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The Seven Best Summer Marketing Reads for 2021

The Seven Best Summer Marketing Reads for 2021

Marketing is a dynamic industry where tools, theories and tactics are constantly changing. Luckily the leading minds are always on hand to offer new insights and inspiration. We have compiled a list of some of best marketing books written over the past two years to help you to update your knowledge and learn the latest tips, tricks and thinking.

Meine Marke: Was Unternehmen authentisch, unverwechselbar und langfristig erfolgreich macht

(My brand: what makes companies authentic, distinctive and successful in the long term)
Hermann H. Wala, 2018 (German)

Meine Marke - Was Unternehmen authentisch, unverwechselbar und langfristig erfolgreich macht
Source: Amazon

What made companies like Google, Apple and Red Bull go from company to brand? In this book Munich-based branding expert Hermann Wala argues that it is no longer the big eating the small anymore, rather the real winners are those companies that create a special emotional bond, a "we-feeling" between customers and brand. Wala conducted informative interviews with prominent brand ambassadors including Herbert Hainer (adidas) on positioning, Dr Rudolf Gröger (O2) on trust and Thomas Ebeling (ProSiebenSat.1) on dynamics and offers clear arguments why brand management should be a matter for the leadership and why constant strategy changes do the brand more harm than good. Required reading for anyone looking to understand brand management.

Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion

Robert B. Cialdini PhD, May 2021 (English, German)

Influence - The Psyhology of Persuasion
Source: Amazon

Why do people say yes to some things and no to others? Robert Cialdini’s latest edition of this classic first published in 1984 does a deep dive into this question and explores how psychology can have a bearing on your brand’s marketing strategy. It explains the science of influence using six key principles of persuasion, which are:

  • Reciprocity – The tendency to return favours.
  • Commitment and consistency – The inclination to honour a commitment.
  • Social proof – The tendency to follow the crowd.
  • Authority – The eagerness to obey influencers or expats in a particular field. 
  • Liking – The inclination to be easily influenced by someone you like.
  • Scarcity – The ability for perceived scarcity (real or artificial) to generate demand. e.g., “limited time only.”

What is new in this edition? Cialdini has introduced a seventh principle, unity. This point argues that the more we perceive people are part of “us,” the more likely we are to be influenced by them. Reminding someone of a shared identity makes you more persuasive. Cialdini points here to the success of co-creation over recent years (see the Ikea effect)

Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity

Scott Galloway, November 2020 (English, German)

Post Corona - From Crisis to Opportunity
Source: medimops

Scott Galloway is Professor of Marketing at NYU Stern School of Business and in his latest book he analyses who stands to win and who’s at risk to lose in a post-pandemic world. Scott Galloway argues the pandemic has not been a change agent so much as an accelerant of trends already well underway, such as a rapid shift to digital, the continued rise of the Big Four and an end to “fake it until you make it” companies. The complete effects of the pandemic can’t yet be predicted but Scott Galloway has made an excellent attempt here.

No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram

Sarah Frier, June 2020 (English and German)

No Filter - The Inside Story of Instagram
Source: Amazon

Less oriented towards practical actions than other books on this list, “No Filter” is nonetheless essential reading for marketers who rely heavily on the photo app - or on Facebook for that matter. Author and Bloomberg reporter Sarah Frier tells the story of the birth of Instagram and how an encounter with his photography professor encouraged founder Kevin Systrom to embrace imperfection and led to the filters which the app is known for. But things aren’t all picture perfect. Where the book really excels is its overview of how Instagram changed following its $1bn takeover by Facebook in 2012 and the clashes that ensued, such as over the reshare button. Instagram has no reshare button by design (“all your posts were yours. That was what the founders wanted”); but Zuckerberg wanted constant viral growth. If you are interested in the journey of one of the most loved social channels of this century, this book is for you.  

This book also won the FT/McKinsey 2020 Business Book of the Year Award.  

Stories That Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business

Kindra Hall, Sept 2019 (English)

Stories that stick
Source: Amazon

Why are rides at Disney theme parks so popular? Why do we love Lego? Why are Apple ads so enticing? In this book author and business expert Kindra Hall explains why stories work for marketers and shares the four unique story types businesses can use to address their audience - founder stories, values stories, purpose stories, and customer stories. Her accessible style and anecdotes make this a great summer read, but she also offers specific, actionable steps readers can take to find, craft, and leverage the stories they already have but aren’t yet telling.

The Age of Influence: The Power of Influencers to Elevate Your Brand

Neal Schaffer, March 2020 (English)

the age of influence
Source: Amazon

Now that the pandemic is hopefully slowing down and influencers are back to travelling to their exotic locations, influencer marketing is back on the agenda. And it’s set to grow too - Business Insider estimates that the influencer market is on track to reach $15 billion by 2022, up from $8 billion in 2019. Author Neal Schaffer produces a definitive guide for businesses seeking to tap those influencers best positioned to boost their company’s visibility, customer affinity, and sales. He also offers best practice for creating long term collaborations with key influencers (“It’s a marriage, not a one-night stand,” Schaffer explains). What really emerges in this book is that while influencer marketing happens via technology, at its very core is the power of people to influence and inform.

The Practice: Shipping Creative Work

Seth Godin, 2021 (English, German)

The Practice - Shipping creative work
Source: Amazon

No marketing book list would be complete without a contribution from Seth Godin, the revered marketing blogger, entrepreneur and bestselling author. In his most recent book aimed at the writers and artists among us, Godin argues that we have misunderstood creativity and the creative process for too long. Creativity is a skill, not a talent, Godin explains, and it can be learned. Furthermore, writer’s block is a myth and consistency is far more important than authenticity. The Practice will help creative-minded people get unstuck and share their creative work. Less of a ‘how to’ and more of a reminder about why creativity matters.