These Marketing Books have Insights You Will Consistently Use
Don’t get me wrong. I loved doing my master’s degree in marketing.
Marketing has a great blend of psychology, strategy, and creativity. All things I love. You probably do as well.
But these standout books are practically worth as much as that $32,000 Master’s degree. These books, not textbooks, have helped me with tons of clients, from startup entrepreneurs to large international operators.
So here is my selection of must-read marketing books (with my personal affiliate links).
My criteria for recommending these books to you is:
- insightful and actionable
- easy to understand (plain English)
- fun to read
- easy to get
Confessions of an Advertising Man
by David Ogilvy (1963)
You could say it was in my blood. When I was seven, I started writing poster ads for our small toilet.
Those four apricot walls were at the end of a dim corridor. The showstopper was the spare toilet roll tucked under the crocheted dress of a surprised-looking doll.
I remember some of the headlines I wrote.
I Aint Heavy, It’s My Bladder; The Pool of Relief & Tranquility; The Toilet is Open 7 days a week… more features, rather than benefits. But it was the beginning.
Some people hate advertising. It won’t surprise you that I’m not one of them.
I love writing and designing advertising copy. It is a total head rush.
David Ogilvy was one of my earliest forays into the dark side. I was a media and communication student doing semantic analysis of advertising and its evils. Joining them was unthinkable.
“Unless your advertising has a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night” David Ogilvy
Ogilvy was the inspiration for Mad Men, which refers to Madison Avenue men. Ogilvy was a fresh and strikingly sharp observer of human behaviour.
Labelled the bible for the 1960’s advertising culture, his approach is still relevant and work today.
If you write ad copy, or do graphic design work, learn from the godfather.
Get Confessions of An Advertising Man (Amazon affiliate link)
Building a Storybrand or Marketing Made Simple
by Donald Miller (2017 and 2020)
I really like Donald Miller, even though his religion comes through a bit much. He is principled. He’s ethical. And he loves marketing and communication too. Who knew you could be both?
Miller’s message is simple. Be clear!
It is amazing how many businesses clutter their message. You don’t need a degree in semiology to know this. If your message is confused, no one will listen. They don’t try to work it out, they leave.
Miller’s Storybrand book and the follow-up, which I also recommend (but you probably don’t need both) is Marketing Made Simple.
Storybrand is all abut messaging and clarity.
He ties in storytelling and shows how powerful it is for business. I understand that he will son release another book called Victim, Villain, Hero, Guide. That, essentially, is how to think of your business brand. Identify the problem, set the stakes, solve the problem. That simple.
The businesses of the future I believe will be the one’s whose story is simple and clear.
Get Building a StoryBrand (Amazon affiliate link)
Now, the man with the hexagon.
The New Strategic Brand Management
by Jean-Noël Kapferer (2012)
I have used Kapferer’s brand identity prism for a decade. It’s extraordinary I don’t have my friend, the hexagon tattooed on my arm.
The brand identity prism is so simple, but a deeply useful way of exploring a brand so you can build one and protect it.
It really was a paradigm shift in thinking for brand managers and C-level executives.
This book by the French sociologist has ranging insights across different industries from luxury (where he is most well-known) to pharmaceutical brands.
My startup clients have loved this tool. I use it as a framework. We can take a pedestrian idea and give it higher-order values and brand story that signs.
Crystallised psychology and design, this book is the birthplace of that prism.
Get The New Strategic Brand Management (yes, affiliate link)
by Al Ries and Jack Trout (2005)
Reading this for the first time 15 years ago was like discovering a McDonald’s happy meal made from vegan immortality protein. It was good and… good.
Okay, bad analogy.
But do you know what I mean? Marketing Warfare is easy to chew and tasty to swallow. It will leave you feeling stronger and lighter. Sharper, if you will.
This book includes the powerful tactics and classic blunders. Even global brands like Coca-Cola, Volkswagen, and IBM make mistakes too, not just the little guys.
From China to Cuba to Vietnam, history teaches the power of a guerrilla movement. In business, too, a guerrilla has a reservoir of tactical advantages that allows the small company to flourish in the land of the giants. Size, of course, is relative. — from Marketing Warfare
I still remember classic lines from Marketing Warfare that come back all the time. It is a total cult classic marketing book. And for very good reason.
Jack Trout has now passed away, but at the time, they created a powder keg. Definitely add this read to your arsenal.
Blue Ocean Strategy
by W. Chan Kim and Renée A. Mauborgne (2012)
While we are still looking at the big picture, few come up with a compelling new take than Kim and Mauborgne.
Blue Ocean Strategy is so clear, it’s crystal. The analogy is that it is better to find unoccupied territory in which to compete than to get lost in the choppy, bloody waters of fierce competition. How do you do that? You innovate. You hybridise. You blend concepts and businesses. You co-create new solutions with customers, and more.
You read this book and say, oh duh. Of course.
Get Blue Ocean Strategy (my affiliate link)
Harvard Business Review (HBR) On Strategy
You might think from the name and bland cover design, this is going to be a dry and academic read.
Not so! HBR books are engaging with witty and visual language. They are brilliantly written little gems. A pleasure to read and full of C-suite level wisdom.
This is a definite advantage to the newcomer.
Get HBR’s On Strategy by various expert authors (indeed, an affiliate link)
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
by Al Ries and Jack Trout (200
This is the predecessor to Marketing Warfare by the same pair. It has their inimitable style and depth of experience.
Human psychology. Commonsense. Practical thinking.
This is one of the most illuminating marketing books you can get your hands on. This is a pitfall avoidance guide.
This book was written a long time ago now. But a lot of companies — big companies — still break these laws and fail. This is your chance to know better.
You can learn why a simple name is better than an acronym. Why you shouldn’t extend your dairy milk brand into the category of orange juice, no matter how respected it is.
For a lover of great business literature, this is pure joy.
Get The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (affiliate link)
The One-Page Marketing Plan
by Allan Dib (2018)
If you are in a business any larger than three people, I wouldn’t recommend this exact approach. But if you are a sole trader or have a very simple business, this works fabulously well.
Extraordinarily simple. And genius.
I would only mention that most organisations have six markets to deal with, not just one. This book focuses wholly and solely on customer attraction.
Want customers? Get this.
The Four Hour Work Week
By Tim Ferriss (2011)
This was the breakthrough book that showed how digital marketing is an escape rope out of the daily grind.
Much of his advice still rings true, like not checking email all day. Shut those things off and give yourself time to do the things that matter.
I’m a big believer in flow states, so this works for me. The tricks with ebay and pricing strategies are still good.
Now, there are many more outsourcing websites and places for online sellers like Shopify, Etsy, Squarespace, and Facebook has changed a lot.
This space changes every day. But the core principles still apply.
4HWW makes you want to jump in and start creating systems for your escape.
Get The Four Hour Work Week (yup, affiliate)
To the seasoned marketer, these books may seem like commonsense suggestions. But commonsense is not common practice. Have you read them?
If you are wanting a career in marketing, these books will save you $30,000. Enjoy. Thanks for reading!
Originally published at https://mvmm.com.au on October 23, 2020.