Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission that helps to keep Digital Examiner running. We only promote products that we believe will further your efforts in digital marketing.
Ready to jumpstart your marketing plan? Not sure how to engage your target audience? Interested in expanding your brand awareness? Have no idea how to start? Well, the best marketing books offer time-tested insights into cultivating customers.
For example, the classics provide insights into how the mind works and fundamental information about developing a marketing plan. Or, learn ways to leverage digital marketing to find and engage potential customers online. And, add some useful knowledge about integrating marketing into your overall strategy. The best marketing books help companies and marketers of all ages and sizes!
Classic Marketing Books
The classics never go out of style. And, the best marketing books are no different. As times change, the psyche remains the same. Although we leverage new technologies, such as digital marketing, our brains work the same.
Yes, regardless of the domain, we learn about messaging that transforms your marketing efforts from awareness to generate more sales!
1. Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore
“Crossing the Chasm” describes the technology adoption life cycle. The book, billed as the bible for product marketers, depicts early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards and explains the gap between each group. Moore helps marketers understand what drives each community and helps any company in any industry expand and accelerate adoption.
“Crossing the Chasm” is a must-read for any product marketer or product developer. The book explains the features and benefits that drive adoption at each stage of any product. Today, we rely on data to make decisions and “Crossing the Chasm” provides the fundamental research of market segmentation.
2. Influence by Dr. Robert Cialdini
“Influence” explains the psychology of why people say yes. Plus, Dr. Cialdini provides actionable ways to apply these understandings. Essentially, there are six universal principles applicable to marketers. Learn how to identify and leverage each principle so you can enhance your persuasion (and defend yourself or company against others campaigns) and drive your sales to the next level.
“Influence” is a must-read for anyone working in sales and marketing. People remain driven by the same fundamental interests and desires. Learn how to tap into those desires, which are well-tested and continue to flourish in the physical and digital world.
3. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
“How to Win Friends & Influence People” is another classic sales and marketing book that offers time-tested tips and advice to grow your company. Carnegie offers a personal strategy to move up the ladder and grab the job you want. From making others like you to theories of persuasion, the book is essential for anyone looking to improve their people skills.
“How to Win Friends & Influence People” is essential for anyone in sales. Additionally, this classic book, which Warren Buffett greatly shares as a worthwhile read, works wonders for gaining client confidence and shining in presentations.
4. Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout
“Positioning” offered a ground-breaking approach to marketing. Initially, the book described a truly revolutionary approach to “positioning” your product or company that changed the way marketing works. The approach takes a comprehensive approach, which includes your strengths, weaknesses and competition and formulates a plan that makes your brand stand out to potential customers.
“Positioning” continues to be a must read for anyone serious about developing a brand, selling a product or running a company. The strategies help marketers and executives attack the right market segment, defend their competitive spot and create a unique marketing statement that customers remember.
5. The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited by Emanuel Rosen
“The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited” takes a deep-dive into the world of word-of-mouth marketing. The book, which relies on hundreds of interviews, explains the background behind word-of-mouth marketing and why the method continues to excel in the noisy world of marketing messages. Plus, the book offers new advice and tips that help companies stand out in the digital environment.
“The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited” provides cutting-edge insights and offers unique strategies for all marketers. In particular, the book shares useful techniques to grab attention for your product, message or company in the cluttered marketing world.
6. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay
“Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” offers another great look into the mind of the consumer. It details how people and groups of people think. The book remains a must-read because MacKay explains the overlap between psychology and marketing. Don’t let the initial case studies of alchemy, duels and fortune-telling fool you – the insights into economic bubbles and more continue to yield successful strategies today.
“Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” remains an essential read for all marketers, advertisers and anyone in a product-related role. The book chronicles various market crazes and irrational fads over the years and is a classic in the field of market psychology.
7. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
“Ogilvy on Advertising” offers a brutally candid look at the cutthroat world of advertising. Written by ad legend David Ogilvy, the book not only details how to break into the ad industry, but delves into the secrets of advertising. “Ogilvy On Advertising” includes essential nuggets about choosing an agency, writing successful ad copy, conducting useful research and more.
“Ogilvy on Advertising” is a must-read for anyone interested or working in advertising, but also anyone working with advertisers. The books excels at sharing the old-school approach to intuition, which provides a great thought exercise about working with analytics, big data and constant optimizations. At the end, you’ll become a better marketer!
8. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
“The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” is a second must-read classic by Al Ries and Jack Trout. The two legendary marketing consultants explore the natural laws of the industry. From leadership to top of mind, the laws of the land enable marketers to find their niche and create a clear plan to launch and sustain successful product marketing.
“The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” remains an essential read for every product marketer and even those who work in product development. In particular, the laws touch upon developing success in domestic and international markets. As a result, marketers and companies with large ambitions should take note and familiarize themselves with these laws.
9. More Words that Sell by Richard Bayan
“More Words That Sell” contains 3,500 powerful and idea-generating words that help advertisers and marketers create the best copy to drives results. Categories include power words, sounds, technology – the words, phrases and slogans that deliver. The book, which follows the original “Words That Sell”, contains all new words (no overlap) that hit on current trends and more.
“More Words That Sell” provides a terrific resource for anyone writing copy. From ad folks to marketers and even those who give sales presentations, the book provides checklists and features that help every writer.
10. Integrated Marketing Communications by Donald Schultz
“Integrated Marketing Communications” examines a fundamental issue with marketing today. The book posits that the strategies of yesterday no longer work to differentiate brands in today’s mass media and advertising worlds. The solution? Customer-focused advertising that zeroes in on lifestyle, attitudes, and motivations and drills down into distinct buyer personas and behaviors. “Integrated Marketing Communications” provides more than theory and includes details on executing an integrated program, guidance on planning, coordinating, and controlling the entire communications process.
“Integrated Marketing Communications” is essential for any marketing, PR, sales or communications manager. From control of the communications program to allocating resources between departments, the book helps managers resolve interdepartmental battles and deliver a synchronized message across the multi-channel communications that exist today.
11. The AdWeek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman
“The AdWeek Copywriting Handbook” offers a practical guide to the heart and soul of the ad industry. In the handbook, Sugarman includes guidelines and advice on how writing enticing and motivating copy creates interest and ultimately drive sales.
“The AdWeek Copywriting Handbook” remains a must-have resource for anyone writing copy. Advertisers and marketers alike, from novices to experienced professionals, rely on this handbook as a resource for unlimited success.
Digital Marketing Books
Digital marketing takes traditional marketing principles to another level. Although the same fundamentals apply, digital marketing enhances your ability to reach your desired audience. However, with the increased ability to reach your exact targets comes additional competition. For example, positioning and branding are more important in digital marketing. There are more niches, but it is can be difficult to find yours. Let these great digital marketing books inform how you cultivate your audience in the digital space.
1. Permission Marketing by Seth Godin
“Permission Marketing” written by digital marketing guru Seth Godin, provides the instrumental theories behind shaping messages that consumers willingly accept. Godin introduces a new concept and proclaims marketers reach out to consumers that signal interest in their product or service. Yes, “Permission Marketing” pioneered many of the routine digital marketing efforts that enable companies to develop lasting relationships with their customers.
“Permission Marketing” is necessary reading for all marketers. In particular, old school marketers or anyone looking to understand the digital world must read “Permission Marketing.” Godin describes the transition from interruption to permission and the trust that builds as a result.
2. The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
“The Long Tail” explores a revolutionary theory, which is now well known in the digital marketing world. Anderson examines the future of e-commerce through niche marketing. Prior to this examination, marketers assumed campaigns should target a mass audience and relied on hit makers to grow sales. However, with the rise of long tail search terms, marketers can narrow and hone their positioning and branding to find sub-sects of any mass market.
“The Long Tail” helps any and all marketers, but in particular, content marketers and online advertisers. Finding unique niches and long tail search terms is a requirement for anyone in the content world or PPC field.
3. They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan
“They Ask You Answer” captures the essence of digital marketing strategy as a straightforward guide that works at any level. Sheridan, who created the formula and strategy while working in the pool industry, shares the real-world rationale and results that transformed his company. Regardless of industry, the book offers an effective content strategy that drives sales and growth.
“They Ask You Answer” is ideal for any marketing personnel because the book provides insights into digital marketing strategy. The strategy revolves around adding value for your potential customer. As Sheridan notes, stop selling and start answering!
4. Contagious by Jonah Berger
“Contagious” explains why some products, ideas and companies flourish, while others flounder. Berger examines products at the core and explains that peers drive popularity and virality. The books leverages many case studies and stories to understand why some products catch on with word-of-mouth marketing and gain social influence.
“Contagious” is a must-read for anyone working within product development. From marketers to developers, the book offers six principles that provide insight into actionable techniques that help spread the word. The action items work in a variety of fields, from messaging and communications to advertisements and content marketing.
5. Hooked by Nir Eyal
“Hooked” offers another theory and insight into why people engage with certain products. Eyal looks at engagement out of habit and examines the underlying technology that hooks consumers. The books provides a four-step model that works in many of the successful products that capture our attention through consecutive cycles.
Hooked is another must-read for people working with product. Based on research, consulting and practical experience, “Hooked” offers a how-to guide for product managers, designers, marketers and founders looking to understand consumer behavior.
6. Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday
“Growth Hacker Marketing” offers a new primer on public relations, marketing and advertising in the digital world. Many of the standard marketing initiatives that companies undertake today are derived from Holiday’s work shared in this book. Now, growth hacking is a recognized term within many digital marketing job requirements. The theories rely on testing, tracking and scaling anything and everything, which is ideal for the digital world.
“Growth Hacker Marketing” remains an essential read for anyone interested or working in digital marketing. Holiday takes readers through multiple examples from his work with huge brands, authors and musicians to show marketers how to generate awareness and buzz for anything online.
7. Content – The Atomic Particle of Marketing by Rebecca Lieb
“Content – The Atomic Particle of Marketing” drills the digital marketing world down to one fundamental thing. And yes, it’s content. However, the book is not fluff – it’s based on quantitative research and interviews that provided the conclusion about the importance of content within any marketing campaign.
“Content” should be read by content marketers, along with anyone involved in marketing strategy, communications and management. The book goes beyond “content marketing” and explores how content works within marketing and organizational development. In addition to working wonders for content marketers, the book provides insights into making organizational, staffing and decision making.
8. The Influencer Economy by Ryan Williams
“The Influencer Economy” teaches a three-step business launch framework that includes lessons and actions for anyone aiming to reinvent themselves. The book offers insights into how to launch a passion project, grow an online business, or grow a company to the next level. Based on launching a product or company and collaborating with others, which helps you thrive, Williams examines engaging and relying on others makes a world of difference.
“The Influencer Economy” is a great read for social media and content marketers, along with people interested in digital marketing strategy. Williams provides a broad definition of “influencer” that includes anyone who creates a movement based on passion and support of a community. The internet relies on influencers, so this book provides a wonderful resource to those looking to learn about influence.
9. The Social Organism by Oliver Luckett and Michael J. Casey
“The Social Organism” explores the world of social media and how it works. The book posits a theory that social media mimics the real world. Humans have shared and replicated information since the dawn of time. Now, as Luckett and Casey proclaim, the meme is the basic packet of information that transfers from person to person.
“The Social Organism” provides a clear guide to the social world and targets business leaders or marketing professionals aiming to learn about the power of social media. The book explores the decade-long history of the various platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat and others and how ideas spread so quickly.
10. Location is (Still) Everything by David R. Bell
“Location is (Still) Everything” offers an interesting and in-depth look at the world of e-commerce. Bell explores online commerce and retailing through years of research, investing and advising others within the retail world. The book provides a powerful framework that includes practical tools based on human behaviors to explain how the real and virtual worlds intersect. Plus, Bell shares some insights into how e-commerce shop owners can succeed in a increasingly competitive landscape.
“Location is (Still) Everything” offers a different perspective into digital marketing and is a worthwhile read for entrepreneurs, managers, students and investors. Digital marketing helps generate awareness and drive sales, and the sales either occur online or at a physical location. This books helps provide a unique understanding of how and why people use the internet to search, shop and sell.
11. Life After the 30-Second Spot by Joseph Jaffe
“Life After the 30-Second Spot” takes a well-known fact and offers a series of advertising strategies that work in the new world. Jaffe starts with the position that traditional media strategies (i.e., TV and radio commercials or print advertising) no longer create awareness and drive sales. Rather, marketers must rely on new techniques that create differentiated messages in order to stand out and generate more sales.
“Life After the 30-Second Spot” is a great read for novice marketers and advertisers. Many of the strategies are common for seasoned digital marketing veterans, however, the topics include viral marketing, on-demand viewing, long-form content and more. Jaffe explores and explains how these strategies replace traditional marketing and turned into the new marketing playbook.
Marketing Books for Startups, Entrepreneurs & Business Owners
Marketing for an existing product or company offers a few advantages. For starters, name recognition (assuming the product or company offers a positive experience). However, for new organizations, ideas and companies, marketing starts with a blank page. Fortunately, many people want to take that risk and start something new. That blank page doesn’t scare them or the numerous books written to help evaluate opportunities and grow something from scratch!
1. Non-Obvious by Rohit Bhargava
“Non-Obvious” offers answers to some unique and interesting questions. Bhargava provides an annual update examining rising trends in the marketplace and what prognosticators missed. The book offers a look at some proven methods exclusively taught to thousands of executives at leading brands, organizations and governments to develop unexpected solutions to critical problems. Plus, with the knowledge gained from non-obvious thinking, you can see what others miss, grow your business and make a bigger impact in the world.
2. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
“Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” combines some previous theories explored by Vaynerchuk and offers a series of case studies advising companies of all sizes on how to connect with potential customers and differentiate from their competition. Focused on social media activities, the book offers marketers with sound strategies based on providing lots of value-add work followed by a sales pitch. Give value first and ask for sales second.
3. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen
“The Innovator’s Dilemma” remains a classic and a must-read for anyone in business school. However, the theories explored in the book continue to hold true and offer anyone looking to launch a new product or company with a blueprint to take on the competition. The books relies on case studies (which may seem dated) and provides a set of rules for capitalizing on the phenomenon of disruptive innovation.
4. The Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer
“The Little Red Book of Selling” is an easy read that’s short and gets to the point about selling. For anyone starting a new company, sales are pivotal to success. Gitomer, relatively known as a sales guru, provides answers and a game plan to many questions about generating sales. From dead ends, stale leads, price objections to unreturned phone calls, this book offers simple strategies to get past the typical obstacles.
5. The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
“The Ultimate Sales Machine” shares simple strategies that enhance any organization and turn it into a focused operation. In fact, the key to changing organizational behavior is focus. Holmes outlines how simplifying and prioritizing your focus on one thing at a time helps companies hone in on the essential skills they need to grow. And, it just takes an hour a week to improve your organization.
6. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
“Thinking Fast and Slow” examines the human mind and explores the business world through the eyes of a psychologist. Kahneman breaks down the mind into System 1, which is fast, intuitive and emotional and System 2 thinking, which is slow, deliberate and logical. “Thinking Fast and Slow” shares how these systems include subconscious cognitive biases and impact our judgement and decision making.
7. Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller
“Building a StoryBrand” helps entrepreneurs and business leaders talk about their business. Yet, not just talk, but engage and connect so they create the ultimate competitive advantage and enable customers understand the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services. Miller achieves this mission through story. There are seven universal story points all humans respond to and you can leverage in order to transform how you talk about yourself and your company, while bringing value to your customers.
8. Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim
“Blue Ocean Strategy” challenges the conventional wisdom about the requirements for business success. The book offers a comprehensive look at the business world – over 150 strategic moves made over 100 years and 30 industries. Ultimately, the book concludes that competitive advantage comes from creating new, untapped markets and not battling incumbents. Plus, Kim presents a systematic approach that helps make the competition irrelevant, along with standard principles and tools that any organization can leverage to create and capture uncontested market space.
9. The Unexpected by Howard Brodsky
“The Unexpected” explores the relationship between customer service and customer loyalty. In a world filled with disappointing interactions with call centers, the book provides a new theory that delights consumers. The book notes four elements that enable great service: it is memorable, distinguishable, viral and remains profitable. In order to execute unexpected and exceptional service, it starts with the top and empowers employees to take initiative and deliver the service a customer expects.
10. Top of Mind by John Hall
“Top of Mind” provides readers with a new framework for generating and maintaining awareness with your core audience. The framework examines how content works to build an authentic brand, engage with constantly changing consumer behavior and generate trust through adding value to your consumers. As a result, you and your company will develop habits that focus on consumer engagement and create meaningful relationships along the way.
“Top of Mind” is a nice read for content marketer and social media marketers, along with any business leaders looking to humanize their company or improve brand awareness. Hall focuses on the consumer because business is more than just business – success derives from building relationships.
11. Give and Take by Adam Grant
“Give and Take” written by award-winning professor Adam Grant, provides a groundbreaking look at why human interactions offer the key to success. Grant examines the underlying and unseen forces that explain why some people excel and are propelled to the top while others languish. The book takes another look at the age-old thought that passion and hard work are the foundation of success.
“Give and Take” is a great read for anyone looking to advance their career or understand the consumer psyche because it provides a revolutionary approach to working and interacting with others.