List of Top 10 Best Marketing Books – You Should Read in 2021


Marketing is constantly evolving, particularly in the digital age. Tactics that were effective six months ago are now obsolete. The best marketers keep their brands one step ahead of their competitors because they are constantly learning. This list below of the best marketing books is an excellent place to begin.

There are a few different books here. Some are brand new, with up-to-date case studies supported by recent research. Others are older and provide timeless advice on human behavior and psychology. Some are more specific and written to help you tone the right mindset. As you will see, this depth of knowledge will keep your mind and marketing skills sharper than your competitors.

List of Top 10 Best Marketing Books

The following are our picks for the top ten marketing books to read in 2021:

Hooked by Nir Eyal’s: How to Create Habit-Forming Products:

It isn’t always the best products that go “viral” and gather widespread attention. Also, it’s not always the products themselves that keep you interested. Nir Eyal outlines a four-step process in Hooked. Which companies can (and do) use to guide human behavior in such a way that users return without the need for more advertising or marketing.

The Hooked model appears to be as follows:

  • A trigger is a cue, either internal or external, that prompts the user to take action.
  • Action is the most basic form of behavior in anticipation of a reward. 
  • Mutable Reward – maintain user interest by meeting their needs while leaving them wanting to interact with the product again.
  • Investing entails anticipating future benefits.

According to Nir, when used correctly, these hooks enable businesses to increase customer lifetime value. Which provides pricing flexibility, supercharge growth, and sharpens their competitive edge.

Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday: Confessions of a Media Manipulator:

To understand how to best place a brand or client within the media environment, we need a thorough understanding of how media works. Holiday’s book provides insight into this topic in-depth, and the results are encouraging.

“Trust Me, I’m Lying” is, in the essence of, two books in one. The first half of the book describes how blogs influence news and how they can manipulate it. The second section demonstrates what happens when this gets done, using real-world examples. When the primary KPI of a media ecosystem is attention and profit, media companies and marketers win while readers lose.

While the book intends to be a warning, give it a read, and you will come up with actionable ideas.

Contagious by Jonah Berger: Why Things Spread

Consider the last thing you saw online and immediately shared – a YouTube video, a New York Times article, a meme, etc. What prompted you to share that? What was your driving force?

Jonah Berger, a Wharton marketing professor, investigates how social media influences our decisions and why some things go viral while others do not. In his book Contagious, he outlines six factors that contribute to things going viral:

  • How much social currency am I gaining by sharing this?
  • What internal or external inputs will associate with this?
  • Emotion – how does this affect me?
  • Is this something I see people doing in the real world?
  • What practical value am I gaining from this?
  • What kind of story can get woven out of this?

This book demonstrates how ideas spread in the digital age. The next time you create something in the hopes of it spreading, take time to consider how or why it might inspire someone to share it.

Influence by Robert Cialdini: The Psychology of Persuasion

Dr. Robert Cialdini’s 35-year study of persuasion and influence looked at the psychology of what makes people say “yes,” concluded in “Influence.” According to him, there are six persuasion principles. Your understanding of these will help you develop the best marketing tactics and how to persuade your customers.

Companionship: The internal desire to repay what someone else has given us.

Commitment & Consistency: Once we decide or take a stand, we should work hard to follow through on that commitment to justify our actions.

When we’re confused, we look to those who have been through similar situations for guidance. And the more people who take that action, the more we believe it is correct.

Understanding human behaviour and psychology is critical in marketing. Understanding Dr Cialdini’s work will help you improve your messaging. Simple as that.

This Is Marketing by Seth Godin: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See

A list of the best marketing books would be incomplete without mentioning Seth Godin. 

Rather than providing technical advice, Seth’s writing is more broad and philosophical. It examines the history of marketing and how mass media is becoming irrelevant or unnecessary in the digital age. His advice generally revolves around the theme of making things more personal. Seth’s advice focuses on determining who your product is for and what need it fills and then tailoring marketing for them. While the digital space is fast-paced and tactical, Seth’s advice is more timeless and broad. Every marketer needs a reminder from time to time that we’re all trying to connect people with products that can help them at the end of the day. If we want to solve problems, we can do so by creating things we are proud of.

Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman is a renowned psychologist and economist known for his research on judgment and decision-making psychology. For his work in behavioral economics, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics. So, when someone with his background writes 600+ pages outlining everything he’s learned about human behavior, believe me when I say you’ll walk away with something actionable.

The book covers a wide range of topics that appear to cover all aspects of human behavior, especially irrational human behavior. The author spends a lot of time discussing “the two selves,” which distinguishes conscious and unconscious thoughts and actions. This topic leads to descriptors: why humans are so bad at statistical thinking, demonstrating how and why both types of “selves” can get duped. 

Understanding psychology and human behavior are crucial in marketing. Kahneman’s work will aid in this, but it will also assist in a more underappreciated trait that every marketer requires: empathy. Consider the people who will be seeing your product or marketing for the first time. The result will speak for itself.

Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen.

If you’ve ever struggled to get customers to react to your marketing campaigns, this article will help you see it from a different viewpoint. And if you follow Donald Miller’s advice, make your customer the hero of a story.

Miller divides “Creating a Story brand” into seven principles:

  • The customer is the hero.
  • Companies sell solutions to external problems, whereas customers buy solutions to internal issues.
  • Customers aren’t looking for another hero; they want a guide.
  • Customers have faith in a guide who has a plan.
  • Customers will not act unless they get challenged to do so.
  • Every person tries to avoid a tragic ending.
  • Never assume that people understand how your brand can make a difference in their lives. Inform them about it.

It’s challenging to finish this book without reconsidering your brand’s positioning with your customers. Is your marketing a list of product benefits that you hope can trigger a customer’s interest? Try recreating them with the customer journey in mind, making them feel heard, and see how the answer shifts.

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

Despite living in a digital age where most communication is reduced to abbreviations, emojis, and Memes, writing is still an essential skill for anyone. When everybody has accessibility to the same resources, one of the only ways to differentiate yourself from the competition is to use different terms. The lessons and rules apply to all of your online assets, including websites, blogs, email marketing offers, Facebook, and other social media platforms. Best Ghostwriting services play an essential role in this marketing strategy.

Range by David Epstein: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

The range isn’t a marketing book in itself, but its remise helps establish or reinforce what a reasonable growth marketer should be.

We are part of a world where everyone strives to become specialized. People desire to become experts in a specific problem with a minimal skill set. 

We rarely solve the same problem twice in marketing because the more extensive our knowledge base, the more insights and possible solutions we get. More paid media, for example, is sometimes the solution, but it isn’t always. The same is true for content, SEO, email, referrals, and so on. Because growth marketing is all about finding one-of-a-kind solutions, understanding the entire landscape of tools and how they interact is critical. It means that in a world of increasing specialization, we need generalists. Of course, we don’t want a knowledge base that’s a mile wide but only an inch deep. Range reminds us to work toward becoming the T-Shaped marketer is becoming valuable on today’s marketing teams.

22 Immutable Laws of Marketing – Violate Them at Your Own Risk by Al Ries and Jack: 

With only 143 pages, this book is the shortest read on this list, but it’s impossible to read through the whole book and not come away with a few actionable best marketing insights.

The book’s advice is more strategic and less tactical, addressing product positioning (The Law of the Category) and public relations (The Law of Perception). Bear in mind that many of the book’s ideas revolve around choices that a business must make long before their product gets launched, rather than strategies used afterward to convince customers to buy. The book’s laws emphasized the importance of “product/market fit” long before becoming a buzz phrase.

It’s also worth noting that the book got published in 1994. Because of it, many of the examples and advice may seem a little out of date. It is up to the reader to figure out how to apply these ideas in the modern era. The Law of Focus, for example, discusses owning a word in your prospect’s mind, which is an idea that can get tied to modern SEO strategy.

Final Thoughts

Reading, leading, and achieving success are all things that you should do. The overwhelming majority of the world’s most powerful leaders, without a doubt, are voracious readers. Information equals knowledge, and knowledge equals power, of course.

With these intriguing reads, you can set yourself up for new heights of success and achievement in the coming year.


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