative geniuses” from the rest. 

Your Ad Ignored Here: Cartoons from 15 Years of Marketing, Business, and Doodling in Meetings by Tom Fishburne

Tom Fishburne has spent years entertaining those in marketing with his cartoons detailing the absurdity of modern techniques. It’s like Dilbert, but funnier and less soul crushing. Far too often one of his new cartoons comes out and it gets shared to help those who are going through the same (painful) thing. 

Marvelocity: The Marvel Comics Art of Alex Ross by Alex Ross and Chip Kidd

This was a late addition to the list since I received it for Christmas. But I have already spent a lot of time drooling over the gorgeous paintings. It’s a perfect companion piece to Ross’ Mythology book that detailed his DC Comics work. 

I already have a handful of additional books in my TBR pile for 2019. I get a lot of book ideas from podcasts. The Seeking Wisdom podcast by David Cancel and Dave Gerhardt has a lot of great recommendations that I can’t wait to read. If you have additional books that you’d recommend, I’d love to hear them.


This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.