A good marketer is one who never stops learning, and one of the best strategies for staying ahead of the pack is simple: read. I’ve put together a list of six marketing books that have influenced my thinking. If you need something to read during your upcoming time off or while in transit, try cracking one of these open and see what inspires you.

Anything by Seth Godin is worth reading, but this book in particular is the one that started it all for me. Permission is one of the most important points for any marketer. Marketers are constantly deciphering who they can communicate with and how. In this book, Godin establishes that permission is not legalistic or presumed. Put more simply, “Just because you somehow get my email address doesn't mean you have permission.” The fine print of your privacy policy doesn't grant marketers permission either. Ultimately, Seth spells out an extremely important lesson: marketing requires humility and patience. There are no shortcuts, and you have to earn customer trust. If the customer doesn’t genuinely want and believe the message you’re communicating, nothing else matters.

Every product marketer should read this book, or at least understand the key concepts. In particular, the section concerning the technology adoption lifecycle is extremely valuable. It maps out the differences between the five stages of technology adoption, starting with Innovators who “pursue new technology products aggressively,” and ending with Laggards who “simply don’t want anything to do with new technology.” Author Geoffrey Moore describes how product marketers should navigate through each of the five types. From there, the book delves into what it means to have a “whole product.” A “whole product” is the generic product that’s shipped to the customer plus “whatever else the customer needs” in order to come to a buying decision. That additional factor -- which includes support, training, plugins, and more -- has become the new standard for how we market disruptive products to mainstream customers. 

This seminal book focuses on one of the most important trends in marketing today: content marketing. Readers learn what really constitutes “compelling” content, and how they can become successful at creating content that’s both enjoyable and valuable. Authors Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman reiterate the need to break away from the “marketing speak,” the type of language and messaging that isn’t relevant enough to connect with our customers. They lay out what it takes to build valuable relationships by creating and distributing content that’s highly relevant, sparks genuine customer devotion, and generates profitable customer action.

We all know that the marketing world is evolving. With easy access to online information, traditional forms of media are no longer the end-all be-all for disseminating our information to mass audiences. Put succinctly, the old rules no longer apply. In The New Rules of Marketing and PR, David Meerman Scott (also the author of Newsjacking) explains how traditional PR tools -- press releases, hitting the phones with journalists -- are no longer the only route to earned media as contemporary information control is decentralized. Press releases bypass the media and go straight to consumers, and bloggers comment instantly on news. This book, now in its forth edition, is an excellent resource for learning how to build awareness and earn coverage in today’s world of ever-evolving social and mobile channels. 

In today’s world, marketers are no longer measured solely by brand management, creativity, or promotional expertise. Instead, the modern marketer needs to use the financial language of business -- revenue, profit, and cash -- to demonstrate their impact on revenue. In doing so, they will earn their rightful seats at the revenue table. Authors Roy Young, Allen Weiss, and David Stewart discuss how to make marketing matter to your corporate leadership. Those leaders often see the marketing department merely as a cost center, and many organizations therefore underutilize their marketers. This book not only delves into how to manage your marketing efforts, but it also teaches readers the business language necessary to articulate how marketing’s efforts are helping the organization grow and meet strategic goals.

Trends such as digital media, mobile devices and social networks have forever transformed the process of buying and selling. That shift has left B2B marketing and sales leaders struggling to keep up.  In Revenue Disruption, Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez shows business leaders how to transform their revenue processes to unleash growth in today’s world. The book presents a breakthrough revenue performance management approach that completely rethinks traditional, outdated practices for B2B marketing and sales. With this new type of strategy, marketers can learn how to build a far more effective revenue process and transform their sales and marketing performance in order to disrupt the status quo.