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Jul 19, 2024

The Best Marketing Books (For Students and Professionals Alike)

Brennan Berryhill

Why Read a Marketing Book?

While you certainly can learn more on the internet now than ever before – hopefully this article is no exception! – there’s still nothing quite like picking up a book. This is true for any subject, marketing included. The internet can provide snippets of information and paint broad brush strokes, but books are where you want to go to find the nitty gritty details from professionals. 

There are plenty of insightful marketing books out there that can grow your professional career and give you a look at the principles behind the discipline. They can introduce you to new perspectives and reinvigorate your approach to your job. 

This article will introduce you to some of the best marketing books on… well… the market!

Best Marketing Books

Cover of Contagious.
Image courtesy of Lazada.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

This excellent book by marketing expert Jonah Berger explores why certain ideas catch on and others don’t. His claim is that the driving force behind why products and ideas catch on is because they become “contagious” and spread rapidly by word of mouth across a large number of everyday people. 

Berger’s book examines how to market a product so that it becomes contagious and people can’t stop talking about it. What makes something go viral? What makes a story spread like wildfire? The answer to these questions can supercharge your marketing efforts.

Get your copy of Contagious

Cover of Influence.
Image courtesy of Thriftbooks.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Why do people say yes? This book by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini tries to answer that exact question, using psychology to explain what influences us to believe or like certain things. 

While this book has applications far beyond marketing, it is especially useful for marketing professionals, because it delves into the underlying reasons behind why certain marketing strategies work and others don’t. 

Get your copy of Influence.

Cover of Building a StoryBrand.
Image courtesy of Marketermilk.

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

At the heart of marketing is telling a compelling story to your customers. This book is one of the finest resources for discovering how to incorporate storytelling into creating your brand and identity. 

Author Donald Miller identifies 7 elements of storytelling that create a framework for an effective marketing plan, providing clear examples along the way. This book is a must read for marketers looking to send a consistent message to customers to increase their sales. 

Get your copy of StoryBrand.

Cover of Scientific Advertising.
Image courtesy of Marketermilk.

Scientific Advertising

While this book by Claude C. Hopkins was written all the way back in 1923, the principles it details are still relevant a century later. It describes how to approach marketing like a scientific process – by testing and measuring your results. It is the first book to cover topics like:

  • Split testing
  • Loyalty programs
  • Coupon-based tracking

Reading older books can help you absorb philosophies that are useful across any generation. Human psychology remains much the same, despite the advent of the internet age. 

Get your copy of Scientific Advertising

Cover of Epic Content Marketing.
Image courtesy of Audible.

Epic Content Marketing

One of the top content marketing books out there, Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi and Brian Piper has a revised edition that expands on the book originally published in 2013. The informative book tells readers how to use Search Engine Optimization, write content that performs well, and stand out in a creator-driven market. Some new changes in the revised edition include:

  • New content models, structures, and opportunities
  • Content entrepreneurship, content mergers and acquisitions
  • Subscriptions and audience building
  • Team structure, importance of community, creator networks
  • Content options, NFTs, and discord servers
  • Making data-driven decisions to optimize content performance

Get your copy of Epic Content Marketing

Cover of Hooked.
Image courtesy of Abuzeedo.

Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products

This bestseller by Nir Eyal details how to create irresistible products. The book introduces readers to the “Hooked Model,” a four step process that companies will use to build habits in customers. By creating products that customers want to come back to, companies save lots of money on repeated advertising and messaging. 

Creating products that people love and want to come back to is possible – and this book shows how it can be achieved by understanding the factors that control our behaviors. 

Get your copy of Hooked

Cover of Made to Stick.
Image courtesy of Marketermilk.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Die and Others Survive

This book by brothers Chip and Dan Heath is in much the same vein as Hooked. It details how to create ideas that stick in people’s minds. The authors explore why lies often have more appeal than the truth, why unimportant stories circulate ten times quicker than groundbreaking ideas, and why we remember what we do. 

Using those principles through a series of interesting and funny anecdotes, this book helps communicators (like marketers) hack the way people remember ideas to make an idea “stickier.” 

Get your copy of Made to Stick

Cover of This is Marketing.
Image courtesy of Marketermilk.

This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See

Seth Godin is a popular author who has also written others books on marketing, such as Permission Marketing and Purple Cow. The core of his message in This is Marketing is audience centric. The best marketers don’t solve their company’s problems using consumers. Rather, they work hard to solve consumers’ problems. Godin advocates for an empathetic, emotionally-based approach to marketing, rather than spammy, irritating advertisements that only serve to turn people off to your product. 

Some of the lessons in the book are:

  • How to build trust with a target audience
  • Deciding who your product is for and who it’s not for
  • The role of tension in deciding whether or not to buy
  •  How marketing relates to our self-story and idea of our social status
  • Why the best way to achieving your marketing goals is helping your consumers become who they want to be

Get your copy of This is Marketing

Cover of Breakthrough Advertising.
Image courtesy of Goodreads.

Breakthrough Advertising

This book is a classic, published in 1966 by famous copywriter Eugene M. Schwartz. Mainly, this work tells you how to do creative copywriting and direct marketing, but it also is an insight into human behavior – which is timeless. People call it the “Direct Response Bible” because so many masters of the marketing business use it for guidance and insight. 

Breakthrough Advertising will teach you how to write a great advertisement. But more importantly, it will show how to channel the mass desire of the market toward your product. This is definitely a thick book – rather than reading it cover to cover, it’s more useful as a constant reference and structure for your marketing plan. 

Get your copy of Breakthrough Advertising

Cover of Positioning.
Image courtesy of Barnes and Noble.

Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind

Al Ries and Jack Trout go through the problems marketers face in a world oversaturated with media and competing product messaging. This book advocates for a new approach – creating a “position” in a consumer’s mind that reflects a company’s strengths and weaknesses. The book also goes over how to:

  • Use leading ad agency techniques to capture the biggest market share and become a household name
  • Build your strategy around your competition's weaknesses
  • Reposition a strong competitor and create a weak spot
  • Use your present position to its best advantage
  • Choose the best name for your product
  • Determine when (and why) less is more
  • Analyze recent trends that affect your positioning

Get your copy of Positioning

Cover of Hacking Growth.
Image courtesy of Marketermilk.

Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success

“Growth hacking” is a hot word in the business world, and authors Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown walk you through exactly what that means and how you can use the concept to supercharge your business. Not only is this book a useful insight into how major companies got so far, so quickly, it also provides a tried and tested, data-driven formula for how to find, attain, retain, and engage customers. 

This book is useful for marketers wanting to replace their old approach for one that’s more consistent, replicable, and cost-effective. Considering this methodology has worked for big names like Uber, Facebook, Airbnb, and more, the book is definitely worth a read and is a valuable addition to a marketer’s book collection. 

Get your copy of Hacking Growth

Cover of the 1-Page Marketing Plan
Image courtesy of Wordery.

The 1-Page Marketing Plan

Nobody said a book had to be more than 1 page, right? Well, while this extremely helpful marketing book by author Allan Dib is certainly more than a single page, the actual marketing plan he is advertising is not. It’s literally a single page, cut into 9 squares, which provides a template for new and old marketers alike to create a reliable, effective marketing plan for their business. 

Marketing can get complicated quickly, so this simplicity might be what you need to cut through all the white noise and get the best plan for your company. Read this book to discover Allan Dib’s simple plan and all the ways it can be applied, and it just might help your marketing take off. 

Get your copy of The 1-Page Marketing Plan

Which of These Top Marketing Books Will You Read First?

These top of the line marketing books can be helpful for anyone, whether you’re a budding student looking to get off the ground, or a seasoned professional wanting to add skills and knowledge to your repertoire. 

All that’s left to do is find the book or books that have what you’re looking for, flip open the cover, and read!