Every month, it seems like there are new marketing tools introduced and new trends to stay on top of. But in the constant hunt for what's cool and trending, marketers sometimes forget to revisit relevant lessons from classic marketing books.
This is just one reason why we've compiled the following list of 34 top books on marketing, productivity, and project management in general. We’ve summarized each one of these hand-picked reads so you can choose the ones that fit your current goals. Without further ado, here are some reasons why marketing books are so important and which ones you need to know:
Why read marketing books?
Marketing books combine philosophical notions with practical advice for achieving success in today's complex world of advertising. Even if you’re a seasoned marketer, you can still benefit from the wisdom of other professionals to revamp your strategy, come up with fresh content ideas, and more. There are many books that can help you improve your skills in various marketing areas so be sure to check out the following categories that are relevant to you.
Best marketing books for beginners
Marketing: A Love Story, How to Matter to Your Customers by Bernadette Jiwa
This book is a guide on authentically connecting with your customers on an emotional level. Readers say this read helped them to overcome the often challenging marketing and sales tactics that can feel manipulative rather than empowering.
Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
Seth Godin's 2003 book (updated in 2009) has a very simple premise: in order to succeed in an arena that's filled with competitors, you have to stand out. Differentiating yourself from the crowd then becomes the aim of your marketing campaigns.
The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited by Emanuel Rosen
Emanuel Rosen, former vice president of marketing for IBM's consumer products group, offers a unique perspective on the various products and services that make up the buzz universe. As a follow-up to the first book, this is a must-read for anyone wanting to attract attention and influence influential users. He explains the ins and outs of building buzz and how to do it successfully without wasting time or capital.
Permission Marketing by Seth Godin
Author Seth Godin is one of the most influential online marketing experts around. He has revolutionized the way we think about advertising. Instead of interrupting our attention, he encourages people to voluntarily accept advertising. This method of marketing is known as Permission Marketing. Seth Godin also hosts a top marketing podcast called Akimbo.
The Psychology Influence of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
The Psychology Influence of Persuasion is one of the best marketing books because it explains how the psychology behind marketing works and how to apply these concepts to your next influential marketing campaign. Written by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., this book will teach you how to use six universal principles to become a skilled persuader. You’ll also learn how to prevent marketing from swaying you, which is crucial to understand when creating your own foolproof marketing plan.
Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Jack Trout and Al Ries
This book tackles the problems of communicating effectively to a skeptical public. It also shows how to create a compelling and unique position in the mind of the prospective customer. By reading this book, you will learn how to use the strategies and techniques of leading ad agencies to create a household name and capture the biggest market share even in competitive industries.
Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
In Made to Stick, you will learn how to make your messages stick using the principles of winning ideas. The authors go in-depth with their personal experiences to explain how to make ideas stickier and improve the chances of worthy ideas getting done.
Play Bigger: Create New Categories and Dominate Markets by Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, Kevin Maney and Al Ramadan
This book is for serious marketers who are ready to become a “category king”. The authors explain the process of category creation and denomination. They also give tips on how to overcome common entrepreneur dilemmas.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal's 2014 book is not so much on marketing as it is on product design. But it shares crucial lessons on creating "sticky" products that customers want to interact with all the time. The idea is to build and market a product that becomes a habit in the customer's routine.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Stephen Covey's 1989 book on productivity and effectiveness is a classic and bestseller in the best sense. It lays out seven personal habits that can lead to success in marketing — or in whatever field you're in. For example: put first things first, think win-win in any situation, begin with the end in mind, and more.
PRE-SUASION: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini
In 1984, Cialdini's influential book, Influence, became a bestseller. The sequel, Pre-Suasion, is a must-read for anyone who works to influence people. In this book, he goes deeper into the dynamics of persuasion, covering topics such as identity, place, and crowd.
Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
Harry Beckwith has counseled thousands of business professionals. In this book, he shares his wisdom with examples of how to succeed in today's fast-paced world. This book will teach you how to effectively market yourself and how to get rid of anxieties about putting yourself forward. It’s also about the concept of making invisible qualities visible.
Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom
How do we know that we’re making the right decision when we see an ad for something that’s already been discounted? Are we making the wrong decision when we hear a catchy slogan? In Buyology, Mark Lindstrom shows how the results of his study, which used a cutting-edge neuromarketing experiment, have shaken up the way we approach marketing.
Competing Against Luck by Clayton M. Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David S. Duncan
This book by David Duncan and Clay Christensen is a game-changer that helps marketers develop products and services that their customers want to buy. The main idea of this book is that, if a product or service is designed to solve a customer's specific needs, then it should be able to compete against the competition. Through the lens of the customer, you can define your business and compete effectively against both direct and indirect competitors. Identifying conversion opportunities that can grow your business can help you make informed decisions about ad spend, best channels, and more.
The Brand Flip by Marty Neumeier
In his book, Neumeier argues that the power of branding is no longer with traditional marketers, but has been handed to the consumer through social media. He also argues that there is room for empowerment and joy in the customer journey.
The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier
Getting the right tools and strategies in place can help bridge the gap between the various phases of branding. This is the reason why Marty Neumeier's “The Brand Gap” is so helpful.
The book explores the five disciplines of great branding. Neumeier argues that these disciplines can be learned by mastering the basics and finding holes that others aren’t looking for.
Zag by Marty Neumeier
In Marty Neumeier’s book, Zag, he talks about how to stand out in a crowded marketplace. The book delves into the various elements of a brand marketing model, which includes four main components: focus, trend, communication, and difference. There are also 17 checklists that will help guide the reader in developing their brand.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
In this book, Jack Trout and Al Ries share the 22 marketing laws that every individual should live by. Each law should be used by marketers to make their products and services more successful globally. The authors also provide a step-by-step process for marketers to avoid wasting their time and resources.
Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt
What does a good marketing strategy look like? How does it differ from a bad marketing strategy? Richard Rumelt’s book answers all this and more. “Good Strategy, Bad Strategy” teaches readers how to develop a good strategy, how to tell the difference between the two, and why it is necessary to have at least one strategy that is failsafe. If you like this book, you may also be interested in these tips on project management for beginners and accidental project managers.
This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn by Seth Godin
Another hit from Seth Godin, this book talks about how marketers create tension by making new choices. He also points out that marketers tend to repeat the same story over and over again and challenges the reader to approach things from a new angle.
Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz
Eugene M. Schwartz wrote Breakthrough Advertising in 1966 but there are still lessons in it that apply to modern marketing. This classic marketing book provides all-around advice on how to improve your marketing techniques. Eugene talks about how to position your product or service in the minds of your potential customers. He then goes on to explain how to narrow your marketing to attract the most interest from your audience. His advice is universally applicable, whether you’re advertising a product people already want or one they don’t yet know they need.
Unleash Possible: A Marketing Playbook that Drives Sales by Samantha Stone
Stone's 15-chapter playbook is full of step-by-step guides and templates that will make you want to read the book over and over. This book is also great for anyone who is new to product marketing. Part inspiration for creative teams, part action plan, this playbook is one of the best marketing books for a reason.
Best digital marketing books
Social Media ROI by Olivier Blanchard
Olivier Blanchard, a leading social media expert, explains the various aspects of social media and why it's important for businesses to start using it. He also breaks down the various steps necessary to justify the investment. You will learn how to implement and optimize strategies for social media in order to achieve your goals. This book covers the non-financial impacts of social media too.
Data-Driven Marketing with Artificial Intelligence: Harness the Power of Predictive Marketing and Machine by Magnus Unemyr and Martin Wass
This book aims to help companies understand how AI can help them conquer marketing. He uses real-world examples and also groups the products into various sections to help users identify the most effective ones for their goals.
Conversion Optimization: The Art and Science of Converting Prospects to Customers by Khalid Saleh and Ayat Shukairy
This book covers every aspect of online marketing, from creating a compelling website to landing visitors. In this course-like structure, you will learn how to convert visitors into buyers without driving them away through complex navigation and data overload. You will also learn how to improve the user experience and increase your site's conversion rate.
The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly by David Meerman Scott
This book explores the latest digital marketing best practices as of 2017. Regardless of when you're reading it, it's a good introduction to core concepts of social media marketing and PR that we still follow today. It starts with an argument on why organizations should invest in social media and provides philosophies that can be applied across most platforms.
No B.S. Guide To Direct Marketing by Dan S. Kennedy and Kim Walsh Phillips
In an era where customers are hanging out on social media, businesses are now obligated to start using it in their marketing efforts. There’s no excuse not to do so. In this book, Dan Kennedy and Kim Walsh-Phillips share their secrets on how to get more leads and sales through social media. It’s a must-read for anyone who wants to improve their social media marketing efforts.
Top content marketing books
Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi
Joe Pulizzi is the creator of the CMI, which is a leading educational resource for content marketing. He has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry and has plenty of knowledge about how to get started. Epic Content Marketing outlines a process that helps businesses tell compelling stories that engage their customers without them even knowing it. Pulizzi’s thesis in a nutshell: your content must be specific and provide a compelling reason why your product or service is right for their needs.
Content is the key to marketing, and at the heart of great content is great writing. This book will teach you how to create great content that engages audiences. This guide is essential for any marketer who wants to edit or write original content at any point in their career.
In this book, Mike Miller talks about the structure of good storytelling and how it can be applied to any business case. This is especially important for marketers. Story brands can serve as the basis for year-long campaigns, content, and strategy.
Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Digital Distraction by Derek Thompson
In this book, Thomson explores what makes things go viral and the various factors that make them happen. He goes through many content marketing examples from over the last two centuries and points out some reliable patterns that you can replicate in your own marketing.
Free eBooks available with Wrike
The key skills necessary for digital marketing are often overlooked by individuals and businesses. Whether it's generating leads, improving conversion rates, or boosting a brand's online visibility, digital marketing skills are required by modern professionals. Due to the rise of content in today's world, digital marketing has become more valuable, which is why we put together this guide to help you master it.
The right digital tool can help teams plan and manage their marketing projects more effectively. But too many tools can slow down or prevent teams from operating efficiently. With the rise of digital marketing and the increasing number of tools needed to achieve sales, work management platforms must be able to handle all of these changes. Work seamlessly across multiple projects and departments to execute complex campaigns with our buyer’s guide.
Discover the biggest challenges with data today and how they can be solved to improve your digital marketing strategy. As consumers become more digital-savvy, marketers are looking for ways to connect with them in real-time. This eBook from Wrike offers insight from experts and leaders in the space.
This guide breaks down four key disciplines that marketers should focus on to get started. It also features survey results that reveal how collaborative work management has helped teams improve their performance.
Instead of using outdated tactics, today's event marketers are adopting strategies that are more effective and less time-consuming. Read about ways top marketers are organizing their teams, keeping track of tasks, and managing partnerships.
Once you've revisited these 36 classics, you might want to look at a few other book roundups we've put together here and explore even more of our free eBooks in our resources section. Happy reading!