Advertising, Books, Marketing, Planning

A very spontaneous list of the best books in marketing

Image: Norma Desmond

Now that started out a bit pompous, didn’t it? It’s not going to be “the” best books in marketing but rather my favorite ones.

Anyway, I often get asked to recommend books for those seeking to learn more about marketing, planning, brands, etc. Of course, there’s a huge, long list of good reads out there but, hey, since you asked…here are the books I’d recommend off the top of my head.

Some day I’ll sit down and do a proper list. Promise.

1. Simply Better – Barwise & Meehan
Because I love myth busting and this one busts the differentiation myth (sort of). But most of all because it’s spot on and puts what any marketer is doing into perspective.

2. Marketing in the Era of Accountability – Binet  & Field
Sure, this is not really a “book” (more of a booklet), it’s only about one slice of marketing – advertising – and it’s hideously expensive. But it’s such a goldmine of insight, thinking and facts rather than opinion, that it’s a must.

3. Strangers to Ourselves – Wilson
The analogy of the conscious mind being the tip of an iceberg is wrong. It’s more like a snow ball on the tip of that iceberg. The rest is non- och semi-conscious – or what Wilson labels “the adaptive unconscious”. A fascinating read into what really determines our behavior to a large – no, huge – extent.

4. Eating the Big Fish – Morgan
Nice book on challenger brands, with lots of thinking and neat tricks you can employ even if you’re not necessarily a challenger brand.

5. Marketing and the Bottom Line – Ambler
I cannot not include a book by one of my all-time favorite thinkers, Tim Ambler, on the list. Connecting marketing and branding to cash flow and other financial metrics is still a black hole in many marketers’ minds. “…on average, meetings of top UK management devote nine times more attention to spending and counting cash flow than to wondering where it comes from and how it could be increased.” Sends shivers down my spine every time.

6. How Brands Become Icons – Holt
An iconic book in itself within the cultural perspective on brands and branding – all that mushy, soft stuff that square types so detest but that has the power to leverage shareholder value in astonishing ways if you know how to use it. Of course, it’s pretty damn hard and requires not only brains, but balls.

And for you Swedes, there’s a new book out by Sara Rosengren & Henrik Sjödin at the Stockholm School of Economics: “Reklam: förståelse och förnyelse” . It’s the best introduction I’ve seen to the three main perspectives on advertising – business, consumer and society. So buy it, read it, and then read the rest.


3 thoughts on “A very spontaneous list of the best books in marketing

  1. Good list – have not read all of them myself, but one of my high-ranking favourites would also have to be Robert Heath’s monograph for the IPA: “The hidden power of advertising”, which basically showed how much of the research and metrics we use to evaluate advertising (and other forms of communication) is fundamentally flawed.

  2. Thanks, Mats! Yes, Heath’s monograph is interesting and sort of mind-blowing. Perhaps too mind-blowing for most marketers? It will definitely qualify on my “proper” list to be, though.

  3. Pingback: Please read this | Do not fear mistakes, there are none

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