The 5 Marketing Books You Read In Hell

July 10, 2023 2:30 PM

Every profession has its own version of Dante's Inferno, and for marketing, it's forced readings of certain "must-read" self-help books. There's nothing more soul-crushing than trudging through chapter after chapter of cliched advice, thinking you're stepping into enlightened realms of marketing wisdom — only to find you've bought a one-way ticket to marketing hell.

Let's embark on this literary journey through the fiery pits, shall we?

1. "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie

Hailed as a classic guide to understanding the human psyche, Carnegie's book might as well be titled "How to Pretend to Like People and Manipulate Them". The advice offered is quite superficial, barely scratching the surface of what truly makes a successful marketer. If we followed Carnegie’s advice to the letter, we'd all be grinning and agreeing with every idea presented to us. Where's the room for healthy disagreement and diversity of thought, Dale?

2. "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" by Mark Manson


While it pushes a seemingly liberating philosophy of not caring, the world of marketing requires one to give many "f*cks". Manson’s philosophy could just as easily lead to a lackadaisical attitude, which is the antithesis of a successful marketing strategy. If you’re looking for an excuse to stop caring, this book is for you. For those of us who want to succeed? We'll keep giving our f*cks, thank you very much.

3. "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill

Another staple in the self-help genre, Hill preaches that thinking about wealth is the pathway to riches. It's an enticing theory, but unfortunately, marketing doesn't work that way. The last time we checked, no marketing campaign was successful just because someone thought really hard about it. Implementation, analysis, innovation – these are the elements of marketing success. Not simply wishful thinking.

4. "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini

This book is a marketer’s “spellbook” of persuasion, but it dangerously toes the line between influence and manipulation. The tactics might work in some scenarios, but ethical marketing involves sincere communication, not trickery. Besides, audiences today are smarter than ever. They see through the smoke and mirrors, making Cialdini's tricks as effective as a magician whose rabbit has bolted mid-act.

5. "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne

Ah, The Law of Attraction. The oversimplified premise of "attracting" success through positive thinking and visualization. If only our marketing campaigns were as easy as visualizing a viral hit and watching it manifest. Sadly, there's no shortcut to a great marketing strategy. It's all about data, research, and creative execution - something "The Secret" conveniently leaves out.

Dreams Don’t Pay the Bills

These books may be bestsellers, but they're less about true marketing success and more about selling a dream. Real marketing isn't about manipulation, uncaring attitudes, wishful thinking, trickery, or mystical laws of attraction. It's about understanding your audience, creating meaningful connections, and providing genuine value. At Helix House, we understand that; if only these authors did too.

In the meantime, if you're stuck in a reading rut, consider "Good to Great" by Jim Collins or "Blue Ocean Strategy" by W. Chan Kim for an enlightening read. Just remember, even in hell, you have the freedom to choose a better read. So, why not pick something worth your time, something that offers true insight into the realm of marketing, instead of platitudes and oversimplified ideologies?

Just because a book is popular doesn't mean it offers actionable or practical advice. Here at Helix House, we believe in strategic planning, data-driven decision-making, creativity, and a deep understanding of consumers – none of which you'll find in the aforementioned books.

To fellow marketers out there, keep your wits about you, continue learning, and always seek quality sources of knowledge. Our profession is far too important to be led astray by feel-good philosophies and outdated methodologies.

Remember: good marketing is both an art and a science, not a page out of a self-help book.

To wrap up our tour of literary hell, remember, you can't judge a book by its cover - but you can certainly judge it by its content. So the next time you're faced with the choice of what to read, remember this guide and spare yourself the trip to the fiery depths.

But hey, don't take my word for it. Dive into one of these books if you dare. Who knows? You might find some hidden, redeeming qualities, buried beneath the jargon and hyperbole.

Just remember to keep a fire extinguisher handy.