9 Marketing Books To Level Up Your Business Marketing Strategy

Marketing books are a dime a dozen, and you may not have a lot of time to find the best marketing books. Whether you are launching a startup, a small business owner, or part of a large company, it’s vital to have the mind frame and insights necessary to think through content marketing and your marketing strategy.

With over a month of listening time and 177 titles (and counting) on Audible, I have experienced some amazing business marketing books. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The top 9 best business marketing books for entrepreneurs and business managers are:

  1. Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger
  2. Content Inc., by Joe Pulizzi
  3. Epic Content Marketing, by Joe Pulizzi
  4. Everybody Writes, by Ann Handley
  5. Exactly What to Say, by Phil M. Jones
  6. Killing Marketing, by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose
  7. Building a StoryBrand, by Donald Miller
  8. Made to Stick, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  9. SEO for Growth, by John Jantsch and Phil Singleton

If you are worried about wasting time or money to find the best marketing books, then look no further because we put together our list of must-read marketing books!

The Best Business Marketing Books To Learn & Grow

There are some great marketing blogs out there that you can read to stay current, but the best way to immerse yourself in more profound concepts and learn the frameworks/approach for marketing is to understand the leading digital marketing books.

While there is are different levels of knowledge and experience needed to execute a successful marketing strategy, it is vital to have a basic understanding of marketing efforts if you want to run a successful business in our digital age.

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Online marketing is a field of study that is continuously changing, and you can take ideas and concepts from top marketing books to help you achieve your business goals like:

  • Learn how you can grow your business based on the success and failures of other industry leaders.
  • Develop a marketing plan that will meet customer needs and reach your business goals.
  • Build a personal brand that gets you found on social media platforms and generates more business.
  • Learn marketing tips to help you influence people and gain a competitive advantage.
  • Use content to stay top of mind with different digital marketing channels like email marketing, SEO, and social media marketing.

Let’s check out the 9 best marketing books for business owners and entrepreneurs that will even teach experienced marketers a thing or two!

1. Contagious: Why Things Catch On


Quick Review:

Contagious: Why Things Catch On is for CEOs, marketing analysts, business administration undergrads, budding entrepreneurs, advertising professionals and for anyone who is interested in growing their marketing skills.

In the book, marketing professor Jonah Berger explains why certain products gain popularity and what helps certain ideas to “go viral”. Berger argues that it is not the traditional marketing markers like quality, price, or advertising that determines a product’s or an idea’s success, but instead, social influence and word-of-mouth transmission do play a vital role in making these ideas/products popular. He provides an easy to follow acronym to delineate what helps ideas to ‘catch on’.

The acronym is STEPPS and each letter stands for a technique that adds to a product’s contagiousness.

  • Social Currency (S): Berger postulates that human beings share things and information that make them look good. This means being “in-the-know” on something and passing on that information to others to make ourselves look smarter, funnier, and more entertaining.
  • Triggers (T): This means that certain things instantly trigger thoughts related to other things and thus, they remain of the “top of our heads and on the tips of our tongues”. In fact, trigger-associated products are capable of increasing word-of-mouth by 15 percent, and because they remain on the top of everyone’s mind, people will be more likely to act on what they are thinking.
  • Emotion(E): Berger argues that we are more likely to share information that evokes varying emotions and sentiments in us, like awe, stress or anxiety. Depending upon the emotion it invokes in us, we are more likely to spread an idea.
  • Public (P): This indicates that the social proof that a product is more visible and “public” helps it to gain popularity. Berger sums it up as: “Making things more observable, makes them easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to become popular.”
  • Practical Value (P): This means that information that has more practical value is more likely to be shared widely.
  • Stories (S): When a good story is built around a product or an idea, viewers are more likely to share it with others.

My Takeaways:

Overall, this is a good read if one is interested in understanding how psychology and behavioral economics affect the popularity of a product. The book is well-organized, provides lucid explanations by using several applied examples to elucidate several concepts and is a good guide for someone who is looking to popularize an idea.a

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2. Content Inc.

Quick Review:

Content Inc. is primarily targeted at budding entrepreneurs and start-up enthusiasts who are looking to subvert the traditional modes of reaching customers while doing business.
In Content Inc., How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses, author Joe Pulizzi reveals a new mantra for entrepreneurial success.

He discusses how to develop valuable content, build up an audience surrounding that content, and then creating a product for that audience. Thus, rather than first creating a product and then pitching it to customers, Pulizzi goes the reverse-engineering route by building up an audience of future buyers first and then selling to them.

  1. The “Sweet Spot”: Here, Pulizzi encourages one to identify the point of intersection between one’s unique competence and her personal passion.
  2. Content Tilting: This means “tilting” around the sweet spot a little until one finds a place where there exists little or no competition exists.
  3. Building the Base: This means building an appropriate channel for the dissemination of content. This could be through a YouTube channel, a Facebook page or a blog.
  4. Harvesting Audience: This means using social-media and SEO techniques to influence people into becoming long-term patrons and customers.
  5. Diversification: This would entail an expansion into multiple delivery channels, instead of focusing on only one channel.
  6. Monetization: This is the stage when one begins to charge money for their products or services, after their expertise has been firmly established and their reputation secured.

Pulizzi recommends following these steps to run a profitable, scalable business in a short time period.

My Takeaways:

This book is useful for new entrepreneurs with limited resources who are looking to build a massive online audience that drives their business. It helps small businessmen learn the ways to develop a model that will generate an audience of future buyers, and formulate effective plans that will help in SEO. Thus, it is a must-read for an entrepreneur that is looking to become an industry player, by following the online route. The book will also help marketers in larger companies who wish to be agents of change.

Thus, if marketers are trying to build up a valuable audience base in a niche area of content, then they can use the techniques mentioned in this book. The book is well-structured, and the methods discussed were easy to follow and implement. Overall, the book was a great read.

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3. Epic Content Marketing

Quick Overview:

The books gives one a step-by-step account of the process of developing stories that entice audiences and compel them to act, without being pushy or unpleasant. By exploring the ways in which corporations like John Deere, LEGO, Coca-Cola pushed their sales, the book serves as a guide to help one create and disseminate a niche content that can be used to attract and retain customers, which will eventually generate more profit and growth.

The amazing marketing book underscores a larger idea: it urges one to think of content as a part of a larger series. Rather than creating one-off blog posts, a series of created content allows the audience to follow the structure and coherence in ideas, thereby bolstering the content’s effectiveness.

There are several takeaways from the book:

  1. You should avoid focusing the content on products. Rather, it should be focused on customers.
  2. There should be a PR exercise in the form of content marketing.
  3. Content creators have to compete with traditional publishers, thus they have to curate their niche content more specifically if they have to differentiate themselves from traditional publishers.
  4. He urges creators to look at content marketing as a continuous process. He advises content creators to pitch content creation as an approach, rather than an isolated business campaign. He argues that content creation is as much a a philosophy as a business strategy and thus, it does not have an end date.
  5. The author urges content creators to be consistent and committed in terms of how frequently they create content. He cites research to show that though sometimes, brands are very prompt and successful at starting a dialogue, but they fail to follow through on the idea later. Thus, if one is writing blog posts, the same should be regular and consistent.
  6. Pulizzi offers the four parameters of consumption, shares, leads, and sales to judge the efficacy of content marketing. Once these are met, the success of the strategy can be judged.

Who Is This Book About Marketing For?

This is a good book for a CMO of a giant corporation, a budding entrepreneur or a digital marketer. In Epic Content Marketing, Pulizzi explains how to attract customers by creating content they actually want, rather than simply bombarding them with boring content.

My Takeaways:

Overall, the book is a pleasant read and a must for those content creators who wish to go beyond the ordinary to create something “epic”.

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4. Everybody Writes

Quick Review:

In the world of social media, YouTube, and podcasts many marketing professionals forget about how important the written word still is for business and marketing success. If you want your marketing strategy to work, you will need to know how to create content that grabs the attention of your audience and gets them to take action. All digital marketing professionals need to know how to write well, and this task can be overwhelming and annoying, but with this fantastic “how to” guide you will be able to start, optimize, and perfect the writing process without any struggle!

Who Is This Digital Marketing Book For?

Whether you are a recent graduate looking for your first marketing job, or you are a seasoned content marketing strategist, then you should take a look at this marketing book. Reading through this go-to digital marketing book focuses on how to write amazing content for social media, email marketing, blogging, and other content marketing tasks.

My Takeaways:

  • Helpful even if you are not a marketer and can help you improve day-to-day responsibilities no matter what type of content you produce.
  • Learn how to optimize content for blogs, social media, email marketing, and other content types.
  • Writing for the business world is much different than is taught in school. This book will help prepare you to be an entrepreneur, content marketer, or work in a large company.

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5. Exactly What to Say

Quick Review:

This book is one of the top how-to books that I have read when it comes to increasing sales and driving conversions. It uses an easy to understand format that is highly powerful, and you can implement these suggestions quickly. I am going to buy a copy for my friends and people in my marketing network because I believe the tips and approach that the author uses is so powerful. This is a must-read if you are a Copywriter, PPC Manager, or any other hands-on marketing/sales professional!

Who Is This Marketing Book For?

This is a highly readable and quick read that provides concrete examples of key phrases that you should use in your online marketing content. Not only does Phil provide actionable examples and suggestions to improve your marketing/sales performance, but he also provides support from psychology to help the reader see when they should use the tactics. This book is excellent for Copywriters, Sales Professionals, and Digital Marketers.

My Takeaways:

The main benefits of this book are the actionable phrases the author provides. He taps into psychology to find the best expressions and responses to questions/objections. If you are in sales or marketing, then this book is something you must have in your collection!

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6. Killing Marketing

Quick Review:

As your business or organization continues to grow, you will start to require marketing and outreach that generates revenue across your operations. Many marketing strategies tend to cost companies money, but Killing Marketing provides accurate insight, approaches, and examples that you can understand disruptive forces that will turn marketing to a revenue-generating component of your business.

Who Can Benefit From This Book On Marketing?

Killing Marketing focuses on high-level, operational business concepts. While not heavy on marketing tactics, this book is ideal for professionals looking to integrate Content Marketing into their business model. I recommend this book for CEOs and CMOs in large corporations and Marketing Managers who want to present their department in a way that makes sense to decision makers.

My Takeaways:

  • The Internet allows all businesses to reach their audience unlike any time in our history.
  • Your audience has questions, and it is your job to address their needs.
  • Quality content is more important than ever and builds an audience first with content that your customers love.
  • You will always be able to monetize your products/services. Focus on building an audience first.
  • Content management strategy is not an option- if you rise above your competition, then you need a content strategy for your entire business.

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7. Building a StoryBrand

Quick Review:

Creating a marketing strategy for your business or organization can be challenging to get started, but if you follow a storyline when constructing your message, it can be much more comfortable. This book follows a format using a seven-step process to build amazing content and uses movies as a means to explain complex marketing strategies and concepts.

Who Is This Digital Marketing Book For?

This book is easily accessible because the author doesn’t use MBA or marketing jargon to explain his point. If you love metaphors, natural language, and visuals to understand complex concepts, then this book is for you.

I recommend this book for Copywriters, Content Marketers, and Brand Strategist.

My Takeaways:

  • Concrete tools on how to build brand stories.
  • Your customer should be the hero of the story, not your brand.
  • So what’s your message? Can you say it easily? Is it simple, relevant, and repeatable? Can your entire team repeat your company’s word in such a way that it is compelling?
  • Pretty websites don’t sell things. Words sell items. And if we haven’t clarified our message, our customers won’t listen.

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8. Made to Stick

Quick Review:

Have you ever wondered why some ideas stick around for generations, while other ideas disappear? There is a methodology behind making your ideas sticky, and you can use this process to express yourself and make your message more powerful.

Whether you are an entrepreneur looking to grow your business or a marketer with a new slogan, you can follow some basic ideas to help your thoughts. You can use these six marketing concepts to support your ideas stick today like:

  • Simplicity: Find and share your core ideas- this will help your content stick and is useful for changing thoughts and behaviors.
  • Unexpectedness: Violate what people expect from your message if you want them to remember it.
  • Concreteness: You must help people remember your message to make sure that your core ideas are concrete.
  • Credibility: Help people believe by making sure your idea can carry on its own and doesn’t rely on other aspects to resonate with your target audience.
  • Emotional: Make people care about your idea by making your message hit their emotions. This will make your message more memorable and have a better impact.
  • Stories: Stories get people to act out your idea, and they are easier to remember. Always create a story around your message, because this will help convey your core idea easily.

Who Is This Book On Marketing For?

This is one of the best marketing books for graduates, content marketers, and other marketing professionals. Even if you are not a marketer, this book offers real-world tips for business owners and managers alike.

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9. SEO for Growth

Quick Review:

One of the best marketing tactics that you can use for your content marketing efforts is to improve your online visibility with Search Engine Optimization. Not only does this channel make a big impact on your marketing plan, but you also have the opportunity to build a larger reach with a modest advertising budget.

The only problem is that SEO marketing can be a confusing task that can overwhelm most marketers and business professionals. The good news is that the authors of this book provide step-by-step tips to optimize content for search engines and you can use their advice to see content-driven results!

Who Is This Digital Marketing Book For?

This is an excellent book for any marketer or business professional. Whether you are a recent graduate looking to learn the basics of SEO marketing or you are a seasoned marketing professional then you can learn a lot from this easy to follow and simple read.

Even though the authors straightforwardly present information, they do a great job driving in-depth concepts so you can pick up on essential concepts without getting lost in the weeds.

My Takeaways:

  • Clear and easy to read. Not your typical technical how-to manual that skims over essential things.
  • Even if you have experience in SEO and online marketing, then you will definitely learn from this book, and you will be able to implement what you learn immediately.
  • Understand how to perform keyword research, how algorithms work, and an introduction to content marketing, social signals, and many other marketing tactics.
  • All messages are clear, concise, and approachable no matter your background in these concepts.

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Best Books On Business Marketing FAQs

If you are a business that relies on foot traffic and local leads, then you should put most of your attention on local SEO marketing. If you don’t have a huge marketing budget then you can use content marketing, local Google Ads, and local Facebook ads along with organic marketing strategies.

Website copywriting is when you write content that gets found by search engines and engages with your customers. You should follow a methodical copywriting process to write blog posts, social media content, and landing pages.

The average U.S. small business spends 7-8% of gross revenue on marketing activities. Most of these marketing expenses come from paid marketing channels like Facebook marketing and Google Ads, but it also includes SEO and other digital marketing activities.

About the Author: Chris

Chis is the Lead Strategist at StrategyBeam with over 19 years of marketing know-how up his sleeve. He loves transforming business marketing campaigns into success stories by boosting efficiencies across all campaigns. When not strategizing, he can be found laughing at the monkeys at the zoo.

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