Someone once told me that you could learn marketing by reading a book

Let’s put that theory to the test.

Creativity is often considered a venture of the right-brained, but for marketing it’s not valuable until it’s combined with the left-brained science of human psychology.

Marketing is not a process, or a checklist. At its best, marketing is the act of changing minds and winning hearts. As emotional beings, the marketing that successfully affects our behaviors is that which sparks our interest through the most subtle fusion of logical value and emotional resonance. It’s the Volvo Truck ad that demonstrates remarkable precision but does so with such beauty and elegance that consultants all the sudden have strong preferences on which box truck they prefer. It’s the makeup subscription company that offers limited additional value to your daily life but makes you feel like a celebrity in the process.

Reading a book isnt the right way to become a powerful marketer. The better approach is to become a Stage-5 stalker of human behavior and habit. But if you want to take the easy route, read these few books to start:


For the sake of transparency, I’ll start by saying this is probably my favorite book of all time. The value you get from this concept is proportional to the effort you put into connecting its meaning to your own life. It changed the way I think of my own value, but also gave me better insight into understanding other peoples’ behaviors and perspectives.

Sally Hogshead is a former copywriter who founded her own ad agency at age 27. Through her work in the ad world, she gained an inherent understanding of people and the behavior patterns that shape personalities. Her book, How the World Sees You, pairs with a personality test, The Fascination Advantage, to help readers understand how to leverage their own unique differentiators to influence ideas more effectively in both personal and professional environments.

But why read it? This book breaks down behavior patterns into digestible and intuitive lessons that can help marketers better understand the mindsets of their audiences. The takeaways in this book wont get you around the need to do some basic market research, but it can add a layer of emotional/psychological understanding to your more literal demographic profile in order to help develop a more intuitive connection between your brand and your buyers.


This book is frequently seen on business and self-improvement Top 10 lists, but it’s even more relevant for marketers. In a nutshell, the premise is this: behavioral patterns (habits) are developed by forging key actions into the subconscious through repetition. Likewise, habits can change by removing or replacing behavioral cues.

This idea might sound a little scientific for those of us who lean more creatively-inclined, but Duhigg’s concept is relevant to marketers on a fundamental level. Marketing and communications are essentially driven toward behavior change, and they can prove more effective when they understand how these desired behaviors can play into audience’s “habit loop” to become an integral part of audience’s lives.

But why read it? Duhigg shares several vignettes from iconic commercial products and services, such as Febreze and Starbucks. His takeaways from these lessons will help you understand how the “habit loop” can play into your personal life and your marketing toolkit in very tangible ways.


This book is another personal favorite. However if you’re more of an audiobook kinda gal, you can check out the cliffnotes versions in Brown’s two Ted Talks: here.

Brené Brown is a researcher who studies the psychology of human connection, specifically around the topics of shame and vulnerability. Through her work, she has discovered that “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” In marketing speak, it’s only when brands fully know and accept their real value that they are able to engage with people on a personal level and create change.

But why read it? Brown’s theory gets to the root of why authenticity resonates so strongly with consumers. Reading this book will help you more intuitively understand the power of the “H2H” trend and how brands can embrace the emotional connection their audiences have with their product in order to develop trust and loyalty. Perhaps more importantly, it will help you understand how those very scary and vulnerable moments of authenticity will help develop more trust and camaraderie within your team than traditional professionalism ever will.

The person who once told me that marketing can be learned by reading a book isn’t someone who will ever appreciate the value of an inherent and intuitive understanding of the way psychology influences our behavior. Marketing shouldn’t be cookie cutter. It cant be simply laid out in a business plan with numbers and charts. It’s neither colors and feelings alone. Effective efforts to connect with audiences involve just that: a personal connection to their needs, desires, and emotions. We’re humans after all.

About me:
I’m yer classic Maverick Leader archtype, and yes, my co-workers have been known to make fun of me by calling me “the maverick.” Someday it will be funny.

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