Martech Council recommends: Books for the modern marketer

Feb 05, 2021

There’s no time like the present to pick up a new book for inspiration or guidance, whether it’s on thinking big or implementing tools for success. To assist, the CMA Martech Council has shared their recommendations for six books that modern marketers should add to their libraries this winter.

Big-picture thinking

What: Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data (Rishad Tobaccowala)

Why: In an age of rapid growth, technology adoption and disruption, companies can forget about the importance of the human element. Tobaccowala provides effective tips on adjusting to an ever-evolving world and covers topics like leveraging math and meaning and upgrading a company’s mental operating systems. The book’s mantra of the “the future does not fit in the containers of the past” rings so true for marketers.

Key takeaway: Marketers need to be balanced in their thinking and approaches. Use data and math to guide but keep it human to resonate with customers and employees.

Decision making

What: The Systems Thinker: Essential Thinking Skills For Solving Problems, Managing Chaos, and Creating Lasting Solutions in a Complex World (Albert Rutherford)

Why: As business, technology and government continue to evolve and become more intertwined with each other, it becomes crucial to stop thinking about business decisions in linear terms, and to start examining decisions in the light of systems and connections. Rutherford puts the system thinking approach in a framework and provides tools and strategies to apply it across both business and personal decisions.

Key takeaway: Senior leaders should avoid making decisions based on direct, immediate outcomes and should instead examine them using systems thinking to drive desired, long term results.

Culture and performance

What: The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups (Daniel Coyle)

Why: This book is required reading for CEO peer groups and applies to all levels of management. Coyle provides important lessons for marketers on building or reconfiguring teams for a future with more data, algorithms and martech, and shares stories and ideas for action on how to create a high functioning and inclusive culture. One fun story from a researcher observes that the “most successful projects were those driven by sets of individuals called clusters of high communicators” and that innovation and great work comes when professionals communicate in a belonging environment.

Key takeaway: According to this award-winning author, the word culture is derived from meaning “care”. Leaders work on creating a culture of belonging and connectedness. The test/indicator of a group’s culture is their learning velocity.

Digital transformation

What: Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age (Brad Smith, Carol Ann Browne)
Why: All brands utilize marketing technology, whether or not they refer to the tools they use as “martech.” Browne and Smith help marketers think about what it means to deliver on the promise of a brand and the great responsibility they have when it comes to privacy, cybersecurity, the use of AI, and more, as the industry navigates through the different stages of tech adoption and digital transformation.

Key takeaway: The use of technology comes with great responsibility, especially for marketers and marketing leaders who find themselves in the midst of many challenges that will come with no pre-existing playbook.

Technology and analytics

What: Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence (Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb)

Why: Prediction and judgement are key competencies for any modern marketer. The authors - three architects of Toronto’s Creative Destruction Lab - provide a pragmatic view of predictive technologies and offer practical tips on how to harness data, models and computers. The book outlines a solid foundation to better understand a complex topic and harness AI and machine learning in a practical way.  

Key takeaway: Predictability is a core capability in an age of data, innovation and disruption. Find practical solutions to bring together processes with tech.

Perseverance and resilience

Reinvention: Changing Your Life, Your Career, Your Future (Arlene Dickinson)

Why: Even the most seasoned entrepreneurs and marketers have had setbacks and obstacles to their success, and it’s often these challenges that drive their biggest moves. Dickinson sheds light on her own journey by demonstrating how perseverance and resilience allowed her to adapt and reinvent.

Key takeaway: Resiliency, resourcefulness and intrinsic drive are key success factors in tomorrow’s world.




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