5 Non-Traditional Marketing Must-Reads

A quick scroll through Amazon has thousands of books for budding marketers to grow and hone their skills. Here are 5 you might be overlooking [and shouldn’t].


Thanks for the Feedback [Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen]

Marketing, like so many things in life, is filled with people’s opinions. Some feedback feels fair and grounded; some feels like a pre-planned attack. Inevitably, we all get feedback we’re not interested in hearing. These adept authors break down why some feedback feels irrelevant, how to hear it even when it hurts, and how to deliver it so it’s understood.

Great for: Professionals looking to grow interpersonal skills, working with clients, or those trying to coach and mentor a team.

Lost and Founder [Rand Fishkin]

Founder of Moz, Rand is no stranger to the stage. He’s been highly recognized as one of the leading digital marketers in the country. He’s also exceptional at failure. This book details the early days of SEO and digital marketing through the lens of Rand as he started Moz. He notes challenges specific to founding a digital-first company before public awareness of the industry caught up, and what he learned and failed at along the way. He pays special attention to the difficulties of “letting go” as a founder.

Great for: Anyone working in a founder-led startup, digital marketers looking to strike out on their own, professionals interested in entering startups.

Freakonomics [Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt]

Ever wonder why we can see the same data sets and arrive at different conclusions? Ever wonder why what we commonly believe about human behavior isn’t back up by data? These are your guys. Their series [and truthfully all of Malcom Gladwell’s books], dares to ask why at every point of data, and moreover, how [or if] we can influence consumer behavior through incentives.

Great for: Data heads, marketing analysts, people interested in behavioral economics, or who work a lot in trend forecasting.

Radical Candor [Kim Scott]

More books on feedback. Poorly delivered feedback and broken peer communication is a pervasive problem. This book addresses communication and candor [and when you should withhold versus share], and how to be transparent without jeopardizing confidences or protected information. And also how to be kind in delivering feedback.

Great for: Team leaders, client-facing functions, startup employees.

Misbehaving [Richard Thaler]

Objectively one of my favorite books, this book is really a foundational piece in the field of behavioral economics. He makes the otherwise dry and academic, enthralling. It questions why people behave irrationally, and looks at incentive structures which motivate behavior and asks the timeless question of “can we really influence irrational human behavior?”

Great for: Data heads, rogue innovators, hobby economists, people in analytics functions.

What books would you add?