Any business owner can (or at least should) tell you that a solid marketing strategy is an absolutely crucial part of any successful business. But the problem is, it’s hard to know which strategies will work in any given circumstance.
That’s why marketing books are so useful. They can open your eyes to whole new worlds of theories, perspectives, and stories. They can help you build an arsenal of knowledge that’s diverse, comprehensive, and actionable. They can fill the gaps you don’t even know you have.
So which are the best marketing books to start with? Glad you asked.
17 best marketing books out there
1. Buyology — Martin Lindstrom
What motivates customers to buy? This is a pivotal question for successful marketing. As a business owner, you’ll never make a sale if you don’t know why anyone would buy your products or services. This book is based on Martin Lindstrom’s neuro-marketing study, diving into concepts like religion, superstition, rituals, and the senses, and how these elements influence people’s buying habits.
2. How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age — Dale Carnegie
Surely you’ve heard of this classic by now—it’s been around for more than 50 years. This newer version is a revamp for modern times, reflecting the impacts of technology on our lives and how we connect and communicate. It’s not an explicit marketing book, but it’s chock full of advice on how to build your network like you build your business.
3. The Marketing Book — Jason McDonald
The name says it all: it’s a book about marketing! In addition to covering the basic concepts of marketing, Jason McDonald helps you build a marketing plan for your business, including digital marketing strategies like SEO, advertising, social media marketing, and more. It’s branded as a fun, fast, and easy “hidden manual” of marketing strategies.
4. Epic Content Marketing — Joe Pulizzi
As a seasoned content marketing professional, Joe Pulizzi knows a thing or two about what makes good content. And he argues that your content is at the core of all of your online marketing efforts: it’s how you draw in and engage your prospects. This marketing book is all about saying the right thing to the right person at the right time.
5. Everybody Writes — Ann Handley
Ann Handley argues that anyone with a website is a publisher, and anyone on social media is in marketing. We’re all writers—it’s a currency, and it matters how you spend every cent. In her marketing book, she illuminates the processes of creating, producing, and publishing content in a way that crafts your brand and connects with your target market.
6. Get Scrappy — Nick Westergaard
It’s no secret: businesses with more capital and financial resources are at an advantage. But it doesn’t mean that smaller businesses can’t succeed. In this marketing book, Nick Westergaard argues that the marketing world is accessible to anyone, as long as you know the right moves to make. He helps you do more with less.
7. Permission Marketing — Seth Godin
Seth Godin is a well-known name in the marketing world, and for a reason. Dubbed “the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age” by Businessweek, Godin introduces a new concept: getting customers to willingly accept your marketing strategies and messages, instead of trying to shove them down their throats. It’s a different way to think about brand building, traditional advertising, and digital marketing.
8. Originals — Adam Grant
Many of the most successful brands are led by original thinkers. They’re people who go against the grain and refuse to continue outdated traditions. In this book, Adam Grant explores the idea of how original thinkers can have a big impact, as well as how you can embrace your originality to make a difference.
9. The 1-Page Marketing Plan — Allan Dib
A good marketing strategy is precise and targeted. That’s why Allan Dib distills it into a single page, divided into nine squares. This helps ensure that you’re doing only what matters, and you’re seeing all of your plans through until you get a result. This book is geared toward small to medium-sized businesses.
10. Made to Stick — Chip Heath and Dan Heath
What makes a winning idea? Chip and Dan Health explores this concept, telling the stories of subjects from Nobel Prize–winning scientists to elementary school teachers. They uncover the principles of sticky ideas and how you can apply those principles to your own marketing strategy.
11. Inbound Content — Justin Champion
Inbound content is the practice of drawing people in with your content instead of pushing your messages out. In this content marketing book, Justin Champion looks at the power of good storytelling, planning long-term content strategies and frameworks, and creating ridiculously good content.
12. This is Marketing — Seth Godin
We couldn’t include just one Seth Godin book now, could we? This multi-bestseller dives into the psychological concepts of marketing, like using tactics that are grounded in empathy and emotional labor instead of trying to steal your audience’s time and attention. It’s about building trust and getting permission.
13. Hooked — Nir Eyal
What’s the difference between a product that we become absolutely addicted to versus a product that we use once and never think of again? Nir Eyal dives into this concept, revealing a four-step process embedded into addictive products. He gives practical insights into how we can create sticky user habits and build products that people love.
14. Top of Mind — John Hall
As a business owner, your goal is to be the first choice for customers when they need your product. Addressing this challenge head on, John Hall offers invaluable insights in this acclaimed book. By skillfully combining branding techniques with the art of building business relationships, Hall equips readers with the tools they need to remain firmly implanted in the minds of their customers and professional networks.
15. Location Is (Still) Everything — David R. Bell
Think location isn’t important for someone doing business online? Think again. Because according to marketing expert David R. Bell, it plays a crucial role. In his book Location Is (Still) Everything, Bell reveals compelling research on how customers’ local stores and neighborhoods impact their decision-making process. This holds valuable insights for online retailers aiming to succeed.
16. Blue Ocean Strategy — W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
Don’t waste your marketing efforts on fierce competition in existing markets. Instead, create and seize untapped market spaces for true marketing success. That’s the core principle advocated by Blue Ocean Strategy. Take the example of Nintendo and its Wii console. While other video game companies targeted serious gamers with complex games and impressive graphics, Nintendo chose to focus on simplicity and introduced motion controls. This innovative approach attracted non-gamers and casual gamers, making Nintendo a family-friendly option.
17. Contagious — Jonah Berger
Ever wondered why some products spread like wildfire via word of mouth, while others fail to ignite any buzz? Jonah Berger explores this intriguing question in his book Contagious: Why Things Catch On. Backed by groundbreaking research, the book uncovers the underlying principles that drive viral spread. Unravel the secrets behind creating contagious products that captivate audiences and harness the power of word of mouth to propel your success in the ecommerce marketing landscape.
Read, learn, grow
Crowdsourcing knowledge is one of the best ways to become better. There are tons of amazing books out there—written by seasoned marketing professionals and business owners—full of tips and wisdom that may never have occurred to you on your own. All that’s left to do is read, learn, and grow