Despite its name, free time is one of the most valuable things you own, so you should spend it wisely, especially when you have the responsibilities of a position like CMO.

So why would we be recommending books about marketing and being a CMO, when you could be devoting yourself to a hobby, spending time with family or friends, or just switching off with the latest offerings on Netflix (although if you’re anything like us, you’ll spend way too much time actually deciding what to watch)?

We wouldn’t be recommending these books unless we genuinely thought they’d be integral in improving your ability to do your job, and you probably don’t need to sit down and do a reading-binge (we think that’s the term to use when it comes to books). Hell, some of them might even be available as an audiobook to make it even easier for you to absorb at your own pace (we know a couple of people who like to work out to audiobooks), and we’ll point out the ones that are available in that format.

Take them at your own pace, but they’re worth it, we promise.

‘Top of Mind’ by John Hall

The content agency Influence & Co has a heap of awards, so if you’re going to trust anyone’s guidance on content strategy, it’s the agency’s co-founder and CEO, John Hall. Hall takes us through his award-winning methodology for content marketing in clear concise terms, all drawn from his own experience. You’ll learn the follies of content for content’s sake. Instead, according to Hall, it should be a method for building trust and relationships with your customers. If you’re looking for a strategy book to keep your brand, well, “top of mind” among your potential customers, start here.

‘Hug your Haters’ by Jay Baer

It’s a rare company indeed that’s never received a single customer complaint, and social media combined with user-reviews means that those complaints are pretty likely to be out in public for all the world to see. While a wise man might once have said “let them hate and watch the money pile up”, Baer makes it clear that doesn’t apply when it comes to brands. You ignore critics, or “haters” as he puts it, at your peril. Rather, they can be a valuable tool for brands and marketers in general. Addressing customer service issues can be a great way to get insights into your audience needs, build brand loyalty, and develop marketing strategies in turn.

And did we mention it’s funny? It’s a great read which you’ll both enjoy and gain knowledge from.

Available as an audiobook

‘The Content Formula: Calculate the ROI of Content Marketing & Never Waste Money Again’ by Michael Brenner & Liz Bedor

Ah, budgets and ROI. All marketers know them, not many love them, and it’s mainly CMOs who have to directly grapple with them. Content marketing can be one of the hardest forms of marketing to judge ROI as it can be tricky to chart direct conversions. This handy book takes the skills and experiences of an applied mathematician (Brenner) and an experienced content marketer (Bedor) to really break down how you can really calculate your ROI from content marketing, which means you won’t be wasting any money, which in turn means you’ll be able to get bigger budgets for more marketing. Simple.

Available as an audiobook

‘Chief Marketing Officers at Work’ by Josh Steimle

29 exclusive interviews with some of the biggest name marketers in the world, covering everything from marketing team philosophies to millennial marketing. Do we need to go on?

Well, if you insist.

The range of interview subjects covers everything from household consumer brands to nonprofits, so you’ll probably find something that aligns with your own role. You’ll discover just how varied the various paths to the top these marketers have taken and how that’s influenced their work. They engage heartily with discussion over one of the main discussion points of modern marketing: the conflict between creativity and data-driven strategies. All in all, it’s a fantastic resource for CMOs at any stage of their career.

Available as an audiobook

‘Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content’ by Ann Headly

The journalist, Nora Ephron, lives by the code “Everything is copy”, meaning that anything is fair game to write about. For modern marketers, the quote should probably be “everything is content”. And if everything is content, every single marketer of every level is a content writer, including you, oh high and lofty CMO. Headly makes it clear that everybody writes, and everybody can improve their writing in some, which she’s more than happy to help out.

Available as an audiobook

Have we missed anything? If there’s a gripping read that you’ve found helpful in your marketing career or role as a CMO, let us know!