Top Marketers Recommend Favorite Marketing Books
As a marketer and professor, I’m often asked, “What are the top marketing books I need to read?”
I’m also asked, ”What top marketing books should I recommend my boss or team read?”
These readers are like you. They’re marketers.
They want useful, easy-to-understand marketing information.
Their reading goals fall into one of these categories:
- Want to be a marketer
- Need to brush up their marketing skills
- Have to convince senior management
While I read a lot of marketing content including books and online information, I wondered what other influential marketers recommended.
So I asked.
In response, I received a wide variety of suggested marketing books. Some books were on many lists and some I’d never heard of.
I found marketers’ commentary on their choice of books insightful. So I’ve organized the input by marketer. I’ve also listed the books that each author has written.
If you’d prefer, here’s a simple list of marketing books.
Top marketing books: Marketers choose their favorites
Don’t take my word for it!
Here’re the favorite marketing books that top marketers recommend. (Note: They’re alphabetized by the marketers’ last names. Multiple marketers recommended some of the same books. They’re included since the reasons vary.)
Hana Abaza – Vice President Marketing, Uberflip. Also, speaker, blogger and self-proclaimed podcast junkie 🙂 Her podcast is Flip the Switch.
- Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy – While the technology might change, the rules of good marketing don’t. This book is a classic and one I think newbies and veterans can both benefit from.
- Permission Marketing, Seth Godin – So much of what we do as online marketers now is based on the principles in this book – if you haven’t read it, you should.
- Traction, Gabriel Weinberg – This book is very tactical and gives some highly actionable takeaways for marketers that are trying to connect with new customers.
Scott Abel – Founder, CEO, and chief strategist at The Content Wrangler, Inc. Author of The Language of Content Strategy and Intelligent Content: A Primer. Co-Founder of Intelligent Content Conference. His alter ego, The Audio Wrangler, is a popular DJ and dance music mashup artist.
- Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger – The why of product and service success. Explores what makes products popular and how to get word of mouth attention from social channels and beyond.
- Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, Ann Handley – A quick reference guide to creating content that works. Covers creation, production, and publishing. Lots of fresh tips and ideas.
- How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, Jordan Eilenberg – A book about numbers that helps marketers better understand the importance of using data wisely to predict outcomes and drive business success.
Mike Alton – Content Marketing Practitioner for The Social Media Hat and Chief Marketing Officer for SiteSell.
- Content Inc., Joe Pulizzi. He expertly outlines what some of the most successful companies have done with their content and the strategies they followed.
- Everybody Writes, Ann Handley – I not only enjoyed reading this book but also, highly recommend it to my blogging clients.
- The Content Code, Mark W. Schaefer – Mark helps us to really get into the best techniques and understand who our ‘Alpha Audience’ is.
Robbie Kellman Baxter – Head of Peninsula Strategies. Author of The Membership Economy: Find Your Superusers, Master the Forever Transaction & Build Recurring Revenue. (Check Baxter’s video summary of The Membership Economy.)
- Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath Great insight into why things stick in memory, why they spread, and why they become (or don’t become) popular.
- Diffusion of Innovations, Everett M. Rogers.
- Micromotives and Macrobehaviors – intriguing look into the relationship between our behavior and the world around us.
Toby Bloomberg – Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing. Read her free e-book: Social Media GPS: 40 Interviews with Marketing Professionals About Social Media Conduct On Twitter
- Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World, Gary Vaynerchuk – Gary’s voice is ‘down and dirty’ but his through out he puts digital marketing into an everyday perspective.
- New Rules of Sales & Service, David Meerman Scott – David brings a strong case together of why it’s critical to include social into the sales function. He peppers his book with lots of real life examples the best is his own travel experience to Antarctic.
- Moments of Truth, Jan Carlzon -The president of Scandinavian Airlines (aka SAS) gives us the first look at transparency and in the momement marketing. First published in 1989 it remains a go-to classic in my library.
Tim Bourquin – Co-founder, AfterOffers.com
- Email Marketing Demystified: Build a Massive Mailing List, Write Copy That Converts and Generate More Sales, Matt Paulson – Even though email marketing has been around for along time, the industry is constantly changing. If you want to cut through all the noise, read Matt’s book. It is a true crash course that will save you years of trial and error.
- How To Become a Marketing Superstar, Jeffrey J. Fox – This book makes sure you are asking yourself the right questions about your own company and products so that you can, in turn, “sell” those benefits to your customers. Marketing has one job and that is to sell products. This book tells you how to ensure your marketing is focused on that one objective.
- Content Rules, Ann Handley
- Epic Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi
- All Marketers Are Liars / Tell Stories, Seth Godin
Rich Brooks – Author of The Lead Machine
- Permission Marketing by Seth Godin. It completely changed the way I looked at marketing and how to reach and engage people.
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini. His “six weapons of influence” is an amazing framework to understand people and how you can get them to take action…for good or evil.
- The One Thing. This is the book the aligns everything we do at Drift. Focus on the one thing. The big rocks. If you chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either.
- Ego Is The Enemy. The one thing we all fight everyday — our egos. “Success is intoxicating, yet to sustain it requires sobriety. We can’t keep learning if we think we already know everything.”
- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Dan & Chip Heath – Malcolm Gladwell showed us that some ideas can go viral. Dan & Chip Heath show us, as marketers, what we can do to make that happen.
- Purple Cow, Seth Godin – A classic that hammers home the value of being unique.
- Duct Tape Marketing, John Jantsch – It’s easy to get all fancy with new digital tools. But marketers really need to understand the basics, and Jantsch delivers.
Heidi Cohen – Chief Content Officer of Actionable Marketing Guide. I selected these 3 books since they marked marketing pivots.
- Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind, Al Ries and Jack Trout – This slim book is still relevant in today’s information filled world. As a marketer, you must break through and get your audience’s attention. How do you join their inner circle?
- The New Rules of Marketing & PR, David Meerman Scott – Scott understood how the Internet would change marketing and PR forever. Even better, Scott’s views continue to evolve.
- Permission Marketing, Seth Godin – This book marked a turning point in marketing. You can no longer push information to your audience whether it’s online or offline. You need to give your potential audience a reason to pay attention.
- The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period! Stoney deGeyter. It’s a reference guide. It’s meant to be pulled off the shelf the next time you make an email template, product page or button. It contains a checklist for items to include for almost everything in your marketing. But you’ll find yourself flipping through and scoring your past actions against Stoney’s considerable knowledge. You’re sure to find a few things you missed. Check your work against Stoney’s checklist.
- Sharology, Bryan Kramer There’s a lot written about how to get your content shared. But Kramer goes a lot deeper. It covers the big picture of the sharing economy and why this mega trend is so important. Kramer also covers the practical side of the simple act of sharing yourself. This isn’t just another high-level look at a well-covered topic. It’s both comprehensive and actionable.
- Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely For a lot of us, this book started us on a journey into the hidden side of behavior and decision-making. If you thought Freakonomics was interesting, go deeper with Ariely. The topics and examples are closer to our daily actions as consumers, so you’ll find yourself thinking about this one long after you put it down.
Guillaume Decugis – Co-Founder & CEO, Scoop.it
- So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing, Julia McCoy – This is a very clear, educational and articulated methodology to write better content for marketing by an author who’s an entrepreneur and practices what she preaches.
- Curate This: The Hands-On, How-To Guide To Content Curation, Steve Rosenbaum – Curate This is strategic and inspiring while being practical at the same time. Rosenbaum explains clearly why more content curation is needed and how to do it a successfully.
- The End of Business As Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution, Brian Solis – Brian Solis challenges the status quo and makes the case for the key trends that will disrupt the way we do business.
Pawan Deshpande – CEO of Curata and author of The Definitive Guide to Content Curation ebook.
- Global Content Marketing, Pam Didner. Pam’s book provides a comprehensive walk through of content marketing. While other books do this, her perspective is unique because it delves into the peculiarities and subtleties of creating content for a global audience drawn upon decades of experience at Intel.
- Welcome to the Funnel: Proven Tactics to Turn Your Social and Content Marketing up to 11, Jason Miller – Jason’s book is my go-to book for tactical tips and tricks for social and content marketing all wrapped around a rock-n-roll theme that keep it entertaining.
- Digital CMO’s Guide to Marketing Measurement: Think Like a Submariner for Operational Success, Bryan Semple – Bryan draws direct analogies from his time as a nuclear submarine commander to running marketing as a CMO. I learned a lot about his data-driven and measured approach to anything related to marketing.
- Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy – Although written in 1983, his advice is still timeless. “When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”
- Presentationzen, Garr Reynolds. I am a minimalist. This book showed me how to create presentations with fewer words and visuals. “Simplicity is powerful and leads to greater clarity, yet it’s neither simple nor easy to achieve.” Create your slides with understated elegance. I love the word “understated”.
- Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath – Contextualize your messages and benefits in terms that are more human, and more every day. Make your messages simple, unexpected, concrete, credible and emotional.
- What Would Google Do?, Jeff Jarvis – This book changed my thinking entirely about how to build products out of a service business and use the web to drive revenue. I re-read it every year, during planning time. Though I use it for business growth reasons, it’s mainly a marketing book.
- Groundswell, Charlene Li – Even though it’s nearly 10 years old, this book really helps you think about digital media, the types of people who participate and engage, and how you can reach them. It’s timeless in that it’s more strategic than tactical so it helps you with planning.
- Six Pixels of Separation, Mitch Joel – This is another timeless book that combines digital media, entrepreneurship, and personal branding in one. I re-read it once a year to always make sure we’re covering everything we need to in our communications programs.
Nathan Ellering – CoSchedule. Author of How To Create A Social Media Strategy. The Know-It-All’s Complete Guide To Launching Social Media For Monumental Growth
- Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype, Jay Baer – For successful content marketing, Baer advocates create content so good, your audience will seek it to solve their problems. By default, you’ll build trust with potential customers. As a result, your product or service is also worth checking out.
- Managing Content Marketing: The Real-World Guide for Creating Passionate Subscribers to Your Brand, Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose – It’s easy to jump into marketing. It’s another thing to plan, manage, and organize processes behind the scenes that help you create and share great content consistently. Managing Content Marketing aims to help you execute more effectively than ever.
- Likeable Social Media, Dave Kerpen – Unlike advertising, social media isn’t an avenue for marketers to just share their own messages. Social media is about creating a conversation and community where you share, listen, and respond to your audience. Dave provides a fundamental framework for marketers to truly connect with their followers.
- Purple Cow, Seth Godin – Godin is the one that got me thinking about how to make content “worth remarking on”. This book is an awesome read.
- Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath – The Heath brothers share lots of ways that people were able to solve tricky problems with novel thinking. The examples provided really resonate with how you can think “outside the box”.
- How Google Works, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg – The value of this one is more about seeing inside the inner workings of one of the world’s most successful companies.
Brian Fanzo (aka iSocialFanz) – Co-Founder of Summit.Live and Co-Host of SMACtalk Live Podcast & Event Show.
- Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, Gary Vaynerchuk. Simplified the thought process for building a community, engaging on social and creating content to ultimately setup the sale.
- Youtility, Jay Baer Content Marketing was foreign to me and seemed disconnected from social media and other marketing objectives until I read this book that contained real world examples and made content marketing make sense.
- X, Brian Solis Experiences are everything and how brands create them and how consumers desire them is important. This book not only broke that down but also, was an entire experience in itself on how it was really an iPAD on paper.
Dan Gingiss – Author of Winning at Social Customer Care
- Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time by Howard Schultz
- Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer
- They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan
- The New Rules of Marketing & PR, David Meerman Scott. It’s the book that literally reframed the way I think about marketing. I wouldn’t have co-written Content Rules were it not for that book. (Or even thought of writing Everybody Writes.) Honestly: I probably wouldn’t be in marketing had I not read that book when I did!
- Linchpin, Seth Godin A seminal book for me that made me truly grok the notion that at some point, you have to take a leap and SHIP. As a world-class procrastinator, this was invaluable for me to internalize.
Jeffrey Hayzlett – Television host of C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett and Executive Perspectives. Chairman of C-Suite Network. Author of Think Big, Act Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless, Running the Gauntlet, and The Mirror Test.
- So, What’s The Bottom Line?, Yitzchok Saftlas – This book covers a wide array of topics related to business, from marketing initiatives to communication, customer retention to strategic planning, and everything in between.
- Big, Social Mobile, David Giannetto – Big Social Mobile shows how big data, social media, and mobile technology can be used differently. Integrated into each other and into the enterprise itself, these digital initiatives can deliver tangible value, drive the achievement of strategic objectives and even create competitive advantage.
- Marketing Masters, Connie Pheiff – Provides creative strategies combining the old school tricks of marketing with today’s digital tactics to connect with the NOW generation. You will immediately convert consumers to customers, relationships into partnerships, and ideas into realities.
Henneke Duistermaat (She’s known by her first name) – Founder of EnchantingMarketing.com and regular Copyblogger contributor. She’s on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook
- Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath- This is my all-time favorite business book; it’s an excellent guide for anyone who wants to communicate better.
- The New Rules of Marketing & PR, David Meerman Scott – This was the book that made me see marketing in a different light – the start of my journey in content marketing. This is a great primer for anyone who wants to learn how to market in a world where everyone gets tired of marketing.
- Brainfluence, Roger Dooley – Section 9 of this book taught me the magic of words, showing me why certain words are more powerful and persuasive than other words.
Erika Heald – Content Marketing Consultant
- Content Inc., Joe Pulizzi – Shows the impact great content can have on an organization’s bottom line
- Everybody Writes, Ann Handley Is a funny and approachable look at how to improve your writing even if you’re not a natural grammar fiend; and
- Spin Sucks, Gini Dietrich Shows the modern face of PR needs to look like (i.e. it’s a lot more than just media relations).
Albert Jan (AJ) Huisman – of Y Content (content marketing consultancy) and co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Content Marketing Fast Forward (platform to inspire and educate marketers). AJ lives in an old Bakery dated back to 1732 in a small historic village 40 miles north of Amsterdam.
- Permission Marketing, Seth Godin, Classic on the end of interruption marketing, Seth describes the basic definition of content marketing back in 1999!
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Al Ries and Jack Trout – Another (1994) classic but as the laws of nature, they still hold true. “Marketing is not a battle of products, it’s a battle of perceptions – The Law of Perception” – use that in your content marketing!
- It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be, Paul Arden – It’s a handbook on how to succeed in the world, so also in marketing! “What ever you think, think the opposite!” It’s a great read on taking bigger risks – how’s that for your content marketing?!
Greg Jarboe – President and co-founder of SEO-PR, an award-winning content marketing agency. Author of YouTube and Video Marketing as well as a contributor to 4 other books. Jarboe is the Video and Content Marketing faculty chair at Simplilearn and an instructor in Rutgers Business School’s Executive Education program
- Diffusion of Innovations, Everett M. Rogers. It’s a classic work on the spread of new ideas via social networks using communication channels over time. It’s both a marketing and a sociology textbook. It provides the foundation for content marketing, social media marketing, and influencer marketing.
- Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy. Another classic work on all aspects of advertising from the man Time magazine called “the most sought after wizard in the business”.
- Web Analytics 2.0, Avinash Kaushik. It presents a new framework that will permanently change how you think about analytics. It provides specific recommendations for creating an actionable strategy, applying analytical techniques correctly, solving challenges such as measuring social media and multichannel campaigns, achieving optimal success by leveraging experimentation, and employing tactics for truly listening to your customers.
David Jenyns – Author of Authority Content
- Elon Musk’s biography by Ashley Vance,
- Steve Job’s biography by Walter Isaacson,
- Richard Branson’s biography (Losing my Virginity).
- It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For: Why Every Extraordinary Business is Driven by Purpose, Roy Spence. I picked Roy’s book because I’ve re-read it more times. Most marketers struggle with the ability to see the big picture of the difference that their work makes in the lives of customers. If they don’t know it, they’ll never be able to get the rest of their organization on board and their work will lack focus. This is a great book that gets into the nitty-gritty about how to get the brand purpose right, how to get executive buy-in (it hits at financial performance) and how instill it across the organization.
- To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink We all sell in everything we do. Realizing that and looking at how we communicate from that frame of mind makes a big difference in how we interact with other people. With all that’s changing in marketing these days, marketers need to realize how much selling ideas is now a part of their responsibility.
- Content Inc., Joe Pulizzi Content, Inc. is important because every business regardless of size needs to learn things that add to their business success. Looking at content as a core function of the business is a big part of today’s business success.
- Start With Why, Simon Sinek
Christian Karasiewicz – Social Chefs, a social media training and education business. We create an immense amount of videos, blog posts and downloadable content.
- The Disney Way: Harnessing the Management Secrets of Disney in Your Company, Bill Capodagli
- Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, Ann Handley
- SEO for WordPress, Yoast – Yoast is mainly known as a WordPress plug-in [Editor: We use it!] This is the book that goes with it.
- Content Inc., Joe Pulizzi – An inspirational and instructional guide to building an audience with content. This is a must-read for entrepreneurs and content marketers, especially those without a media background.
- X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, Brian Solis. There are many great insights, but my favorite is that only inferior and exceptional customer experiences matter because average never gets talked about. Another: Empathy is a fountain of innovation.
- Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, Robert Rose and Carla Johnson. A well-researched and written book about why the entire marketing industry is moving to an experience-based economy. It makes the case for customer experiences as the final frontier of sustainable market differentiation.
Hannah Kovacs – Community Manager at PostBeyond. Created 11 Steps to Enterprise Social Media Advocacy
- X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, Brian Solis – Now more than ever, businesses have an opportunity to cultivate experiences and connections with customers in more holistic ways. Solis urges the reader to think critically about where we ‘meet’ our audience – and not thinking just about where they are now, but where they WILL be.
- Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind, Al Ries and Jack Trout – Although written in the early eighties, this book is packed full of timeless marketing wisdom. This book illustrates the power of constructing a strategy that plays off the competition’s weaknesses and positions your brand as a strong contender in the marketplace.
- Everybody Writes, Ann Handley – I loved this book. Handley offers actionable advice for writing in the digital age. It’s not enough to just have “decent” writing skills. I came from an academic background and my writing has completely evolved (in a good way) since my entry into the digital space – and much of my progress I owe to Handley’s thoughtful instruction!
Ian Lurie – CEO & Founder, Portent, Inc. Creator of several training Lynda courses. Author of One Trick Ponies Get Shot: How To Succeed In The Business Of Consulting.
- Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy – His lessons still hold true today. That’s damned impressive! Every marketer should read this book.
- Content Inc., Joe Pulizzi -I go back to it now and then. Joe Pulizzi articulates content marketing really well.
- We Are All Weird, Seth Godin – This book has influenced a lot of my marketing thinking. Plus, you gotta love the cover.
Mark Masters – Author of The Content Revolution.
- Think & Grow Rich. I know it’s probably been said many times here before, but the areas covered in 1938 are still true today. For instance, there was a small group of us at Content Marketing World 2016, that decided to create a Mastermind group (it’s foundations are within this book)
- The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes.Where my journey into content marketing started. This book was published in 2008 and I took on the principal of education marketing.
Daniel McGinn – Author of Psyched Up
- Raymond Carver’s Where I’m Calling From, and stories by John Updike. (My favorites are The Maples Stories.)
- I’ve especially admired Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit.
Cathy McPhillips – President of Marketing, Content Marketing Institute
- Epic Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi It makes understanding content marketing simple by explaining objectives and principles, but also strategies. Examples are given to make this an easy-to-digest, as well as easier-to-implement book.
- UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging, Scott Stratten and Alison Kramer This book is one that I read at the right time of my career, and one that I’d prefer to buy for someone before I’d give up my own copy. It’s just such an important read in today’s marketing world, and still so relevant 4+ years after publication.
- Everybody Writes, Ann Handley As marketing has evolved over the past 20 years, my career has gone from advertising to marketing to content marketing. How does a rusty journalism major hone her writing skills after years of writing ad copy and working on media plans? Writing, writing, and more writing and learning and being inspired by the best.
Jason Miller – Group Manager, Content Marketing, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. Author of Welcome to the Funnel: Proven Tactics to Turn Your Social and Content Marketing up to 11 (book) and The Sophisticated Marketer’s Series for LinkedIn. (Editor’s note: Miller is also a photographer. Check his heavy metal photos!)
- Content Rules, Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman – This is the Bible for content marketers. I have a signed copy on my desk from 2011 when I first heard Ann speak.
- The Elements of Style, E.B. White – The classic go-to book for writers. I’m constantly working to be a better writer myself and this little gem of a book lays the foundation for proper style and grammar.
- Confessions of an Advertising Man, David Ogilvy – As the original Mad Man and “Father of Advertising” David Ogilvy shares timeless advice for marketers and advertisers. It’s required reading for anyone in business.
Donna Moritz – Socially Sorted
- Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Rework totally redefined the way I was thinking about getting things done and the way companies and teams work effectively together. I love it as it flips conventional advice on its head and challenges you to think completely differently about how to run your business – especially if you have a team (even a small one).
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown – This was the first book that alerted me to the idea of not so much “getting more done” but getting the “right things done”. It changed the way I was thinking about prioritizing and where to spend precious time when you have a business.
- Ask, Ryan Levesque – This book made me think differently about how i approach the content, products and services I create for my audience – it helps you to find out what your audience WANTS and then how to deliver it in ways you most likely haven’t considered before. I’d been asking them, but not in the right way, so this book has quite literally flipped my marketing on its head.
B.L. Ochman – Publisher of What’s Next Blog. Marketer, digital and video content creator, speaker, coach and strategist.
- NetSmart by Howard Rheingold Simply the most clear, sane look at the skills you need to navigate the ever changing online world mindfully instead of being overwhelmed by it. Includes how to develop a bullshit detector and how to vet information before sharing it.
- Cluetrain Manifesto, Christopher Locke, David “Doc” Searls, David Weinberger, and Rick Levine Originally published in 1999 as a set of 95 theses on markets as conversations – explaining how the advent of the Internet changed marketing forever. “First of all, there is no market for messages”
- From those wonderful folks who gave you Pearl Harbor, Jerry DellaFamina – in which he told the truth about advertising in an entirely different era. At that time, creativity, not metrics were what counted.
Neil Patel – Author of HUSTLE: The Power to Charge Your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – how to relate to others in business and life.
- The Dip by Seth Godin – the power of perseverance and how to overcome tough challenges in business.
- Blink by Malcolm Gladwell – how our subconscious minds and decision-making work. It’s fascinating.
Michael Pinto – Founder, Very Memorable, Inc.
- Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy- David Ogilvy was above all a brilliant storyteller, and if you think about in the world of print he was really doing what we would call content marketing today.
- The King of Madison Avenue, Kenneth Roman – This book details the rise and fall of David Ogilvy.
- Insanely Simple, Ken Segall – Ken Segall worked directly with Steve Jobs and was very involved with working with him on everything. This tell-all book goes in amazing detail.
Joe Pulizzi – Founder of Content Marketing Institute and Content Marketing World. Author of 4 content marketing books (Editor’s note: many are noted on this list!), including most recently, Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses. Here’s a free chapter of Content Inc.
- Everybody Writes, Ann Handley – So many marketers forget how important good writing actually is. This book will bring you up to speed and get you pointed in the right direction.
- Experiences, by Robert Rose and Carla Johnson – I believe this is a must read for any enterprise marketer to understand what is really going on in the marketing department of the future.
- On Writing, Stephen King – A must read for anyone who rights. Period.
Tor Refsland – Award-winning blogger. Was featured on 158 top blogs in his first 14 months of blogging. Created the course, How To Blog Outreach Like A Boss
- The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk – It teaches you to be authentic – whether online or offline, say what you mean, and mean what you say. It shows you how to listen to your audience, be transparent and over-deliver because you genuinely want to help and serve other people.
- Launch, Jeff Walker – The book teaches you how to market and launch your product or services in a way that delivers a lot of value without being salesy.
- Ask, Ryan Levesque. Ryan has created a great way to find out what your audience wants by asking them the right questions, then deliver what they want in the way that they want.
- The End of Competitive Advantage, Rita Gunther McGrath – This is a must-read for any marketing leader looking to reformulate a marketing operation around agility and adaptability in a fast-moving world.
- Different, Youngme Moon – Maybe the best book on differentiation that I’ve read.
- Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Chip Heath and Dan Heath A great set of insights on how to manage – and more importantly inspire – change in business.
- Linchpin, Seth Godin (ALL Seth Godin books are must reads!) – Seth is simply the most brilliant marketer of this day and age.
- Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, Gary Vaynerchuk – Because Gary is Gary.
- Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, Harvey Mackay – It’s a classic about customer service and sales.
Mark Schaefer – Author of KNOWN
The single-biggest influence on my career was Peter Drucker. He was actually my teacher in grad school. I have read all his books, usually more than once!
Neal Schaffer – Is a Social Media Author, Strategy Consultant, International Speaker, and Innovator. He’s CEO of Maximize Your Social and Co-Founder, Social Tools Summit. Author of Maximize Your Social, Maximizing LinkedIn for Business, and Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing.
- Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge – This book was so early in how the future of social media would develop and change organizations. While the focus of the book is public relations, the message was really for everyone. It set up Solis and Breakenridge as social media thought leaders. I still look to them for inspiration.
- Inbound Marketing, Brian Halligan and Dhamresh Shah – Written early in the social media revolution, Inbound Marketing is really where most businesses started to see distinct business value from social media activities, especially those in B2B industries.
- Youtility, Jay Baer – Youtility is eloquently written with a plethora of case studies. It’s a reminder of what businesses need to achieve to engage with social media users as a business: Become and offer a utility to your audience.
Amy Schmittauer – Author of Vlog Like a Boss
- Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk taught me the importance of taking my life into my own hands and making my life goals happen with hard work.
- Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi inspired me with more ways to connect with and bring value to my network so I always have people to help who will lift me and my business higher.
- Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert taught me to keep searching for what I really want in life even if it doesn’t go as planned.
Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion, author of They Ask, You Answer.
- How to Win Friend and Influence People: This was the best sales/marketing/communication book ever written. By far.
- The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin—to me, Franklin demonstrated the ultimate model of entrepreneurism, education, communication, and “giving back.”
- The Closer’s Survival Guide, Grant Cardone – Grant Cardone is a master at selling. There’s no better book to learn all the best close techniques from than this one (as far as I know!).
- Tested Advertising Methods, John Caples – This is an oldie but goodie; the book dates back to the 1930’s and it’s a must-read. Sales copywriting has become somewhat of a lost art. It’s too easy to throw up anything onto a web page without crafting and honing a persuasive, yet still authentic, message.
- Influence, Robert Cialdini – This book unlocks many of the secrets to persuasion. Of course persuasion can be used for good or evil. Persuasion is not manipulation, as long as your intent is pure. I implore you, only read this book if you are going to use it for good!
Jim Sterne – Founder eMetrics Summit and Board Chair Digital Analytics Association. Author of 12 books on digital marketing, advertising, email, social media and metrics dating back to 1995). Most recent are The Devil’s Data Dictionary and Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment (2010).
- Drilling Down: Turning Customer Data into Profits with a Spreadsheet, Jim Novo – Novo takes a no-nonsense, easy-to-understand approach to segmentation, model building and all that “analytics” stuff that’s really just slicing and dicing the numbers creatively.
- Pattern Recognition, William Gibson – Want to understand branding while being entertained by a wonderful writer? You’ve come to the right place.
- Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, Seth Godin – The best of Seth Godin and that’s saying a lot.
Mark Wachen – Upstage Ventures
- Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Dan Ariely
- The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t, Nate Silver
- The Tipping Point, Malcom Gladwell
Joanna Wiebe – Creator of Copy Hackers, where startups learn to convert like mofos. Her ebooks have 30,000+ copies and she’s spoken at 50+ international marketing conferences.
- Influence, Robert Cialdini – It’s the perfect intro to the subtleties of getting people to say yes.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People, DaleCarnegie – Like the Cialdini text, it gets to the yes… but it does so in a more organic and less studied way.
- Scientific Advertising, Hopkins – There are about 3 foundational copywriting books, and this is one of them. Most successful CROs and copywriters read this book at least once a year.
Nick Westergaard – Author of Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small and host of the Social Brand Forum in Iowa.
- Youtility, Jay Baer – There’s not a better book on why you have to create useful marketing today.
- Primal Branding, Patrick Hanlon – It’s a great formula for brand building today.
- Everybody Writes, Ann Handley – Because everybody does and everybody should write better.
Pamela Wilson – Author of Master Content Marketing.
- The 12-Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington helped me come up with a plan and a method for getting the first draft of my book written in three months.
- Predictable Success by Les McKeown helped me to finally understand (and have a name for) the common stages businesses go through as they grow. Doesn’t sound very exciting but it blew my mind (in a good way).
Dennis Yu – Co-author of Facebook Nation (Now in its second edition and in over 1,000 universities.) What happens when Facebook knows everything about you? What can they do and what should you do?
- Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days, Jessica Livingston – I like this book since you hear direct, in-the-trenches stories from founders who grew major companies. It gives a view into what startups are really like– the actual issues, emotional struggles, and roller coaster ride.
Top Marketing Books bottom line:
No matter where you are in your marketing career it’s crucial to keep reading.
Pay attention to what your peers are saying and take the time to understand the key concepts and how they can improve your marketing.
Like many of you, I spend a lot of time reading and writing content and marketing. That said, I still find time to read the top marketing books.
Because the top marketing books deliver the author’s most concise and organized thoughts!
This includes prolific thought leaders like Godin, Handley, Pulizzi and Scott. (Read anything and everything by these folks!)
But remember—a book doesn’t do anything if it just sits on your desk or bookshelf.
You have to read it!
Don’t like to read?
Get an audio version and listen to it.
Just consume the content.
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Note: This article is an update of a post originally published on September 7, 2016.
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