17 Best Marketing Books Every Marketer Should Read

02/05/2019 Jennifer

Leaders are readers. They self-educate by reading.

When asked how he learned to build rockets, Elon Musk said, “I read books.”

Bill Gates says he learns by visiting interesting places, meeting with scientists, and watching lectures online: “But reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.”

Here are the best marketing books that every marketer should read to stay ahead in the field:

#1. Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype
In Youtility, Jay Baer lays the groundwork for success in content marketing. It can be summed up in this powerhouse statement:

“What if — faced with more competition than ever before — you stopped trying to be amazing, and just started being useful?”

Jay’s Youtility lays out a path to make your marketing inherently useful, rather than inherently self-promotional. It shifted the way organizations think about content and being useful – I still go back to those philosophies with every piece of content I create.

In this book, you’ll learn:

  • How to make your marketing useful and appetizing to your audience.
  • A guide to cutting through the clut­ter: marketing that is truly, inherently useful.
  • How to apply this mantra: “If you sell something, you make a customer today, but if you genuinely help someone, you create a customer for life.”

#2. Content Strategy for the Web
Next up on our best marketing books list is Kristina Halvorson’s Content Strategy for the Web.

In this book, Kristina shows that the linchpin of an effective website is meaningful content. But creating and delivering said content can feel like a black box if you’re new (or if things haven’t been going so hot). Content Strategy for the Web explains how to create and deliver amazing content for just the right people, when and where they need it most.

In this book, you will learn:

  • What value content marketing can provide your business.
  • How you can make great content a part of your ongoing digital strategy.
  • And great, practical advice about how to stay the course of content marketing.

#3. Managing Content Marketing: The Real-World Guide for Creating Passionate Subscribers to Your Brand
According to Rose and Pulizzi, the average brand spends over 25% of their total marketing budget on content marketing. In their opinion, what’s missing from the success equation isn’t first dollars, it’s process. You know you need to create and publish amazing content that attracts an audience. This book lays out a foundational strategy to turn ideas into actual process you can execute.

In this book, you will learn:

  • If you’re in an organization that needs to pitch ideas, this lays out the use case for content marketing (and beyond) so you can get the buy-in you need to change process, manage the team, and more.
  • The book will help you learn all about the story-line that will best connect with your audience to guide every marketing effort.
  • And lastly, it helps you break down the high-level ideas into workflow and collaborative processes that actually work.

#4. UnMarketing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging
UnMarketing makes our best marketing books list because of its emphasis on listening to your audience, engaging them in something meaningful, and then building trust that leads to a purchase.

The book puts it well:

“No one likes cold calls at dinnertime, junk mail overflowing your mailbox, and advertisements that interrupt your favorite shows. If this is ‘marketing,’ then the world would probably prefer whatever is the opposite of that.”

It’s a great primer on permission marketing rather than interruption marketing. Scott’s advice is to, “Stop marketing. Start UnMarketing.” Scott unapologetically casts aside traditional marketing techniques that are outdated and disconnected from the needs of the customer. It’s full of brutal honesty that slaps some sense into you accompanied with a side of humor.

In this book, you will learn:

  • Readers will learn to question their current marketing techniques and opt for a more customer-centric approach.
  • The key takeaways revolve around engagement, relationship building, and customer trust.
  • Overall, a person should walk away from this book with a more genuine…even human… approach to marketing.

#5. Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence
As a marketer, the more you grow, the quicker you realize the best marketing books really do span disciplines. Storytelling is an essential skill today. That’s why this pick is so important!

In Wired for Story, author Lisa Cron takes a deep dive into what keeps an audience “transfixed,” and their brains craving more.

The book is a brilliant how-to on doing what engaging copy must do: “ignite the brain’s hardwired desire to learn what happens next.” With nods to the evolutionary purpose of story to electrify human curiosity, marketers will be equipped to spin yarns that drive traffic, engagement, and brand-audience relationships that drive sales.

In this book, you will learn:

  • How to construct a story and how to keep your audience engaged backed by recent breakthroughs in neuroscience.
  • How the ideal elements of the “perfect” story have been used since the beginning of time.
  • How to construct the kind of copy that keeps your audience entertained AND engaged.

#6. Digital Influence: Unleash the Power of Influencer Marketing to Accelerate Your  Global Business
Digital Influence brings order to the chaotic and rapidly evolving world of influencer marketing by providing readers with much needed context, frameworks, and best practices. Written for busy marketing professionals working in both domestic and international markets, it addresses these topics in a highly actionable and engaging manner.

In this book, you will learn:

  • How to identify the right influencers and determine “level of influence” to collaborating with influencers and measuring ROI.
  • Why influencer marketing is flourishing today, and perspective into what a more technologically-enabled, globally-connected future will look like.

#7. Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins
2018 Spark.Me speaker and author Mark Schaefer provides an achievable and realistic framework to help you stay ahead of the curve by re-imagining marketing in a world where hyper-empowered consumers drive the business results.

In this book, you will learn:

  • How cataclysmic consumer trends are a predictable result of a revolution that started 100 years ago.
  • Why businesses must be built on human impressions instead of advertising impressions.
  • The five constant human truths at the heart of successful marketing strategy.
  • Why customer loyalty is dying and what you need to do about it right now.
  • How to help your best customers do the marketing for you.
  • Actionable steps to provide an immediate course-correction for businesses of any size.

#8. 10x Marketing Formula: Your Blueprint for Creating ‘Competition-Free Content’ That Stands Out and Gets Results
If content is part of your marketing strategy, this book will put you light years ahead. The three most valuable concepts are competition-free content, content core and its conversion psychology framework.

  • Competition-Free Content: Competition-free content is content that adds tremendous value to your customers and audience that only you can produce. It’s content that stands out through topic, structure or media type. And, it renders competition irrelevant because this is uncontested space.
  • Content Core: The content core is the quickest way to turn your content into revenue and is arguably the most important part of your marketing. It’s content that connects the dots between what your audience wants and the value your business provides. (If you only read one chapter in this book, make this the one.)
  • Conversion Psychology: Understanding the psychology of why people click, try, and buy is fundamentally important to converting audience members into paying customers. And this is the whole job of marketing! This framework that Garrett describes the customer’s journey from unaware of your existence to raving about your product.

#9. Purple Cow
This book explains the importance of standing out in crowded marketplaces, like a “purple cow” might in a field of, well, ordinary cows.

#10. Ogilvy on Advertising
No individual has had a greater impact on advertising and the art of copywriting than David Ogilvy. Ogilvy on Advertising collects his thoughts on a wide variety of aspects of the industry.

#11. Epic Content Marketing
Joe Pulizzi knows his stuff about content marketing. As the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, there are few better authors in the business to learn from.

#12. Confessions of an Advertising Man
David Ogilvy is one of the most influential figures in marketing and advertising history. That much is widely-known, and at this point, doesn’t need to be reiterated. This book was instrumental in cementing his place in history back when it was first published in 1963, and it’s still worth reading today.

#13. This Is Marketing
This book covers everything from building trust with your target audience, the art of positioning, why old approaches no longer work, and more. It’s one you’ll want to add to your must-read list.

#14. Crushing It
It comes as little surprise to see Gary Vaynerchuk on this list. To call him immensely influential would be an understatement, and his latest book is a great read whether you’re a long-time fan or have never picked up any of his stuff before.

#15. Building A Brand Story
Marketers are often told storytelling is key to brand-building. But, when it comes to actually infuse their strategy with a story, things get a bit fuzzy. Donald Miller’s Building A Story Brand removes that shroud of mystery.

#16. The Tipping Point
How do certain ideas or products break through and spread across the public consciousness? That’s exactly what Malcolm Gladwell explores in The Tipping Point.

#17. Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content
In Everybody Writes, top marketing veteran Ann Handley gives expert guidance and insight into the process and strategy of content creation, production and publishing, with actionable how-to advice designed to get results.

Alright, now that you’ve done all of this reading about reading… It’s time to go read 🤓


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