10 best non-business books for marketers in 2022

Kelsey Marks February 14, 2022 5 min read Tiller
Illustration of books and pencils

As marketers, our mission is to understand, educate, and convert our target audience. And it’s no easy feat.

Successful marketers are well-rounded and well-read.

By reading business books, we learn to overcome specific marketing challenges through actionable insight. By reading non-business books we broaden our perspective and sharpen our creative edge.

It is through non-business books that we learn the nuanced cornerstones of an unbeatable marketing strategy: empathy, problem-solving, imagination, and communication.

Whether your goals are to raise brand awareness, generate leads, or grow your market space, these less obvious books for marketing will inspire you to engage with your existing and potential customers in a new way. We’ve hand-picked a few of the best non-marketing-marketing books to read in 2022.

Atomic Habits book cover

1. “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear

Great marketing ideas begin with a solid vision. But they can also end there. According to James Clear, the secret sauce for success isn’t just goal-setting. It’s the accumulation of small, repeated, positive habits. Habits compound continuous improvement, whereas goals focus on isolated achievements.

For example, the goal of running a marathon ends at the finish line, but the habit of running every day is what makes you a runner. So, if your goal is to improve your digital marketing, focus on committing to the daily and weekly habits that will get you there. Choose habits like consistently leaving insightful comments on competitors’ posts, reading a marketing article every day, or going live on Instagram twice a week. Quantify these habits and stick to a schedule. Then rinse and repeat across your major goals for exponential success.

The One Thing book cover

2. “The One Thing” by Gary Keller 

A truth serum for your career and relationships, this marketing book is for beginners and veterans alike. Keller helps you uncover and define what makes you, you.

From graphic design to copywriting to SEO, marketing attracts a broad spectrum of talent. The real magic happens when individuals understand how their unique vision and talent contribute to the collective team. We liked “The One Thing” because it makes a compelling case for honing your craft by relentlessly narrowing your focus. Learn why there is power in understanding what you can uniquely offer.

Deep Work book cover

3. “Deep Work- Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World” by Cal Newport 

Deep thinking has become an elusive beast in a distracted world. Newport describes deep work as “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”

Coming up with strategic marketing goals (where you’re headed) and effective marketing strategies (how you’ll get there) requires time and (lots of) brainpower. So does brand positioning, differentiators, personas, and key messaging. Get these wrong, you’ll waste marketing dollars and get disappointing results. Think deep. Get it right. Remember, the best ideas are worth diving for.

Thinking Fast and Slow book cover

4. “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman

While not a beach read, this is one of those books for marketing that is worth the grind. We liked it so much we built a Tiller principle out of it.

Kahneman distinguishes between the two ways humans think. “System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and logical.” We tap into System 2 when we do “Deep Work” (see book #3).

Optimize System 1 thinking when experimenting and learning at the activity/task level (brand association, bucketing ideas, content brainstorming).
Optimize System 2 when an overarching strategy is required (positioning, goal-setting, campaign planning).

“Thinking Fast and Slow” will help you recognize when to go quick and trust your gut and when to slow down and think more deliberately.

Never Split the Difference book cover

5. “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It” by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz

Negotiation isn’t just for the sales team or war room. From salary expectations to marketing campaign budgets to business policy, marketers negotiate all the time. And as a former FBI agent at the helm of major hostage negotiations, Voss is the leading expert on the matter. In this book, you’ll learn how to tune into emotional cues, find your counterpart’s black swan, use extreme anchors, and moderate your tone. “Never Split the Difference” enables you to get what you want without conflict.

Big Magic book cover

6. “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Career-creatives rarely like their work. That’s why this is one of the books for marketing that is so important. “Big Magic” reads like a no-nonsense love letter to creative souls, teaching you to break up with your inner critic and harness your creative power. (We see you, content marketers). “Big Magic” is a treasure trove for creatives in search of “uncovering the strange jewels hidden within each of us.” Get a glimpse into Gilbert’s creative process and understand how she embraces fear to realize her dreams.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion book cover

7. “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini 

What makes people give in to pressure? Named “the father of influence,” Robert Cialdini unpacks the seven founding principles of persuasion psychology that will help you convert skeptics, keep customers, and sway the undecided.

One of the all-time top books for sales and marketing, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” is perhaps the closest you can get to reading your audience’s mind. These principles will equip you to connect with and shape your audience’s buying decisions at the subconscious level. Along the way, you’ll discover the marketing plan behind Apple’s Genius Bar, why sitcoms play laugh tracks, and much more. Just remember to apply techniques ethically.

Everybody Writes book cover

8. “Everybody Writes: Your Go-to Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content” by Ann Hadley 

Anyone and everyone can benefit from being a better writer. This is a must-read book for marketing professionals looking to level up their writing and communication skills. Handley is a pro at capturing readers’ attention with short, engaging chapters. Whether you’d like to improve your grammar, organize scattered thoughts, or tighten up your sentences, Ann’s got you covered. Her advice is easily applied to everything from blog content to social media captions, general email communication and more.

Unflubbify Your Writing book cover

9. “Unflubbify Your Writing” by Sara Rosinski 

This quick, fun read delivers many, “Woah, I never knew that!” moments. Rather than long chapters, Rosinski offers bite-sized lessons about common spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors like:

Do you “Flesh out” or “Flush out” an idea?
Is it “One fell swoop” or “One foul/fowl swoop”?
Do you have an issue with a “principle” or a “principal”?

All in all, this is a handy little book for any marketer who wants to become a better communicator.

Excellence Wins book cover

10. “Excellence Wins” by Hirst Schulze

In this literary tell-all, the former Co-founder and President of the Ritz Carlton, a luxury hotel company, shares his wisdom gained from leading a world-renowned brand.

Schulze reimagined hospitality leadership. He grew a customer-service-first culture; from bellhops to accountants to marketers, delivering an exceptional brand experience became the Ritz’ shared focus. This book is a rich marketing case study with tangible insights peppered throughout.

Read this top 10 best non-business book for marketing to explore the three things all customers expect:

1. A product or service without defects.
2. Products or services delivered on time.
3. Knowing that you care.

Apply these. Win.

Ready to hit the books?

We hope you enjoyed our best non-business books for marketing guide. Instead of yet another marketing book on growth hacking, a healthy dose of the non-business genre might be the inspiration you need to better understand your audience and bottom line. Whether you work in B2B marketing or B2C marketing, these reads will inspire you to do great things!
You’ll learn to negotiate, do the deep work, believe in yourself, and understand human behaviour at its core.

Keep learning and keep converting!

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