As a marketing professional, your first instinct might be to reach for a resource directly related to your daily job. However, we’d like to go beyond a traditional marketing reading list—because if Newton can be inspired by an apple falling on his head, you can be inspired by a good book, podcast or website. We asked the Gorilla 76 team for their favorite resources.
Depending on your field, there will be those “best marketing books” to read, such as Marcus Sheridan’s “They Ask, You Answer” for content marketers or E.B White’s “The Elements of Style” for writers. But after you’ve finished these “must reads,” seek resources that change your perspective, say something new or showcase world-class storytelling.
“Make Good Art” by Neil Gaiman
If you’re feeling unmotivated, read a commencement speech from a figure you admire for instant inspiration. Neil Gaiman delivered a commencement to Philadelphia’s University of the Arts and shared his ideas on creativity, bravery and strength, which were subsequently turned into a book. He encourages graduates (and now professionals) to “go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.” We recommend this book for those who are hunting for inspiration to break the mold.
“Drive” by Daniel H. Pink
Daniel H. Pink illustrates a fascinating point on how external drivers (e.g., money) decrease productivity while internal factors (e.g., a desire to learn) increase productivity. He explains how the three elements to motivation—autonomy, mastery and purpose—can increase productivity and quality of work.
In marketing or any job for that matter, it’s easy to check goals off of a list without having a true passion for the work. By understanding humanity’s desire to be autonomous, to master our craft and to have a purpose, you can effectively motivate people to do great work. We recommend this book for managers and executives who are seeking new methods to sustainably motivate their workforce.
“The Craft of Scientific Writing” by Michael Alley
As industrial marketers, our team is constantly perfecting its ability to relay complex information to various buyer personas. “The Craft of Scientific Writing” is incredibly helpful not just for scientific writing, but any communication. Alley covers how to structure your thoughts and put them on paper precisely, concisely and clearly. He also provides readers with examples of how important principles should be applied in practice. We recommend this for to anyone who will write anything longer than a paragraph.
“Everybody Writes” by Ann Hadley
Whether you’re writing a listicle, white paper or landing page, good writing makes all the difference. Ann Hadley’s “Everybody Writes” is a practical guide that offers timeless writing advice for the online space. Unlike traditional how-to manuals that prescribe good writing practices, Hadley notes why being succinct is important in online communication and even explains why empathy results in good copy. In fact, the stellar writing can serve as a standard we should all aim for. We recommend “Everybody Writes” for entry-level marketers who need a fundamental understanding of best online writing practices.
Podcasts offer fresh perspectives on personal and professional challenges by presenting stories in a consumable manner. When you find a good one, it’ll pull you in like these Gorilla favorites.
The Harvard Business Review “Ideacast”
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) “Ideacast” is a weekly podcast “featuring the leading thinkers in business and management.” Its themes are far-reaching and cover everything from artificial intelligence to female leaders to lessons on productivity.
HBR’s “Ideacast” will teach you to communicate with different people and take initiative. An episode that resounded with our team was when Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg discussed her experience returning to work after the death of her husband. She shared lessons about grief and the importance of providing coworkers with authentic human connection. We recommend HBR’s “Ideacast” for anyone looking to learn something new.
A reluctant partnership for an article about award-winning economist Steven D. Levitt turned into a #1 New York Times bestselling book called “Freakonomics” and eventually a brilliant podcast that provides a behavioral science-based perspective on current events. Topics are eye-catching; you’ll find yourself learning about psychology terms you’re misusing or how to catch World Cup fever. Although anyone can enjoy “Freakonomics,” we recommend it for entry- to mid-level strategists and copywriters who are curious about human behavior.
“How I Built This”
“How I Built This” interviews founders of well-known companies on the challenges they’ve faced. Listen to how John Zimmer, a co-founder of Lyft, was inspired by a college class on green cities and how James Dyson struggled to find a big vacuum brand that would license his first vacuum.
“How I Built This” will teach you to accept the adage, “fail hard, fail fast.” By profiling their failures, business leaders show you the light at the end of the tunnel. We recommend this podcast for entrepreneurs and entry- to mid-level professionals in business strategy and management; not just for those making decisions, but those who want to make decisions.
“This American Life”
Every marketing resource emphasizes that the key to content marketing is a deep understanding of your audience and ultimately your buyer personas. The first step to understanding an audience is empathy, which you can attain by listening to other people’s stories on podcasts like “This American Life.”
Each show is experimental; you will find yourself exploring Paris with David Sedaris or learning about school desegregation. “This American Life” is especially useful for writers, designers and strategists at every level looking to understand various audiences.
“The Goal Digger” by Jenna Kutcher
“The Goal Digger” with Jenna Kutcher covers an array of topics from goal setting, creativity and writing great online content. She has a dedicated index of marketing episodes that discuss topics like YouTube and email marketing. Personal topics, such as ditching self-doubt as well as balancing work and motherhood, are also addressed. We recommend “The Goal Digger” for entry-level marketers seeking inspiration and practical advice.
These days, bloggers and content writers meticulously research their subject matter to give readers carefully curated content. The following websites are ones our team frequent.
The Paris Review
The Paris Review is an iconic literary publication that frequently publishes interviews with famous writers (think Ray Bradbury, Maya Angelou and Malcolm Gladwell). Even non-writers can find inspiration from interviews on the writing process as well as letters and essays on life experiences and social issues.
As content marketers, the mantra “copy is king” is branded in our brains. However, you’re limited by the words in the English language, accepted phrases, formatting and word count. So why not see how the masters do it?
We recommend The Paris Review for management, communications and marketing teams interested in developing narratives for clients. While you can read substantial previews, you will need a subscription to access the full articles.
Brain Pickings is curated by Maria Popova, an experienced writer who has written for The Atlantic and The New York Times. The website provides a pool of creative resources and serves as a “mental library” of great ideas. You can find everything from Mary Shelley’s thoughts on creativity to the daily routines of great writers. We recommend this resource for marketers who are experiencing writer’s block.
Inside Design by InVision
Our company uses InVision daily, and our designers are dedicated readers of their Inside Design blog. It provides readers with general inspiration, advice on client service and excelling in the workplace. You will also learn about design thinking, a powerful tool that can be directly applied to your daily work.
If you struggle to show the true value of design beyond “making things look good” or with steering clients into a user-centric mindset, there’s an article to help. We recommend this blog for designers and UI/UX specialists at any level.
Victor Cheng is a former McKinsey consultant and an excellent strategic thinker who runs Case Interview. Cheng offers training programs for case interviews, the preferred interview method of consulting firms. If you’re in any business field that requires strategic thinking, we recommend watching his introductory videos.
You will learn how to use hypotheses for problem-solving, segmenting data and to approach averages with a healthy dose of skepticism. We recommend Case Interview for entry-level strategists or anyone looking to sharpen their strategic thinking skills.
Reading about professionals tackling the biggest questions that face humanity reminds us that no problem is too big to solve. Nautilus is a great resource for anything from how desert air can give us water to how to be more persuasive. These articles are also great examples of how complex information can be relayed to a non-scientific audience. We recommend Nautilus for business professionals and anyone remotely interested in science looking to understand how questions they never thought to ask are answered and articulated by scientists.
We encourage you to constantly strive for mastery. What unites truly talented professionals is the belief that learning is a lifetime pursuit. The moment you think you know everything, your upward career trajectory is over. Always be on the lookout for new resources. The best ones are completely unexpected and thoroughly useful.
Sign up for our industrial marketing newsletter to stay up-to-date on all of the biggest marketing trends for the B2B sector.