We’ve nearly done it. Another year hurtling around the sun at 67,000 mph.
No, really, I checked. That’s how fast the Earth is revolving around the sun right now.
So, as we are set to begin another revolution around the sun, we put together the top 13 books for you to read in 2020 that will make you a better marketer, give you an edge as an entrepreneur, or just give you some new bookshelf eye-candy.
Note: Steep is not making any money off of these recommendations. They are a collection of books the Steep team has found to contain shareable marketing and business insights. Enjoy!
Ryan Deiss is the ultimate digital marketing expert, and in Invisible Selling Machine, he lays the foundation for every company’s digital strategy. While he discusses various different tools and platforms, he takes a strategic approach that follows the customer journey. Whether you’re working on building a brand, generating leads, or selling directly online, Ryan puts your objective in the broad context of a proven system.
We all know the 80/20 principal – 20% of your customers bring in 80% of your business. But what does it look like when you apply this insight to your business model? Get ready to think in a totally different way about how you sell, support, and market for new business when you understand the untapped potential that’s right in front of you.
“This book literally changed the way I look at business.”
– Jonathan Musgrave, Steep Digital Owner and Founder
If you think marketing is complicated, the late Dan Kennedy will challenge you to think again. This legend of direct marketing helps marketers of any experience level boil down what your advertising is supposed to do into simple pieces – each one serving a unique purpose. His relentless emphasis of marketing principles like measuring results and testing variants are a part of this time-tested marketing classic that will offer value to all readers.
Gino Wickman turns the traditional struggles (and solutions) of running a business upside down. He challenges you to distill the metrics that REALLY matter down to a handful of items to dedicate all of your attention. Additionally, you’ll learn how creating an operating system for your business is the secret to sanity and clarity for you and your team.
“I don’t know about your business, but mine sure didn’t come with an owner’s manual. As you build it, you kinda gotta figure out how to run it all on your own. The test of success is often whether you “discover” the secret or not – Traction removes that risk by straight up delivering the process.”
– Jonathan Musgrave, Steep Owner and Founder
This book by Ray Dalio, founder of one of the world’s largest hedge funds, Bridgewater Associates, and who Tim Ferriss has called the “Steve Jobs of Investing,” is dense with wisdom (topping out at 592 pages). Dalio goes into the key principles he developed while running Bridgewater, and ultimately ingrained into their culture.
Dalio believes that your choices and actions in life, management, investing, and economics can be refined and systemized. This helps making decisions and keeps your business running more effectively by having systems for problems your business encounters regularly.
He goes on to say you must be radically open-minded for effective change to happen in life and in business. Learning and improving our “machine” is the process of continual feedback in which we make decisions, see the outcome, and enhance our process.
“One big thing I took away from this book is to think of yourself as a machine. You can improve the machine by bettering its design. You are the designer, manager, and worker of your machine. Be objective about your strengths and weaknesses, and don’t operate emotionally if you want to improve.”
– Jordan Bentle, Copywriter at Steep Digital
If you’ve ever seen Gary Vee on Social Media (who hasn’t) it can be hard to understand the strategy behind his cloud of online content. Yeah, he has some motivating stuff, but what is he doing with all of it? The secret to Social Media is understanding how it helps you push clients down the funnel. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook teaches you how Social Media IS the new funnel. Take a peek into the mind of the thought leader that literally wrote the book on creating social content. You’ll learn how to gain attention, build an audience, and grow your business with a persistent and purposeful social presence.
You know those “unicorn” companies? The ones that grow and grow despite market conditions and regardless of their competition? If there’s one thing that they all seem to have in common, it’s this one word: alignment. Everyone from the janitor to the CEO are all pushing for the same thing. Sounds easy enough, but executing it is a different story.
This book provides the blueprint (and an incredible actionable process) that helps businesses implement alignment in four steps. If you’re “the idea guy” chances are that you struggle creating organization within the chaos of everyday business. Grab your closest team members and go through this masterclass in business growth, and you can be the next unicorn!
Whether you’re talking about direct mail, radio, television, or digital – the purpose of all marketing is to create a human to human connection. Yes, the tools we use will change with technology, but the purpose remains the same. This Won’t Scale was written by the team at Drift Marketing and teaches the simple principle that the things that really matter are never easy to automate. The human connection is the most important part of any marketing, so focusing your efforts on making an impact with other real people is of primary importance. Learn how the team that wrote the book on conversational marketing implements marketing strategies that can’t (and shouldn’t) scale.
This is a great book for anyone who wants to become more creative and generate new ideas more regularly. This is a quick and entertaining read that provides a 5-step framework for how to condition your mind to develop new ideas and make the creative process easier to navigate and less daunting.
Robert Cialdini is the go-to expert on the science of persuasion and what factors lead people to being compliant with what another party wants. A must-read for anyone in marketing or sales, Influence outlines Cialdini’s research as he went “undercover” for 3 years applying for training at used car dealerships, fundraising organizations, and telemarketing firms to see how the effects of persuasion played out in the real world. Cialdini lays out the 6 principles of influence and how they can be used (both for good and for evil) to persuade people every day.
“It’s really interesting to discover how influenced we are by things we’re not really even aware of.”
– Kathy Kosta, Digital Marketing Manager
Scrum, whose name comes from the Rugby formation where both teams lock arms and try to retain control of the ball, lays out the art of getting the most amount of work done in the least amount of time.
Jeff Sutherland, a former West Point-educated fighter pilot, biometrics expert, early innovator of ATM technology, and V.P. of engineering or CTO at eleven different technology companies; helped create this management style that has resulted in up to 1,200% increase in productivity and quality of work in a shorter amount of time than traditional management styles. He brought this technique to businesses across dozens of industries, so there’s something for any project manager to learn.
This easy-to-read book littered with real-life, insightful examples, shows that there are much more agile and efficient ways to finish projects. With this book, you’ll learn how to complete projects with unprecedented speed and accuracy from some of the largest and most efficient tech companies in the world.
Anybody who wants to be a better marketer should read this book. Period.
Watch any popular movie, ranging from Star Wars to Moneyball, and there is always a general theme that runs through each one: The Hero’s Journey. In this book, Donald Miller shows you how to use the concept of the Hero’s Journey as a recipe for better marketing.
Everyone views themselves as the “hero” in their own story, and ultimately want to avoid a tragic ending. Many businesses think that they are the hero who saves the customer from the perils of their problem, but it’s actually the customer who is the hero. You are the guide, the Obi Wan Kenobi to their Luke Skywalker. The one who gives them a plan that they can use to either succeed or fail.
If you’re looking to sharpen up your messaging, improve your website, or want to infuse the time-tested effectiveness of storytelling into your marketing, then this is a good pickup.
This must-read book by Brendon Burchard, one of the most sought after and highest paid performance coaches, lays out the 6 habits that high achievers have in common. Burchard set out 20 years ago to answer these 3 main questions that serve as an outline in this game-changing book:
- Why do some people succeed fasterthan others and maintain that success over time?
- Of those who do succeed, why are some miserableand others happy?
- What motivates people to reach for higher levels of success in the first place, and what practices help them improve the most?
If you master these 6 habits, you can become a high achiever in different areas of your life. You should pick up High Performance Habits if you want to get more done, become a better leader, learn skills faster, or just be more intentional with how you approach your day.