39 Game-Changing Book Recommendations from T&C Speakers

Successful marketers and business owners aren’t born overnight — or through experience alone. They’re students of their craft, and pursue growth and learning like their life depends on it.

At Traffic & Conversion Summit, our speakers are those successful marketers and business owners. We invite them to the stage because they’ve made their mark on the marketing and business world at large.

They’ve built teams, nurtured entrepreneurs, scaled multiple 6-8 figure businesses, and impacted thousands with their ability to foster growth.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know where they learned it all?

Here are 39 books on life, business, and all things marketing, that will help you get on their level.

And since 39 books is a lot to put on your reading list, we’ve organized them into five categories:

  1. Business and Marketing
  2. Advertising and Selling
  3. Entrepreneurship
  4. Content Marketing and Social Media
  5. Personal Growth

So pick a category, load up your digital cart, and dig in.

Business and Marketing

#1 Ask: The Counterintuitive Online Method to Discover Exactly What Your Customers Want to Buy … Create a Mass of Raving Fans … and Take Any Business to the Next Level

Do you really know what your customer wants? How successful are you at communicating you have what they want?

The Ask method isn’t theory. It’s a proven, repeatable, yet slightly counterintuitive, methodology for understanding the core wants and motivations of your customer. Oh! And it’s automated, so you don’t have to have a one-on-one conversation with every single customer.

The Ask method has generated over $100 million in online sales across 23 different industries and counting. Now it’s your turn to use it to create a funnel, skyrocket your online income, and create a mass of dedicated fans for you and your company in the process. Ryan is actually speaking at T&C — and his book is one many other speakers recommend.

#2 Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Marketers need ideas that catch on — and Johan Berger has identified how six basic principles drive all kinds of things to become contagious, from consumer products and policy initiatives to workplace rumors and YouTube videos.

This book delivers specific, actionable techniques for helping information spread. For marketers designing messaging, advertising, and sharable content. Perfect for founders, CEOs, agency owners, and marketers of all stripes, Contagious will show you how to make your product or idea catch on.

#3 Digital Marketing For Dummies

Written by Ryan Deiss and Russ Henneberry, Digital Marketing for Dummies is the essential guide to current best practices in SEO and SEM, content marketing, influencer marketing, lead generation, funnel building, email strategy, Facebook and Google ads. Every strategy covered is proven to expand the reach of your brand, increase audience engagement, and acquire and monetize customers. Whether you’re looking to craft a killer campaign from scratch or just want to beef up your social media presence, you’ll find everything you need to meet your business goals—and boost your bottom line.

#4 The Evergreen Traffic Playbook

As co-hosts of the Hustle & Flowchart Podcast, Matt Wolfe & Joe Fier have interviewed hundreds of expert marketers and compiled their advice in a simple, yet highly valuable reference guide to getting great traffic. They also share secrets from their own success, including The Perpetual Audience Growth System, how to appear omnipresent to your audience, and how to create content once to reuse it over and over again to drive traffic from multiple places. Every marketer needs a constant flow of high-quality, inexpensive traffic, and this book shows you how to get it for your business.

#5 From Poop To Gold: The Marketing Magic of Harmon Brothers Kindle Edition

The Harmon Brothers tapped into a particular kind of marketing magic when they created the ads for Squatty Potty, Chatbooks, Purple and Poo~Pourri.

The hilarious video ads were so entertaining they went viral, and generated millions in sales for their clients.

Author Chris Jones pulls back the curtain and reveals the behind-the-scenes magic including their innovative business model, one of the biggest secrets behind their success.

#6 OUTRAGEOUS Multi-Step Marketing Campaigns That Are Outrageously Successful

Bill Glazer shares his ten critical components for his outrageously successful marketing campaigns. These principles are tried and tested through every channel from Facebook to cold calling. He also unpacks 39 different ways to generate leads.

#7 Free Pr: How to Get Chased By the Press Without Hiring a Pr Firm

Press coverage can still be essential for your business, but most companies are wasting big money paying an outside PR firm.

In this book, Cameron Herold and Adrian Salamunovic reveal the tools you already have to build an in-house PR team to get the coverage you need at low to no-cost.

They reveal how the media world operates and teach you provide effective interviews and with just a few easy steps.

#8 The Forecaster Method: The Modern System to Accurately Evaluate, Forecast, and Scale Your Digital Marketing Kindle Edition

What are your most profitable advertising channels? How do you scale your best assets?How do you create a diversified stream of new business?

John Lincoln unpacks his performance-based model, using clear data to scale and forecast your results.

This book is a proven framework for measuring success and building a sustainable model for your digital marketing.

#9 Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us?

Using fascinating examples from iPhone to Twitter, Pinterest to the Bible App, Nir Eyal unpacks the Hook Model – a four-step process embedded in habit-forming products. Readers will get practical insights to create user habits that stick and actionable insights for building products people love.

#10 Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life

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The Times called Rory Sutherland “the don of modern advertising,” and NPR named him “one of the leading minds in the world of branding.” In this book, Sutherland unpacks the interesting and surprising way humans make decisions and how that affects your business. It will help you create more valuable, more loved products by seeing the world and its inhabitants more clearly. This is an entertaining and easy read, and more importantly, you get the Vice Chairman of Ogilvy as your consultant for the price of a book.

#11 Crossing the Chasm, 3rd Edition: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers

Bringing a cutting-edge product to a larger market has it’s challenges. While early adopters are eager to try new technology and willing to sacrifice for it, the early majority waits until new technology is proven before buying. There is a huge gap between those early adopters and the early majority, and innovators and marketers are responsible for closing that gap. This is a must-read for any marketer or business owner trying to sell a disruptive product to mainstream customer audience.

Advertising and Selling

#12 The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million

How many times have you heard that selling is an art? That definition doesn’t fly with Mark Roberge, an MIT alum with an engineering background that led hundreds of his employees to acquire and retain Hubspot’s first 10,000 customers in over 60 countries.

Roberge reveals that selling is a metrics-driven, process-oriented science where every action is measured. In this book, he reveals his formulas for success in every aspect of sales including hiring, training, managing, and generating demand. Every sales manager or sales team member would benefit from implementing the formulas he outlines in this book.

#13 Inbound Organization

Purchasing behavior has shifted, and buyers now expect meaningful conversations and relationships with companies. Those companies that want to grow need to adjust their mission, strategies, action plans, and tools to align with their buyer. In order to build a company future around inbound principles, they need to structure their business to deal with the changes in buyer behavior. This book will teach you the foundation of inbound principles so that you can put ideas into practice today.

#14 Launch: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula To Sell Almost Anything Online, Build A Business You Love, And Live The Life Of Your Dreams

Jeff Walker has crafted hugely successful online launches for small, home-based businesses that yeilded tens of thousands to millions in sales. Launch is his recipe to building any business fast. Your treasure map to a successful online launch, Launch is the formula for digital entrepreneurs who want to leverage powerful positioning that practically eliminates the competition and earn big with their product launches and business launches. Perfect for existing businesses, service-based businesses looking to productize, or anyone in the planning phase, this formula helps you start fast. 

#15 Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know

Malcolm Gladwell dissects why we are so bad at judging others and what to do about it. Most people, especially marketers, overestimate their ability to read or understand what people are thinking and feeling. People also tend to assume that others are honest, and have difficulty discerning when they might be lying. Couple that with a total disparity in how humans express emotion, marketers and salespeople have their work cut out for them in understanding, reaching, and converting their target audience. Gladwell helps bridge that gap in understanding.

Entrepreneurship

#16 Running Lean

Most products fail. Not because we fail to build them, but because we end up building the wrong product. So how do you make sure you build the right product? It’s called product/market fit, and Ash Maurya unpacks how to find the problems worth solving and how to define a solution. This book also shows how to engage your customers throughout the development cycle, test faster, measure your customer response and pivot accordingly. Plus you’ll learn the right time to raise your “big round” of funding. Running Lean is perfect for anyone involved in new product development.

#17 Made to Lead: A Pocket Guide to Managing Marketing & Creative Teams

Karl Sakas cuts straight to the point of agency leadership in this short and sweet manual to managing marketing and creative teams.

This pocket-sized book is filled with bite-size tips that pack a big punch with practical advice for agency owners who manage a team.

Tactical and no-fluff, Made to Lead is based on years of experience and what does and doesn’t work in leadership. In this book, you’ll learn concrete tips to make your work easier when you lead marketing and creative teams.

#18 The $100k Journey: The Field Guide to Lessons You Should and Shouldn’t Repeat in Your Business

Tara Zirker shares what it really looks like to earn $100K in your first year of business. She unpacks the strategic action steps to take to bring in revenue quickly and efficiently. Thoughtful and methodical, she writes from the heart while teaching foundational pillars of success. Readers will discover the right size of business for them based on the life they want to lead, how to avoid burnout, and how to generate revenue quickly. The $100K Journey is perfect for any entrepreneur looking to reach the $100K mark or discover tools and strategies from a fellow six and seven-figure business owner.

#19 The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success

Thorndike reviews 8 CEOs which he calls The Outsiders. Each a first-time CEO, The Outsiders are successful because of their consistency and relentless rationality. Unique in their achievement of such exceptional performance, they often passed on the limelight but yielded astonishing returns. They focused on a few things: per share value, allocating capital and Human Resources, and cash flow. This book will not only help aspiring managers gain a better understanding of the value of capital allocation, but will also provide investors with a healthier appreciation of what great capital allocators look like.

#20 The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company

Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney, was named one of Time’s most influential people in 2019, and for good reason. In The Ride of a Lifetime, Robert Iger shares the ideas and values he embraced to reinvent Disney, as well as his principles of leadership. Guided by optimism, courage, decisiveness, and fairness, Robert Iger led 200,000 employees in a decency-over-dollars approach with thoughtfulness, respect, and curiosity. In transforming one of the world’s most beloved brands, he had a clear vision to recommit to the concept that quality matters, embrace technology, and think globally. The Ride of a Lifetime is perfect for any CEO or aspiring leader.

#21 Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion

In every field there are essential workers who pull more than their weight with little recognition. Who are the people who find great reward in anonymous work? David Zweig calls them “Invisibles.” They are the people who work with expertise, skill, and dedication, but rarely see any public credit. So what motivates them? How do they define success and satisfaction? Although these invisible career paths run the gamut of industries, Zweig found that all Invisibles embody the same core traits. And he shows how we might feel more fulfilled if we try to embody them too.

#22 The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

Ben Horowitz is one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, and a lifelong fan of rap music So naturally, this book infuses practical advice on how to build and run a startup with rap lyrics. Horowitz shares the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in and supervising tech companies.

He tells it straight about tough challenges like firing friends, poaching competitors, developing a CEO mentality, and knowing when to cash in. The Hard Thing About Hard Things is for any veteran entrepreneur or anyone aspiring to a new venture. 

Content Marketing and Social Media

#23 The New Relationship Marketing: How to Build a Large, Loyal, Profitable Network Using the Social Web

Mari Smith is a top social media guru who shares her step-by-step plan to creating quality relationships that garner leads, publicity, and sales.The New Relationship Marketing outlines how to create a network of loyal followers, attract customers and potential partners, and build a personal but automated social media persona to get measurable results in your business. Whether you already have an online presence, or you’re just building a social media strategy for your business, this book is filled with the tools and principles to help you be successful on social media.

#24 No B.S. Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing: The Ultimate No Holds Barred Guide to Producing Measurable, Monetizable Results with Social Media Marketing

Likes and shares are vanity metrics that do not guarantee leads and sales. Dan Kennedy and Kim Walsh-Phillips teamed up in this book to teach professionals how to monetize their social media marketing. Social media is another channel to reach customers, and direct-response marketing is still the most effective strategy to leverage on the platform. This book is perfect for business owners, private practice professionals, and professional marketers who are ready to make the switch from passive content to active conversation, focus on the needs of their prospects, create raving fans, convert cold traffic to customers, and how to leverage social media advertising to drive sales.

#25 YouTube Secrets: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Following and Making Money as a Video Influencer

YouTube is the perfect place to build a following and create a lucrative business. Sean Cannell and Benji Travis are the online video experts who have a decade of experience in the space. In this book, they share their expertise as well as what they learned in more than one hundred interviews with top YouTube Creators. You’ll learn the seven essential ingredients for a profitable channel, new strategies for getting views and followers, ten ways to make money on YouTube, and more. Any marketer or business owner looking to expand their impact into YouTube would benefit from this book.

Personal Growth

#26 Principles: Life and Work

Ray Dalio is one of the world’s top successful investors and entrepreneurs. His investment firm, Bridgewater Associates, is one of the most successful hedge funds in history and one of the most important private companies in the United States. In this book, he shares the unconventional principles he uses in life, management, economics, and investing. These principles act as a rules that organize complex organizations into easily-understood machines, and guide Bridgewater’s exceptionally effective culture. This book is filled with hundreds of practical lessons built around his cornerstones of “radical truth” and “radical transparency.” He also lays out the most effective ways for individuals to make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams. Perfect for anyone managing an organization or institution, Principles also offers a straightforward approach to decision-making that anyone can apply.

#27 Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

In the twenty-first century, work is filled with distractions. Marketers and business owners are stretched too thin in their time and attention. Days are spent in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media instead of focused on the areas where they can make the most impact. They’re missing the satisfaction of craftsmanship which comes from Deep Work, or the ability to concentrate and deeply focus on a demanding task. Deep Work makes you better at what you do and enables you to produce massive results. The author Cal Newport presents his training regimen, and four “rules” for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill. Any marketer or business owner looking to break free from distraction and focus their success.

#28 Make Time

Jake Knapp spent 10 years at Google, where he created the design sprint process. John Zeratsky spent 15 years as a designer at YouTube and Google Ventures before going on to write for Time, Wall Street Journal, Wired, and HBR. Together they offer a unique approach to getting more done, without being another productivity guide.This book provides a framework to actually give you more time in your day, an alternative to the constant cycle of exhaustion and busyness. This four-step daily framework can be used by anyone to systematically design their days, tailored to individual habits and lifestyles. Any marketer or business owner would benefit from less busyness and distraction.

#29 Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

Renowned social scientist and TED speaker Brené Brown argues that people are living in a crisis of spiritual disconnection.

To foster connection Brown introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other.

In clear, courageous and encouraging language, Brown offers her guidance to help us find our way back to ourselves and to each other. All business owners and marketers must connect to succeed and would benefit from this book.

#30 But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past

Chuck Klosterman conducted interviews with a variety of thinkers and experts exploring the possibility that the assumptions and foundational beliefs of our society may in the distant future be completely absurd. These deeply ingrained cultural and scientific beliefs may not serve us as well as we think, and Klosterman analyzes the possible consequences of those assumptions by simply asking… What If We’re Wrong? Any business owner or marketer would benefit from learning how to ask those simple questions and turn widely-held assumptions on their head.

#31 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

This wildly successful bestseller landed on the Summer Reading Picks for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. Every marketer and business owner would benefit from Harari’s sweeping and comprehensive analysis on the rise of humans, and how we got here. The most compelling theory he posits is that homo sapiens secured our rise to power through our unique ability to tell stories — and cooperate based on mutual belief in said stories. Those stories built civilizations, and have the power to destroy them. Every movement requires a story, and every brand who wants to start a movement should read this book.

#32 Calm the F*ck Down: How to Control What You Can and Accept What You Can’t So You Can Stop Freaking Out and Get On With Your Life

This book comes from the bestselling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck and Get Your Sh*t Together. Anxiety sucks, and it slows us down. Sarah Knight helps you stop overthinking, staying up all night mulling over the “what ifs,” and understand the Four Faces of Freaking Out so you can escape the trap of anxiety. She teaches you to accept what you can’t control, how to engage Productive Helpful Effective Worrying (PHEW), and three principles for dealing with it. Every business owner and marketer is under extreme pressure to perform in business and in life, and we’re all forced to cope with circumstances outside of our control. Knight provides the tools and principles to guide you through it.

#33 The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism

Charisma isn’t innate — it can be taught. Olivia Fox Cabane developed techniques for Harvard and MIT that breaks charisma down into its components. Rather than transforming your fundamental personality, charisma is about adopting specific practices that fit in the the personality you already have. This book is a guide for any marketer or business owner who wants to become more influential, persuasive, and inspiring.

#34 Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Most marketers and business owners are stretched too thin, feel overworked and underutilized, busy but not productive, and feeling like their time is constantly hijacked by other people’s agendas.

We need to be doing less, not more. And it’s not about saying no. It’s about having the systematic discipline to discern what is absolutely essential, and then eliminating everything that isn’t.

Reclaim your time and energy and do better in every area of your life.

#35 Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels

The happiness of our brains is managed carefully by the four “happy chemicals.” By engaging in simple activities and building new habits, you can boost these chemicals and experience more happiness. This book is filled with dozens of exercises that will help you reprogram your brain by boosting serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphin levels. Any marketer or business owner that loves a hack will love rewiring their brain for a happier, healthier life.

#36 The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling

Called an “owner’s manual for the soul,” The Great Work of Your Life offers a modern guide to the two-thousand-year-old spiritual classic Bhagavad Gita. He takes readers on a step-by-step tour of this timeless allegory and inspires readers to discover their life’s purpose and embrace their true calling hidden at the core of themselves. Any uninspired or weary mind will enjoy this spiritual journey — and may find the great work of their life.


#37 The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed on Your Own Terms

Personal growht entrepreneur Vishen Lakhiani shares his 10-point framework for understanding and enhancing the human self. This book invites you to shed the deeply ingrained rules and norms of society and create new rules for your life and define success on your own terms. It makes a case that the world we live in is shaped by conditioning and habit, and that most of us are living by limiting rules and outdated beliefs that keep us shackled to an ordinary life. This book is the blueprint to break free from those shackles and discover what happiness, purpose, and success mean for you.

#38 influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Why do people say yes? Dr. Robert B. Cialdini unpacks six universal principles of influence and how to apply them ethically in business and everyday situations. Readers will learn the amplify their ability to change behavior and defend against dishonest influence attempts. The six principles of influence are so valuable and familiar to marketers: Reciprocation, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, and Scarcity. Any marketer, business owner, or salesman would benefit from learning the psychology of persuasion.

#39 The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over

The ultimate guide to winning people over comes from a former former FBI Special Agent who made his career in behavior analysis and recruiting spies. The key is in instantly reading people, and influencing how they perceive you, and turning on the like switch. Every business owner or marketer would benefit from the tools to turn strangers into friends, make great first impressions, build lasting relationships, and understand behavior to learn what others really think of them.

Get $1,000 OFF Your Ticket To T&C!

Ready for more strategic insights from marketing experts? Then get your discounted ticket for T&C 2020 and join us in December to learn what’s new, what’s hot, and what’s actually working RIGHT NOW in digital marketing.

* If I have provided a non-business domain email address (such as, but not limited to, gmail, hotmail, etc) I am doing so in the context of it being used for my business and not personal interactions with Clarion.

Traffic & Conversion Summit is part of Traffic & Conversion Summit LLC which is part of the Clarion Events Group of companies (Clarion). We take your privacy seriously. We wish to use your information on the basis of our legitimate interests to keep in contact with you about relevant events, products and services which may be of interest to you. We will only ever use the information we collect or receive about you in accordance with our Privacy Policy. If you prefer us not to contact you about relevant events, products and services that we believe you will be interested in, you can manage your preferences via a link we will send you, unsubscribe using the link in our emails or by emailing usdataprivacy@clarionevents.com.

Bethany Cowan

I set the stage for expert marketers to connect with eager learners. Together with DigitalMarketer, our audience and attendees at Traffic & Conversion Summit get most relevant, proven and actionable techniques available. When I'm not swimming in spreadsheets or running backup batteries to our speakers, you'll also catch me hosting, emceeing, and speaking from time to time.

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Get $1,000 OFF Your Ticket To T&C!

Ready for more strategic insights from marketing experts? Then get your discounted ticket for T&C 2020 and join us in December to learn what’s new, what’s hot, and what’s actually working RIGHT NOW in digital marketing.

* If I have provided a non-business domain email address (such as, but not limited to, gmail, hotmail, etc) I am doing so in the context of it being used for my business and not personal interactions with Clarion.

Traffic & Conversion Summit is part of Traffic & Conversion Summit LLC which is part of the Clarion Events Group of companies (Clarion). We take your privacy seriously. We wish to use your information on the basis of our legitimate interests to keep in contact with you about relevant events, products and services which may be of interest to you. We will only ever use the information we collect or receive about you in accordance with our Privacy Policy. If you prefer us not to contact you about relevant events, products and services that we believe you will be interested in, you can manage your preferences via a link we will send you, unsubscribe using the link in our emails or by emailing usdataprivacy@clarionevents.com.

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