63% of B2B marketers have been asked to contribute to 20% or greater increases in company revenue this year, according to recent findings from Demand Gen Report’s 2018 Demand Generation Benchmark Survey Report.
That’s some serious pressure to deliver.
To inform your professional improvement strategy, we’ve curated a list of books most helpful to demand generation marketers. Many are recent, some are seminal, but all have significant value to today’s demand generation pros.
10 Demand Generation Books to Read This Year
This isn’t just a primer on demand generation how-to's. It’s a from-the-trenches look at organizational transformation, written by someone who’s spent a highly successful career in B2B marketing. Before author Carlos Hidalgo’s current role as Founder & CEO of VisumCx, he served as a CEO, marketing director and account manager at B2B firms.
This book offers B2B marketers insight on:
- Why a strategic mindset wins over a campaign-focused mindset.
- The value and limitations of marketing technology.
- The importance of deep buyer knowledge, including behavioral insights.
- The human side of demand gen, including team organization and alignment.
- Training and management strategies for a fast-changing B2B marketing environment.
Book #2: The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million
Yes, this book still matters if you’re in B2B marketing rather than sales.
Author Mark Roberge is currently a senior lecturer at Harvard. Prior to that role, he was Chief Revenue Officer at HubSpot. This book contains many high-value insights from the lessons he learned guiding HubSpot from a tiny startup to $100 million in revenue in seven years.
If you’ve ever felt that it was challenging to scale your organization's marketing and sales efforts, this book is definitely for you. There’s no formula for growth that works for everyone. However, Roberge breaks success down into four key categories, or formulas, that every demand and growth-focused organization must master:
- The Sales Hiring Formula
- The Sales Training Formula
- The Sales Management Formula
- The Demand Generation Formula
In addition to in-depth success secrets for each of these four formulas, Roberge shares his knowledge on where technology fits into the growth-focused B2B organization.
An entire book about marketing metrics?
Absolutely. Data-Driven Marketing has been described as “ground-breaking” and “an essential read,” and was named the best book of 2011 by the American Marketing Association. Not only is it valuable, but it’s also engaging, thanks to well-paced writing, an accessible tone and salient examples.
This book is targeted towards marketers who are struggling to make the most of their budget, and understand the relationship between marketing activities and revenue. Accordingly, it’s focused on helping B2B pros master analytics techniques and maximize ROI, even if you’re not a data whiz.
Author Mark Jeffrey, Founder and CEO at Aquimo, has a background in successful entrepreneurship and executive-level education in higher ed. In this book he demonstrates why just 20% of marketers succeed at data-driven decision-making as well as:
- 15 key marketing metrics
- Overcoming the 5 obstacles to data-driven marketing
- How to adopt consistently data-informed decision making
In addition to these insights and original research, readers gain access to free, downloadable templates for calculating return on investment (ROI) and other metrics.
Best-selling author Seth Godin has authored 17 books, and coined the idea of permission-based marketing in the mid-1990's. His website, Seth’s Blog, is frequently named among the most influential marketing blogs online.
Purple Cow isn’t a marketing book, at least not strictly. It’s a book about succeeding against changing odds in today’s business climate through the process of innovation and remarkable product positioning. Godin’s premise is that only “purple cows” or remarkable brands can stand out against fierce competition, arguing that organizations like Google and Ikea are at the top due to this same approach.
This book has value for marketers in demonstrating techniques for customer empathy, the formula for “infectious” products and competitive analysis – all of which are detailed in Godin’s signature, straightforward style of writing. Filled with dozens of thought exercises on packaging, positioning and pushing the limits, it’s a highly transformative read.
Purple Cow is likely Godin’s best-known work. While it was originally published in 2003 and revised in 2009, it’s still in the top-fifty best-selling books for marketing and business on Amazon. Per the publisher, it’s been translated into 36 languages and influenced the careers of millions of marketers, sales professionals and other business professionals.
Most B2B marketers can find strong solidarity with author Ryan Holiday’s definition of a growth hacker:
“Someone who has thrown out the playbook of traditional marketing and replaced it with only what is testable, trackable and scalable.”
At just 141 pages, this book is both short and an easily consumable read that could transform your demand marketing plan in a few sessions of reading while you’re at the gym.
Key topics of discussion include:
- How to build growth hacking into your product and positioning
- What hasn’t changed in great marketing (hint: the importance of customer empathy)
- How to perfect the art of “pull” in a permission-based marketing world
- The value of including customer retention activities in your marketing strategy
Book #6: The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly
Now in its fifth edition published in 2016, this book is a continually evolving guide to comprehensive, multichannel demand generation in 2018.
This book remains among the most valuable looks at marketing best practices because of author Meerman Scott’s uniquely actionable approach to describing “the new rules.” He doesn’t only tell you how and why marketing tactics have evolved, he demonstrates how professionals can adapt accordingly.
Readers can anticipate new content elaborating on how marketing and PR have evolved in very recent years, discussion of integrating mobile marketing and Meerman Scott’s signature focus on real-time marketing – or in his own words, “newsjacking.”
The book also includes interactive tools for measurement and real-world case studies.
Book #7: Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business
You may know author Ann Handley from her role as Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, a visible position she’s maintained since 2002. In between a busy schedule as a keynote speaker and frequently cited content marketing expert, Handley released a 2012 update to this Wall Street Journal bestseller, originally published in 2010.
Content Rules has particular value for B2B demand generation marketers because it’s targeted to brands “who don’t have news to share regularly.” It’s focused specifically on developing engaging content for “boring brands.” Handley provides readers with plenty of actionable starting points for high-value content that will delight B2B decision-makers, including recommendations to:
- Ask your existing customers engaging questions
- Engage in valuable discussion with thought leaders, strategic partners – and where to find the most creative thinkers
- Develop high-value, shareable content from industry events and meetups
- Transform industry news into high-value insights
In addition to Handley’s valuable tips on creating content for B2B, readers will also learn tactics for developing an authentic brand voice, using social media effectively, messaging strategy and mapping and multichannel content creation.
Book #8: Contagious: Why Things Catch On
Contagious isn't a viral marketing book that’s best suited for B2B. It’s a highly intelligent look at the science of what compels consumers, written from a uniquely academic perspective. Author Jonah Berger has been a professor of marketing at the renowned Wharton School of Business since 2007, and his expertise infuses this book with value.
This book hinges on a simple premise, which is that quality, price and advertising have a lot less to do with the success of “contagious” brands than you might think. Berger argues that social influence and word of mouth transmission account for up to 50% of purchasing decisions and demonstrates why a contagious brand image is within reach for B2B as well as B2C.
Reading this book will provide demand generation marketers with an understanding of social currency – how it’s earned and spread, and why it matters. You’ll also gain an understanding of the psychology of purchase triggers, how to leverage prospect and customer emotion and how to deliver brand stories that both compel and provide practical value to your audience.
Book #9: Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses
The fastest way to fail is to use tried and true models for marketing and business.
At least that’s the argument of author Joe Pulizzi. There’s a very good chance you’ll be in full agreement after reading this exceptional book for demand generation. Content Inc. lays out an innovative, six-step approach to building demand for your brand and products using tactics that are effectively the opposite of the old rules of marketing.
Pulizzi didn’t pioneer the art of branded content, but he’s done a lot to help this marketing tactic secure its position as a focus in B2B marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute and a sought-after keynote speaker, Pulizzi’s book remains in the top 100 bestselling marketing and business books on Amazon nearly three years after publication.
What can you expect from Content Inc.’s six-step approach to demand generation through high-value content? The lessons in this book include creating a unique value proposition, positioning your content in a spot with minimal competition and building a strong baseline for content distribution.
You’ll also learn:
- How to convert first-time visitors or viewers into long-term audience members
- Effective diversification of your content messages across multiple, multimedia channels
- Achieving content monetization or applying other scarcity principles to high-value marketing content
Yes, social media still matters for demand generation in 2018. In fact, one of the best B2B marketing secrets you can embrace this year is the intelligent use of the right social media networks for organic audience building, paid advertising and social research.
Nearly every marketing professional is familiar with marketing luminary Guy Kawasaki, even if they haven't read this bestselling book on social media. Formerly a Chief Evangelist at Apple, Kawasaki currently serves as Chief Evangelist at Canva and as a well-known keynote speaker.
Kawasaki promises readers that they’ll be in for “great stuff, no fluff,” and he delivers. There’s less focus on platform-specific tactics and more actionable insights on developing a multichannel strategy for long-term success. Demand marketers will gain over a hundred ready-to-apply tips to build a social media foundation, catalog digital assets, grow a following and integrate social into their content marketing and messaging strategies.
How to Prepare for Your Future Demand Generation Success
In the fast-moving world of B2B marketing, the only constant is change.
Many of the best demand generation channels and tactics are evolving. The marketing technology stack that served your organization effectively in 2014 is probably out of date next to today’s leading software for B2B marketing. You can’t sit still, or you’re going to get left behind.
Preparing for future success as a demand generation marketer requires a commitment to continual motion – constantly fine-tuning your demand marketing plan, always learning and continually striving to level up your demand marketing skill set. What sets the most effective B2B marketers apart from their peers is the ability to accept that change is inevitable and the ability to evolve constantly.
What are today’s leading B2B marketing thought leaders reading and researching? Discover insights straight from the expert’s professional and personal development plans in the free Integrate resource: 155 Tips & Tactics from Demand Marketing's Top 40 Game Changers.