Marketing books aren’t hard to find and recommendations are never hard to come back.
If you’re in marketing, whether that’s as part of a global organisation’s marketing department, an SME, or you own your own business, I’m sure you’ll agree that staying on the cutting edge of ideas is vital.
There are a lot of great blogs, podcasts and other media to be consumed in the marketing world.
But books are a little different. They have an almost timeless appeal.
I found that there are plenty marketing books out there jam packed with great content.
When people put together “Best of Marketing Book” lists and things like that, they go with older, more traditional style books.
This list of the best books that every marketer should read, not only contains marketing classics, but also books from online marketers and a younger generation of writers.
Let’s dive into our list of the best marketing books available to read right now.
Content Machine: Use Content Marketing to Build a 7-figure Business With Zero Advertising – Dan Norris
When it comes to standing out from the crowd through great content creation, well… without blowing the proverbial trumpet – we’re somewhat of an expert.
Content Machine delves into author Dan Norris’s own success story about transforming his WordPress support business from zilch to over $1m AUD annual run rate in 2 years.
This is the absolute go-to guide for simplifying the quest for creating content with impact.
Within this gem of a book are easy-to-follow frameworks and downloads from Dan’s own playbook for building business and scaling content marketing. It also reveals the #1 biggest mistake that kills content marketing efforts (which we couldn’t possibly spoil for you…) and how the best content marketers in the world have built their audience, their content and their business.
From idea generation to writing guidelines and hiring as well as scaling a content team, this book is a must-have for any budding marketing entrepreneur, blogger, content marketer or marketing manager. It’s also one of those rare marketing books that never seems to stop being relevant.
If you want to see a tangible return from your content marketing efforts – this is the book to help you get there.
Building a Storybrand – Donald Miller
We’d be surprised if you hadn’t heard of Building a Storybrand, as it’s become the #1 best seller in Advertising books on Amazon – beating even Seth Godin’s highly-revered ‘This Is Marketing’.But if you haven’t, let us introduce you.
Donald Miller’s business doubled in revenue for 4 consecutive years. His secret? A 7-step storytelling framework to clarify your marketing message and connect with your customers.
He has since helped more than 3,000 businesses grow through that very framework.
The idea is simple:
Within 5 seconds of visiting your website, your audience should have a clear understanding of your offering.
These days, getting your offer crystal clear and communicating it as quickly as possible is crucial. You can’t expect your audience to hang around and spend time trying to figure out what makes you different or why they should choose you over your competitors.
In the race to prove that we’re better than others, we will lose out to an inferior product if our competitors tell their story more clearly and more compellingly.
Building a Storybrand helps your business to get your message straight and, in turn, create incredible websites, keynotes, emails that actually get opened and sales-letters people don’t throw in the bin.
Building a Storybrand is also available in an AudioBook version that will inspire you and won’t
put you to sleep (unless David Attenborough is planning on doing the narration anytime soon).
Our tip: If you’ve recently created your first brand strategy, compare it alongside The Storybrand and see how they collate together. If you’re struggling to put your first draft together, try using our free workbook from our Brand Strategy Development Guide to get you started.
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action – Simon Sinek
Since his September 2009 TED Talk titled ‘How great leaders inspire action’, Simon Sinek’s ‘golden circle’ has acquired somewhat of a cult following.Transcribed in 48 languages and generating a whopping 53,085,996 views and counting, Sinek uses examples like Apple, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Wright brothers to illustrate the importance of asking ‘why’ when it comes to crafting your business framework.
In branding, we call this your ‘purpose’:
Why your organisation exists and why anyone should care. Because – in the words of Simon Sinek himself – people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Start With Why helps your business to communicate from the inside-out. And avoid falling into the usual pitfalls of expository writing that fails to inspire anything in its readers other than a yawn…
“The goal is to do business with the people who believe what you believe.”
This is the book to help you find and clearly communicate those beliefs and values and turn your audience into loyal brand advocates.
Whether you’re a small start-up or a Fortune 100 company, Start With Why is required reading for any business struggling to resonate with their audience.
6 years on from this marketing bestseller, Sinek released the follow-up ‘Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team’.
This easy-to-follow, practical guide includes discovery exercises that start with the search for your personal why and expands into ‘talking to the tribe’ i.e. helping your colleagues find and articulate your organisation’s why.
Common concerns are also tackled, such as: What if my why sounds like my competitor’s? Can you have more than one why? And, if my work doesn’t match my why, what do I do?
The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand out From The Crowd – Allan Dib
We know all too well that creating a marketing plan is a tricky, time-consuming process, which is why it often gets neglected.But the days of never-ending Powerpoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets that struggle to make it to the top of the board of directors’ priority list are over.
Self-proclaimed ‘serial entrepreneur and rebellious marketer’ Allan Dib has created a quick and simple 1-page marketing plan, containing 9 squares to map out a reliable marketing plan for rapid business growth.
With one single groundbreaking template, Dib enables marketers to make more profit from existing customers, while attracting new ones.
Whether you’re just starting out or are an experienced entrepreneur, The 1-Page Marketing Plan is the easiest and fastest way to create a personalised marketing plan that will propel your business and differentiate you from competitors.
Killing Marketing: How Innovative Businesses Are Turning Marketing Cost Into Profit – Joe Pulizzi
If you’re struggling to see a return on your marketing efforts and are disillusioned by the old way of doing things, Joe Pulizzi’s latest marketing masterpiece is for you.Despite sitting and watching the shift in how consumers buy into and stay loyal to brands, the majority of marketing departments are still following the tried and – often – failed methods they’ve been following for the past 75 years.
Joe Pulizzi is here to tell you that killing your current marketing structure may be the only way to save it!
Killing Marketing helps businesses to re-evaluate their marketing approach to achieve dramatic increases in customer loyalty and business revenue.
There’s a new, exciting model out there that can generate remarkable marketing results – as long as you’re willing to take the leap out of your comfort zone.
This book brings together two of the world’s top marketing experts, who reveal the next level of breakthrough success: transforming your marketing strategy into a standalone profit centre.
Killing Marketing rewrites the regressing rules of marketing to help transform the purpose of marketing within your organisation, while showcasing how leading companies are able to sell the very content that propels their marketing strategy.
Discover how to drive value outside your day-to-day products through content-driven and audience-building campaigns that turn lagging companies into industry legends.
The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google – Scott Galloway
Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Everyone’s heard of the four most influential companies on the planet and almost everyone thinks they know how they reached their dizzying heights. But Scott Galloway’s book ‘The Four’ makes sure that you’ll never look at these four companies in the same way againGalloway asks:
- How did the Four infiltrate our lives so completely that they’re almost impossible to avoid (or boycott)?
- Why does the stock market forgive them for sins that would destroy other firms?
- And as they race to become the world’s first trillion-dollar company, can anyone challenge them?
Readers call ‘The Four’ “terrifying”, “hilarious”, “provocative” and “much more than just a business book”.
Galloway unearths everything from how Amazon became the most disruptive company in the largest economy to what it takes to get to a trillion with brutal honesty and unrivalled insight.
This book teaches marketers valuable lessons about how to apply the techniques of the big four’s world domination to your own business or career, as well as astute – and perhaps scary – observations into where we’re going (or being taken to) next.
Whether you want to compete with them, collaborate with them, or simply marvel at how vastly you’ve come to rely on them, you need to understand the Four.
The Brand Gap – Marty Neumeier
As a marketer, it can sometimes be tricky to navigate the realms of branding and how that feeds into your marketing strategy – or your wider business plan as a whole.The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier helps to disseminate the ‘invisible layer of meaning that surrounds the product’ (i.e. your brand) to better communicate the importance of brand strategy and why it’s worth investing in.
Branding is an often misunderstood and mistakenly unquantifiable outlay.
But this deceptively small book showcases how branding can be used to increase company value and ultimately determine whether your customers will perceive a difference that’s desirable.
Simple, succinct and highly enjoyable, branding guru Neumeier uses the visual language of the boardroom to offer everyone in the company “the most powerful business tool since the spreadsheet”.
Advertising powerhouse, Ogilvy, even provides this little but perfectly formed book as part of the training materials for new team members and as part of the course list for their marketing and brand students. So, you’ll be in good company once you’ve given it a read.
The Brand Gap will give you:
- The tools to produce a “charismatic brand”- one that customers feel is essential to their lives
- The 5 essential disciplines of brand-building
- How branding is changing the dynamics of competition
- The 3 most powerful questions to ask about any brand
- Why collaboration is the key to brand-building
- How design determines a customer’s experience
- How to test brand concepts quickly and cheaply
- The importance of managing brands from the inside
- A wealth of case studies that give a crash course in the difference between good and bad branding
- A 220-term brand glossary
With clients like Kodak, Sun, and Procter and Gamble, we recommend all of Marty Neumeier’s books, which include ‘Zag’ that drills deeper into the question of how brands can harness the power of differentiation and ‘The Brand Flip’, which helps businesses make the leap from a company-driven past to the consumer-driven future.
Pat Flynn – Will It Fly?
Pat Flynn labels himself as “the crash test dummy” of marketing. His website, Smart Passive Income, is full of exciting experiments that outline what does and doesn’t work when it comes to online marketing. Needless to say, I was excited for his book, and it didn’t disappoint.
Pat’s book encourages people to stop rushing into half-baked business and marketing ideas. Split into five parts leading to “all systems go”, Will It Fly will challenge you to think critically, act deliberately, and dare greatly when it comes to your business and marketing ideas.
Seth Godin – Permission Marketing
Seth Godin is an author, entrepreneur, marketer and public speaker. His blog attracts hundreds of thousands of readers on a daily basis. Without doubt, he’s a leading edge marketer.
Permission Marketing is based around the idea of offering consumers incentives in return for permission to market to them. TV ads, newspapers, magazine adverts and most traditional advertising methods are based around interrupting our viewing and taking our attention. Permission marketing enables companies to build long term relationships with customers, create trust and build brand awareness.
Eugene Schwartz – Breakthrough Advertising
Eugene Schwartz was an art collector and author who wrote 10 books over his career. His book, Breakthrough Advertising was wrote in 1966 and is no longer widely available, so be prepared to hunt high and low to find it. It’s worth it.
Breakthrough Advertising is not just a book for marketing professionals and business owners, it’s a book for everyone in the business world. Put simply, Breakthrough Advertising addresses universal business problems that people are still trying to solve today. How to write a great headline, how to cut through the noise and how to open up a whole new market.
Chris Ducker – Virtual Freedom
Chris Ducker is an entrepreneur and business owner with both physical bricks and mortar businesses and online business. He’s also a podcast host and the founder of the Youpreneur network, a membership site for business owners.
Entrepreneurs often suffer from “superhero syndrome.” Thinking they have to do everything within their business themselves. Inevitably, this leads to burnout. Virtual Freedom helps you explore the options when it comes to hiring digital staff and outsourcing work.
Joe Pulizzi – Content Inc
Joe Pulizzi is the first author that has 2 books featured on this list. He’s the founder of the Content Marketing Institute and is responsible for the World’s largest in-person content marketing event, Content Marketing World. And if you ever see him in person, he’ll be wearing orange.
Content Inc explores a 6 step process that many business and entrepreneurs use to dominate the market without selling anything in the first instance. Joe shows you how to position yourself as a leader within your chosen niche and develop content that delivers results.
Joe Pulizzi – Epic Content Marketing
Epic Content Marketing helps businesses and marketers develop strategies and use stories to leverage the widespread distribution of social networks, Google and the mainstream press. Just like Content Inc, there’s a step by step process to the delivery that gets you results.
Gary Vaynerchuk – Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook
And just like that, we’re up to 2 books by 2 authors. Gary Vaynerchuk has written a handful of the best marketing books, but we thought it only fair to give others a chance.
He also runs an awesome business YouTube channel that you should be paying attention too.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s life goal is to buy the Jets (the NFL team.) He started his career as a marketer at Wine Library, we’re he invented the now famous Wine Library TV.
In Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, Gary shares advice on how to connect with your customers while beating your competition. This book will provide you with a blueprint and marketing strategy that will lead you or your business to social media success.
Gary Vaynerchuk – Crush It!
Crush It is about finding your one true passion, and crushing it. The point in Gary’s book is that anything can be achieved if you truly want to. He encourages you to find out what you really want in life, and hunt it down. The lessons in Crush It could be applied to many marketing campaigns and business goals.
Jay Baer – Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype
Jay Baer is a keynote speaker that works with organisations around the world to help them get more customers and win more business. His book, Youtility is a New York Times best-seller. He also runs one of the most respected marketing blogs in the world over at Convince and Convert.
Youtility offers a new approach to winning business. Rather than being pushy and vying for everyone’s attention with interruptive advertising, Jay’s book asks you to think “How can we help?” Youtility encourages you to cut through advertising clutter and make lifelong customers. By genuinely helping people, you can create customers for life.
Michael Hyatt – Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
Michael Hyatt is one of the top business bloggers in the world. Over at his website michaelhyatt.com, Michael provides near daily articles to help both marketers and people that have their own business. He’s providing real value while helping people get the life they want.
Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller. The book is about building a platform that serves as a foundation for your business. He shows you what marketers, authors, public speakers, entrepreneurs and more are doing today to make themselves stand out in a crowded market space.
Ryan Levesque – Ask
Ryan Levesque is a marketing expert, coach and consultant and is the creator of RocketMemory and SurveyFunnel among others. Ryan has been featured in CNBC, Yahoo Finance, The Miami Herald, The San Francisco Chronicle and more.
Ask is based on the idea that you shouldn’t have to guess what your prospects and leads are thinking. In the book, Ryan provides a system known as The Ask Formula that helps you discover exactly what people want from you, and how to deliver it to them. Other authors on this list, such as Pat Flynn, have raved about Ryan’s book, and even reviewed it on his TV show, spiTV.
Gary Keller and Jay Papasan – The ONE Thing
Gary Keller and Jay Papasan are regular collaborators and as well as The ONE Thing, they’ve wrote a number of other books together such as The Millionaire Real Estate Investor.
The ONE Thing deviates from their pattern of releasing real estate themed books and has been very well received the world over. In this book you’ll learn to cut through clutter, build momentum towards your goals, dial down on stress and master what matters to you. “The ONE Thing is a New York Times bestseller which delivers extraordinary results in every area of your life.”
David Meerman Scott – The New Rules of Marketing and PR
David Meerman Scott is an online marketing strategist. David is an internationally acclaimed bestseller whose books and blogs are must reads for marketing professionals. If you’re looking to grow your business or strive in the role you work in, David’s material is for you.
The New Rules of Marketing and PR offers a step by step plan to help you harness the power of modern marketing methods. The New Rules of Marketing and PR is full of compelling case studies, real world examples of using content to success and inbound marketing strategies and tactics. The book was written for marketing professionals and entrepreneurs who want to grow their business or create success.
Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People
Dale Carnegie was a writer and lecturer renowned for his courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training and more. He wrote several books over his career, including one of the first best-selling self-help books, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
How to Win Friends and Influence people was published in 1936, and it’s content is still as relevant today as it was then. The book itself contains a list of expectations at the beginning, explaining to the reader what they’ll get out of reading it. Among them are, increasing your popularity, how to make connections quickly and easily, increase earning power, winning new clients and more. The book promises to your your relationships around and improve interaction with everyone in your life.
Ann Handley – Everybody Writes
Ann Handley is a veteran of creating and managing digital content and relationships. As well as being a Wall Street Jorunal bestseller, Ann is a monthly columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine.
Everybody Writes is the go to guide to developing leads, attracting customers and retaining relationships through the written word. Ann explains in her book that in this digital, content drive age, we’re all writers. By reading Everybody Writes, you’ll learn how to write better, improve your grammar, learn best practises and more. Everybody Writes is the ultimate field guide for businesses that know great content is key.
Ekaterina Walter – The Power of Visual Storytelling
Ekaterina Walter has led strategic and marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies Intel and Accenture. A Wall Street Journal bestseller, Ekaterina is a regular contributor to Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., The Huffington Post and more.
The Power of Visual Storytelling best summed up by the quotes of some other writers on this list:
“This book is not only a complete overview of [visual storytelling] but, most importantly, the key to doing it right, a total Right Hook!” Gary Vaynerchuk
“A valuable guide to understanding how to develop powerful marketing programs using the art of visual storytelling.” Guy Kawasaki
Russell Glass and Sean Callahan – The Big Data-Driven Business
Russell Glass is the head of products at LinkedIn and is the co-author of The Big Data Driven Business alongside Sean Callahan.
The Big Data Driven Business makes the case that big data is for real and as business owners and marketers, you should be using it. It uses case studies and examples from Apple to Blackberry to demonstrate the future of the big data revolution. In the book, you’ll learn what big data is, what corporations have done with big data and how you can use it to drive your business forward.
Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich
Napoleon Hill was an American author working in the new thought movement area of study. When he died in 1970, his most successful book was, and remains, Think and Grow Rich.
Think and Grow Rich is labelled as “the most important financial book ever written.” In the book, Hill researches and writes about more than forty millionaires to find out about their journey, and how they got to millionaire status. It’s an interesting look into the psyche of people and once you’ve read the book, you’ll understand more about human nature and willing than ever before.
Jonah Berger – Contagious
Jonah Berger is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. His primary field of study is around word of mouth, social and viral marketing. Making the title of his book, Contagious, highly relevant.
Contagious is a study into why some products and/or ideas are talked about more than others. Jonah tries to answer the question of virality. What makes a YouTube video spread like wildfire? Whether you’re in the marketing department at a Fortune 500 company, an SME or own your own business, Contagious will help you succeed, and understand how you can best put your advertising budget to use.
Guy Kawasaki – The Art of Social Media
We all know Guy Kawasaki. If you don’t, he was one of the marketing executives at Apple that were responsible for marketing their Macintosh computer in 1984. He’s also on the Board of Trustees at Wikimedia.
His book, The Art of Social Media, is a no-nonsense guide to becoming a social media superstar. It’s no secret that social networks can have a make or break effect on your business. The Art of Social media is filled with more than 100 practical tips and tricks to help you rock your chosen social network.
There are huge amounts of marketing books, and we might have missed out some great books.
What are the best business marketing books that you’ve read? If you have any recommendations that you’d like to see added to the list, let us know if the comments below.
The Best Marketing Books Everyone Should Read
If you’re interested in more reading, check out our posts on the best books for startup founders, and the best books for product managers.
Whether you’re hoping to learn about how branding fits in with your wider marketing strategy, how to get your message straight and start seeing a tangible return on your marketing efforts – or simply how to write a marketing brief, we can help.
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