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The advertising business (and every other business really) is coming to terms with huge disruption. In the ad world, the culprit is the increasing dominance of Google, Facebook, and Amazon. But every industry has its “disruptors” and there’s no shortage of advice books on how to navigate a crowded and relentless digital world.
Given the sheer volume of “business” books, it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. But the best books in this genre are worth tracking down. They bring clarity to confusion and motivate you to take a hard look at your career and industry and take action.
While summer is a great time to recharge, it’s also an opportunity to use the downtime to get inspired by great stories and new marketing ideas.
Here are seven books covering various aspects of business and marketing that are worth your summer time.
By Ken Auletta
Amazon Rating: 5/5 stars
Summary: In Frenemies, Ken Auletta — also the author of Googled — explores changes in the advertising industry through 450 interviews with the industry’s top players, including Facebook’s VP of Global Marketing Solutions Carolyn Everson and MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan. Rather than offering specific suggestions for what the future of advertising looks like, Auletta empowers readers to decide for themselves.
Review: “As advertising evolves, the problem of honesty about what is advertising and what is not needs to be addressed…This book is well researched, and anyone who has read Auletta’s writing in the New Yorker knows his work is worth reading.” – Amazon review
By Donald Miller
Amazon Rating: 4.8/5 stars
Summary: Building a Story Brand discusses the seven universal story points all humans respond to, why customers make purchases, how to simplify a brand message, and how to create the best messaging for your brand. No matter who you are, Building a Story Brand will improve the way you communicate your unique value to customers.
Review: “Wow! What a great book! I’m forced to stop and take notes in every chapter! I’m learning more about marketing from this book than I learned in my MBA!” – Amazon review
By Nir Eyal
Amazon Rating: 4.7/5 Stars
Summary: Why do some products attract millions of users while others flop? Nir Eyal’s book, Hooked, tackles this question. Using real life examples, Eyal shows readers how new habits form and codifies his insights into a successful approach called the Hook Cycle, which consists of four critical stages for user adoption: trigger, action, variable reward, and investment. If you’re curious about what it takes to develop “sticky” products that achieve widespread growth, Hooked is for you.
Review: “If you’re trying to build the next big app, you need user engagement. This book lays down a model for building engagement by having users constantly return to your app.” – Amazon review
“My book is covered in highlights, pages dog eared, pieces of paper stuck through it, It’s become my growth bible, my reference guide and my inspiration.” – Amazon review of "Hacking Growth"
By Ryan Deiss and Russ Henneberry
Amazon Rating: 4.6/5 Stars
Summary: Sometimes you just need to go back over the fundamentals. In this approachable guide, you’ll learn how to use today’s top digital marketing tactics to expand your brand’s reach — and bottom line. This is a great book for beginners looking to level up, but it’s also a useful refresher for advanced practitioners and can help them explain their strategies in simpler, more impactful ways.
Review: “Deiss and Henneberry have successfully been able to articulate — in a sequence — a complicated business with a lot of moving pieces into a how-to manual that even the most inexperienced and technologically unsophisticated can understand.” – Amazon review
By Jake Knapp, Braden Korowitz, John Zeratsky
Amazon Rating: 4.7/5 stars
Summary: Sprint is a tutorial for building better products. In this book, authors Jake Knapp, Braden Kowitz, and John Zeratsky — partners at Google Ventures — offer a practical guide to implementing the five-day sprint process. Although sprints are traditionally used for product development, Knapp, Kowitz, and Zeratsky have worked with hundreds of teams across a variety of industries to implement this methodology. If you’re looking for ways to help your team work more efficiently and test ideas faster, Sprint is for you.
Review: “Running the five-day sprint described in the book enables a team to easily find out if they are on the right track before they commit to the risky business of building and launching their products.” – Amazon review
By Phil Knight
Amazon Rating: 4.8/5 stars
Summary: In Shoe Dog, readers get the inside scoop from a business and marketing icon. Nike Founder and Chairman Phil Knight offers rare insight into Nike’s early days and its evolution into one of the world’s most successful and recognizable brands.
Review: Bill Gates named Shoe Dog one of his five favorite books of 2016. Gates described the book as “a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey, riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice.”
By Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown
Amazon Rating: 4.8/5 stars
Summary: Companies like Pinterest, Uber, and Facebook didn’t explode to worldwide popularity just by building a great product. Companies like them use carefully implemented methods — growth hacking — to help their products catch on. In Hacking Growth, growth hacking pioneer Sean Ellis shares a practical toolkit that teams and companies of all sizes can leverage to grow their customer base. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective, data-driven, and scalable approach to marketing, Hacking Growth should be on your book list.
Review: “My book is covered in highlights, pages dog eared, pieces of paper stuck through it, It’s become my growth bible, my reference guide and my inspiration.” – Amazon review