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10+ Best Marketing Books and the Key Takeaways

Summer Nguyen | 09-21-2020

10+ Best Marketing Books and the Key Takeaways

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Exploring the world of marketing through literature can be an enlightening journey for both seasoned professionals and newcomers to the field. Whether you’re looking to expand your knowledge, gain fresh perspectives, or refine your skills, delving into the pages of top marketing books can offer invaluable insights and inspiration.

In this list of the top 10 marketing books you should check out, we’ll look at a variety of books that cover important marketing ideas and methods. These books range from old favorites to newer hits, and they can teach you a lot about marketing, helping you succeed in today’s ever-changing business world.

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1. Principles of Marketing by Philip Kotler & Gary Armstrong

Principles of Marketing 17th edition
Principles of Marketing 17th edition

Principles of Marketing by Kotler & Armstrong Goodreads: 4.6/5

Principles of Marketing is an enormous book for every marketing student and marketers. This classic book is used as a required textbook in marketing courses of many universities.

The book encapsulates all the theoretical knowledge that one needs to know about marketing: product marketing, positioning, promotion, pricing, distribution, etc. It covers both traditional marketing areas, fast-growing and trending topics like digital or mobile marketing with well-structured and tons of practical case studies, and real-life examples.

As a team, Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong give us a clear explanation of everything that makes this thick book a must-read for any marketer.

Principles of Marketing is written in academic format yet so easy to read. It’s useful for both students of marketing and managers, professional marketers.

Key takeaways:

  • Customer-Centric Approach: The book highlights the shift from a product-centric approach to a customer-centric approach, where businesses focus on creating value for customers through products, services, and experiences.
  • Marketing Mix: Kotler and Armstrong introduce the concept of the marketing mix, also known as the 4Ps: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
  • Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning (STP): The book discusses the STP framework, which involves dividing the market into segments based on characteristics such as demographics, psychographics, and behavior.
  • Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC): Kotler and Armstrong emphasize the importance of integrating various marketing communication channels, such as advertising, public relations, sales promotion, and digital marketing, to deliver a cohesive message to customers.
  • Global Marketing: The book explores the challenges and opportunities of marketing in a global context, including cultural differences, market entry strategies, and international marketing mix adaptation.

2. Thinking, Fast, and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast, and Slow by Daniel Kahneman Goodreads: 4.6/5

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman explains the two systems that process our thoughts. System 1 is our intuition that is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The author will take us on a groundbreaking tour with a lot of surprises that transform how you think about thinking.

System 1 can be helpful in certain situations as our brain can make split decisions in a second without being stumped in any case. However, we usually use hunches based on system 1 when presented with too much information that can cause faults and get us into trouble because it can be emotional. This also happens when we let our overconfidence affect our decisions.

Daniel Kahneman also enlightens us about loss aversion. He exposes that the losses are more psychologically impactful than gains, which reflects the fundamental truth about human beings and also the most important idea of behavioral decision-making.

The book helps us understand how these two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions, how we cannot always trust our intuitions (system 1), and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking (system 2).

You’ll dive into the study of mind, how people behave the way they behave, and how decision-making processes can be improved. That’s incredibly valuable to a marketer.

Key takeaways:

  • Dual Process Theory: Kahneman introduces the concept of two distinct systems of thinking: System 1 and System 2. System 1 operates automatically and quickly, relying on intuition and heuristics, while System 2 is more deliberate and analytical, involving conscious reasoning and effortful mental processes.

  • Prospect Theory: The authors developed prospect theory, which describes how people evaluate and make decisions under uncertainty. The theory posits that individuals are more sensitive to losses than gains and tend to exhibit risk aversion in situations involving potential losses.

  • Framing: The book discusses the influence of framing on decision-making, demonstrating how the presentation of information can significantly impact perceptions and choices.

  • Overconfidence and Predictive Errors: Kahneman highlights the tendency for individuals to overestimate their abilities and the accuracy of their judgments, leading to overconfidence.

  • Systematic Biases in Judgment: The book explores systematic biases in judgment and decision-making, such as the tendency to rely on stereotypes, the influence of affective states on judgments, and the impact of priming and context effects on behavior.

  • Implications for Decision-Making: Kahneman discusses the practical implications of his research findings for decision-making in various domains, including finance, medicine, public policy, and organizational behavior. He suggests strategies for mitigating cognitive biases and improving decision quality.

3. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Influence: The Psychology of PersuasionGoodreads: 4.6/5

This is a classic book about persuasion or why people say “yes,” usually buy products. It gives good insights into compliance strategies and the main reasons we are persuaded. Cialdini explains everything through 6 powerful weapons of influence: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.

This book is accessible to laypeople, so even if you have no contact with social psychology, you’ll easily get the key points. If you’re a marketer, you’ll know how to stimulate and drive your customers’ decisions. If you’re an ordinary person wanting to become a smarter decision-maker, this book arms you against underhanded and malicious attempts at persuasion and provides tools to strengthen your interpersonal skills.

Key takeaways:

  • Six Principles of Influence: Cialdini talks about six important rules that affect how people behave: reciprocity, commitment, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity.
  • Reciprocity: When someone does something nice for us, we often feel like we should do something nice in return. This can make people more likely to do something for us if we do something for them first.
  • Commitment and Consistency: Cialdini describes how people tend to stick to what they’ve already said or done. So, if someone agrees to do something small, they’re more likely to agree to bigger things later.
  • Social Proof: Social proof means people tend to follow what others are doing. By showing examples of others doing the same thing or giving approval, persuaders can convince people to follow what they see as normal.
  • Authority: Cialdini explains that people are more likely to listen to authority figures or experts. By showing they know their stuff and are trustworthy, persuaders can have more influence and get others to agree with them.
  • Liking: The principle of liking emphasizes the importance of building rapport, trust, and affinity with others. People are more likely to be influenced by those they know, like, and trust, making likability a powerful factor in persuasion.
  • Scarcity: Cialdini says people want things that seem rare or hard to get. By showing that something is limited or exclusive, persuaders can make it seem more valuable and encourage people to act quickly.

4. Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith

Selling The Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing
Selling The Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing

Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith Goodreads: 4.5/5

Selling the Invisible contains powerful, practical advice on marketing and selling services and intangibles. Harry Beckwith enlightens many of us about the idea that services should be viewed as something to sell, just like a product. If you want to understand service marketing better, this book is the best choice.

This kind of product is invisible; it requires techniques different from selling a touchable product. Remember that if you’re selling services, you’re selling a promise. Customers can’t judge the service before buying or experiencing it, even need time to evaluate. That’s why you need a complete process to make your services noticed and satisfy customers before and after buying it.

Therefore, Harry Beckwith helps you realize that the core problem of services marketing is service quality, so the first dot in the checklist is to fix your services to make it the best and impress customers. Then, invest in employees training from the smallest to the biggest because they radiate the feel of your service. More precisely, they build the quality of your services. Valuable examples from brands like FedEx, McDonald’s, Disney, etc will get you to the point effectively.

Key takeaways:

  • Focus on the Customer Experience: Beckwith stresses delivering outstanding customer experiences in service businesses by understanding needs, surpassing expectations, and creating memorable interactions to build loyalty and satisfaction.
  • Emphasize Benefits Over Features: Beckwith advises businesses to highlight the benefits of services over features, emphasizing addressing customer needs and pain points to effectively communicate value.
  • Build Trust and Credibility: Trust is vital in service-based businesses, where customers invest in promises of performance. Beckwith emphasizes transparency, reliability, and consistency in service delivery to build trust and credibility.
  • Effective Communication Strategies: The book provides effective communication strategies for marketing services, such as storytelling, testimonials, and word-of-mouth marketing. Beckwith highlights the potency of emotional appeals and compelling narratives in captivating attention and engaging customers.

5. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Contagious: Why Things Catch On Goodreads: 4.7/5

Contagious is well-written for marketers combining groundbreaking research with full of exciting stories. If you want to figure out why people talk about specific products or new ideas more than others, this book can explain it perfectly.

This book gives you a set of specific and practical techniques for helping information go viral. No matter which types of businesses or fields you are working in to boost awareness, draw the world’s attention, Contagious will show you how to make your product or idea catch on.

In this book, Berger claims that most communications about products do not happen on the Internet, but through word-of-mouth. He gets you through six principles of STEPPS that can shape your product promotion: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotions, Public, Practical Value, and Stories. Contagious is all about human behavior and psychology that makes it entertaining to read.

Key takeaways:

  • Social Currency: People share things that make them look good. Brands and ideas that enhance the social status of individuals are more likely to be shared.
  • Triggers: Environmental cues can prompt people to think about related topics, increasing the likelihood of sharing. These triggers are valuable in marketing strategies to boost word-of-mouth.
  • Emotion: Emotional content is more likely to be shared because it resonates deeply with people. High-arousal emotions like awe, excitement, or anger are particularly powerful in driving sharing behavior.
  • Public Visibility: Making products or ideas more observable makes them more likely to be imitated and shared. Leveraging public visibility can increase the likelihood of contagion.
  • Stories: Narrative content is memorable and shareable. Stories that carry a message or evoke emotions are more likely to be shared and remembered by individuals.

6. Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to 
Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley
Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content Goodreads: 4.6/5

Ann Handley writes a book that tells us how to create and publish the kind of content that can capture audiences and make businesses thrive. In a content-driven world, the types of content we can create are not limited to word form only; it can be video, photos, gif, or whatever entertains people.

But it doesn’t mean that writing is not relevant anymore. The words we write determine what we are and how we look like in the audiences’ eyes. Words can make us look smart, engaging, and trustworthy, or narrow-minded, humdrum, and boring. This book will guide you to choose the words well, write with the style and honest sympathy for your customers. That means you’re writing true stories that convey specific messages and communicate the messages well with the audiences.

Ann Handley gives you expert guidance and insights into the process and strategy of content creation and publishing. The lessons learned can be applied to all your online assets like social media platforms, blogs, landing pages, or emails that now have the upper hand in this digital world compared to traditional marketing.

Key takeaways:

  • Clarity and Simplicity: Effective writing is clear, concise, and easy to understand. Strive for simplicity to ensure your message resonates with your audience.
  • Authenticity: Authenticity builds trust with your audience. Be genuine and transparent in your writing to connect with readers on a deeper level.
  • Value and Utility: Provide valuable and useful information to your audience. Content that solves problems or fulfills a need is more likely to engage and retain readers.
  • Empathy: Understand your audience’s needs, challenges, and preferences. Empathize with them to create content that speaks directly to their concerns and interests.
  • Editing and Proofreading: Take the time to edit and proofread your content thoroughly. Good editing improves clarity, coherence, and readability.

7. Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi

Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi
Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi

Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi Goodreads: 4.6/5

Joe Pulizzi is one of the leading experts on content marketing and the founder of the Content Marketing Institute. In this book, Joe Pulizzi explains how to attract prospects and customers by creating content that they want to engage with.

Epic Content Marketing gives you a step-by-step approach to develop stories useful and entertaining to read and compelling to take actions without marketing too much. You will learn how to set up a content marketing program with epic content that needs to be distributed to the right people at the right time.

It’s important to choose a content niche that can attract and retain customers first, then become the top content producer for that niche. You also need to identify your content marketing mission and set up a process for creating epic content. Online assets like social media and emails are powerful tools for your content marketing, so leverage them at the fullest potential. Finally, track and measure effectiveness. Epic Content Marketing gives you actionable and useful advice on all of these aspects.

Key takeaways:

  • Content Strategy: Create a content strategy that matches your business goals and audience needs, detailing objectives, target audience, content types, distribution channels, and metrics.
  • Audience-Centric Approach: Prioritize your audience’s needs and interests. Craft content that educates, entertains, or solves problems for them, rather than just promoting your products or services.
  • Content Distribution: Create a strong distribution plan using owned, earned, and paid media to maximize your content’s visibility and audience reach.
  • Measurement and Optimization: Monitor your content’s performance with key metrics like engagement, traffic, and conversions. Utilize data insights to refine your content strategy and enhance results over time.
  • Long-Term Focus: Content marketing is a patient, consistent long-term strategy. Prioritize building audience relationships and delivering ongoing value to sustainably grow your business.

Key takeaways:

  • Permission-Based Marketing: Gain consent from recipients before emailing them marketing content. A permission-based email list ensures higher engagement and regulatory compliance.
  • Relevance and Personalization: Customize email content to match subscriber preferences and interests. Personalized emails that resonate with recipients boost engagement and conversions.
  • Mobile Optimization: Ensure email campaigns are mobile-friendly, given the large number of recipients who view emails on smartphones and tablets. Utilize responsive design and concise, scannable content for optimal mobile compatibility.
  • Testing and Optimization: Continuously test different elements of email campaigns, such as subject lines, content, and calls-to-action. Analyze performance metrics to identify areas for improvement and optimize future campaigns.

8. Email Marketing Rules by Chad.S White

Email Marketing Rules by Chad.S White
Email Marketing Rules by Chad.S White

Email Marketing Rules by Chad.S White Goodreads: 4.8/5

The book Email Marketing Rules contains a huge amount of useful and actional information that you need to leverage email marketing. No matter you’re a marketing manager of a big brand trying to boost sales through emails or a small business’s marketing executive just starting to create an email marketing program, this book will help you to set up everything strategically and effectively.

The book guides you step-by-step to leverage this vital channel with tactical checklists, strategic frameworks, and 150 real-life practices. You’ll start discovering and setting the right goal of your program by understanding deep metrics such as your campaign, channels, and subscriber metrics. Then, you can segment valuable subscribers into high-performance lists to deliver more personalized and appropriate content.

This book also tells you how to create relevant messages with effective subject lines, attractive design, and styles. Automation in email marketing is something you should not miss out and it’s included in this thorough source. It’s definitely a must-read for anyone interested in email marketing.

9. Buy.ology by Martin Lindstrom

Buy.ology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy
Buy.ology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy

Buy.ology by Martin Lindstrom Goodreads: 4.4/5

After buying something, have you ever thought about what truly influences your buying decisions, or can you answer the question, “why did you buy it?” Maybe the ingenious design of the items, a catchy call-to-action, or a compelling review from your friend are the incentives, or it can be something that you can barely aware of.

In Buy.ology, Martin Lindstrom will explain perfectly why we buy through an in-depth, groundbreaking study conducted within 2,000 volunteers all over the world as they saw various advertisements, commercials, logos, brands, and products. Through his findings in this study, you will find out what we believed to drive our interest, and buying behavior is not everything. You’ll also learn about the effectiveness of different types of advertisements.

Key takeaways:

  • Neuromarketing Insights: Understand how emotions, sensory experiences, and brand associations influence consumer choices to enhance marketing strategies.
  • Brand Influence: Consistent messaging, memorable experiences, and emotional engagement help brands build strong connections with consumers, influencing purchasing decisions.
  • Subliminal Messaging: Subtle cues influence consumer perceptions subconsciously, enabling marketers to shape behavior and attitudes subtly.
  • Neurological Responses to Marketing Stimuli: Neuroimaging unveils brain responses to marketing stimuli, aiding in understanding consumer preferences and decision-making.

10. Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital by Philip Kotler

Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital by Philip Kotler
Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital by Philip Kotler

Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital Goodreads: 4.5/5

This book is a must-have for any marketer in next-generation marketing written by one of the leading experts in marketing. Marketing 4.0 provides useful advice and actionable marketing ideas that enable marketers and business leaders to respond to customers’ rapidly changing needs in the technology-driven marketplace.

Besides the effective information and concepts of marketing 4.0, this book brings well-known examples and unknown realities of the digital age that illustrate how digital transformation has impacted traditional marketing and how people adapt to it. Marketing 4.0 is an evolution that everyone is looking for, and it’s well-received.

Key takeaways:

  • Shift to Digital: Recognize the importance of transitioning from traditional marketing methods to digital platforms to reach and engage modern consumers effectively.
  • Customer-Centric Approach: Embrace a customer-centric mindset, focusing on delivering personalized experiences and building long-term relationships with consumers.
  • Integration of Online and Offline Channels: Integrate online and offline marketing channels to create seamless omnichannel experiences for customers, ensuring consistency across all touchpoints.
  • Content Marketing: Prioritize content marketing as a central component of digital marketing strategies, creating valuable and relevant content to attract and engage target audiences.
  • Social Media Engagement: Harness the power of social media platforms to connect with consumers, foster brand loyalty, and facilitate word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Agility and Adaptability: Adapt to the rapidly evolving digital landscape by remaining agile and responsive to changes in consumer behavior, technology, and market trends.

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A final thought

That’s the end of my top marketing books to read. It’s my personal reading, experiencing, and researching to create and share this list with the readers. Some books are written a long time ago, but still remain superior when it comes to marketing. I hope you encounter this list when you’re in need, and at least one book will leave something valuable when you close the final page of it.

Table of content

    A data-driven marketing leader with over 10 years of experience in the ecommerce industry. Summer leverages her deep understanding of customer behavior and market trends to develop strategic marketing campaigns that drive brand awareness, customer acquisition, and ultimately, sales growth for our company.

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