So you’ve decided to pursue a career in marketing – congratulations! It’s one of the most rewarding (and dare we say, fun) careers out there with so many different opportunities for various skillsets.
The marketing world is constantly evolving. Being a marketer means being in a state of near-constant learning. You’re always going to be refining your trade and on the lookout for the next big thing.
How can you start learning your trade? Stick your nose in a book, of course. While there are so many media outlets and blogs out there with terrific insight and tips, I’ve also found the following books offer terrific lessons, guidance, and food for thought.
From marketing theory to the latest trends, I’ve outlined some of my favorite books below that can help you get started in the world of marketing with confidence.
Table of Contents
- 1. Courage by Ryan Berman
- 2. Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
- 3. Good to Great by Jim Collins
- 4. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen
- 5. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
- 6. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
- 7. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
- 8. Influence: Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini
- 9. Master Content Marketing by Pamela Wilson
- 10. CASA Marketing: Intro to Google Analytics by Todd Kelsey
- 11. SEO Like I’m 5: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization by Matthew Capala, Steve Baldwin, and Kevin Lee
- 12. Unleash Possible: A Marketing Playbook that Drives Sales by Samantha Stone
- 13. Everybody Writes: Your Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley
- 14. The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences by Matt Watkinson
- 15. The Influentials by Edward Keller
- 16. All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin
- 17. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
- 18. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
- 19. The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Kabani
- 20. The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott
- 21. Writing for Journalists by Wynford Hicks
- 22. Marketing for Tomorrow, Not Yesterday: Surviving and Thriving in the Insight Economy by Zain Raj
- 23. The Science of Storytelling: Why Stories Make Us Human, and How to Tell Them Better by Will Storr
- 24. The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick
- 25. Content Marketing, Engineered by Wendy Covey
It’s not about marketing per se, but Berman offers some fantastic advice in this book.
After shadowing some of the most successful individuals and leaders in the business world, Berman learned that success is all about facing your fears and pushing your own boundaries – and later, about teaching the people on your team to push their boundaries, too.
It’s a great lesson for any industry or role – and most certainly marketing.
This text offers a fantastic explanation of the importance of marketing in an economy that is service-oriented. Selling (and marketing) something you can’t see is a different game entirely but is a skill that should be in every marketer’s arsenal.
Is it really possible to take a company from good to great – and how? This is the question that Jim Collins unpacks in this fantastic management book-slash-novel.
Collins breaks down the pillars of successful companies, and cites situations where companies made decisions that took them from successful to another stratosphere.
It’s not a book about marketing specifically, but the lessons it offers cross over, especially at the beginning of your career.
This bestseller, written by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, breaks down that age-old question – how can a company do everything right and still lose out to a competitor?
This book breaks down the why’s and the how’s that are crucial to success in our hyper-competitive world.
Have you ever had an idea that took off? In his book, Malcolm Gladwell analyzes the ‘perfect storm’ – when ideas, trends and social behavior tip to spread like wildfire and cause rapid change.
This book is more about sociology than marketing, but it’s important to understand the mindsets and trends that drive consumers.
An important read for our viral world, Berger’s book breaks down the six principles that make things catch on, from work rumors and consumer products to social media sensations.
I think it’s a must-read for any budding marketer – and veteran professionals, too.
David Ogilvy is the founder of one of the world’s most successful advertising agencies and is often considered ‘The Father of Advertising.’
This fantastic book unpacks everything you need to know at every point of your career, from the basics (how to strategize for advertising that works and write creative copy) as well as things you’ll need to know as your career progresses – how to run an agency and what the future of the industry holds.
This book breaks down the psychology of why we say yes – and how we can get others to say yes, too. If you’re interested in influencer marketing, understanding these concepts should be your first port of call.
This is the beginner marketer’s bible and a fantastic place to start if you’re getting your feet wet in the marketing world. This book offers step by step content marketing strategies that you can emulate and implement in your first job.
Every marketer knows that the devil’s in the details – or, in our case, the analytics. Analytics and data prove that campaigns are – or aren’t – working, and it’s hard to argue with numbers!
This book takes the fear out of those graphs and lines and makes Google Analytics accessible for new marketers.
11. SEO Like I’m 5: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization by Matthew Capala, Steve Baldwin, and Kevin Lee
If SEO sounds more like a car part than a marketing tactic, this is the book for you.
Capala, Baldwin, and Lee break down the basics of what you need to do to get your website to rank well on search engines (and get more customers) – which is a must for so many brands and organizations today.
Samantha Stone is all about revenue, and her specialty is fast growth and tangible outcomes (read: big sales, and fast). This book is all about marketing for high growth in competitive markets, and she gives you all the tools you need to get there.
In a world where we’re all online, our writing has never mattered more. One of marketing’s greats walks you through the art of writing in this fantastic book and will show you how to write content that attracts (and retains) new clients.
Customer experience is king – our customers want more from businesses and are not afraid to ask for it. Matt Watkinson breaks down the fundamentals of positive customer experiences.
This should be one of the first books you read as you venture into the world of marketing.
Did you know that the most influential people – the ones who tell you what to eat, where to shop and what to buy – aren’t the wealthiest or best-educated people in the world?
Edward Keller’s book breaks down influence in America and how to harness word of mouth marketing – one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal.
Don’t be turned away by the title! One of the most powerful voices in marketing today, Seth Godin’s All Marketers are Liars says that three questions will tell you everything you need to know about a business: what’s your story, will the people who need to hear this story believe it, and is it true?
This book breaks down the way that marketing really works and focuses on leveraging authenticity for results.
This book details the career of prolific entrepreneur and influencer Gary Vaynerchuk. The unique part is that Vaynerchuk walks readers through his failures and ways that he could have turned ‘good’ into ‘even better’.
What results is a very humanizing story that should inspire marketers of any age and skill level.
This book gives an incredible background on business that’s important for any marketer by breaking down why some ideas succeed, and others don’t.
It also discusses opportunities and how to turn them into successes, which is always important in a marketer’s world, no matter how commercial your business.
This how-to guide is the perfect addition to any marketer’s arsenal. It gives insights into social media marketing, how it’s changed and developed, and a process that’ll help you use social media to get more leads (and convert those leads into sales).
David Meerman Scott has been around the PR and marketing block and knows a thing or two about adapting and changing.
This guide is a marketer’s bible – it offers an action plan for using the internet to communicate with clients, increase reach and visibility, and most importantly – drive sales.
Meerman Scott breaks down the magic of marketing – getting the right message to the right people at the right time.
Have you ever wondered why some people write so well? This book breaks down the elements of good writing, and even better, offers examples of common sentence structures and corrections.
It’s a must-have for any bookshelf, whether you’re a beginner or a veteran marketer.
22. Marketing for Tomorrow, Not Yesterday: Surviving and Thriving in the Insight Economy by Zain Raj
“We create, consume, and critique faster than ever,” says Zain Raj in this fascinating commentary about consumers in our new digital world.
According to Raj, the most successful businesses can identify what the customer wants and give it to them. He breaks down how to use modern channels to engage with customers, the latest thinking in the marketing world, and why these strategies are working.
23. The Science of Storytelling: Why Stories Make Us Human, and How to Tell Them Better by Will Storr
Storytelling is fundamental to humanity – our ideas about who we are and what we want to do drive our actions, dreams and ambitions. They construct our relationships and one could even say that they rule our lives.
Will Storr breaks down the fundamentals of good storytelling and how people use stories to manipulate, compel and influence, starting from ancient texts all the way to modern examples. It’s a powerful read.
Social media is a crucial part of any modern marketing plan. Legendary former Apple Chief Evangelist and social media pioneer Guy Kawasaki breaks down the art of social media – and how to get the most for time, effort, and money.
There’s plenty of content out there – but why does some content really connect with people? Wendy Covey breaks down how buyers research before buying a product and how to educate (and influence) your audience through content marketing.
Yes, this is a long list – but don’t be daunted by it! With nearly twenty years of a marketing career under my belt, I’ve done my fair share of reading.
As you start out on your own journey, pick some of the above that sound the most interesting to you and if you learn something valuable, pick another!