7 Marketing Books That Have Shaped My Career

On this episode of the Marketing Swipe File, DG talks about how he went from being someone who avoided books like the plague – to someone who loves reading and learning. So what was the catalyst for this change? DG started picking up books about copywriting, direct response marketing, social psychology. Over the last few years, he’s amassed a huge library of marketing books. Want to find out the books that have influenced him the most? Listen to the full episode.

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Books Mentioned In This Episode:

  1. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
  2. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
  3. Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry by Marc Benioff and Carlye Adler
  4. Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins
  5. The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies by Chet Holmes
  6. The Ultimate Sales Letter: Attract New Customers. Boost Your Sales. by Dan Kennedy
  7. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience by Carmine Gallo

Want the other seven books on DG’s must-read list? Find out on Drift Insider.

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Full Transcript

Dave Gerhardt: Hey, everybody. It’s DG, and we’re back with another episode of the Marketing Swipe File, which is my favorite podcast. Dan is behind the scenes on the camera. He told me that’s his favorite podcast, also. He actually said, “Favorite marketing podcast.” I don’t think he listens to any other marketing podcast, so… Anyway, today, I want to give you… I’m a big marketing nerd, and I read a ton of marketing books, but it hasn’t always been the case for me. I hated reading. I never read books in school. Sorry, mom. You know that now, but I’m sorry about that. I never read books in school, but when I got to Drift, I didn’t really start reading until my late 20s. I was probably 28, and I met DC, the founder and CEO of Drift. He usually sits here when we do our other podcast together, but he started feeding me these marketing books, right?

And so, my whole thing was, I came into Drift. You’ve heard this if you’ve ever listened to the podcast at all, but basically, I wanted to focus on SaaS metrics, and tools and technology, and all the kind of new marketing stuff. DC’s challenge for me was, “Hey, go back and study the things that have never changed. Go back and study people,” and so he put me on some of the greatest books about marketing that were all about copywriting, direct response marketing, social psychology. And so, over the last couple years, I’ve built up this library of marketing books, and now, I thought, you know what? I’ve never really given away… I’ve never shared those books with people, and a lot of people ask like, “Hey, what are the books that have impacted you the most?” So, I want to take you through seven of them now. Just a quick plug, I have 14 books on this list.

I’m going to give you seven for free right now as part of this podcast, but I’m going to put the other seven on Drift Insider. The reason I’m doing that is because I want you to go and see the content that we have created in Drift Insider. It is so good. It’s expert-level sales and marketing content, and I want you to see how much value is in there. So, I’m going to do a little bait-and-switch on you. I’m going to give you seven on this podcast, so you get seven for free, right? But then if you go and create a Drift Insider account, which is drift.com/insider, you’ll be able to get the other seven. Okay? First, let’s rip through these. Okay? I hope you got a pen and pencil. Actually, you don’t need that. We’ll put these in the show notes.

Number one book, this is not in any particular order, but I do have two that I always label one and two. The number one book that has helped influence me as a marketer is actually called Influence of Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, which is an amazing book about people, how we all make decisions and how we all think. It’s all about social psychology. Before you pick up any traditional marketing book, go and read a copy of Influence. Influence is the one book that… I do a lot of speaking. I speak in front of a lot of marketing audiences, and I always ask people, just because I’m curious. I say, “How many people in this room have read Influence?” The amount of people that raise their hand, it’s usually about 1 out of every 100, which is crazy to me because this book has all… it has, basically, all the secrets in marketing in one book because it’s all about how people make decisions. So, buy that one first. Influence of Psychology of Persuasion. It came out in 1984.

The next book is Ogilvy on Advertising. You know I love this book if you listen to this podcast at all, but Ogilvy on Advertising was the first book to really teach me about the power of copy, direct response marketing, and advertising all in one book. I love this book because it’s super visual. I really do this now. People on the team have probably seen me do this, but any time I have writer’s block or I’m stuck, I go and I grab this book, and I just thumb through it for a couple minutes, and something unlocks and I get an idea. So, go pick up a copy of Ogilvy on Advertising. That’s two. Dan is taking notes right now while we’re watching this.

Okay, I got a couple more for you.

The next book is called, Behind the Cloud, Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry. This book is actually not about marketing, but it’s a story about how Marc Benioff and the team built and grew Salesforce. Benioff is a CEO and the founder of Salesforce, but he is one of the greatest marketers of all time. I put him up there. You know what we should do, Dan? We should do a Mount Rushmore of marketers. That would be pretty cool.

So, I would put Benioff up there with Steve Jobs, okay? Benioff is a marketing genius because what he knows how to do is to get people to pay attention, and I love this book because in Behind the Cloud, he doesn’t just tell you a story. He gives you specific plays. Each chapter has a number of plays. You’ll be on chapter 10 and it’s like, “Play number 121, how we do events.” Go and read this book, but I do want to tell you one story. Salesforce’s biggest competitor was this company, called Siebel, okay? Siebel had their big user conference.

Come on in. We’re just finishing up the marketing podcast. DC just walked in because we got to film a secret episode of Seeking Wisdom, which is also only available at Insider, okay?

In this book, Benioff talks about he took… He hijacked the Siebel conference. They literally hired actors, put them in jail cells, put them outside of this conference, and then turned into this PR machine and big news story out of it. So, that’s one that you definitely got to go and check. That’s number three.

Number four is a book called Scientific Advertising, which is by a guy named Claude Hopkins, which was written in 1924, okay? This book opened up so many things for me because I read a book that was almost 100-years-old, and I realized everything that DC had been telling me, which is, holy shit, all these lessons from the 1920s are still just as relevant today, and that is the thing that convinced me to go and focus on studying people and not necessarily marketing tips and tactics.

The next book… What book is this? Number five? Are you counting? I’m counting. Number five… Dan is like… He has no clue.

Number five is The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes. This is the only true sales book I have on this list, but you have to read this if you’re a marketer because Chet Holmes, in 2007, broke down the playbook for doing sales that is still more relevant than ever today. I remember in the first or second chapter of this book, he has this pyramid. It basically shows you that 97% of the people that walk into your story or come into your website are not ready to buy right now. So, what do you do? He breaks it down in the rest of the book. If you want to become a better marketer, you have to understand sales and the principles of selling and having great conversations, creating offers. This is all in this book, The Ultimate Sales Machine.

Number six, speaking of sales, my favorite copywriting book of all time is called The Ultimate Sales Letter. That’s this book by Dan Kennedy. This book, alone, costs $12, but there’s one page in here, specifically, early on in the book where Dan Kennedy has 10 questions, the 10 questions that you should ask before writing anything. I have this book on my desk, and I use it before writing any landing page, making any new decks, writing a sales letter. This book really taught me how to write great copy.

Then number seven is a book called The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. This book looks like garbage. It looks like a trash business book. It looks like a stock photo. If a stock photo could be a book, that’s what this book looks like, but this book has taught me more about public speaking and doing presentations than anybody. Ever since I got this book, I’ve recommended it the most. You’ve probably heard Maggie’s podcast, the Build podcast. Maggie is doing a big public speaking gig for the first time in June. She’s speaking in front of a thousand people. She said, “DG, can we go for a walk? I want to pick your brain on public speaking.” I said, “Sure, we can go for a walk, but before we do, go and read this book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.” It tells you how to write amazing headlines, how to frame your story, and really how to get people to pay attention while you’re on stage.

So, that’s seven. I gave you seven. Hopefully, this is a big enough hook for you. I have seven… How many more do I have? One, two, three, four five… I have seven more books that we’re going to put on Insider. If you liked these first seven, go on to Insider, drift.com/insider. We will have the second half of this episode available for you with all the other seven books, so that’s 14 books that I recommend more than anything else to people who want to read and learn about marketing.

Thanks for checking out this podcast, and I’ll see you on the inside.