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Guide to the Top 10 Best Books on Marketing

Guide to the Top 10 Best Books on Marketing

The truth is, in today’s world of computers, marketing has become the backbone of almost all businesses. Whether you are a young entrepreneur striving to establish your startup or an experienced player looking forward to expanding your business, mastering marketing principles is crucial.

Where do you even start? In our digital age, many content, blogs, podcasts, and online courses are attracting your attention as a professional marketer. This is when simple books come into play.

I know what you think: “Books? In 2024? Isn’t that a little bit… outmoded?” No way! Books offer more depth and structure than online articles or Facebook comments.

When an author has put their whole heart into writing such lengthy text, they must have researched their topic well, made good arguments and presented a complete picture with one theme running through the entire book. It is like having a marketing guru whispering as he walks you through this complicated field.

Criteria for Selecting the Best Marketing Books

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Curating this list of the best marketing books, how did I do it? Well, I’ll tell you something: it was not easy. With innumerable titles available, I had to be ruthless in my selection process. My criteria were as follows:

Relevance and Up-to-Dateness

In marketing’s fast-paced world, what could have been cutting-edge today might be tragically obsolete tomorrow. This is why I focused on books published relatively recently (say, within the past five years) or discussing timeless foundational principles that will never become irrelevant even after many more years.

Author Credibility and Expertise

Today, anybody with a computer and an internet connection can say they are a “marketing guru” today. However, expertise is harder to come by. Only books written by authors with genuine qualifications, proven track records, and deep knowledge of their topics were included.

Engaging and Actionable Content

Dull, dry or too academic for me! The books in this list are not just informative but also page-turners. These books will keep you engrossed from beginning to end, whether through captivating stories or practical tips you can apply.

Diversity of Perspectives

Marketing is broad-based; no book (or author) can cover everything about it. That was why I ensured that various viewpoints, from classic marketing theory to contemporary digital options, etc., marked different perspectives, making this list diverse.

The Top 10 Best Books on Marketing

Without wasting more time, these are my top 10 picks for the best books on marketing, complete with summaries to get you started.

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#1: “This Is Marketing” by Seth Godin

Starting strong is Seth Godin's “This Is Marketing”. For those who want to read only one book on marketing, make it this. Godin, the godfather of modern marketing, dismisses field-related myths and misconceptions in a refreshingly human-centric way. With his typical blend of wit and wisdom, he will make you throw away everything you think about advertising.

Bestseller No. 1
This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Godin, Seth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages – 11/13/2018 (Publication Date) – Portfolio (Publisher)

#2: “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger

Creating buzz and generating word-of-mouth has become increasingly important in the overcrowded market. Jonah Berger’s “Contagious” shows why some products, ideas, or behaviours go viral while others fade out. By using up-to-the-minute research and real-life situations, Berger reduces the secret sauce of virality into six principles that can be applied when driving your marketing efforts.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On
  • Berger, Jonah (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages – 05/03/2016 (Publication Date) – Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

#3: “Everybody Writes” by Ann Handley

Every marketer must know how to write. But let us face it: only some were born with an excellent penmanship ability. In “Everybody Writes,” Ann Handley gives a comprehensive guide on creating content that engages your audience in deep conversation. From blog posts to emails or social media updates, this book will have you writing like a professional in no time.

Everybody Writes: Your New and Improved Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content
  • Hardcover Book
  • Handley, Ann (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages – 10/25/2022 (Publication Date) – Wiley (Publisher)

#4: “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” by Nir Eyal

How do we build products or services that people keep returning for despite countless online distractions today? Nir Eyal’s “Hooked” provides an answer by breaking down habit formation psychology into a practical method for designing experiences that satisfy the brain’s desire for rewards and feedback loops. Best of all, this applies to apps, websites, and physical products.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
  • Hardcover Book
  • Eyal, Nir (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages – 11/04/2014 (Publication Date) – Portfolio (Publisher)

#5: “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini

Persuasion is the lifeblood behind any successful marketing campaign, and no one knows it better than Robert Cialdini. In “Influence”, Cialdini draws on decades of research to reveal universal principles that determine human behaviour and choice-making. From the power of reciprocity to scarcity, building rapport and establishing authority, this book takes you through ethical persuasion that will skyrocket your marketing game.

Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion
  • Hardcover Book
  • Cialdini PhD, Robert B (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 592 Pages – 05/04/2021 (Publication Date) – Harper Business (Publisher)

#6: “Growth Hacker Marketing” by Ryan Holiday

In the world of startups, leaten yields poor results. Buzz building is a topic addressed in “Growth Hacker Marketing” by Ryan Holiday from an unconventional perspective of acquiring customers on a shoestring budget. This book is recommended for any entrepreneur who wants to hack their way to growth with a focus on creativity, agility and data-driven experiments.

Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising
  • Holiday, Ryan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages – 09/30/2014 (Publication Date) – Portfolio (Publisher)

#7: “Crushing It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk

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There is no doubt that Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the most effective marketers, whether you love or hate him. In his book, “Crushing It!”, this assertive CEO/social media rebel without a cause tells us how to use platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to establish personal brands while engaging audiences and turning passion into prosperity.

Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too
  • Orders are despatched from our UK warehouse next working day.
  • Hardcover Book
  • Vaynerchuk, Gary (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages – 01/30/2018 (Publication Date) – Harper Business (Publisher)

#8: “Unleash Possible” by Samantha Stone

Marketers are expected to understand what happens inside the digital space today due to merging lines between marketing and technology. The future of marketing is being shaped by artificial intelligence & machine learning as well as data science, among others; hence, Samantha Stone provides an easy-to-read introduction to this world through her book “Unleash Possible”.

Unleash Possible: A Marketing Playbook that Drives B2B Sales
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Samantha Stone (Author) – Paul Schmidt (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 05/23/2019 (Publication Date) – Samantha Stone (Publisher)

#9: “Buyology” by Martin Lindstrom

Did you know that most consumer decisions are not reasoned but rather emotional? In his book Buyology, Martin Lindstrom delves deep into our minds, revealing what influences us when deciding which items or services to buy. With such knowledge, you can create campaigns that reach the primal urges within people’s minds.

Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy
  • Lindstrom, Martin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages – 02/02/2010 (Publication Date) – Crown Currency (Publisher)

#10: “Building a StoryBrand” by Donald Miller

Simply put, it must weigh your target audience to be moved from distractions into your story. Building a Story Brand is a framework that can be used by everyone from experienced marketers to novices to create a narrative that will capture, motivate and inspire individuals to act. This book will forever change how you conceive branding and storytelling, regardless of whether you are a newbie or a veteran in marketing.

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
  • Hardcover Book
  • Miller, Donald (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages – 10/10/2017 (Publication Date) – HarperCollins Leadership (Publisher)

Honorable Mentions

Whew, that's quite a list! But wait, there's more – here are a few honourable mentions that just narrowly missed the cut:

  • “Positioning” by Al Ries and Jack Trout
  • “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin
  • “Ogilvy on Advertising” by David Ogilvy
  • “Dotcom Secrets” by Russell Brunson

How to Get the Most Out of These Books

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So, now that you have some or all of these in your hands, what do you do with them? Here are some suggestions for optimising your journey through marketing books.

Note Down and Emphasise the Key Points

Passive reading is fine, but you must interact with the material to understand these insights. As you go through each book, keep a pen or highlighter ready and make notes, underline and put marginalia on the pages. This will help re-emphasise the ideas and provide a handy point for revisiting them later.

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Apply the Lessons Learned

Knowledge without any action is like using a chocolate teapot. As you imbibe this marketing wisdom, intentionally use it in your projects and campaigns. Put into practice the frameworks, strategies, and tactics learnt, and then tweak and iterate until you find out what works best for your unique situation.

Join/Start Book Clubs

Reading is often viewed as an isolated activity, but the experience becomes even more rewarding when shared with others. Think about joining (or starting) a marketing book club where one can discuss key takeaways from the books under discussion plus debate their merits while also bouncing ideas off fellow enthusiasts. You may gain invaluable new perspectives – maybe even some friends.

Seek Additional Resources

Marketing books are great foundations; however, the marketing world is ever-changing, so reading must be supplemented by other resources to stay ahead of this curve. Find podcasts, blogs, and online courses such as MOOCs or conferences dealing with topics, including those touched upon by authors researched and delve deeper into these areas.

The Never-Ending Journey

Dear marketing trainees, we have made significant progress today. However, understanding marketing is not a destination but an unending journey. The books mentioned here are only starting points on a course that will forever be winding and uncertain in the face of a changing environment.

The secret is to enter your marketing education with curiosity, humbleness and willingness to change. Stay yearning, remain taught, and constantly doubt the obviousness of what you know. Any such claims or settled facts only set oneself up for failure.

FAQs on the Best Books for Marketing

To wrap up, let us discuss some widespread questions on marketing books and resources:

Do I have to read entire books, or can I just watch video summaries?

Video summaries could be helpful but cannot replace a good book's in-depth understanding and nuances. This is similar to viewing one or two brushstrokes of a picture instead of examining an artwork as a whole.

How can I tell if a marketing book is worth buying before purchase?

Consider online reviews and recommendations from reliable sources, and try the book sample with no commitment.

Are there any good marketing books specifically for narrow niches?

Of course! While these lists may contain general marketing principles, there are specialised titles for specific industries such as tech, healthcare, e-commerce and more.

I'm on a tight budget. Are there affordable or accessible alternatives to buying books?

Definitely! Go to your local library or check out e-book rentals/lending programs. Also, be careful about which sources you trust when consuming free online content for marketing.

How often should I read new marketing books to stay current?

There aren’t any specific rules, but making it a goal to read 1-2 high-quality new marketing books every quarter would be great. Complement that with blogs, podcasts and other contemporary materials that might also help.

How do I apply marketing book concepts to my business?

Transferring general principles into particular contexts could be a complex process; however, this is precisely what creative problem-solving is meant for. Start experimenting, try various ways and ask others in your industry for suggestions. In due time and with enough practice, you can customise strategies in the best way possible.

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And that’s it, folks: a complete guide to marketing books with some tips and FAQs to help you on your reading journey. But remember, knowledge is power; how you use that power in this ever-changing marketing world is entirely up to you. Have great moments perusing through these books! Good luck as you launch those effective campaigns!

Last update on 2024-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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