At a time when most people rarely look for answers beyond a simple Google search, there’s real power in reading work published by those who have been where you dream of going. Whether you’re just starting out or a veteran looking to sharpen your skills, there are many books out there that can help you find success in the agency world.
The members of Forbes Agency Council recognize the importance of growing and maintaining their industry knowledge. Below, 12 of them share the most influential books that they believe everyone who works in an agency should read. Check out their recommendations and see if any of them are on your physical or digital bookshelf.
1. Group Genius by Keith Sawyer
The author describes how creativity is collaborative, even when you’re alone. In particular, he uses principles from improvisational comedy and jazz to describe the magic of creatively working together. As a past improv performer and musician, the premise of Sawyer’s research struck a chord with me. Creativity never rests! – Dave Wendland, Hamacher Resource Group
2. Differentiate or Die by Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin
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In addition to this, I recommend some older books about branding, including The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al Ries and his daughter, Laura Ries, and Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout. They are a bit older, but digital brands can still be branded using the same theories. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
3. Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
This would be one of the best books for anyone in the digital marketing field. It is a one-size-fits-all answer to helping you establish a basic understanding of all the possible avenues through which a business can market itself. – Garrett Atkins, VIE Media
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4. Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg
This is one book everyone in advertising needs to read. We are in the business of understanding human behavior and how to facilitate new customer behaviors. That’s not possible if we don’t understand how human behavior works and how to adjust the elements of motivation, ability and the prompts that affect it. – Roger Hurni, Off Madison Ave
5. Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson
I think the best leaders and marketers are well-read and have a deep knowledge across multiple subjects. Aside from this book, a few of my favorites include anything by Seth Godin, pretty much any classic (e.g., Shakespeare or Greek literature) that helps you understand the human condition, books with a psychology focus and leadership development books. – Jason Wilson, Strategy, LLC
6. Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler
Building a business is risky, but it doesn’t mean you have to spend years blind-guessing your next steps. This book explains how to develop a sales system that will ensure predictable, repeatable and scalable growth. The author took Salesforce.com to $100 million in repeatable sales. It contains super helpful lessons for any organization. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
7. Good to Great by Jim Collins
This is a book about cultivating enduring greatness in your business, which is important for agency leaders and owners, whether they plan to grow big or remain small and specialized. Also, one of the most recognized books on strategy with a message that can change your business is Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.
8. Get to Aha! by Andy Cunningham
This is a must-read. All companies need a north star, and it’s not something you pull out of a hat, nor can it be successfully dictated. Helping CEOs and their teams get on the same page is a critical step, and it should come long before establishing the final narrative. This book helps to pave the path. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications
9. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
This book by Pixar cofounder Ed Catmull is a must for anyone managing creatives. I’ve seen his axiom, “If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better,” proved time and again. Investing in creative minds will generate more ROI than any other investment you could make. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative
10. Momentum by Shama Hyder
This book provides detailed information on five essential marketing principles, step-by-step plans, real-world case studies and recommendations for a wide variety of digital tools and technologies. It also breaks the information down into bite-sized pieces, so you can start putting what you learn into practice quickly. – Megan Devine, d.trio marketing group
11. Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark
Whether you are just out of school or have been working for years, writing well is a foundation of success in the public relations industry, and this book can serve as an excellent guide. – Ron Bonjean, ROKK Solutions
12. Never Lose A Customer Again by Joey Coleman
This is one great book that I’m currently reading and highly recommend. It dives deep into the mindset and experience of the customer in the critical first 100 days, and how to cultivate better, more impactful relationships. Why? To solidify better partnerships with our growing customer base. – Bernard May, National Positions
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Author: Expert Panel®, Forbes Councils Member