12 Marketing Books That Will Revolutionize Any Business

Add any of these marketing classics to your library and transform your business.

Adrian Shepherd
CEO of iSucceed



Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Legendary management expert Peter Drucker once said, “Business has only two basic functions – marketing and innovation.” With Covid-19 detonating earlier this year, this quote has never taken on more meaning.

One of my clients described our present situation to me was like being in the eye of an economic storm. Aptly put. The first wave of bankruptcies took down many big names including Hertz, Neiman Marcus, Brooks Brothers, GNC and J.Crew. However, with cities such as Melbourne implementing their strictest measures yet, and some states reinstating lockdowns, it looks as if we still have a way to go before life can return to normal.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Anyone smart enough to have invested in the “Big Five” tech giants otherwise known as GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft) has done quite well. Combined they have taken the Nasdaq to new highs. Jim Rohn defined history as “opportunity mixed with difficulty.” Some people are already feeling the latter, but it’s the first part that should excite entrepreneurs.

Companies need to be innovative and disruptive, but marketing is where growth really begins to take things to a whole new level. As such, every entrepreneur should read and reread the following 11 marketing books to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that exist today. While some companies will continue to struggle in the coming months, others will thrive.

Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins

This is considered one of the greatest marketing books ever written. I was introduced to me by a friend of mine who does copywriting some time ago. He told me he reads it at least once a year. Written in 1923, people might dismiss this book as one of a bygone era. That would be a grave mistake. While social media marketing is all the rage these days, this book is a masterpiece in understanding marketing at its core.

Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

Ogilvy worked on a number of campaigns including Rolls Royce, Schweppes and Hathaway Shirts. They are still considered classics today. He stresses the importance of headlines and the power of a USP (unique selling point) throughout all your marketing and ads.

How to Get Everything You Can Out of Everything You’ve Got by Jay Abraham

Jay Abraham is considered the expert when it comes to joint ventures. He also talks about the importance of something he calls the Power Parthenon. He’s a genius at finding numerous ways for companies to boost their bottom-line. You might be able to find some of his high-end seminars on eBay, but his books are really some of the best material you can find from him. This book is definitely a great place to start.

Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz

It isn’t hard to pick up used marketing books for under $10. Not this book. While it’s available online for free, people still pay over $250 for a used print version. And this masterpiece is worth every penny. Chapter 4 is titled “38 Ways You Can Strengthen Your Headline Once You Have Your Basic Idea.” That should tell you all you need to know about the book.  

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Godin has written some excellent books on marketing including Permission Marketing and The Icarus Effect but this was my personal favorite. In a nutshell, it talks about the importance of constantly working to stand out from all the other cows in the business field. While many companies look to their competitors to shape their advertising, products and services, Godin talks about doing just the opposite.

Influence: Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini

One book that marketing legend Dan Kennedy tells his attendees to his workshops to invest in. It breaks marketing down into six principles and uses a number of examples to explain each one and is a surprisingly enjoyable read. It’s also extremely powerful because of the all science and research that Cialdini put into it.

Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk

The newest book on this list, but one that takes an in-depth look at social media marketing and how to best tailor your content to suit each platform. It also includes many success stories of individuals which makes it a great reference book for a variety of industries.

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout

This book was named by Advertising Age the best marketing book of all time. Personally, I would rank a few other books on this list slightly higher, but nevertheless, it deserves a place on your bookshelf. For those who would prefer something lighter, Ries and Trout also wrote The 22 Immutable Laws of Advertising which is an extremely quick read. 

Triggers by Joseph Sugarman

An absolute gem of a book that isn’t talked about enough. In the late 70s and early 80s, Sugarman put on 5-day direct marketing seminars for a small group number of people. Part of his presentation was called Psychological Triggers which many attendees attributed to being not only the most interesting but also the part they most benefitted from. This book is a distillation of those 30 triggers.

The Life of P.T. Barnum by P.T. Barnum

Facebook and LinkedIn have taken “personal branding” into the digital age, but P.T. Barnum was the original expert of self-promotion. This book is a fascinating read into how he was able to build, augment and strengthen his public image over half a century at a time before computers.

Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson

This was the first book written specifically for entrepreneurs and small business owners in mind. Its concepts focus on being cost-effective and creative in order to gain visibility. It was updated back in 2007 to address using the concepts for our digital age. Whether you’re looking for online or offline ideas for your business, this is one book you’ll want to read.

No B.S. Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing by Dan S Kennedy and Kim Walsh Phillips

Millionaire-maker Dan S. Kennedy and marketing strategist Kim Walsh Phillips teach effective direct response strategies for social media campaigns that convert to sales instead of likes.


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