Marketing Books

The Top 52 Essential Books for Marketers

The Top 52 Essential Books for Marketers

If you are a marketer looking to build a comprehensive knowledge of marketing or simply find the next book to read, this post is for you.

I have accumulated a resource list of the top marketing books for marketers. The list is based on personal experience, research from academics, marketing professionals, and top online marketing influencers.

This collection takes you from the marketing books used by many of the top universities. The books used by higher education lay the foundation to understand all the key elements of marketing.

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersThe list continues to build on the books used in graduate and post-graduate learning with additional books from marketing experts and influencers. The books by top marketing influencers provide relevancy in today’s ever-changing business and marketing landscape.

I have tried to cover a wide-variety of disciplines within marketing providing insight that is relevant and actionable to grow your knowledge as a marketer.

I have broken down the books into various categories, but there is a significant degree of content crossover, especially when it comes to social media. My intent was to capture and categorize the recommendations into the main idea of each book.

Marketing Books Used in University Curriculum

1. Marketing Managementby Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller

Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersThis is the essential marketing book widely used by universities and the book I reference most often as a marketer.

It is the most comprehensive marketing book covering marketing theory and practice with consistent updates that reflect the changing business and marketing environment.

The two authors; Kotler and Keller are legends of marketing and their book shares the cumulative experiences with practical models, tools, strategy, and tactics that are proven.

This is one of the most used resources in my library that I constantly reference as a primary resource for marketing.

2. Principles of Marketingby Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersI would suggest this as the next marketing book to read immediately after Kotler and Keller’s Marketing Management.

The book extensively covers marketing definitions, theories, models, strategy with practical applications.

Kotler and Keller provide a great link between theory and real-world application in Principles of Marketing that I recommend.

3. A Framework for Marketing Managementby Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller

The Top 52 Essential Books for Marketing ProfessionalsThis book is meant to be a stripped down version of Kotler and Keller’s Marketing Management with the latest marketing theories, approaches, techniques, and thinking.

The book provides another complimentary book focused on holistic marketing and the role of creativity and innovation in successful marketing.

The condensed nature of the book along with the most updated examples from companies that are setting the benchmark for marketers today.

The book is another great example from Kotler linking theory and practice through the use of extensive case studies, simulations, and projects.

4. Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity byKevin Lane Keller

The Top 52 Essential Books for Marketing ProfessionalsKevin Lane Keller, who has co-authored Marketing Management, provides the essential book on brand management and the branding process. I would recommend reading Marketing Management first because this puts branding in context with other marketing management principles.

Keller’s Strategic Brand Management expands and elaborates on the theories and practical applications in this book providing a go-to resource for all things brand related.

The text comprehensively covers the latest industry thinking and developments, on the topic of brand management. Topics in the book include an exploration of brands, brand equity, and strategic brand management.

Keller combines a comprehensive theoretical foundation with numerous techniques and practical insights for making better day-to-day and long-term brand decisions–and thus improving the long-term profitability of specific brand strategies.

5. Principles of Advertising & IMCby Tom Duncan

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersDuncan’s Principles of Advertising & IMC provides an essential understanding of all the major marketing communication functions.

The topics Duncan covers include, the major media alternatives, and the processes for integrating these activities in the most effective and efficient way to develop long-term, profitable customer relationships that build brands and create brand equity.

This book is essential to understanding the principles and practices of advertising and the importance of integrated marketing communications (IMC).

Duncan provides an effective marketing communications framework/approach required to help break through in the current business environment critical to the success of any business.

Digital Marketing/e-Commerce

6. Introduction to e−Commerce by Jeffrey Rayport and Bernard Jaworski

Introduction to e-CommerceThis is a textbook that comprehensively covers the entire ecosystem of e-commerce. The book is written with a strategy first and technology second approach to e-commerce.

The book provides marketers with an understanding and framework for e-Commerce business centered on four infrastructures including, Internet infrastructure, strategy formulation and implementation, technology concepts, public policy issues, and capital infrastructure.

This marketing book helps marketers understand the e-commerce and digital environment with the effective strategy and tools to market to a targeted audience and understand customer focused web design in the digital landscape.

Consumer Behavior

7. Consumer Behavior and Marketing Strategyby J. Paul Peter and Jerry Olson

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersThis marketing book is excellent and provides an approach to understanding consumers and represents a framework that guides marketing strategy and tactics to achieve your organization’s goals.

The focus of this book is on strategy related to consumer behavior. The organization of the book is based on the Wheel of Consumer Analysis that provides a framework to understand consumer behavior.

The chapters concentrate on the four major parts of the Wheel of Consumer Analysis along with short cases that help integrate consumer behavior information into the marketing strategy development process that marketers use every day.

Marketing Research

8. Market Research in Practice: How to Get Greater Insight from Your Marketby Paul N Hague, Nicholas Hague, and Carol-Ann Morgan

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersThis is one of the best marketing research books that provides a lively and approachable read, great for practical application, not just theory.

The authors’ provide a clear, step-by-step guide to the whole marketing research process, from planning and executing a project through to analysis and presentation of the findings. The authors’ explain how to use tools and methods effectively and get the most reliable results.

I liked the relevancy and the focus, especially on current areas of marketing research such as international and new research trends along with coverage of social media research and mobile surveys.

The book offers significant value for everyone from a student to an experienced marketer with a range of online tools and templates supported by examples from real market research practice.

9. Marketing Researchby Donald Cooper and Pamela Schindler

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersMarketing Research is written taking the overview first approach to teaching marketing research with thorough coverage of business research topics backed by solid theory.

The book’s theme is focused on managerial decision making with topics and applications presented to understand all the nuances and details of the specific techniques marketers will be asked to employ to develop high-quality information.

What I enjoyed most about this book is that the authors provide comprehensive case studies backed by their successful background as marketing research consultants providing research methods that result in actionable insight.

Strategic Management

10. Strategic Management: Planning for Domestic and Global Competition by John Pearce and Richard Robinson

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersPearce and Robinson give marketers a comprehensive coverage of strategic management focused on conceptual tools and skills created by scholars and real-world practitioners that I go back to very often.

The book provides an overview of strategic management, strategy formulation, strategy implementation, control, and innovation, along with 30 current and relevant business cases that bring to life Strategic Management.

I would read this book first as it sets the tone and provides structure for everything related to business and strategy. My thought is that technology is a tool driven by strategy carried out by living people. If you don’t get the strategy correct and implement and execute on the tactics, then the probability of your business failing are much greater.

I recommend reading the marketing research books after this book because they provide the methodology to gain insight from research that drives all strategy efforts.

11. Making Innovation Work: How To Manage It, Measure It, and Profit From Itby Tony Davila, Marc J. Epstein, and Robert Shelton

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersThe authors’ of Making Innovation Work provide a proven end-to-end process for driving sustained growth based on innovation. With a vast amount of consulting experience along with a comprehensive review of innovation research, the authors’ provide a guide for innovation that works in the real world.

The techniques discussed are proven by top companies such as Toyota and HP. The text provides a strategic take on innovation that aligns with business strategy as a cornerstone concept flowing into the things that work, and what doesn’t and the use of various tools and concepts to maximize the value of innovation investments.

Making Innovation Work will be your go-to reference for managing and developing a proven realistic strategy for innovation that includes implementation, measurement, and continuous improvement in your organization.

Books by Top Marketing Experts

Marketing Research

Buyer Personas

12. Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight into your Customer’s Expectations, Align your Marketing Strategies, and Win More Businessby Adele Revella

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersThis is my one and only resource for buyer personas from the master.

The buyer personas approach helps marketers with a step-by-step guide to develop and how to use buyer personas that lead to sales and marketing activities that measurably impact business and marketing goals.

Adele Revella delivers the marketing solution for listening to your customers and meeting their needs efficiently with a more effective messaging strategy that cuts through the cluttered messages in the marketplace and truly differentiates you from the competition.

Marketing Strategy


13. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind: How to Be Seen and Heard in the Overcrowded Marketplace by Al Ries and Jack Trout

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersPositioning is an absolute must-read classic and is the bestselling marketing book of all time from the world’s best-known marketing strategists.

Ries and Trout provide the most trusted industry resource on the subject of positioning. Although the case studies are less relevant, this book remains the first book outside the mandatory classroom texts you have to read as a marketer.

Positioning provides a roadmap to beat the competition creating a position in the consumer’s mind reflecting the strengths and weaknesses of your company relative to the competition.

Positioning Started a revolution in advertising and was the first book focusing on the problem of communicating in an over-communicated society. Ries and Trout offer some of the best case histories and stories for some of the most successful campaigns and stunning failures in the advertising world.

14. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! by Al Ries & Jack Trout

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersRies and Trout, the world-renowned marketing strategists and best-selling authors provide another classic and in my opinion, a condensed version of their book  Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.

The book gives the wisdom and experience of these two marketing legends in an easily digestible format.

Ries and Trout provide high-level marketing strategies along with a lot of examples that worked 20 years ago and still work today.

Brand Management/Branding

15.Kellogg on Branding: The Marketing Faculty of The Kellogg School of Management by Philip Kotler & Alice Tybout

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersKellog on Branding is a comprehensive review of the latest strategies for building, leveraging, and rejuvenating brands from the faculty of the Kellogg School, the respected resource for dynamic marketing information for today’s ever-changing
and challenging environment.

If you do not read this book as part of your marketing curriculum, I highly recommend reading it after Keller’s book on Strategic Brand Management.

This text offers a comprehensive coverage of brand management with key branding concepts, including brand positioning and design, strategies for launching new brands, leveraging existing brands, managing a brand portfolio, and techniques for building a brand-centered organization.

The text is brought to life with critical insights from senior managers who have been in the trenches and fought branding battles and won.

16. The Inside Advantage: The Strategy that Unlocks the Hidden Growth in Your Business by Robert Bloom & Dave Conti

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersThe Inside Advantage provides valuable insight about how brands can effectively market and sell using a deep knowledge about their customers. The main idea is that every business has at the very least one strategic asset that can form the basis of
future growth aptly named the Inside Advantage.

Bloom and Conti detail a four-step process called the Growth Discovery Process resulting in a clear understanding of who your customers are and the offerings required for those customers.

The Inside Advantage will help you to connect with the people that matter the most providing the critical element for a successful social media programs.

The Inside Advantage gives marketers advice and real-world case studies from Bloom’s 45 years of experience growing businesses and brands of every size and type, including Southwest Airlines, Nestlé, and L’Oréal, numerous B2B firms, non-profit organizations, and start-ups.

17. Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends on It. by Mitch Joel

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersMitch Joel is a leading digital marketing authority, columnist, author, former chairman of the Canadian Marketing Association, and current president of Mirum. Mitch details the ways technology has transformed how brands and businesses create, connect, and adapt to a constantly shifting landscape.

Ctrl Alt Delete provides the reason for your brands to adapt and the way to do it helping to ensure your brand has considered certain essential elements in its business and marketing strategy.

Joel specifies five new movements that are forcing brands to reboot. The book provides critical insight and a method to help plan and successfully manage the current social, economic, physical, and digital environment.

Permission Marketing

18. Permission Marketingby Seth Godin

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersPermission Marketing is the essential book to understand that pushing your marketing message on your customers using interruption marketing does not work any longer and ends up annoying them defeating the purpose of marketing.

I recommend this marketing book to any person involved with the current business environment to help them understand modern marketing and the changing paradigm of our current landscape.

Godin with his turn strangers into friends and friends into customers approach helps you to understand how and why this “permission marketing” formula works especially in a crowded marketplace with an overwhelming amount of messages for consumers to choose.

Godin uses expressive language combined with his humorous personality making this and his other books a very enjoyable and insightful reading experience.

Customer Experience

19. What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiencesby Brian Solis

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersWhat’s the Future of Business is a great book about thinking beyond ‘products’ to ‘experiences’ aligning the essential concepts of user experience with the vision of innovative leadership to improve business performance, engagement, and relationships for a new generation of consumers.

Solis focuses on the customer with a thorough understanding of the dynamic customer journey is a key concept and helped me to understand the complex journey a customer takes in the current environment, on the path to purchase and loyalty.

The book goes further than most books and helps business leaders rethink business models, products and services, marketing, and customer and employee relationships with desired experiences in mind that can be used for building and implementing successful business and marketing strategy.

The Brain and Marketing (Consumer Behavior)

20. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition by Robert B. Cialdini 

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersCialdini provides a classic book that is an invaluable resource for both sales and marketing personnel helping to understand the psychology of why people say yes.

This is a must-read book with over 35-years of evidence-based research to understand what causes people to change behavior using six universal principles and how to use them to persuade people successfully to say yes.

This book has helped me to form the foundation and overarching approach to developing marketing campaigns and copy.

21. Buy-ology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buyby Martin Lindstrom

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersThe author, Martin Lindstrom, voted one of Time Magazine’s most influential people of 2009, presents valuable findings and insight required for any marketer or business personnel.

Lindstrom’s groundbreaking, three-year, seven-million-dollar neuromarketing study, a cutting-edge experiment that included 2,000 volunteers from all around the world as they encountered various ads, logos, commercials, brands, and products.

Buyology is an incredible must-read book that will change your perspective about many closely held and trusted beliefs about what stimulates our interest and drives us to buy. Lindstrom uses neuroscience infused into the art of marketing to explain how everything we think is influenced by mental forces that people are only vaguely aware.

The real value from Lindstrom’s book is the exploration of impulses and how to scientifically measure and then include into marketing campaigns.

Building an Audience

22. Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followersby Jeffrey Rohrs

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersMarketers and especially content marketing professionals discovered the days of build it and they will come are long gone. The core message from Jeffrey Rohr’s excellent work is that every company needs audiences to survive.

Specifically, Rohr’s explains that audiences are your most important asset, and you should restructure your business and marketing strategy around them resulting in the creation of more profitable relationships.

Audience provides thorough research data and case studies to show you why and how to create your audience and build loyal customers with a relentless focus. The methods Rohr’s uses will transform your marketing strategy and help you to gain a competitive advantage with proven methods that can evolve.

The key takeaway is that creating a proprietary audience is a core marketing responsibility and should be
infused in the fabric of any business and marketing strategy and aligned to clear business goals goals.

Content Marketing Strategy

23. Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing by Lee OddenThe Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersLee Odden, one of the leading authorities on content and online marketing gives marketers a proven and customer centric marketing strategy that uses the best of content, social media marketing, and search engine optimization tactics.

Odden combines a holistic digital approach with how to maximize ROI and a true understanding of the engagement value of an organization’s content, SEO, and social media campaigns.

This book is an easy to read, step-by-step manual that I constantly reference almost as much as the books from Kotler and Ries & Trout. The insight Odden provides is without compare giving marketers the importance of a holistic digital approach that involves the entire organization.

24. The Content Code: Six Essential Strategies to Ignite Your Content, Your Marketing, and Your Businessby Mark W. Schaefer

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersMark W. Schaefer is another leading authority in marketing, not to mention, a college professor, consultant, and best-selling author of five marketing books.

The Content Code is an engaging and practical marketing book provides marketers with a six-step framework to address the massive and ever-growing amount of content in the marketplace that competes for your prospect’s attention.

The book is based on a wealth of research and data exploring why some content is shared widely, while other content is not.

Schaefer provides practical advice on how to develop a content strategy and ensure your content is shareable. The six strategies outlined provide an essential reading that will change the way you think about social media marketing.

The six strategies outlined provide a roadmap to include in your business and marketing strategy and achieve measurable results that break through the clutter.

25. Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hypeby Jay Baer 

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersYoutility is a great marketing book that has changed the paradigm for businesses and marketing moving organizations away from pushing their product and services on customers.

Baer provides a philosophical and useful approach to products and services the target audience finds useful by supplying helpful content focused on customer wants and needs. Baer’s six blueprints give marketers a plan for using information that is helpful to the target audience.

Baer’s framework forms the essential marketing component in many of the world’s leading companies and other successful organizations throughout every industry that cuts through the noise and clutter characterized by our current business environment.

Youtility provides an approach that creates and retains a trusted relationship between organizations and customers that differentiate marketing providing bottom line results.

Youtility has real-world examples from over 700 brands that have improved their marketing strategy and gives you the perfect argument for content marketing skeptics that include all industries and every size organization.

26. Welcome to the Funnel: Proven Tactics to Turn Your Social Media and Content Marketing up to 11by Jason Miller

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersWelcome to the Funnel, in my opinion, is the one marketing book for any person involved in demand generation, from marketing to sales and even service. Jason Miller provides insight and a step-by-step approach to attract and engage leads focused on both content marketing and social media along with discussing the changes in modern marketing.

This book truly helps amplify content marketing success and creates significant opportunities to grow your business using the combination of social media and content marketing within an integrated marketing approach.

Miller breaks down every detail needed to create a full-spectrum of content powered by extensive research, expert input, first-hand knowledge, and real world applications. Jason shares how to get your content produced, how to make it stand out from the noise, how to make sure it is getting shared, and how to measure its success.

This is an essential and classic read for modern times helping marketers to bring focus to the top of the funnel activities that include, raising brand awareness, building trust, establishing credibility, and ultimately driving revenue.

27. The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersDavid Meerman Scott, a leading marketing authority, strategist, and best-selling author gives marketers the go-to book for digital marketing. Scott’s international best-seller provides advice and a step-by-step guide for harnessing the power of modern marketing and PR to communicate with buyers directly resulting in increased visibility and sales.

It shows how a wide-range of organizations and industries can leverage web-based content to get the right information to the right people at the right time for a fraction of the cost of big-budget campaigns.

Scott provides remarkable insight and relevant content that includes a wealth
of compelling case studies and real-world examples of content marketing and
inbound marketing success.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR also includes newer tools such as Infographics, photo-sharing on Pinterest, and Instagram along with coverage of more traditional social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn makes this book a constant resource for modern marketing.

28. Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businessesby Joe Pulizzi 

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersJoe Pulizzi, one of the leading content-marketing strategists, provides a new
model for marketers and businesses to develop valuable content, build an audience for content, and create a product for the audience.

The model Pulizzi introduces marketers to a new approach that flips the traditional approach of first creating a product and then trying to find customers.

Content Inc. shows how to get customers first and develop products later resulting in a solid and long-lasting business positioned for today’s current content-driven environment.

Pulizzi provides marketers with a six-step business-building process that is smart, simple, practical, and cost-effective that he used to build his successful company, Content Marketing Institute and the foundation for many multi-million dollar companies.

Content Inc. offers a brand-new business or an existing one seeking to drive innovation with a model for better, more sustainable success.

Content Creation

29. Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Contentby Ann Handley

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersAnn Handley, a leading marketing authority, and best-selling author provides detailed advice for every aspect of writing focused on the themes of brevity and clarity. For me, writing is something everyone from a seasoned writer to someone writing an email to a friend struggles with and everyone should read this marketing book.

Handley provides the book I go to most when I struggle with writing providing an essential resource to attracting and retaining customers with exceptional online communication for a content-driven world.

Everybody Writes is a guide that walks you through the process and strategy of content creation, production and publishing, with actionable insight that drives results.

The book provides writing methods and techniques and tools to improve your content that covers short and long-form content no matter what the type of content or type of organization.

30. Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersContent Rules is another great resource for creating engaging content for the web and building a loyal audience. Handley and Chapman detail how to blend the art and science of developing content online that includes valuable real-world case studies.

Handley and Chapman provide a book on writing that builds on Handley’s previous work that I often reference for any writing challenge. Content Rules, helps marketers write content for a variety of content types, find an authentic voice, and create content that resonates with your target audience.

Defining goals of your content with a true understanding of why you’re generating content and how to get to the essence of your message combined with writing in a way that communicates in a powerful manner your product, service, regardless of the medium.

31. Born to Blog: Building your blog for personal and business success by Mark Schaefer and Stanford Smith

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersMark Schaefer is marketing professor at Rutgers University, a consultant, and has one of “AdAge’s” Top 100 marketing blogs.

Stanford Smith is an online marketing and social media strategist who has created award winning social media strategies for state governments and Fortune 500 companies. He is the founder of; a top 10 social media blog focused on business blogging.

Born to Blog, provides the template for building blogs that drive profit and growth with information and tools to create and manage a blog that delivers results. Schaefer and Smith illustrate how blogging fits into an inbound marketing strategy and everything you need to know about blogging.

Schaefer and Smith provide the ultimate resource on the topic of blogging, a core component of inbound marketing with comprehensive coverage of blogging basics, setting up a blog, attracting a loyal audience, promoting your blog, writing powerful content, and ultimately conversion into buyers.

32. Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less by Joe Pulizzi

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersJoe Pulizzi is a content marketing evangelist, a leading expert on content marketing, and the founder of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), the leading content marketing educational resource. CMI provides strategic consulting for brands such as AT&T, Petco, LinkedIn, SAP and many others.

Epic Content Marketing, explains how to attract prospects and customers by creating information and content that create engagement. The main theme is
that the right content, distributed to the right person at the right time is how to
capture the hearts and minds of customers and position your business as a trusted industry expert.

Pulizzi provides a guide to developing stories that inform and entertain and drive customers to act, without directly telling them.

Epic Content will help you develop a strategy to create and curate great content while learning how to attract and retain customers and grow your audience. Joe delivers a consistent guide and resource for content marketing that I constantly reference.

Pulizzi’s exceptional insight combined with interviews, in-depth case studies from successful companies and leading businesses provides all the tools required to change your marketing and impact profits and growth.


33. The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio 

The Top 52 Essential Book for MarketersIf you are struggling to produce valuable visual content, then this book is for you. This book is a valuable resource on how to create content such as graphics, videos, and presentation using a storytelling approach.

Walter and Gioglio provides a storytelling approach explaining how to grow your business and improve the strength of your brand leveraging visuals, videos and social media relevant for all organization sizes and industries.

The Power of Visual Storytelling gives marketers the seven elements of visual storytelling, types of images used for visual storytelling, and how to create a visual storytelling strategy roadmap.

After reading this book you will understand how to develop and implement visual storytelling into business and marketing strategy that make your content more powerful and increase engagement.

34. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social Worldby Gary Vaynerchuk

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersI have been a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk since his Wine Library days, admiring how he took his father’s business into the digital age with amazing results.

Gary provides a very different take on digital and social focused firmly on storytelling in a compelling and unique way. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is a template to effective social media marketing strategies that simply work.

Gary’s main theme in the book is that stories change with each platform, and he shows how your story should change in each circumstance. Gary provides six rules for storytelling on social media platforms along with more detailed advice for specific platforms such as, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumbler.

This book goes far beyond the “how-to” approaches for different platforms and does a great job of explaining the basic tricks of marketing with practical insight. This is a must-read for its simplicity and usefulness from a true business maverick.

35. All Marketers are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works–and Why Authenticity Is the Best Marketing of Allby Seth Godin

All Marketers are LIarsSeth Godin is a CEO, lecturer, blogger and author of more than a dozen best-selling marketing books that have transformed the way that people view marketing, change, and leadership. Seth is a key thought leader in marketing and writes one of the most popular and influential blogs at

The main idea centers on the importance of authentic storytelling, related to your brand and the fundamental role it plays in inbound marketing. The primary message in the book is quite simple; marketers should have a good story to tell, and if it’s good enough, consumers will repeat it, and it ultimately it becomes firmly embedded in their minds as a reality.

Godin’s writing style is witty and engaging making All Marketers are Liars an enjoyable and quick read. Godin details how to create a great story and uses excellent examples such as Cold Stone Creamery, organic products, and the Goodyear Blimp to demonstrate the influence of marketing an authentic story.

Writing and Copywriting

36. Help! For Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Facesby Roy Peter Clark

The Top 50 Essential Book for MarketersRoy Peter Clark presents a step-by-step manual for writers regardless of the platform from a journalist point of view that is a true north star for content marketers.

In Help! For Writers, Clark writes about the seven steps of the writing process and details 21 of the most common problems that writers have with 210 solutions covering every media and writing circumstance.

Clark uses a blend of sympathy, humor, and witty charm that is an ever-present resource for any writing issue I’m facing.

37. How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Timesby Roy Peter Clark

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersRoy Peter Clark, one of the most influential writing teachers and respected journalist, provides writers and marketers with an insightful and practical book on how to write effective short-form content.

Short-form writing is an essential skill in the Internet age and Clark provides a guide on how to write effective and powerful headlines, titles, tweets, sales pitches, etc. for almost every situation.

As a marketer being concise and writing short-form content is a constant source of trouble with the various media involved in the current marketing environment. Clark details how to do this regardless of the medium providing a great read that should be on the bookshelf of any content marketer.

38. The Art of Explanation: Making Your Ideas, Products, and Services Easier to Understandby Lee Lefever

The Top 50 Essential Books for MarketersLee LeFever the founder of Common Craft, a company known around the world for making complex ideas easy to understand through short animated videos.

The Art of Explanation is a guide to becoming an explanation specialist, helping audiences fall in love with your ideas, products or services through better explanations in any medium.

Explanations form the core of content marketing and LeFever provides the plan, package, present structure providing the writing steps to create an effective explanation.

LeFever gives marketers a different and complementary book to all the other writing books out there detailing explanation, a critical element in content marketing.

The Phenomena of How Ideas Spread and Stick

39. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Differenceby Malcolm Gladwell

The Top 50 Essential Books for MarketersBest-selling author Malcolm Gladwell, in Tipping Point explores the tipping point phenomenon. The tipping point is when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and becomes part of the mass consciousness.

Gladwell’s main idea is that ideas, products, messages and behaviors “spread just like viruses do” is a metaphor to explain the growth of “word-of-mouth epidemics”.

Three pivotal types help to trigger the tipping point including Connectors, sociable personalities who bring people together; Mavens, who like to pass along knowledge; and Salesmen, adept at persuading the unenlightened.

The tipping point phenomenon is a book that will change the way businesses and marketers think about selling products and disseminating ideas.

The Tipping Point helps marketers understand the critical moment when a product or service goes from mediocrity to excellence. Gladwell provides a less scientific and more cultural explanation that
challenges your sensibilities and broadens your overall perspective.

40. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Actionby Simon Sinek

The Top 50 Essential Books for MarketersThe main thesis is the Golden Circle concept, which shows business leaders how to inspire instead of manipulating customers or employees to act.

The central idea of the golden circle theory is, people do not buy what a company does, people buy why they do it. This book will change your mindset and look at organizations and marketing messages in a completely different manner.

Sinek’s theory provides evidence of how most companies communicate in an uninspiring manner. Sinek explains that trust is built in an authentic way when you target customers that understand and believe in your WHY.

The philosophy and theory detailed by Sinek provide great insight and evidence for marketers focused on brand image, brand messages, and marketing communications with a guide to how successful organizations communicate.

The three key takeaways for inbound marketers is alignment, incorporating the “Why” into marketing copy, and redefining buyer personas.

Sinek uses a wide variety of real-life examples of exceptional organizations to provide a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire, differentiating you from the competition.

41. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip & Dan Heath

The Top 50 Essential Books for MarketersMade to Stick, expands on the stickiness of ideas and how ideas spread in Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point. The book is a great read that had me laughing and engaged in the first 15 pages.

The Heath brothers detail how a brand can tell a story and a step-by-step approach on how to do it setting this book apart from Gladwell’s work.

Chip and Dan give marketers an approach to making messages that resonate (stick) with your target audience differentiating your organization from the clutter in the marketplace.

The focus of the book explores why some ideas thrive while others die and how to improve the chances of worthy ideas detailing the DNA of sticky ideas with a framework to make ideas stickier.

The book contains a blend of case studies and thought-provoking research detailing the essential elements of winning ideas that had me laughing and engaged in the first 15 pages.

42. The Passion Conversation: Understanding, Sparking, and Sustaining Word of Mouth Marketingby Robbin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church, and John Moore 

The Top 50 Essential Books for MarketersThe Passion Conversation is a complementary marketing book to Simon Sinek’s Start with Why that I recommend reading after.

The premise of the book is that to succeed you need to make people fall passionately and madly in love with your organization or your cause with the concept that conversations spring from passions, not products.

The authors detail the three motivations for people to talk about businesses and causes including:

  • The idea that every marketing problem is a people problem in disguise
  • Marketing materials are conversation tools
  • How customer communities sustain word of mouth that create a financial impact

The book provides a framework to build a thriving and loyal community and drive meaningful conversations that ultimately impact the financial success of your business.

The Passion Conversation gives marketers a quick and smart book based on the latest academic research combined with practical, real-world examples proving how any business can ignite and nurture long-term word of mouth marketing.

Social Media

43. Maximize Your Social: A One-Stop Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy for Marketing and Business Success by Neal Schaffer

Marketing BooksNeal Schaffer in his book Maximize Your Social, provides a very strategic book with a clear vision and actionable insight on social media. The book is written with a laser focus, delivering an essential roadmap for a highly effective strategic social media plan and how to execute that will grow revenues.

Based on his vast expertise and recognition as an innovative leader in the world of business social media, Neal provides insight that’s tested and proven.

Saving you from spending a significant amount of your budget on a social media consultant, Maximize Your Social will help you to master social media strategies. The biggest strategic issues that the book deals with include,

•Creation of an effective social media plan that is linked to your business’s measurable objectives
• How to design an internal social media plan understood by everyone

Maximize Your Social also provides all the mechanics of designing and maintaining a successful social media strategy and plan. I highly recommend Neal’s book whether you’re creating a social media strategy from scratch or need to revise your current one.

 44. TheArt of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Usersby Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

The Top 50 Essential Books for MarketersGuy Kawasaki is a leading authority in marketing, best-selling author, and previously held esteemed marketing roles at Canva, Apple, and Google.

Peg Fitzpatrick is a social media strategist innovating the world of social media. She’s spearheaded successful social-media campaigns for Motorola, Google, Audi, Canva, and Virgin.

Guy and Peg provide a bottom-up strategy that delivers a focused, thorough, and engaging presence on the most popular social-media platforms with over one hundred practical tips, tricks, and insights.

The Art of Social Media explains the steps to build your foundation, gather digital assets, optimize your profile, attract more followers, and effectively integrate social media and blogging.

Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick provides a fun, easy-to-read marketing book with solid social media strategy presented in a logical order, which is not easy considering it has mainly technical information.

Influencer Marketing

45. Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing by Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella

The Top 50 Essential Books for MarketersBrown and Fiorella are business intelligence and customer experience authorities helping some of the world’s top companies to successfully communicate and help organizations win.

The authors show brands how influence marketing can become a powerful weapon and how to use social media to build online relationships. Brown and Fiorella include extensive research and case studies built on 20 years of experience.
Influence Marketing looks at how to leverage influencers and encourage consumers during the purchase journey.

Influencer Marketing has actionable insight and tools that go beyond identifying and engaging key influencers with a methodology moving from brand awareness to sales acquisition into measuring the customer lifetime value.

Brown and Fiorella, provide a roadmap to increase the number of leads and improve the quality of leads along with a method to convert more rapidly with higher profit margins.

For me, few books capture the experience of leading authorities with the research and credibility of the academic world in one resource to give marketers a critical resource for developing your marketing plan, brand strategy, and social media strategy.


46. Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy

The Top 50 Essential Book for MarketersDavid Ogilvy is widely recognized as the creator and leading authority on modern advertising and copy. Ogilvy created some of the world’s most successful and iconic marketing campaigns for many of the largest global brands.

Confessions of an Advertising Man was first published in 1963 and is an international best-seller, often referred to as the go-to-guide for smart advertising. Confessions of an Advertising Man is an amazing marketing book with essential wisdom and practical insight that stands the test of time.

Ogilvy is not only a great advertiser, and copy writer, but he is an excellent writer that engages using his personal brand of engaging wisdom.

The lessons and game-changing creativity, ideas, and philosophy are incredible pearls of wisdom for marketers with topics that include advertising (of course), people management, office politics, corporate ethics, and in essence a roadmap for good business practices.

47. Ogilvy On Advertising by David Ogilvy

The Top 50 Essential Books for MarketersWhat can I say about David Ogilvy that has not already been said. Ogilvy was the founder of one of the largest advertising agencies in the world.

This book has provided a paradigm shift in my thinking with a new perspective on marketing, advertising, strategy, tactics, and insight. Ogilvy is a maverick and true genius, whose fundamental ideas are as relevant in his era as they are today.

The main theme of Ogilvy on Advertising (coined by Claude Hopkins) is “Advertising is salesmanship.”

Ogilvy’s book contains several outdated areas, especially considering we are in the age of the Internet, but the core elements of advertising and marketing remain the same with basic human motives at the heart of consumer decision making.

Building a Following

Growth Hacking

48. Contagious: How to Build Word of Mouth in the Digital Age by Jonah Berger

The Top 50 Essential Books for MarketersContagious is another marketing book that starts where Gladwell’s Tipping Point ends. This is a book written by Jonah Berger, Wharton Professor that provides a well-researched that explains the critical elements of how word of mouth and social influence works in the digital and offline environment.

Word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising and is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. It is between 8.5 and 30 times more effective than traditional media. If you want to know how to have your product, solution, idea, or content spread via word-of-mouth, this is one of my favorites to read.

Berger uses great story-telling and an easy to read approach that is full of anecdotes to explore what does and does not spread. Berger provides a practical approach to help your idea or content have a significant impact, resonate with your target audience, and become contagious, even on a small budget.

49. Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday

The Top 50 Essential Books for MarketersIf you are unfamiliar with Growth Hacking, it is a set of frameworks, tactics and best practices designed to help startups think strategically about the problem of user growth.

Growth hacking is a philosophical approach to marketing at a startup incorporating disciplines like product management, direct marketing, brand marketing, and engineering.

Ryan Holiday, best-selling author, acclaimed marketing guru for American
Apparel, and multi-platinum musician explains the new generation of brands like Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, and Dropbox, who are not using the old marketing playbook and spending no money on traditional marketing.

The main idea of growth hacking is that products and businesses should be
continuously modified until fully optimized using tools that are scaleable,
testable, and trackable.

Holiday, provides a practical road map for a Fortune 500 company or a small start-up to build awareness and create a buzz for a product or services regardless of your budget.

Growth Hacker Marketing is a concise, relevant, and easy-to-read book for marketers to understand and deconstruct the new paradigm of products and services in the modern era.

50. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover

The Top 50 Essential Books for MarketersEyal and Hoover use years of research and specific case studies combined with consulting experience from a variety of tech companies to create Hooked.

I would recommend reading this book after Growth Hacker Marketing, because it picks up where it leaves off, providing the perfect complement explaining the new paradigm in marketing and product development.

Hooked provides a practical how-to-guide for building products written for product managers, designers, marketers, start-up founders, and anyone who seeks to understand how products influence our behavior.

The authors’ provide a four-step process model embedded subtly into the products of many successful companies to encourage customer behavior.

Eyal and Hoover detail how consecutive “hook cycles” result in products that achieve the ultimate goal of bringing users back again and again without needing expensive advertising or aggressive messaging.

Referral Strategy

51. Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself by John Jantsch

The Top 50 Essential Books for MarketersPush marketing practices are outdated and falling out of favor, however, word-of-mouth has never fallen out of favor.

Word-of-mouth, in fact, fuels business today built on developing and establishing trust from people referring your product or service.

The main theme of the book is the Customer Referral Cycle method for customers to refer others to your company, and in turn, generate even more referrals. Referral Engine provides the science and strategies behind how people recommend products and services to their friends.

Jantsch describes how to tap into the instinct wired deep in the brain and how to tap into that hardwired desire.

Referral Engine offers practical solutions on how to build a powerful referral engine by developing a systematic, consistent, and replicable approach through powerful content, social networking, and building strategic partnerships with case studies from companies such as Carhartt, Southwest Airlines, and TerraCycle.

John Jantsch provides a smart and practical guide essential for any marketer or organization especially on a limited budget.

Sales and Marketing

52. 80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall

The Top 52 Essential Books for MarketersPerry Marshall is a direct marketing and sales consultant and best-selling author. Perry is a leading consultant who has consulted with the best marketers, worldwide for more than a decade.

The book is written for sales and marketing professionals, but critical for any business owner.

The main theme of the book is centered around the idea, you can save 80 percent of your time and money by focusing on the right 20 percent of your market. Marshall provides a way to identify untapped markets, incremental improvements and high-profit opportunities, gaining time and greater income potential.

The book is for sales and marketing professionals, but critical for any business owner. 80/20 is well-written, effective, and engaging providing a framework that changes your paradigm on how you look at your profession and the world around you.

Marshall applies the 80/20 Pareto Principle to copywriting, buying traffic, scaling traffic, dominating markets, and sales conversion creating even greater value for marketers and sales professionals.


This is a relatively exhaustive list of books for marketers, but I may have missed a few, so please provide feedback by commenting giving the author and title of the book. In addition, please provide why you think the book should be added to the list. My intent is to provide an updated post in the future.

Top 52 Essential Books for Marketers