There are nearly endless numbers of great marketing books. Just Googling “best marketing books” brings up endless lists of recommended reads (even we’ve done it – like this list of brand storytelling books). That said, some true classics have emerged that are worth everyone’s time, no matter how busy you might be. If you work in marketing or advertising, these are worth adding to the bookshelf of every office you have.
Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout
The concept of positioning is so baked-in to our contemporary thinking about marketing that we rarely remember that in 1980, it was a concept that had to be invented. Now that 36 years have passed since its publication, it is almost eerie to see how the authors predicted niche marketing, contemporary branding and big data. It’s not going to explain the new economy to you, but it will help you understand how we got here.
Purple Cow by Seth Godin
Much has been written about Purple Cow, and Godin has written any number of great marketing books. Why this one? All I’m going to say is that Jay-Z apparently recommended this book to Oprah. If that’s not enough to get you to read it, I don’t know what will.
The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
Finding your niche can be transformative in terms of marketing ROI. Anderson’s rethinking of retail economics in the light of disruptive retail experiences like Amazon is critical for marketers. If you’re thinking about marketing in the age of online sales, or how to build your audience, this book is for you.
Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
Here’s the rub about advertising – people don’t really listen to ads. They listen to their friends, family and other people in their lives. It’s not just about the credibility gap of the media. You’re just never going to outweigh grandma, and that’s probably a good thing. If you’re trying to win hearts and minds, here’s your guide.
Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
Steve Jobs was famously quoted in BusinessWeek as saying, “But in the end, for something this complicated, it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Blue Ocean Strategy is about that. Don’t try to take over a space; build your own.
The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White
How is this an example of a great marketing book? It’s more obvious than you might suspect.
Great marketing relies on great stories, told in the right way to the right people. The first five books in this list can help you get to the great stories and the right people. However, you’ve still got to stick the dismount, and this book will help you get there.
There are many great marketing books on the market, and we all have our favourites. That said, some absolute classics have emerged. If you haven’t read them, consider making the time.