Our favorite quote about learning, which can be applied as easily to the marketing game as any other, is “Amateurs call it genius, masters call it practice.”
This is a perfect summary of what it takes to master a craft: relentless learning and an insatiable desire to be better.
The most successful business leaders and marketing executives would tell you the same thing. Luckily, some of them have written books about their experiences that we can learn from!
In this article, we’ll recommend the best marketing books out there, dividing them into six categories.
Whatever stage you’re at in your career, these books will help you better understand customer behavior, inspire you with success stories, and give you lots of ideas for leveling up your marketing efforts.
Let’s get started!
The best marketing books for beginners
Even though marketing moves at breakneck speed, there are foundational marketing strategies that always stay the same. These three books are arguably required reading for marketing success at any level.
1. Marketing For Dummies by Jeanette McMurtry
This marketing book teaches you the basics of how to find, reach, and engage with new customers.
In this updated edition, you’ll not only learn about traditional advertising techniques, but also modern tactics like search engine optimization, guerilla marketing, and behavioral marketing. It’s an essential book for anyone wanting to dip their feet in the marketing waters!
2. Purple Cow by Seth Godin
Outside-the-box thinking and execution separate leading companies from all the rest, argues Seth Godin. The author emphasizes how uniqueness needs to be part of every facet of a brand’s identity.
He uses examples of radically successful businesses like Starbucks, Apple, and Krispy Kreme and explores how their decision to embrace innovation brought them out of the marketing mainstream.
Read the book to learn more about how to become a “Purple Cow.”
3. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Jack Trout and Al Ries
Positioning refers to the place a company and its product occupy in the minds of consumers, and it explains why some companies’ products are “no-brainers” to use.
It’s why new product launches can make eyes sparkle with anticipation. It’s the reason some companies can sell out within hours, sometimes even minutes.
This book explores the powerful techniques that brands use to weave their brand’s messaging into your subconscious.
The best books about marketing strategy
Next up, we have the best books for learning about both basic and advanced marketing strategies. Creating a high-level marketing strategy before you start putting out individual marketing messages is essential if you want your efforts to be successful.
1. Blue Ocean Strategy by Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne
Recognized as one of the most iconic strategy books ever written, (and one of our founder‘s all-time favorites, too) Blue Ocean Strategy delves into exactly how to create uncontested market space by abandoning conventional thinking.
Based on a study of 150 strategic moves (spanning more than 100 years across 30 industries), the authors argue that lasting success comes not from battling competitors but from creating “blue oceans”—untapped new market spaces ripe for growth.
2. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
Why are some stories more infectious than others? What makes online content go viral? Why do people talk about certain products more than others? These are all questions Wharton Professor Jonah Berger tackles in this New York Times Bestseller.
Contagious: Why Things Catch On reveals the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission. More specifically, Berger reveals the six basic principles that drive great marketing campaigns to become contagious.
3. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
In the “fake news era,” people with important ideas can find it difficult to get their message across. Meanwhile, bogus ideas, conspiracy theories, and urban legends seem to spread effortlessly.
In this book, the Heath brothers reveal the anatomy of “sticky” ideas, such as applying the human scale principle, using the Velcro Theory of Memory, and creating curiosity gaps. Read this, and your potential customers won’t be able to get your taglines and jingles out of their heads!
The best books about digital marketing
Marketing on the internet changes at an even faster rate than traditional marketing. That’s why it can prove challenging to find reliable information about digital marketing.
Here are some books on internet marketing that deliver timely, practical advice.
1. Digital Marketing for Dummies by Ryan Deiss
Written by the CEO of one of the most reputable brands in Digital Marketing, this book takes the guesswork out of marketing on the internet.
Whether you’re looking to craft a highly personalized email campaign or create a growth-hacking lead magnet to supercharge your email list, Digital Marketing for Dummies has you covered.
2. Hooked by Nir Eyal
“Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” is a book packed with comprehensive insights on achieving product-led growth.
By creating triggers, motivating customers to take action, and rewarding them accordingly, you can create habit-forming products that your customers won’t be able to resist.
One of the best things about this book is that it teaches you how to apply these insights ethically, keeping the customer’s wellbeing top of mind.
3. Lean Analytics: Use Data To Build a Better Startup Faster by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz
Simplicity is hard to come by in digital marketing. It always seems like there are a hundred techniques to try and even more metrics to keep track of.
This book teaches you how one metric is all you really need to optimize your marketing funnel and find more customers. This claim is backed by compelling case studies from revolutionary tech companies like Airbnb, PayPal, and LinkedIn.
Simplify your growth strategy and focus on the metric that matters with Lean Analytics!
The best books about online marketing
Coming up with a marketing message that works on the internet is tough, even for the most seasoned marketing professionals.
These books will help you and your marketing team learn the ins and outs of breakthrough advertising, web usability, and making your messages stick.
1. Buy-ology by Martin Lindstrom
What actually compels us to buy? Can cool brands “trigger” certain primal instincts in us? Are our other senses aroused when we see a product?
Buy-ology dives deep into the consumer’s mind to explore the reasons we buy. This book collects results from a 3-year, $7 million neuromarketing experiment the author ran as Founder and CEO of a global branding and transformation firm.
2. The Middle Finger Project: Trash Your Imposter Syndrome and Live the Unf*ckwithable Life You Deserve by Ash Ambirge
Ashley Ambirge was down to her last $26 when she made a promise to build the life she deserved.
She took her “never-say-die” attitude, built a multimillion-dollar business, and became one of the internet’s most beloved copywriters. She distills the lessons she learned along the way in her signature colorful writing style in what’s best called an “anti self-help” book.
3. Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi
Content is king, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.
Content marketing has changed a lot over the years, but it’s still a fundamental part of business success.
Epic Content Marketing guides you through the process of developing stories that inform, entertain, and compel customers to act… without actually telling them to. Although written in 2013 (eons ago in the digital age), this framework still applies today!
Social media is arguably the fastest-moving area of marketing. Could any of us have imagined that influencer marketing on TikTok would become so big so quickly?
To succeed in social media marketing, you need to constantly update and refine your approach.
These books are about creating ridiculously good content for your target audience on social media.
1. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary Vaynerchuk has built a winning personal brand. He’s well known for his passionate, snackable video rants that go viral with consummate ease. He drops F-bombs, cracks jokes, and has a gift for easily motivating others through the screen.
This book focuses on the strategies he uses for his own campaigns and teaches you how to create relevant, tailor-made content for all social media platforms.
2. Everybody Writes by Ann Hadley
Everybody Writes emphasizes the importance of writing in social media marketing. The book offers a clear step-by-step guide on how to write content for social media.
Social media is where you connect with your audience on a personal level, so you need to craft winning content that your loyal customers will keep coming back to.
3. 11 Second to Success by CyreneQ
11 Seconds to Success discusses the rise of CyreneQ, a Snapchat influencer who reportedly made over $500,000 on the platform.
Content creators on social media are great storytellers, and this book will help you tell compelling stories like the best of them. Whether you’re a new business or an iconic brand, you can benefit from connecting with your target market where they spend their time.
The best marketing books of all-time
These classic marketing books have withstood the test of time and retained their value years and even decades after they were first published. Generations of business professionals have learned effective marketing tactics from these books.
1. Influence by Robert Cialdini
Influence, Robert Cialdini’s classic book on persuasion, examines the psychology of why people say “yes” and how to apply this understanding to the world of business.
His 35 years of strenuous, evidence-based research along with a 3-year program of study on what moves consumer attention and motivates them to change their behavior resulted in this highly acclaimed book.
2. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
This classic isn’t really a traditional marketing book. Instead, it’s an exploration of the “tipping points” that take an idea or approach from insignificant to huge. Just like a single spark can cause a massive fire, a small idea can change an entire industry.
Malcolm Gladwell is a famous academic who’s been published everywhere from the Harvard Business Review to the New York Times. The quality of his research about the mechanisms behind seemingly abrupt shifts and his approachable writing style make this a fun and engaging read.
3. Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky
We all have ideas, but how many of them do we actually pursue? Why is having an idea so easy but implementing it so hard? This book is all about getting a grip on the tough process of turning an idea into reality.
The Author, Scott Belsky, is an expert in bringing ideas to life. He served as CEO of Behance (Acquired by Adobe in 2012), Venture Partner at Benchmark, and an early investor in Uber, Periscope, and many more companies.
You should always be learning and improving your skills as a marketing professional. Reading about the variety of experiences and cutting-edge strategies presented in these books is the perfect way to go about it.
We hope you’ve added a few titles to your reading list after browsing through this list of best marketing books!
Share your thoughts about this list below. Read any before? Have a favorite or another suggestion to share? Drop a comment below!