With so many marketing courses, podcasts, and tutorial videos out there, it can get overwhelming for newbies entering the field.
At such times, it’s wise to go back to our roots & find solace in industry books.
There is no source of knowledge, no media text, purer than a good book. Granted, it may take longer to absorb than a video, but the act of flipping through pages has a more physical, preservable feel to it.
So here are my top 10 great books on marketing, each jam-packed with insights that will give you both theoretical & practical knowledge of our field.
These books are easy reads for all levels, so whether you’re a curious beginner looking to dip their toes, or a seasoned expert interested in brushing up their 101s, my picks are pretty suitable for everybody.
If you don’t have the budget to buy the official copies, you may find the free ebook versions on PDFDrive, Internet Archive, or Free eBooks.
1. Marketing 4.0
By Hermanwan Kartajaya, Iwan Setiawan, and Philip Kotler (2016)
This is an official resource that’s often prescribed in many international universities across the globe for both undergraduate & graduate programs.
It was written by Philip Kotler, who is regarded as the father of modern marketing.
Covering all the basics of marketing strategy & implementation in the digital age, this textbook will set the perfect base for more advanced strategies.
2. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook
By Gary Vaynerchuk (2013)
You already know his name if you’re on the internet.
Gary is a famous entrepreneur & social media guru. But before he catapulted into stardom, he put down his fundamental insights in this fun-to-read book.
It will teach you how to think about your content strategy in a way that benefits your audience, not just you. Because only when you provide value consistently can you achieve the mass following that Gary did.
One could say that his success is the ultimate testament to all the ideas claimed in this book.
3. Blue Ocean Strategy
By W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne (2004)
At this point, every industry is either too saturated or is going to reach saturation soon.
So launching a new brand in such a competitive market is a losing battle. Unless you position it smartly. That’s what Blue Ocean Strategy is all about.
Although this book was written nearly two decades ago, its ideas are timeless. It acts as guiding lights for new entrepreneurs trying to make their name.
It also has a sequel called “Blue Ocean Shift,” which is an equally fascinating read.
By Jonah Berger (2013)
Going viral may seem like a game of luck, but there’s a science behind why some things catch on, while others bite the dust.
Go behind the scenes of the most famous content pieces & advertising campaigns that caught the internet’s attention, and learn the techniques used by their creators.
Berger wrote this book in the early 2010s but it’s still going to stay relevant at least for the next couple of decades.
By Martin Lindstrom (2008)
This book decodes neuromarketing, which blends human psychology with marketing.
Lindstrom analyzes what makes people buy, uncovering the factors that influence buyers’ decisions in a world cluttered with ads, slogans, jingle, and celebrity endorsements.
There’s a bit of controversy regarding the scientific accuracy of Lindstrom’s work, but in my opinion, you can still extrapolate his insights without “buying” into his experiments.
6. Made to Stick
By Chip Heath and Dan Heath (2007)
Similar to “Contagious,” which we saw earlier in the list, this book analyses the science behind viral products or ideas that win the long-term space in the consumers’ minds.
The authors expand on the idea of “stickiness” popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in “The Tipping Point,” seeking to explain what makes a message or concept memorable/interesting.
By Robert Cialdini (1984)
Marketing is about influencing people, and there is no book that explores this idea better than “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”
This book examines the key ways people can be influenced by “Compliance Professionals.” The book’s author is Robert B. Cialdini, Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University.
By Roger Dooly (2011)
A more practical version of the earlier book, Brainfluence takes the basics of psychology & applies them to common marketing challenges.
It is filled with tiny case studies on how to build better strategies that win over your customers using subtle changes in your presentation.
A breezy read that’ll help you become more charming & sly in real life, not just at work.
By Al Ries and Jack Trout (1980)
Positioning is a concept you’ll come across in every marketing textbook.
This book explores it in detail, explaining how to establish a position for your products and company in the minds of prospects.
In many ways, it is similar to “Blue Ocean Marketing,” albeit a bit more theoretical & general in its approach.
10. Digital Marketing Strategy
By Simon Kingsnorth (2016)
Perhaps the most updated entry in this list, this book dives into the correct way to set up an integrated solutions strategy for your brand or client.
It touches upon how to use the latest platforms & tools to build a winning growth plan. A must-read for those who want to go into corporate marketing leadership (as CMOs) or explore creative project direction in top agencies.
- Turning Silicon Into Gold (2020)
- Building a StoryBrand (2017)
- Growth Hacker Marketing (2013)
- Crossing the Chasm, 3rd ed. (2014)
- What Customers Crave (2016)
- Originals (2016)
So that brings us to the end of the monster list of must-read books for marketing professionals. I hope it gives you a headstart in our ever-growing industry.
Have you read all of them?
Which one’s your favorite & why?
BTW, did I miss any good ones?
Let me know your thoughts & suggestions in the comments section below!