Ten Books Every CMO Must Read | Promoto Blog

Ten Books Every CMO Must Read

The Reading Bucket List of the Modern Marketer along with
knowledge hacks for the lazy and time deprived


Summer is here in all of its full glory. It’s that time of the year when the days are becoming longer and lazier. For many of us, it’s also the time of annual vacation. And for a lot of us, it’s the perfect season to catch up on some great reading and go hunting for the perfect titles. Just imagine yourself on the sunny beach lying on a hammock with a lovely book on a lazy afternoon with pina colada on your side. Just the thought would make you feel oh, so fresh!

So the book-readers of the world, this is our attempt to write a well-researched piece in the form of a neat listicle which would help not just CMOs , as the title suggests, but anyone who is either a bit of marketer or aspires to become one.

These books are our personal favourites at Promoto and have helped us enormously in chasing our dream of enabling businesses to to convert their customers into active promoters . And there are many more gems out there which are not being covered here just for the logistical reasons. So we’re sharing our favourite reading bucket-list for the marketer in all of us. Read on.

P.S. Don’t forget to check the section “Up for a Quickie?” at the end of each review for a quick sneak-peak into the book. It would come handy if you’re pressed for time or even if you just need to impress the boss in the next meeting.

  1. Flip the Funnel : How to Use Existing Customers to Gain New Ones by Joseph Jaffe

    Flip the Funnel

    What is that one thing that every business wants and needs? What is that one strategy that can change the course of any business? What is that one competitive advantage that can give your competition run for money?

    C’mon, take a guess. The answer is astoundingly simple.

    “To do more for less”

    Gotcha. Every business understand that if they could do more with less, that will make a hell lot of difference to them. Yet, every strategy overlooks this simple thing. Every single time, the businesses focus on acquiring more customers, growing their footprints, reaching out to more people, generating more leads. That’s the funnel, conventional wisdom tell us to create as part of our business growth strategy and that’s the funnel most of the businesses have been following for the longest time. It’s always a race for more, more and more. And this chase for more comes at a hefty price and it’s damn difficult, won’t you agree?

    That’s precisely the reason, bestselling author of Join the conversation and Life After the 30-Second Spot, Joseph Jaffe literally asks you to flip the funnel in this mavericks book of his. Written in the aftermath of the great recession of 2009 and building upon the learning from the failure of businesses of all sizes to invest in customer relationships, this book explores and explains the simplest yet terribly overlooked strategy of using existing customers to gain new ones, as the title clearly underlines.

    Flip the Funnel highlights the “right side of the funnel” by stressing upon the economic impact of the word-of-mouth generated and spread by an engaged, active and loyal customer aka brand advocate. He takes a 360-degree look and covers the same, infact even larger, impact of the negative word-of-mouth by an angry customer.

    And he makes his case for “flipping-the-funnel” with loads of real-life business examples. Even we’re building our business at Promoto on this concept and have our own philosophy about the “right side of the funnel” and our customers swear by it (link to your article on this topic).

    Jason breaks down the process of combining both the digital and social media tools to reach out to your most vocal and impactful customers and convert them into your powerful salesforce. This single thing brings down your customer acquisition budgets tremendously and multiply your customer-base like wild fire. Essentially, he demonstrates how business can do more with less. The Holy Grail of a successful business, one that would stand the tests of times like 2009 unflinchingly.

    Up for a quickie?


    Say hello! to the author on Twitter : @jaffejuice

  2. Growth Hacker Marketing : A Primer on The Future of PR, Marketing and Advertising by Ryan Holiday


    If you already agree that doing more with less is really the thing that can make a significant difference to a business, how about we throw a spin here, errr correction, how about we take it further by leaps and bounds?

    How about creating great marketing success out of almost nothing?

    If this sounds too good to be true to you then you have probably not heard of “Growth Hacking”. If you’re a new age marketer chances are that not only you’re familiar with the term but also using it to your advantage already. If yes, then this book will set you up on to greater concepts of Growth Hacking and you’ll be finding more and more opportunities to hack the growth of your business or your clients.

    If your answer is no, then this book will be your dummy’s guide to “Growth Hacking” and you’ll be surprised to see that it’s been all around you all this while just that you didn’t know it as a well-known and well-defined phenomenon.

    For the uninitiated ones, Ryan Holiday is an internationally celebrated marketer, strategist and best-selling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying : Confessions of a Media Manipulator. Companies like Google and Twitter use his marketing strategies as case studies. He has painstakingly chronicled the vast and fast history of “Growth Hacking” in this surprisingly easy read. There are no heavy jargons, just a lot of real examples, personal anecdotes and stories from all around us.

    Marketers can learn a thing or two from this book about how to communicate a powerful business concept in such a simple, unpretentious and interesting manner.

    Up for a quickie?


    The book is even available in the format of a course : http://learn.ryanholiday.net/

    Say hello! to the author on Twitter : @RyanHoliday

  3. Contagious : Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger


    Viral videos, posts, trolls and viral everything. The world has caught the “viral” fever (pun intended!). Viral Marketing has caught the fancy of business owners of the world around us. It’s interesting how business, especially marketing, vocabulary borrows so much from the medical terminology to identify so many concepts. No wonder Wharton Professor Jonah Berger chose to name his book “Contagious”.

    By now, we all, more or less understand what viral content means in broader terms. But the bigger question to understand is, what causes this virality in some content. As the title clearly suggests, Jonah has put over a decade of his research and vivid real-life examples into exploring the secret behind why some things catch on like a wildfire and other don’t. One of the best things about this read is superb examples like the remarkable $100 cheesesteak story or even the contagiousness evoked by a seemingly boring product like blender. The stories keep you hooked on once you pick this up.

    Jonah has not written just an observational piece on a remarkable yet deeply intriguing phenomenon of his times but he has delved much deeper than being merely an audience sitting on the fence.

    Staying true to his research background, he has revealed the six basic principles that drive things to become contagious, be it a product or service, ideas or even policy initiatives. No, he doesn’t leave us there wondering what to do with this information.

    He goes on to explain how to use these principles to our advantage to create contagious content. He provides actionable techniques for everyone to help them make their ideas, concepts, products, services etc. contagious. If you’re someone who is looking for how to create communication that catches on, this is your go to read.

    Up for a quickie?

    Say hello! to the author on Twitter : @j1berger

  4. Made to Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

    Made to Stick:

    Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the idea of “stickiness” in his bestseller The Tipping Point and used many stories to observe and explain his point. Chip Heath and Dan Heath, popularly known as Heath brothers follow the same path and style and take the same idea further with more stories and derive principles of stickiness of ideas, for marketers to follow.

    Heath brothers set an interesting agenda and divide the book in six parts, forming the acronym “SUCCES” (Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories).

    In the first chapter “Simple”, they ask the reader to find the very core of an idea, in its simplest possible form. Second chapter “Unexpected” is about doing something to catch people’s attention by using surprise elements. In the third chapter, the writer duo talks about the power of making an idea “Concrete” in order for it to be grasped easily and thus remembered later, for a very long time. Fourth chapter is about making an idea “credible”, because people make a note of only those idea that they can believe, at least in their subconscious mind. Fifth chapter is about the importance of making a message “emotional”. People act on an idea if they care about it, they care when they feel emotionally intrigued by the message. The last section is about telling your “Stories”. Telling a story is a powerful of driving your message home without pushing it too much.

    Up for a quickie?


    Say hello! to the author on Twitter : @chipheath

  5. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini


    1984 The landmark year in the post-modern world. When George Orwell was writing his classic 1984, he would not have predicted what a year it would actually turn out to be. Along with other significant things associated with 9184, it is also the year when Dr Robert Cialdini gifted this classic study in the deep realms of the human psychology to the world

    This book changed the understanding of the science of persuasion forever. And he has managed to do it in a very simple, crisp and immensely captivating writing of his.

    A lifetime of experiences, experiments (e.g. he waited tables to understand how waiters art of influence to boost their tips), research and unending hunger of knowledge-hunting neatly wrapped into this one hell of a book. That is Influence by Dr. Robert Cialdini for you.

    What can I write about this all-time classic that has not already been written. Stripping down the six principles of influence in the book would probably be a disservice to book. So in case if you’ve been living under the rock in the world of marketing and have not heard about this book, here is your chance at redemption. Go, read this, like now. Period.

    Up for a quickie?

    Say hello! to the author on Twitter : @RobertCialdini

  6. Predictably Irrational : The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

    Predictably Irrational

    Like 1984, 2008 was also an interesting year in modern history, albeit for completely different reasons. Year of 2008 witnessed the biggest financial crisis after the Great Depression, a crisis so big that it shook the world and the after-effects are still felt. With the backdrop of one of the biggest financial crisis of human history, Dan Ariely released his work on the psychology behind the decision-making process by humans. For the longest times, the free markets ideology practically ran not just the financial world but even political and social worlds too. Ariely questions the assumption on which the free markets theory works that we’re mostly rational creatures taking rational decision at most times. He argues that “life with fewer market norms and more social norms would be more satisfying, creative, fulfilling and fun.” A growing population agreeing with this and starting an active quest of a more fulfilling life by shunning the traps of the market forces stands as a proof that the world is slowly but steadily beginning to understand this argument.

    Ariely’s study of behavioral economics with a myriad of simple yet powerful lab experiments produces a thorough body of work that explores the forces that actually go on in shaping the choices that we make in life, and how susceptible we are to the manipulation by even slightest of change in the situation. The book is also kind of a social liberation when Ariely suggests that even though we’ve a rational persona but that’s not the only one that we have. We’ve multiple facets and that’s how we are, for good or for bad.

    The book flips the concept of rationality on its head by concluding that we’re mostly the irrational creatures who sometimes makes rational decisions, not the other way round, as we’ve been made to believe all this while.

    For any marketer worth his/her salt, this is like a crash course in human psychology.

    Up for a quickie?


    Quickly Download entire book (Yes, it’s free!) : http://www.e-reading.club/bookreader.php/138702/Ariely_-_Predictably_Irrational__The_Hidden_Forces_That_Shape_Our_Decisions.pdf

    Say hello! to the author on Twitter : @danariely

  7. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers by Seth Godin


    It was summer of 1999. The book-racks of the leading bookstore chains were showcasing an orange cover in unconventional size and dimensions (read undersized) with a bald head of a man popping out on it. The name of the book sounded like an oxymoron and the tagline like a copy of some campaign which could be used by host of brands. No one could have expected this strange looking book to become the founding stone of the future of marketing in a digitally connected world. And yet it did. The book was “Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers” and the bald head on the cover was of the author Seth Godin.

    Seth Godin had been on the edge of the internet wave of 90s, built and sold his company Yoyodyne to Yahoo! and was serving as the VP of Direct Marketing for Yahoo! after the acquisition.

    When Seth wrote about permission marketing he didn’t know that he is setting up the roadmap of how social media marketing would play out in future.

    Today, we all understand that social media marketing and direct marketing channels like email marketing work completely on the permission from the user, permission to share, to post, to track, to engage. We now have come to know this idea as “Inbound Marketing”, and no modern marketer can afford to ignore the power of focusing on inbound marketing strategy in the overall outlook. But back then, it was unheard of. Seth could see through the maze of conventional marketing and could articulate that future of marketing was going to be as anticipated, personal and relevant.

    Interestingly, one of Promoto’s core guiding principles is turning strangers into friends and friends into customers. We take it a little further and believe in the power of turning our customers into promoters. (insert a relevant link here)

    One of the marketing literature’s most powerful works is not the one to be missed out on by any marketer.

    Up for a quickie?



    Quickly read the first four chapters (Yes, it’s free!) : http://www.sethgodin.com/permission/thanks.asp
    Say hello! to the author on Twitter : @ThisIsSethsBlog

  8. Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaint and Keep Your Customers by Jay Baer

    Hug Your Haters

    An international airlines breaks the guitar of a passenger and fails to handle his complaints properly. The passenger writes and composes a song about the incident along with his complaint and uploads it on a popular video-streaming website. The song becomes viral and the airlines not only faces heat from across the world but also sees the stock prices plummeting, resulting in real and huge business losses. So much for breaking one guitar and pissing off one customer. Welcome to the era of haters where United breaks guitars and the broken guitar breaks United.

    Jay Baer has written the book that is what the world of marketing exactly requires right now. His approach is refreshing, examples fresh and theories useful. He talks about the two types of the haters any business encounters, the offstage haters and the onstage hater. Offstage hater simply wants the solution to the complaint and wants it fast without caring if other people get to know about the experience or not. Onstage haters care about sharing the experience with public as much as, if not more, the solution itself.

    It’s time for businesses to hug both types of haters and if possible, capitalize on it. Yes, capitalize on a dissed customer.

    That’s what this book talks about using several real life examples, over 50 interviews, various methods and strategies to tackle the hater situations and a cool fold-out poster of “The Hatrix” summarizing the best strategies for different situation. This is the book, a CMO can’t afford to ignore.

    Up for a quickie?


    Say hello! to the author on Twitter : @jaybaer

  9. Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler


    We’re living in the world of post 2008-09 financial crisis. We’re still trying to recover from the aftermath. We read news littered with pessimism. Everyone is telling us that the world is going to dogs. The economies around the world are shaking, we’re in the middle of IS uprising, the planet is getting hotter, the world population is blasting and what not. It’s very easy to let ourselves get consumed by this pessimism and let others make us believe in a very sad future, if there is any. And bang comes a book literally called Abundance by entrepreneur-turned techno-philanthropist Peter H. Diamandis and acclaimed journalist turned award-winning science writer Steven Kotler.

    For the longest times, we’ve been made to believe that the life of abundance belongs only to a handful people and majority of the people live on the margins. That this gap is overwhelmingly wide and just keeps getting wider, making it impossible to ever close it. This is so profoundly ingrained in our thought processes that we’ve accepted it almost like a law of nature. Abundance completely shatters this concept.

    In this pessimistic world Abundance talks that we’re on the brink of exponential development in terms of making humanity better for everyone.

    And no, this is not just wishful thinking of a die-hard romantic or optimist. This is coming from two very acclaimed authors from their chosen fields. They explain this concept of impending abundance in very near future taking a very scientific and practical approach. The books talks about the collective impact of four major forces – exponential technologies, the Do-It-Yourself innovations, the Techphilanthropists and the Rising Billion. The authors examine the human needs by category – healthcare, freedom, education, energy, water, food and juxtapose a number of innovators making huge leaps in these areas.

    All this is happening right now, in front of our eyes. Some would argue that this is kind of information we exactly need. And what could have been a better year to come out for a book like Abundance than 2012 when the world was waiting for the Doomsday. Abundance should be read by everyone, not just CMOs. This is the vital shot we all need to cope with the difficulties of life around us.

    Up for a quickie?

    Excerpts from Chapter 1 : http://www.aberdeeninvestment.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Abundance_Future-Better-than-you-Think-Chapter_1.pdf

    Say hello! to the authors on Twitter :


  10. The Best Book on Marketing ?

    The Best Book on Marketing

    Phew! That was some reading for us. We feel like we’ve been to an alternative world and back. Isn’t that the best thing about reading?

    Amidst the massive line-up of great authors, thought leaders and their amazing literary adventures, it was a herculean task to come up with this short list. We are almost certain that we have missed the best one. And the best one for you is the one that has inspired you the most.

    So tell us in the comment section below, your recommendation of the best book for the present day CMOs or even the one that you couldn’t put down.

Ritu Jhajharia

Ritu has dabbled into various roles across functions in marketing, brand management, communication, public relations, content management, consulting, technology & entrepreneurship for a decade. She is currently working as Marketing and Strategy professional. She likes to help growing start-ups with marketing strategy. She likes to write on various topics, is a successful blogger, is an avid traveler. She is a full-time entrepreneur-in-making.

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