The best books to help you understand how marketing has changed

Keith A. Quesenberry Author Of Social Media Strategy: Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations in the Consumer Revolution
By Keith A. Quesenberry

Who am I?

After 17 years in the advertising industry, I became a professor to teach what I learned in practice. Only then did I start reflecting, researching, and discovering why we were successful in some efforts and not in others. From that perspective, I’ve been crafting new ways to approach marketing that are not based on what worked in the past, but on what works now in light of the dramatic changes to the field. Within marketing, I focus on social media strategy, digital marketing, and storytelling.


I wrote...

Social Media Strategy: Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations in the Consumer Revolution

By Keith A. Quesenberry,

Book cover of Social Media Strategy: Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations in the Consumer Revolution

What is my book about?

Marketing communications is changing and what used to drive results doesn’t work today. Old methods are waning while new methods like social media become more important. But the concepts and techniques of the past don’t apply to the new. To understand marketing on social media you need to understand how marketing is changing and why. Otherwise, you’re using old strategies in new realities and chasing short-term trends that fail to produce lasting results. To be successful you need a process and framework that creates a social media strategy unique to your company’s situation, competitors, and customers. This book is that blueprint for digital marketing, advertising, and public relations practice in a world where the consumer has taken control.

The books I picked & why

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Marketing 5.0: Technology for Humanity

By Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya, Iwan Setiawan

Book cover of Marketing 5.0: Technology for Humanity

Why this book?

Philip Kotler, “The Father of Modern Marketing,” credited with developing the 4 Ps of the marketing mix is still contributing to the field. In this book with his co-authors, he builds upon the foundations he helped to set up decades ago to show us how the practice of marketing has evolved and where it is headed. You’ll learn the challenges marketers face in a digital world, new strategies for tech-powered marketing, and new tactics for leveraging marketing tech. What I really learned from this book is the practice of human-centric marketing where brands behave like humans treating customers as friends. It’s all about POV where value proposition messages become useful and valuable content.


This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See

By Seth Godin,

Book cover of This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See

Why this book?

In this age of social media where the consumer has taken control, Seth Godin flips the marketing context. Go from paying to be seen to truly seeing your customers and you will earn their attention. Seth has a beautifully simple way of communicating big shifts in perspective. In this book, you’ll learn how to see marketing in a way that more aligns with the realities of today’s world. And you may feel better about your work realizing you don’t have to annoy, spam, and clickbait your way to success. Godin helped me understand how the social media marketing cycle helps to contribute beyond social media strategy. A brand community in social media helps a marketer be seen by customers who want to participate in multiple aspects of a business to help meet marketing objectives.


Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins

By Mark W. Schaefer,

Book cover of Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins

Why this book?

Marketing the old way took for granted that the company was in control. Now the consumer is in control. Mark Schaefer’s book will help you see the end of control and give you a manifesto for human-centered marketing. You’ll learn to see how your customers are part of your marketing department and how that is at the heart of success today. The good news for smaller brands is that winning in the rebellion doesn’t hinge on ad impressions, and big budgets, alone. Schaefer’s book helped me to see this new human-centered marketing from a more direct perspective. Instead of an evolution of the Four P’s he simply connects constant human truths to business success in “A Manifesto for Human-Centered Marketing” that ultimately leads to the new reality that your customers are your marketers.


Hit Makers: How to Succeed in an Age of Distraction

By Derek Thompson,

Book cover of Hit Makers: How to Succeed in an Age of Distraction

Why this book?

Consumers have greater control today over what they read, what they watch, and what they buy. If you want to be successful, you need to understand how people decide what they see. Derek Thompson takes us through research and examples to help reveal the psychology behind why we like what we like. In an age of media distraction, this is more important than ever. No marketing strategy will succeed if you can’t get people’s attention. Studying what makes a hit can give us clues to how to be seen. Hit Makers really puts into perspective the real challenge today of reaching a mass audience. You can’t. There are no more mass audiences for advertising or public relations. We have become a society of niche audiences. Until you realize and accept this your strategies will fail.


Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know

By Adam Grant,

Book cover of Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know

Why this book?

A common theme I’ve noticed about companies that made a wrong turn or missed a trend and headed downhill is in a key moment they refused to rethink their perspective. It typically doesn’t come from ignorance but arrogance. They assume the formula they used to be successful in the past will always work in the future. Adam Grant wakes us up to the power of rethinking what we thought we learned. Only then will you be open enough to consider the type of new learning required to remain successful in our rapidly changing world. The main lesson I learned here is that too many of us feel there is only one answer and if we had success in the past, we think that is the only answer moving forward. Instead, ask questions that don’t have a single right answer. Consider different views and explore them to find new possibilities.


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