20 Great Audiobooks for Marketers, Entrepreneurs and Creative Professionals – Updated for 2021

20 Great Audiobooks for Marketers, Entrepreneurs and Creative Professionals – Updated for 2021

As a father of 3 sons, I’m always concerned about time.

Time to wake up, time for school, time for practice, time for dinner, time for your game, time for homework, time for bed.

Squeezing everything that has to be done, plus new stuff that adds to the routine can be tough. It’s hard to fit everything in that needs (or wants) to happen. Especially for myself.

It’s about a 25-minute drive from our house to the office, so that’s about an hour per day of sitting in the car, and I try to use that space to listen to marketing podcasts and business audiobooks. Over the years, I think I’m averaging about one audiobook every two weeks.

Finding the time to listen isn’t the tricky part anymore. Instead, it’s finding good content. I’m always wondering what the next book or podcast for my drive will be (and if anyone has recommendations, I would love to hear them).

I thought I would share a list of some of recent audiobooks for creatives and marketing professionals I’ve listened to, as well as some of my all-time favorites. Here are twenty new marketing audiobook recommendations for 2021 (scroll past the list for short reviews), plus my original suggestions at the bottom.

And if you’re new to Audiobooks, the platform you want to be on is Audible.

Disclosure: The links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

20 Great Marketing Audiobooks


 

The Latest Listens

 

AgencynomicsAgencynomics Audiobook by Spencer Gallagher

Agencynomics is a great book about growing and scaling your marketing agency. What’s interesting to me about it is that it correlates revenue and team size and benchmarks the performance of different team structures. There are tons of books out there on growing marketing agencies – this one is pretty unique and worth the listen.

 

 

Fix This Next - AudiobookFix This Next by Mike Michalowicz

Okay, I’m a big Mike Michalowicz fan! I’ll admit it. In this latest book, he intersects the idea of a business’ growth with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – outlining a structure of determining where your business is, and what it needs to do next to thrive. A lot of the concepts can be found across his other books, but it’s still a great listen.

 

 

Content Based Networking - AudiobookContent-Based Networking by James Carbary

This book essentially redesigns the cold call, by asking the prospect to participate in either a podcast or blog interview, and then sharing that relevant material with your audience. You celebrate the prospect and build your own reputation along the way.

 

 

Rare Breed - Audiobook Rare Breed: A Guide to Success for the Defiant, Dangerous, and Different by Sunny Bonnell & Ashleigh Hansberger

I have mixed feelings about this audiobook, but I thought I would include it because I can see its value – and it’s written by some really talented people.

Rare Breed is about rebellion, defiance and carving your own path despite everything telling you otherwise. It shows how to shake up conventions in the business world, and the power of being your authentic self.

But it can feel a little hollow. “Be yourself. Punch the world in its eye. If you get knocked down, get back up and keep fighting. Be yourself.”

It’s great, and I love books like that. It just feel a little aimless at times. But it is worth a listen.

 

 


Quick Reviews

The Pumpkin Plan Audiobook by Mike MichalowiczThe Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz
(Affiliate link)

The Pumpkin Plan compares growing a giant, blue-ribbon, novelty pumpkin with growing a business. It’s a blueprint for what to focus on, how to nurture the right clients and remove the rest, and how to build a business with repeatable experiences to best serve clients.

I’ve probably listened to this Audible book 12 times since I bought it. It’s become my go-to book when I can’t decide what to listen to next. It’s full of great advice on how to focus on what matters to the growth of your business, while cutting out the distractions that will rob you of your focus (and growth) along the way.

(I have to say, I’ve become a huge Mike Michalowicz fan. His mission is to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty, and his books are filled with the most practical, simple and impactful advice that can really turn your business around. Enough gushing, but if you’re looking for a business coach in the form of an audiobook, any book by Michalowicz will become your best friend.)

 

Clockwork audiobook by Mike MichalowiczClockwork by Mike Michalowicz
(Affiliate link)

Clockwork is a practical guide for creating systems within any business. Not just marketing automation, but designing, deciding and delegating how work moves through an organization.

The book also will introduce you to the ACDC framework of thinking, which is a format that Atomicdust Partner/Account Director Jesse and I have used in several workshops. The framework helps to sort out the steps a business takes to Attract, Convert, Deliver and Collect during its customer journey. 

 

Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business and Life audiobookAlchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life by Rory Sutherland
(Affiliate link)

Everyone on the planet lately—especially marketers—has been talking about using data to make better decisions. I’ve been to conferences, read books and listened to speakers all on the power of data in marketing, and how it’s becoming the key measure of predicting marketing success. I hate it.

Okay, I love data as much as the next person, but I don’t believe that data alone is the answer to everything. Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life is a great book and entertaining read because it points out how logic isn’t always the best answer to solutions involving humans. It’s a great reminder that a lot of things in the world fly in the face of reason, and therefore become more powerful and loved than ever imagined.

So take that, data! Here’s a great quote from the book:  “We don’t really value things, we value their meaning.” -Rory Sutherland

 

Radical Candor audiobookRadical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott
(Affiliate link)

I really needed this book at the time I picked it out. It’s about creating an environment where people on teams can say negative things about something without others taking it personally. The author calls this honest—and sometimes painful—feedback “radical candor.”

So what does this have to do with marketing and creativity? If you’ve had to critique someone else’s work—someone else’s baby—it can be easy to slip into the mode of not pointing out problems because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. Either letting things go unaddressed or fixing the problem yourself without addressing it.

There aren’t many books on giving creative direction. But Radical Candor can help you create an environment where it’s safe to have open discussions, debate and critique of creative work (and performance) without offending everyone on your team.

 

Getting Naked: A Business Fable audiobookGetting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding the Three Fears That Sabotage ClientLoyalty by Patrick Lencioni
(Affiliate link)

This was book was such a nice surprise—I recommend it to anyone who does consulting, sales or spends anytime with their clients.

Getting Naked is about how one small consulting business outperformed their giant, more established competitor by lowering their guard and taking a genuine interest in helping their clients. They created a business and a brand that people (both clients and staff) love.

The book is about category disruption, authenticity and how culture can become a barrier to competition—while leading to a better outlook on life.

I might be making it sound like too soft of a book for a “real business professional”—that was my hesitation when I bought it. But if you’re constantly competing with the same rivals in your business, this book will give you some fresh perspective you might need.

 

Brands and Bulls**t: Excel at the Former and Avoid the Latter audiobookBrands and Bulls**t: Excel at the Former and Avoid the Latter. A Branding Primer for Millennial Marketers in a Digital Age. By Bernard Schroeder
(Affiliate link)

If you’re in branding and marketing, this is a good book about how to think of brand positioning, brand ladders and brand promises. The content is really good, and if you’re a digital marketer or designer getting starting with branding, you’ll learn a lot from these classic, sometimes forgotten-about methods to make your brand more strategic and effective.

Where this book goes a little south isn’t the content—it’s the tone.

The narrator’s voice can come across as snide and condescending. Mix this with a steady stream of disses on “younger digital marketers” and how “in today’s world everyone is doing it wrong” the whole thing can be a real turn off. It sometimes has an uppity, get-off-my-lawn kind of vibe to it.

However, I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It’s a great book on branding frameworks and techniques, there are just a couple cringey parts you have to get through.

(Also, the author refers to downloadable resources from the book that I have never been able to find on his website.)

 

Scramble audiobookScramble: How Agile Strategy Can Build Epic Brands in Record Time by Marty Neumeier
(Affiliate link)

Scramble is from one of my favorite authors on branding, Marty Neumeier. His work has influenced and inspired myself and probably millions of other people in the creative and business world for decades.

If you work with brands, you owe it to yourself to to read Zag, The Brand Gap, and The Designful Company.

But this review is about his latest book, Scramble. I was really excited when I first caught wind of it, until I learned that it was a novel. Business Fiction. Going into it, this was one of my least favorite categories of business books. But reading it really changed my mind.

The intro of the book describes its intent. Neumeier was finishing a talk when an audience member wondered about any real life, step-by-step examples of how his approach and philosophy could actually be used in a business.

Scramble is a novel that serves as master class on branding, and a functional, practical framework for strategic thinking. It’s a tense, smart and entertaining book that was hard to stop listening to. Plus, the audiobook is read by the man himself.

 

Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility audiobookPowerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord
(Affiliate link)

A good friend of mine suggested this one to me. He said it changed the way he looked at building strong teams, from a recruiting, growth and lifecycle perspective. “Lifecycle” is my nice, dodgy way of putting a positive spin on when people leave an organization—either for a new job, or getting let go.

No one really likes talking about this stuff—I know I don’t. And that is exactly the point. If you want to build a great team, you have to have great people and a great culture.

This book is an inside look at how Netflix’s culture and team structure grew and changed over time.

Powerful is similar to Radical Candor with the theme of being comfortable having brutally honest conversations with team members, not only for the good of the company, but for individuals in the long run.

What’s this book got to do with marketing? Use it to improve communications, build stronger teams, get the right people to share a vision and ultimately create better outputs.

 

New Sales Simplified audiobookNew Sales. Simplified: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development by Mike Weinberg
(Affiliate link)

I wouldn’t consider myself a salesperson. I mean, I know that everyone is a salesperson, but I think of myself as far away from that as possible. Unless it comes to creative work that helps sell products or services for clients. Or marketing funnels and best practices. Or how to create messaging to show benefits and differentiators to customers.

However, the physiology and method of sales always intrigues me because it can lead to more effective marketing. New Sales. Simplified. is a great perspective on how to make sales and prospecting more enjoyable for both the salesperson and the customer.

The main reason I’ve included it here is the framework for building brand language the author unveils. Specifically, a condensed pitch Weinberg calls a “Power Statement.” It’s a new structure that lines up perfectly for creating more effective marketing language.

Here’s the sauce. And if you like this, there is a lot more in this great book.

A compelling sales story leads with the issues you address for your customers:

  • Their pains that you remove
  • Their problems that you help solve
  • The opportunities you help them capture
  • The new, better results and outcomes your solution helps achieve

 

This is Marketing by Seth Godin audiobook

This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin
(Affiliate link)

This is Marketing was an instant New York Times bestseller when it hit bookstore shelves last fall, to no surprise: Godin is one of the world’s foremost marketing experts, and he’s boiled down his biggest lessons on marketing into this book.

The main takeaways: focus on your target market, make their lives better, and leave outdated and overdone approaches behind.

 

And my previous audiobook suggestions, which I still recommend:

The Conversion Code by Chris Smith

The Conversion Code by Chris Smith.
(Affiliate link)

Chris Smith reminds us that digital channels should drive leads, and shares his approach and perspective on using Facebook, landing pages, email, and highly optimized websites to drive leads and close deals. The book also has great insight on how marketing and sales can work better together.

Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business

Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters.
(Affiliate link)

The world of business is divided into different types of people, and when a “visionary” teams up with an “implementer” and defines their roles and responsibilities, it becomes rocket fuel for the business.

The War of Art

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
(Affiliate link)

Over the years this has become my go-to book for creative motivation and getting unstuck. Pressfield explains the existence of an invisible force called “resistance” and how it will use every trick in the book to keep you from your creative work.

Ego Is the Enemy

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday.
(Affiliate link)

 
This is about how our own self image can be self destructive and often send us down the wrong path.

 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.
(Affiliate link)

I cuss a lot, but I probably shouldn’t. This is a great book on deciding what you should care about, and then focusing on only those things that matter. The first chapter is pretty vulgar. To the point that it almost becomes a gimmick – but the rest of the book is golden. I honestly really love this book, but was about to abandon it in Chapter 1. I’m glad I didn’t.

Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional's Guide to Growing a Practice,

Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss
.
(Affiliate link)

Good advice for people that sell themselves. The book explains how to build and grow a professional services practice, how to sell time, ideas and scale. This is something I can relate to for Atomicdust, but is also valuable in helping our professional service clients.

Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses

Content Inc: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses by Joe Pulizzi
.
(Affiliate link)

With content marketing so hot right now, this book explains how you should position content (and your business) around a niche topic, and then work like hell to build an audience around it. Pulizzi also shares advice on digital marketing channels, and the best ways to stay in from of people on a regular basis.

The Ultimate Sales Machine

The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes.
(Affiliate link)

 
I honestly didn’t expect to really like this book. The title just sounds arrogant. It advocates for “hard selling.” But I’m glad I stuck with it. Holmes shares proven methods for sales and (what’s most interesting to me) how he used education-based content to create unique positioning and benefits to his audiences. There’s also the great line that sales takes “pig-headed determination.”

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life - Before 8AM

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
(Affiliate link)

I’m kind of embarrassed to share this one, but it wouldn’t be honest to say I didn’t learn a lot from the book. Essentially, The Miracle Morning is about how to structure your morning routine to have the a better and more fulfilling day. It’s about time boxing each morning with activities that will center you and bring happiness. For example, wake up, 10 minutes of exercise, 5 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of reading, 5 minutes of vision boards (which are like moodboards for your life), and then 25 minutes of writing.

 I started doing this at 7 a.m. each morning, then a little earlier, and earlier and now I start at about 5:30 a.m. each morning. The book is pretty cheesy honestly, but it’s really impacted the way I do things.

Competitive Strategy: What Is Strategy

Competitive Strategy: What is Strategy by Michael Porter
.
(Affiliate link)

Design is a part of marketing, and marketing is about attracting more customers to your brand than your competitors. Micheal Porter is probably the subject matter expert on all things strategy. The narration in the audiobook is not the best, but the content will make you question not just your marketing approach, but the activities that make up your business. A year ago, we gave a Things We’ve Learned So Far: Competition and Positioning talk and a big section of it is based on Porter’s work and thinking.

 

So, there’s my list of great audiobooks for marketers and creative professionals and I’m constantly looking for more. Are you into audiobooks or podcasts? What are some of your favorites? I would love to hear any recommendations on what I should listen to next. Feel free to email me at [email protected], or leave a comment below.

New to Audiobooks? Check out Audible.

I use Audible on my iPhone to listen to audiobooks during my commute. It’s easy, and you can browse titles and buy books right from the app. I used to use Apple Books, but Apple will only allow one download of the book, while Audible stores them in the cloud to be accessed from any device.

Also, for me, a monthly Audible membership is way cheaper than if I purchased the audiobooks individually.

 

One more thing…

Lastly, I want to mention that the links to these titles are Amazon affiliate links. I get tiny commissions for purchases made through links in this post—but that’s not the reason I’m recommending these books. And really, I’ll most likely use the small amount of money to purchase and review more marketing audiobooks. 🙂

Here’s my official disclosure – As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Happy listening!

 

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Mike Spakowski

Mike Spakowski

Mike Spakowski is Principal / Creative Director of Atomicdust and is involved with the day-to-day design strategy, art direction and studio management.

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