There are countless marketing books out there that promise to help your business skyrocket, but how do you know which ones are really worth your money (not to mention your time)? We can help with this, since we took a deep hard look at the most famous marketing books out there and handpicked 10 of them that can take care of all your marketing needs. They are addressed to beginners and experts alike and will teach you the basics as well as the newest trends.
1. Buy.logy, by Martin Lindstrom
Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy (2008) is a bestselling book by Martin Lindstrom, in which he analyzes what makes people buy. The author attempts to identify the factors that influence buyers’ decisions in a world cluttered with messages such as advertisements, slogans, jingles, and celebrity endorsements. Through a study of the human psyche, Lindstrom explains the subconscious mind and its role in deciding what the buyer will buy. Lindstrom debunks some myths about advertising and promotion. Time named Lindstrom as one of the world’s 100 most influential people because of his book.
Buyology is claimed to be a result of the author’s three year neuromarketing study on 2,081 people to identify the effect of brands, logos, commercials, advertisements, and products on them. The study evaluates the effectiveness of logos, product placement, and subliminal advertising, the influence of our senses and the correlation between religion and branding.
2. The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is the debut book by Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker journalist, author, and public speaker. As Gladwell states: “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do.” Gladwell describes the “three rules of epidemics”:
- The Law of the Few – as Gladwell states: “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” Such people are connectors (they know a large number of people and are in the habit of making introductions), mavens (information specialists), and salesmen (“persuaders”, charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills).
- The Stickiness Factor – the specific content of a message that renders its impact memorable.
- The Power of Context – Human behavior is sensitive to and strongly influenced by its environment. Gladwell explains: “Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur.”
3. Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die is a book by brothers Chip and Dan Heath published in 2007. The book continues the idea of “stickiness” popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point, seeking to explain what makes an idea or concept memorable or interesting. A similar style to Gladwell’s is used, with a number of stories and case studies followed by principles.
Each chapter includes a section entitled “Clinic”, in which the principles of the chapter are applied to a specific case study or idea to demonstrate the principle’s application.
The book’s outline follows the acronym “SUCCES”. Each letter refers to a characteristic that can help make an idea “sticky”:
- Simple – find the core of any idea
- Unexpected – grab people’s attention by surprising them
- Concrete – make sure an idea can be grasped and remembered later
- Credible – give an idea believability
- Emotional – help people see the importance of an idea
- Stories – empower people to use an idea through narrative
4. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini
This is one of the most popular psychology books recommended to marketing experts and business professionals in general. Why? Because it talks about persuasion, changing people’s behaviour, and also avoiding being the victim of such strategies. The book is backed up by 35 years of research done by Cialdini in the field of influence and persuasion. The 6 universal principles presented in the book are:
- Reciprocation – this rule can turn a no into a yes simply because people may feel the duty to reciprocate a kind gesture that they have received (if someone brings you a nice gift on your birthday, you feel you should do the same for them).
- Commitment & consistency – this principle “forces” us to keep doing what we’ve done before, although we feel like doing otherwise (staying married only for the sake of the vow you took).
- Social proof – this may be rephrased as “herd behavior”: if everyone is doing it, then it must be right and I should do it too (if all your friends laugh at a joke, you feel you need to laugh too, although you don’t get it).
- Authority – people obey authority figures, whoever they may be: policemen, clergy, managers, professors (in advertising, this would translate to celebrity endorsements).
- Liking – we tend to agree with people we like and do what they ask us to. And what makes us like someone? Physical attractiveness, similarity to ourselves, familiarity, or the fact that they like us first are some of the reasons that Cialdini lists in his book.
- Scarcity – this rule states that “opportunities seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited”.
5. Permission Marketing, by Seth Godin
In this book written in 1999, Seth Godin introduces the term permission marketing in opposition to interruption marketing and highlights its benefits in the 21st century. Permission marketing is a non-traditional marketing technique that advertises goods and services when advance consent is given, whereas interruption marketing is represented by the traditional methods of marketing, which often revolve around the idea of interruption in order to get the full attention of the buyers (a television advertisement that cuts into a TV show, or an internet pop-up that interferes with a website).
Seth Godin points out that interruption marketing has become less effective in the modern world, where consumers are overloaded with information. Permission marketing allows consumers to choose whether or not to be subjected to marketing and this choice can result in better engagement.
6. Top of Head, by John Hall
In this book, John Hall emphasizes the importance of brands becoming landmarks in their field. When people think of a specific product or service, your product needs to be among the first to come to mind. That’s what ensures long term brand success. How can this feat be achieved? Through top class branding and high quality business relationships.
The central idea is that you need to offer qualitative content that really manages to enrich people’s lives to ensure that they become and stay your customers. This content should be delivered freely, without pressuring them into buying your product.
This is what John Hall calls “You Marketing”: “‘You Marketing’ revolves around a singular question: How can I make life better for you? Notice that the question is neither ‘How can I make life better for you so that you’ll buy whatever I’m selling?’ nor ‘How can I trick you into believing that I care?’ Consumers are too savvy and too wary to be manipulated. The instant you misrepresent yourself or your intentions is the instant you lose all credibility.”
7. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Named several times the best marketing book in history, this book talks about a concept introduced by Jack Trout called “positioning”. This concept advises advertisers to brand their product in relation to things that are already famous and familiar to the general public. In addition to this, you should oversimplify your message and drop any uncertainties about it, because we are living in a world suffocated by information.
In order for customers to remember your name, you need to either be the first in what you do or, if that is not possible, to link your name to a benchmark brand. This can also be done in two ways: you can either position yourself against that particular brand or you can present your name as an alternative to it.
8. Guerrilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business, by Jay Conrad Levinson
This one is another classic. Although it was first published in 1983, Guerilla Marketing is still valid today. As its title suggests, this book is mainly addressed to small businesses, because it clearly states: “Guerrilla marketers do not rely on the brute force of an outsized marketing budget. Instead, they rely on the brute force of a vivid imagination” and “Marketing is every hit of contact your company has with anyone in the outside world. Every bit of contact. That means a lot of marketing opportunities. It does not mean investing a lot of money”.
Also, the rules laid out by Jay Conrad Lenvinson are still true today:
- “Put an element of amazement in your marketing.”
- “Use measurement to judge the effectiveness of your weapons.”
- “You must be skilled with the armament of guerrillas, which means technology.”
- “Creativity comes from knowledge. You must have knowledge of your own product or service, your competition, your target audience, your marketing area, the economy, current events, and the trends of the time.”
9. Marketing Management, by Philip Kotler
Known as the father of marketing, Philip Kotler wrote this book in 1967. It is a great introduction to the science and art of marketing, the bible of marketing, as it has been called. It also serves as a textbook in many universities around the world. Over the years, the book has been continuously updated to present the current popular trends and tools.
The most important topics covered are customer relationship management, partner relationship management, brand building, analyzing consumer markets and behavior, handling competition, and pricing strategies.
10. Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization, by Olivier Blanchard
This is probably the most thorough book on social media as a powerful marketing tool. Olivier Blanchard focuses on measuring, analyzing, and optimizing the results achieved by a company through social media marketing. Social media can be used in multiple ways to the benefit of a company: in order to sustain broader development strategies, for short-term actions, branding, or customer support.
In this book, brand strategist Blanchard talks about both the financial and the non-financial results achieved by a business using social media channels. It brings practical solutions and best practices that will shed new light on any social media plan.