10 Best Marketing Books you Need to Read in 2019

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Marketing is one of the best skills that someone can develop, but it often goes overlooked and undervalued. We’ve created a list of the best marketing books you’ll need to read to take your marketing to the next level. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, an entrepreneur, or a seasoned marketing veteran. It is vital for everyone in the business industry to have a good understanding of the conducts of marketing. If you learn from the best marketing books, you will be able to improve your skills in this field of business and further your personal value. Many books that are highly informative feel dry and unreadable to most readers, especially if they aren’t the most avid readers. In the production of this list of best marketing books, we account for this finding books that keep marketing interesting, entertaining, and sometimes funny.

1. Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller

 

Building a Story Brand

Have you ever felt like people just don’t understand your company? If so, then this is one of the best marketing books that will do wonders for your brand. When you think about all of the time that you put into perfecting your business model or your product, imagine how much better your business would be if you decided to put energy into improving your message.

Donald Miller is an award-winning marketer, who has built a multi-million dollar brand around storytelling. That is why Storybrand deserves to be on the best marketing books list—it adds meat to the idea of branding. So many people disregard branding as non-important, this book will change all of that.

For a brief overview of one of the best marketing books, here is the structure that he advises for “Building a Storybrand”:

1. Character

  1. You have to identify what your customer wants. So many people get this wrong and they think that they’re business is at the center of the story. Well, news flash, your customer mainly cares about themselves and getting their desires satisfied.
  2. Try to get creative here, because you will usually not know what your customer wants right off the bat. For instance, if you sell RV’s, you may think that your customer wants to buy an RV so that they can go on family vacations. However, if by doing a market analysis you realize that your customers actually want to buy an RV to live in for extended periods of time, that is a different story. You have to cater to your audience and put yourself in their shoes—live inside their mind.

2. Has a Problem

  1. Villian: Is there a root cause of your customers’ problem? In other words, what is the tangible thing that is getting in the way of your customer achieving their goals?
  2. External: You need to identify the problem as it relates to your product or service. For example, if you sell insurance, you may find that your customers are paying extremely high insurance premiums elsewhere. Therefore, their problem is that they are paying too much for insurance.
  3. Internal: This is an extremely important one. How does this problem make your customers feel? Without considering the emotional reasons for a purchase, you will never truly understand your customers. In the case of the insurance company, paying too high insurance premiums may cause them to feel stressed. Because, if they had more money, they could use it on things that make them happy.
  4. Philosophical: When we do marketing for our clients, we find that this one can be a little bit tricky to determine. Essentially, it’s asking why it’s just “plain wrong” for your customers to be burdened by this problem. Let’s break this down a bit. In the insurance example, it would be plain wrong for your customers to pay more for insurance because proper health care is a fundamental human right. In other words, everyone “deserves” to have health care. Thinking in terms of “deserves” or “should” can be really helpful when brainstorming this.

3. And Meets a Guide

  1. Empathy: Once you know what the customer feels in terms of their emotions, then it is important that you recognize this for the customer. Failure to do this makes your brand seem less human and relatable. So, an example of this could be, “we understand how it feels to pay so much for insurance, that is why we decided to charge lower rates for our services.”
  2. Authority: In order to buy from you, you need to answer the “so what” question. If you are someone who has knowledge on a subject or has credibility, you answer for the customer why they should buy from you. So if you mention your background, then people will be more motivated to take action.

4. Who Gives Them a Plan

  1. Process: Without knowing how to actually use your product or service, people will be less likely to take action. That is why Donald Miller suggests laying out a 3 to 4 step process which guides the consumer through a sequence of actions you want them to take. For example, in the example of Zipcar, the three steps are as follows: (1) rent a car, (2) unlock car, (3) drive car. See how simple that is?
  2. Agreement: Have you ever heard of a Money Back Guarantee? If so, then you have heard of a customer agreement. In customer agreements, the company is assuring the customer that they will have their needs met and will not be tricked or duped in any way. This is important because there are many fraudulent companies out there which do not serve their clients interests. You need to set yourself apart.

5. And Calls Them To Action

  1. Direct: Usually on websites, you will see a large button on the home page which entices the visitor to take an action. A few examples of this could be “sign up”, “buy now”, etc. Storybrand refers to this as a Direct Call to Action. It’s kind of like asking someone to marry you, usually a lot more serious.
  2. Transitional: However, if someone doesn’t want to marry your company just yet, then you have to take them on dates first, so to speak. This means trying to get them to “learn more” or “watch this video.” Something that is a little less threatening, and will help get them into your funnel.

6. That Ends in a Success

  1. As you might expect, humans are emotional animals. They don’t really like to take action in activities—especially ones they have to pay for—where they are not seeing a substantial benefit. For this reason, successful businesses always frame their value proposition as a life-changing event. Even companies you wouldn’t expect to be life-changing do this.
  2. Consider Coca-Cola: their advertisements always contain the beverage consumer having a good time with their friends. This can be represented in their motto, “taste the feeling.” You can bet that by drinking a Coca-Cola bottle you are going to feel great and experience long-lasting memories.

7. That Helps Them Avoid Failure

  1. Like all good things, there is always its opposite. StoryBrand recommends that you add a tint of fear to help motivate customers to make a buying decision. However, you want to make sure that you don’t stoke fear to the point that the customer starts to see you as a fear monger.
  2. A good example of pointing out the negative consequences would be an air conditioning company. Let’s say that most people buy air conditioning products during the summer months because that is when it is hottest.
  3. If you were the owner of an air conditioning company and wanted to get business during the winter months, you could tell customers that it is important to buy air conditioning in advance. This is because the air conditioning companies are so booked during the Summer months with installations that you may have to wait a considerable amount of time before getting yours installed. And nobody likes to sit through the hottest months of the year without A/C.

8. Character Transformation

  1. Similar to step number 6, Character Transformation is absolutely pivotal for any brand trying to connect with their customers on a deeper level. This is because, at the end of the day, your customers are the heroes at the center of their story. Your company is not the hero. You only exist to give the customer the tools that they need to succeed.
  2. The best way to heighten this feeling of transformation for the customer is to consider the way the customer’s life is before using your product or service and then after. Think of a movie where somebody goes from zero to hero or has a big breakthrough which allows them to do miraculous things. Everyone wants to be that person, so feel free to be dramatic in order to get your customer to buy from you.

2. Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis

 

Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis

One of the best marketing books was written by Sean Ellis who coined the term “Growth Hacking.” Sean Ellis packs a lot of ideas in his book and provides a layman explanation of what growth hacking is.

Hacking Growth is one of the best marketing books because it provides entrepreneurs, business owners, executives, managers, and anyone that is in charge of a businesses growth a clear image of what it takes to rapidly grow a business. Sean Ellis discusses the importance of tracking and categorizing marketing experiments to reach the growth desired.

Growth hacking does works best when working with cross-functional teams. The goal is to create the best results possible for the lowest price. Companies who resort to growth hacking typically do not have high budgets to experiment or drive growth on a consistent basis.

Most growth hackers are put in a position with a low to none budget, a short time frame, and a product that does not have a lot of data backing it up. Once you’re put in this position, you begin thinking outside the box and become a growth hacker. Sean Ellis provides great examples on how other businesses achieved their goals.

If there’s one thing we learned from this book it’s that the faster you learn the faster you grow. If something works double down, and if it doesn’t then pivot as fast as you can. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to marketing or have over a decade of marketing experience. Everyone has the opportunity to learn from Hacking Growth.

Growth hacking is a key part of marketing, and many of the best marketing books discuss the methodology of how to execute this.

3. The Conversion Code by Chris Smith

 

conversion code

The Conversion Code reserves its status as one of the best marketing books because introduces the marketing concept of funnels; and notably, we are living in an age of funnels.

You may not notice them all the time, but they are everywhere, embedded in almost every part of the web.

There’s even a funnel in all the best marketing books.

In fact, nowadays you cannot run a successful online business without having a highly converting online funnel.

This is why this book by Chris Smith is such a gem. Having worked for years as a sales professional, he takes his sales knowledge and applies it towards driving conversions online.

If there is one major takeaway from this book, it is that the way you design your funnel matters.

You want to start by having a very simple look. One that doesn’t distract the visitor from of funnel away from taking action.

This means having a simple color scheme that saves the brightest colors for the action button. Furthermore, you want to make sure that the funnel displays social proof that will distinguish you from your competition. Since humans make decisions like sheep in a herd, it is important to claim legitimacy.

All in all, this book is a must-read for anyone looking to see their marketing dollars convert into sales. Too often I notice companies ignore their ROI and throw their marketing budget to the wind. Take it from one of the best marketing books to better understand the significance of this.

This book changes all of that. Not only do you gain the knowledge of how to build a perfect funnel, Chris actually goes into great detail to share his sales strategies with you. That way you can guarantee to close the leads you generate online.

4. Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

 

Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

Next, our alternative book for the best marketing books adhering to growth hacking. Perhaps more than any other book covered here, Growth Hacker Marketing documents Ryan Holiday’s real-life transition from a traditional marketer to a full-on Growth Hacker. Ryan Holiday’s great writing, strategies, and insight on his work added Growth Hacker to one of the best marketing books list.

To back up his claims that Growth Hacking really is the way to go, he cites how all the big media giants—Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, etc—all used Growth Hacking methods to scale.

One of the main reasons why this method is more successful, he claims, is because a Growth Hacker is constantly iterating on marketing campaigns.

Instead of building up a bunch of hype for a single campaign and then seeing where it goes, Growth Hackers can launch a campaign, test the results, and revise the approach based on data. This obviously saves companies a lot of time and resources.

Lastly, Ryan makes the argument that Growth Hacking is superior, because of its focus on sharing content and viral loops. The reason why is because the most successful companies utilizing Growth Hacking techniques all scaled using viral growth methods. Furthermore, Holiday adds a lot of value as one of the best marketing books, by making his book incredibly readable.

Instead of placing an emphasis on shoving content down people’s throats through paid advertising, they got them to use their products or services by getting people to share content with their friends. Since these are recommendations from friends, the businesses scaled much quicker.

Any serious growth hacker that has successfully achieved results should be added to the list of the best marketing books.

5. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

 

Hooked by Nir Eyal

One of the best marketing books you need to read is Hooked.

Hooked by Nir Eyal is one of the most popular books for any startup co-founder, product manager, or marketer looking to engage their audience through viral loops.

By the time you finish Hooked, you will have a clear understanding of how the biggest social media platforms built habit-forming products.

The goal of any platform you build is to make it as habit-forming as possible where it becomes painful to try and switch platforms.

This is one of the best marketing books because it gives use incite about Facebook, Snapchat, etc. Hooked teaches you how these companies built hooks to keep their audience as well as provides a model for you to implement for your business.

6. Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday

 

Ever wonder what the dark side of marketing looks like?

Well look no further, Ryan Holiday lands a second spot on our list of best marketing books as he writes an incredible book discussing his process in media manipulation and the outcomes. Ryan Holiday tells you exactly how it is.

Ryan discusses how you can easily manipulate the media with little to no budget, the disastrous outcomes of manipulating media, and how difficult it is to undo any damages.

Creating content and sharing it on the internet is extremely easy and cost effective. What happens when there is a battle for the most amount of web visitors on a short timeline? No fact checking.

If your writers are pressured to produce content as fast as possible, then it’s extremely likely to post news that is unverified. As a result, this provides a loop hole for media manipulation and “fake” news. Again, Holiday prevails with one of the best marketing books as his string of anecdotes really keep the reader’s attention making the book incredibly readable.

7. The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib

 

1 Page Marketing Plan

Of the best marketing books for marketing plans, this book is the most proficient at teaching how to strategize an idea. The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib is a must read for anyone looking to plan and write a marketing plan.

Staying organized and having an organized plan to execute your marketing strategies is critical to the success of your business and Allan Dib does a fantastic job simplifying and making sense of marketing for everyone.

The 1-Page Marketing Plan is a marketing book you must pause at the end of every chapter and take notes as well as write ideas. Amongst the best marketing books, this book allows you to lay a foundation for executing the methods mentioned in the other books. This book isn’t necessarily an elementary book, it builds fundamentals because you should always know how to plan before executing ideas.

To get the most out of your first read, take five minutes and write a little bit about the ideas that you came up with from reading the chapter. By the end of the book, you will have so many options to execute on.

8. Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk

 

Crushing it by Gary Vaynerchuk

I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t heard of Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary definitely deserves to be on the list of the best marketing books. What makes Crushing It a great marketing book is the amount of inspiration and motivation this book instills in you.

This book will not teach you anything new, but it will give you the motivation needed to go out there and execute on your ideas. You could get a lot of the content Gary talks about in the book on his youtube channel, blogs, etc.

The content is all out there, but Crushing It makes the list because it really forces you stop making excuses.

Crushing It uses a lot of examples of other successful entrepreneurs and really shows the perspective of how much work was put towards their success.

If you think you work hard, then you must read this book to see that there are a lot of people out there that will put your work ethic to shame. Success is a formula that can be replicated, and at the end persistence and dedication make it happen. This book fills a niche within the best marketing books as it teaches a mentality required for the business rather than a raw methodology.

9. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

 

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

We include this book amongst the best marketing books though book is not specifically about marketing. In The Tipping Point, the author, Malcolm Gladwell, shares pivotal insight on how things catch on.

If you think about it, marketing is essentially the act of getting a small group of people to evangelize how great your product or service is to a large number of people.

This carries with it a viral effect that soon encapsulates a massive segment of society in its wake.

The best way to think about The Tipping Point is to think about exponential growth.

For all intents and purposes, exponential growth looks like constant growth until it reaches a point known as the “knee of the curve.”

At this point, the growth will explode. This often catches people by surprise, as you can never predict when things are going to kick off.

What is important to remember in marketing, though, is that you need to be prepared for the tipping points that occur when things go viral. This proves itself as one of the best marketing books because it teaches certain skills that compliment your work in marketing. The skills it teaches don’t directly affect marketing, but it plays a role to support your existing skills and knowledge of marketing.

10. The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

 

The Power of Moments

Can you remember the first time you walked into Disneyland?

If not, let me paint you a picture. This theme park welcomes so many visitors a day because it is like a completely different world than the one we live in.

All around you there are fantastical sights, characters from your favorite childhood movies surround you, like Simba from the Lion King or Woody from Toy Story.

That first moment stepping into the park is a very powerful moment, and that is what this book is all about. Moments that make you remember a company forever.

At first it may not seem that The Power of Moments is a marketing book, but a lot of the concepts and analogies in the book can be applied to your marketing strategies which adds it to the best marketing books list.

Afterthoughts of the Best Marketing Books

 

All in all, whether you are looking to improve your PR tactics or just need to build a proper funnel, you should have all of the answers you need from our list of the best marketing books we recommend here.

I would suggest re-reading these marketing books once you have done a single pass through them, as I have always benefited from doing this.

More so, I’ve probably read Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis three times by now. It is incredibly important to ingrain and execute these concepts from the marketing books if you want to be a successful marketer or you want to improve your business.

Having the best marketing books in your arsenal just lays the foundation for your budding skills in marketing, but Make sure that you share your knowledge with a friend or colleague. I can not stress enough how much learning comes from tossing ideas back and forth with someone else.

To increase your learning potential, you may even find it useful to have that person read the book as well, so you can discuss it together.

Lastly, please feel free to share some of your best marketing books that you have come across, and let us know what you’ve learned from reading these books.

Let’s keep the conversation going! Being one of the best marketing books does not make a book an end-all-be-all as it is impossible for a single book to make someone the greatest marketer; however, each accumulative book adds nuggets of utility to your marketing package.

This being said, it is ideal for people to invest what they can into cumulating as many nuggets as you can from the best marketing books.

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