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21 best marketing books in 2023

November 18, 2023 | Jimit Mehta

Leaders are readers. We asked our marketer community what are the best marketing books they have read or where they found insights for their marketing. Here's a listing of the best ones with links to Amazon.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

The Psychology Influence of Persuasion taught me how to make my entrepreneurial and marketing approaches to marketing more rhetorical and grounded in facts. When I am reading books related to my niche, I’m always a digger for something that has a foundation for empirical basis—and not those that do not walk the talk. It’s a pretty old book that was published back in 1984, but learnings still linger to this day. It’s jam-packed with minuscule and empirical details explaining how a person can be persuaded—and it is backed by science. The lifelong lesson that I admire from this book is the concept of contrast ─ a $5 cup of coffee is more reasonable and likely to be purchased when it is positioned beside an $8-10 cup of coffee.

The Psychology Influence of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini (1984)

─ Sam Browne, HARO SEO

Breakthrough Advertising

The best marketing book I have read is Breakthrough Advertising. It was originally published in 1966, and is a must read for all marketers and copywriters. The book is more like a dictionary for marketers and goes through the different states of awareness customers go through in their buying journey. It also tells you how you should structure your headlines and messaging at each stage of the funnel. If there's one book I can recommend to all marketers, it's this one.

Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz (1966) (maker website)

─ Omid Ghiam, Marketer Milk

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

I have read a lot of marketing books over the years, but the one that has had the biggest impact on my thinking is Al Ries and Jack Trout's "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind." In their book, Ries and Trout argue that the key to successful marketing is to occupy a unique and distinct position in the customer's mind. This is easier said than done, of course, but the book provides a framework for how to think about positioning your product or service in a crowded marketplace. It's an essential read for any marketer, and it's helped me to develop a more strategic approach to marketing.

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Jack Trout (2001)

─ Jim Campbell, Wizve

Surrounded by Idiots

I found "Surrounded by Idiots" to contain really helpful lessons on marketing despite it not being a traditional "marketing book". In this book, Erikson filters human behaviour down to four types:

  • Blue (analytical and precise)
  • Red (dominant and commanding)
  • Green (laid back and friendly)
  • Yellow (social and optimistic)

His detailed analysis of each gave me excellent insight into the detailed thought processes of others, which I could immediately apply to tweak consumer personas, sales copy, and even user experience and web design.

Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson (2020)

─ Amie Sparrow, Enough Digital LTD

Permission Marketing

Seth Godin is one of the brightest names in the marketing and business world today. I like and follow his marketing wisdom – which is exactly why Permission Marketing is always on the top of my bookshelf. Seth simply argues that instead of interrupting consumers with unexpected and unwanted TV commercials and ads, why not do Permission Marketing where we send targeted messages only to the people who show interest. Following this technique, brands can build long-term and sustainable relationships with customers that can generate repeat business. This book is a must-read for marketers today – because in this marketing-focused era where customers get bombarded with sales-focused content every minute, nurturing a loyal and friendly relationship with customers is needed for recurring business.

Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers by Seth Godin (1999)

─ Scott O’Brien, PPC Ad Lab

Epic Content Marketing

Epic Content Marketing focuses on the importance of content marketing and how it has changed the landscape of marketing. Creating content that addresses the needs and pain points of your audience is no longer an element of marketing, but rather its core. Pulizzi uses different examples to show how important it is to tell a story that resonates with your customers. However, what your customers expect has often nothing to do with your needs. That’s why you should focus on what people want rather than your goals. The main message of the book is that it’s about the CUSTOMER rather than your company, products, or sales goals. It’s time to understand that people don’t care about you, but look for content that helps them achieve what they want.

Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less by Joe Pulizzi (2013)

─ Dorota Lysienia, Live Career


The best marketers understand that to have success you must understand human behavior, and no book does a better job of explaining this than Nir Eyal’s “Hooked”. Many books break down our thought process and how it influences our decision making, yet they often only change techniques. However, Eyal's book not only demonstrates a simple process to touch on those factors to guide the customer to where we want them to go but reinforces qualities that become habits. Many books promise instant results, but Eyal understands that his four step process is a subtle one that when done repeatedly, not only leads to success but permanently changes the way we think. Hooked is the perfect marketing book for those who want change both the way they promote, and the way they operate.

Hooked by Nir Eyal (2014)

─ Matt Miller, Embroker

How to Win Friends and Influence People

This is a permanent guest on my nightstand. Whether crafting a marketing email or social media post, or responding to a customer's query, you're most likely trying to win over someone's favor. Addressing people by their name, actively listening to their ideas and opinions, and asking them questions make people feel important and a part of your brand. And focusing on the positive engages prospects and lets you see things from their viewpoint ─ even when they offer negative feedback. It also leaves a more favorable impression of their interactions with your business, demonstrating that your brand's end goal is not selling its products but building relationships with its customers. As Carnegie wrote, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie (2010)

─ Daniel Tejada, Straight Up Growth

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds

The Undoing Project combines marketing with psychology in order to educate the reader on the errors of the psyche. Published in 2016, the book is a story of friendship, a cautionary tale of human irrationality, and an exploration of how a strong partnership curiously broke apart. Lewis is praised for his ability to communicate complicated concepts, and translate them into easily digestible and practical ideas for the reader to take away and employ.

The book teaches how our minds attempt to fool us, and the steps we can take to spot the signs and avoid deception. It teaches the reader about the halo effect, the heuristics of decision-making, and how to discern a clear narrative from total randomness. These teachings, suffice it to say, weigh heavily into any marketing conversation, where truly and deeply understanding your customer can be the difference between campaigns gathering dust and picking up a storm. It may just leave you questioning your perception of reality.

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis (2016)

Aaron Gray, NO-BS Marketplace

The End of Competitive Advantage

The author has subtitled her book, How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business, and this quite succinctly explains the point she is trying to make. The basic premise is that strategies you have used in the past are now outdated, and in order to stay ahead, new approaches need to be taken. Her plan is to seize new opportunities quickly, exploit them ruthlessly, then move on before the competition catches on. The book contains numerous easily identifiable examples that fuel thought-provoking discussion and easily actionable hints to keep your business moving.

The End of Competitive Advantage by Rita Gunther McGrath (2013)

─ Morgan Taylor, Sourcery

Selling the Invisible

This book is a great read and although a bit older, is still a great reference book. It also has great advice for service-oriented companies and puts you on game with so many marketing concepts that are crucial to understand if you are going to succeed at keeping your customers engaged. We talk about customer journey mapping today as a somewhat new trend; Harry Beckwith was already ahead of the game when he wrote "Selling the Invisible." There is no excuse not to pick this book up as it's a short read and has lots of built-in value for people just getting into marketing.

Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith (2012)

─ Michael Taylor, Shifting Shares

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

A lot of marketing books focus on good ideas that can help your business. Here, the authors primarily focus on what NOT to do—and believe me, once you read this book, you'll see these laws in action. Advertisements that simply don't work are probably breaking at least one of the 22 laws, but the marketing material that really thrives has managed to avoid these great mistakes. Learn what you should avoid so you can keep your marketing material focused on what works best for your business.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout (1994)

─ Shawn Plummer, The Annuity Expert

Building a Story Brand

Building a Story Brand is a fun and informative book that engages and entertains readers from all walks of life, including seasoned marketers to novice entrepreneurs. Miller breaks core marketing principles into bite-sized chunks so brands can clarify their message to better connect with their audience rather than confuse and lose business. Where other marketing books I’ve read can come across as overly philosophical or academic, Building a Story Brand is compelling and practical without being pretentious.

Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller (2017)

─ Tommy Chang, Homelister

Your Next Five Moves

Your Next Five Moves focuses on the analogy between becoming a chess grandmaster and excelling in business and marketing. It highlights the importance of developing the ability to think ahead, which should be at least five steps forward. The book summarizes the five fundamental moves one must take to become a successful marketer: master knowing yourself, master the ability to reason, master building the right team, master strategy to scale, and master making power plays. The author, Patrick Bet-David, emphasizes that "the only thing separating us from greatness is a vision and a plan for achieving greatness."

Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy by Patrick Bet-David (2020)

─ Lilia Tovbin,

The Minimalist Entrepreneur

The Minimalist Entrepreneur is the manifesto for a new generation of founders who would rather build great companies than big ones. The book guides the reader through starting a business through cold marketing outreach and marketing through community, as well as scaling marketing efforts with automation, paid channels and hiring. It is an excellent insight into building a business and necessary marketing channels sustainably for the solo founder.

The Minimalist Entrepreneur: How Great Founders Do More with Less by Sahil Lavingia (2021)

─ Josh Smith, Roll To

Lucky Or Smart

Lucky or Smart is an intriguing book by my favorite marketer and entrepreneur, Bo Peabody. The book highlights that intelligence can be an advantage in business and marketing, but you need luck to put you in the proper place to flourish. The book also reveals that a B-Level student can potentially lead a team of employees full of A-Level students. For someone not academically gifted, reading Lucky or Smart was inspiring enough that it inspired me to launch my own company and succeed in my marketing endeavors.

Lucky or Smart?: Fifty Pages for the First-Time Entrepreneur by Bo Peabody (2008)

─ Adam Garcia, The Stock Dork

The Icarus Deception

The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin came out in 2012 but the lessons it contains are still relevant today. One of my biggest takeaways from this book is that in the new economy created by the internet, opportunities abound for people from all walks of life. Those who don't have a traditional background or high-level connections have an opportunity to build their own personal brands online. It has never been easier or more cost-effective to start an online business.

Seth talks about how to leverage these new opportunities, especially in digital marketing. Though the market is quickly maturing, there are still plenty of ways to break into the industry or even up your game if you're already in it. Like Icarus, we've been trained to fly too low but now there's a chance to soar without burning up our wings. Marketing is an art form and anyone can be an artist with the proper training and guidance. I highly recommend this book for new marketers.

The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin (2012)

─ John Cammidge, JTC Consultants

This is Marketing

This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin is a book published back in 2018 that helped me solidify my marketing expertise. The most exemplary lesson this book has taught me is stories that are consistent and delivered to an aligned audience will attract customer attention, trust, and action. It implies that consistency will help convert prospects into sales by capturing their attention through consistent marketing collaterals. To be precise, making things and services for the clients you want to serve is easier than finding customers for your products and services. The book imparted the knowledge that adjusting for the target market's demands is a more feasible way of creating sales than vice-versa.

This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin (2018)

─ Daniel Maman, My Phenom Fitness

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Despite being published in 1841, this book holds timeless information about group-think and the herd mentality which can be applied for viral marketing and creating brand fandom. Even though we now live in a digital world, many aspects of human psychology remain the same. MacKay teaches investors to recognize boom and bust cycles in the market. He delves into the balance between greed and fear, and what happens when the latter supersedes.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay (1841)

─ Kanin Asvaplungprohm, RObust


In Buy.ology, Lindstrom shares the startling results of his groundbreaking, three-year, $7 million neuromarketing study, a cutting-edge investigation that looked inside the brains of 2,000 volunteers from around the world as they were exposed to various advertisements, logos, commercials, brands, and products. His shocking findings challenge many of what we have long believed about piques our interest and motivates us to make purchases.

Buy.ology by Martin Lindstrom (2010)

─ Sarthak Kapoor, Easy People Search

AI for Marketers

In a world where AI is rapidly advancing, it's important for marketers to understand its critical role in the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing. There's a deep dive into the latest machine learning trends and how they're reshaping the field. There are seven steps in AI maturity including data foundation, analytics, insights, process automation, data science, machine learning, and AI-powered. 

By the time you get to the AI-powered stage, AI will be used across entire enterprises in every relevant role. The science is evolving so quickly that even many experienced marketers find themselves struggling to keep up with all of the new developments. Penn discusses how marketers can harness the power of AI to achieve better outcomes and reduce the need to perform repetitive tasks. He includes actionable tips for staying current and informed.

AI for Marketers by Christopher Penn (2019)

─ Dustin Ray, Inc File

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