One of the most vital steps in running a brand is creating a marketing strategy. This should come before anything else but it’s often missed. This part of the process is so vital to any business that it affects every aspect of the brand and becomes the foundation of any business’s success long-term.
The reason this step is missed so often is that it’s so hard to create a winning strategy. On the flip side, some of the most successful brands attribute their success to having a really solid marketing strategy.
That’s why we bring to you the top 20 books about marketing strategy. These marketing books are practical, full of real-world examples and tactics to get you in the right mindset and help you create that winning marketing strategy for your business.
Let’s dive in.
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1. The Blue Ocean Strategy - by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne
How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant
First on our list is the iconic Blue Ocean Strategy.
It’s a book that was super transformational when it came out and completely transformed the business world. It talks about this idea of a “red ocean” where companies compete against each other versus the “blue ocean” where each company has its’ unique value proposition and position in the market and is focused on thriving and creating.
The book talks about the mind shift a company needs to make from “competing” to “creating”, and the different techniques that help companies create their own space in the market.
What does that mean? You can ignore your competition and just plow on? No, not quite. The book teaches you how to create a product-market fit and solve that problem for your customer in a way that’s unique.
What brands used to do is to constantly look over their shoulder and either add more features to beat the competition or constantly underprice their product. Instead, this book brings examples of how companies can find differentiators through new technologies, new materials, and channels. There are a ton of examples of different companies across a wide range of industries and it’s a fascinating read.
About the authors: W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne are both professors at one of the world’s top business schools - INSEAD, located in France. They are co-directors of the INSEAD institute for marketing strategy and have consulted for some of the world’s largest brands to help them create a blue ocean strategy and make that mind shift.
Authors: W. Chan Kim, Renee Mauborgne
2. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing - by Al Ries & Jack Trout
This is another classic that is a must-read for any marketer. It’s a great book because it shows exactly what NOT to do and brings a lot of fun examples of brands that failed because they went against some of these principles.
Here are some of these laws that still apply today:
- The Law of the Mind - it’s better to be first in the mind of the customer rather than first in the marketplaces
- The Law of the Opposite - if you’re shooting for second place, then your strategy is determined by the market leader (similar to what we spoke about in the Blue Ocean book)
- The Law of Line Extension - there’s a lot of pressure to extend the equity of the brand by creating more similar products, and it’s not often wise to do so.
- The Law of Perspective - sometimes it takes a long time to see the effects of your marketing campaigns in the public perception or in the marketplace. So don’t just focus on the short-term ad campaigns but play the long game as well.
As you can see, these are really fundamental things that can dramatically change the way brands approach marketing strategy. You can use these to really help focus your strategy on the right things, on the right product and brand attributes to really differentiate yourself from the competition and succeed.
A word of caution: the book was written before the internet so a lot of examples are totally outdated. A lot of the companies mentioned there either failed or don’t exist anymore. But if you follow the principles carefully you can apply them to your business, and just keep in mind that a lot of the present-day marketing channels and technologies didn’t exist then.
Authors: Al Ries, Jack Trout
3. Epic Content Marketing: - by Joe Pulizzi
How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less
Content is absolutely everywhere and it’s a critical part of any marketing strategy.
We’re talking about the web content (home, product pages, category pages, our story page, checkout process), social media, landing pages, and brand positioning. If you get your content right then you can really describe your brand to your users and your brand is that much more memorable to the consumer.
And like we spoke about in the last book, it’s one of the immutable laws of marketing, this idea to be first in the mind of the consumer.
This book will teach you how to:
- Tell your brand story
- Craft a content strategy for your business
- Create content that sells, step-by-step
- Analyze your content to see how you can improve
And last time I checked, this book is actually the textbook at several college business courses in content marketing, so if you want to master any of these skills you should read it.
About the author: The book was written by Joe Pulizzi, a veteran content marketer that founded the Content Marketing Institute and runs the largest content marketing event in North America called Content Marketing World. He’s known as the “godfather” of content marketing and has spoken in more than 200 events around the world.
Authors: Joe Pulizzi
4. Blue Ocean Shift - by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne
Beyond Competing - Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth
The Blue Ocean Shift is a sequel to the Blue Ocean Strategy. It was published 15 years later and has a whole set of case studies and examples of companies using some of the principles discussed in the first book. The first volume was really lacking implementation and examples that showed these principles in action and the sequel has it all.
What’s new is the implementation of the strategy. They created a great five-step process of developing a blue ocean strategy that makes it super easy to implement these concepts. Here’s what it looks like.
Otherwise, I’d say it’s a pretty good book for those people that read the first one and were intrigued and a bit confused about how to implement the principles in their business. But if you haven’t read the first one, I recommend to just start with the second one. It’s clear, concise, and super practical.
Authors: W. Chan Kim, Renee Mauborgne
5. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable - by Seth Godin
Seth Godin is a maverick and master writer and we have two of his marketing books on this list. Just the title of this one sounds inviting, doesn’t it? And the fact that you actually have to turn your head to read the title of this thing. Wow.
This book completely revolutionized marketing when it came out in 2003. In this book, Seth Godin highlights how some of the top brands made it big because they worked on becoming exceptional and really standing out in the marketplace. He tells the stories of brands like Apple, Dyson, and Starbucks and it’s really inspiring.
The only downside to this book is that it’s not going to give you a practical step-by-step process of how to become extraordinary. So if you’re looking for concrete methods this isn’t the book for you. But it will definitely inspire you and get you into the mind space to start transforming your business.
About the author: Seth Godin is an entrepreneur turned internationally acclaimed best-selling author with 19 international bestsellers. His marketing books for entrepreneurs include the Icarus Deception, Tribes, Linchpin, and others. He runs a very popular marketing blog at sethgodin.com.
Authors: Seth Godin
6. The Pizza Guide to Digital Marketing - by Christian Farioli
A Delicious First Byte of the Biggest Business Game Changers of Your Lifetime
Fascinating title but the guy is Italian, so I guess they enjoy reading their marketing books over a large pizza and a glass of wine.
It’s refreshing to see a marketing book written by an agency owner. And this one is quirky, funny, and super practical. It offers a lot of advice, tips, examples and really a comprehensive picture of digital marketing that’s more geared for the beginner.
About the author: Christian Farioli is a lecturer at the Digital Marketing Institute and the owner of the digital agency called “Agency of the Future”. He has trained more than 10,000 marketers and his clients include Armani, Bayer, and Huawei.
Authors: Christian Farioli
7. Top of Mind - by John Hall
Use Content to Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter to You
This book provides a practical combination of content marketing and influencer marketing and how to use these two disciplines in the context of marketing strategy. This means building relationships and engaging your online audience or community to really get your brand to be top of mind for your ideal customers.
This book will teach you how to:
- Build a content strategy
- Manage knowledge better in your team and brand
- Create and distribute content the right way
- Creat relationships with the right influencers and brand ambassadors
Another really great theme in this book is how brand values and thoughts about the marketing strategy are communicated within a company, between different teams. John has a whole chapter dedicated to that. In it, he gives a lot of helpful tips for making your marketing strategy stick and communicating it to the other teams and departments.
About the author: John Hall is the co-founder of the scheduling tool Calendar.com. He is also the co-founder of a digital marketing agency called Influence and Co. He is a well-known influencer and speaker and has written articles for over 50 online publications including the Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Mashable, and others.
Authors: John Hall
8. Positioning - by Al Ries & Jack Trout
How to be seen and heard in the overcrowded marketplace
You guessed it - this book is all about brand positioning and how to do it right.
What is brand positioning? It’s a way that you communicate your brand to the outside world, how you communicate your strengths and weaknesses and how you differentiate yourself from your competition.
Brands often compete in an overcrowded marketplace where it’s hard to differentiate the brand or the product line. This book presents a really thorough history of brand positioning, practical methods on how to extend or reposition a brand, and how you can use it to craft the perfect marketing strategy for your business.
What I love about this book is that it presents several really fascinating examples of brands repositioning themselves and succeeding. There are stories about Xerox, Milk Duds, Mailgram, New Jersey Bank, and even the Catholic Church!
So overall, a really fun and interesting read that will challenge you and delight you at the same time.
About the authors: Al Ries and Jack Trout (known as the father of positioning) are two of the world’s most well-known marketing strategists and have written several best-selling marketing books. The two actually worked at the same marketing strategy firm for over 26 years. Their customers have included well-known brands like AT&T, Apple, IBM, HP, Pfizer, P&G, Xerox, and Southwest Airlines.
Published: 1980 (new edition came out 2001)
Authors: Al Ries, Jack Trout
9. Permission Marketing - by Seth Godin
Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers
This is a must-read for anyone that’s developing a marketing strategy or running marketing campaigns. This is another heavy hitter from Seth Godin where he explains the notion of permission marketing.
The idea is that brands should move away from disruptive advertising and market to the customer in a way that doesn’t disrupt their online experience. It’s a great mindset for any kind of omnichannel strategy because that user experience is crucial. There are many different touchpoints along the customer journey and this book helps brands focus on putting the user first and not disrupting their experience.
Authors: Seth Godin
10. Quantum Marketing - by Raja Rajamannar
Mastering the New Marketing Mindset for Tomorrow’s Consumers
If you’re tired of outdated marketing examples and want a fresh and updated outlook on what marketing should be in this day and age then this book is for you.
Quantum Marketing is written by Raja Rajamannar, the CMO of Mastercard, and in this book he shares the breakthroughs and challenges that firms face when they create their marketing strategy.
In this book you will find:
- Practical lessons from the world’s top marketers
- The type of thinking that’s required to achieve breakthroughs
- The best marketing strategies and tactics that will help you grow your business
- Techniques for continued innovation into new channels and media
Overall it’s a great read and a good refresher of the newest marketing technologies that every brand should be using.
About the author: Raja Rajamannar is the Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Mastercard. He is also the Present of the World Federation of Advertisers, has more than 30 years of experience as a global executive. He has been recognized by Adweek as one of the industry's most tech-savvy CMOs and the top 5 World’s Most Influential CMOs by Forbes. He has taught at more than 40 top management schools in the world.
Authors: Raja Rajamannar
11. What Customers Crave - by Nicholas J. Webb
How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint
One of the most vital steps that brands miss when creating their marketing strategy is the customer research stage. You need to know what your customers love, what they hate, and what issue your product solves for them. Without that information, you will not find a good product-market fit and your brand will ultimately fail.
This book really teaches you how to get that data and structure your product around the customer experience. It’s super practical and will teach you the methods to go about it.
About the author: Nicholas J. Webb is a popular speaker and corporate strategist in the areas of customer experience design and innovation. His firm, Cravve, provides consulting and training to many of the world’s top brands.
Authors: Nicholas J. Webb
12. Marketing Plan Template & Example - by Alex Genadinik
How to write a marketing plan
Once you have your marketing strategy you need to put it into a marketing plan, and that’s where some brands get stuck. That’s why we recommend this book to all of our readers because it’s such a practical next step to go from strategy to plan to execution.
What’s so unique about this book?
Alex created a really innovative and quick way to structuring and coming up with your marketing plan template. First, you start with a 3-sentence marketing plan, distilling your strategy into just three sentences. Then you expand that into a 1-page plan, and finally, you will create a full marketing plan.
Most people get stuck trying to write essays and don’t get to the execution piece fast enough. This book introduces a way that cuts through all the unnecessary stages and helps brands create a marketing plan fairly quickly. It’s a fast read with tons of examples and real-world scenarios.
About the author: Alex Genadinik is one of the top marketing teachers on Udemy with over 20+ best-selling courses. He’s written several best-selling marketing books for entrepreneurs on Amazon about marketing.
Authors: Alex Genadinik
13. Digital Marketing Strategy - by Simon Kingsnorth
An Integrated Approach to Online Marketing
This book is for the digital marketer that is ready to implement their strategy. The book goes through all the various marketing channels - SEO, social media, content marketing, user experience, paid advertising, lead generation, customer loyalty, online & offline marketing - and introduces cutting-edge techniques and strategies for each channel.
A word of caution - this book goes through the topics fairly quickly, so if you need a deep dive into any one of them I would recommend reading industry blogs or getting another book on the specific marketing channel or technique you’re interested in exploring. This book is more of a big picture general refresher of each channel geared towards the marketing novice.
About the author: Simon Kingsnorth is an award-winning digital consultant and marketing strategy expert. He has worked for and consulted many leading brands around the world. He is a well-known speaker and corporate trainer.
Authors: Simon Kingsnorth
14. Marketing Strategy: The Thinking Involved - by Mark E. Hill
This one is more of a textbook, it’s used in universities and colleges across the US. Don’t get tripped up by the vague title, this is a very comprehensive book that covers every aspect of digital marketing strategy. It deals less with practical tactics and more with the type of analytics thinking that’s required to get the big picture right.
- How to craft the perfect marketing strategy
- The marketing mix and which channels to use
- Logistics / operations
- Price strategies
- How to create the right company culture
About the author: Mark E. Hill is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Montclair State University with more than 20 years of academic and professional experience. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Marketing Strategy, Marketing Research, and Consumer Behavior.
Authors: Mark E. Hill
15. Hacking Growth - by Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown
How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success
This is one of my favorite marketing books of all time. Hacking Growth really represents the growth of Big Tech and how marketing went from glorified PR to a measured and precise science. Growth hacking involves cross-functional teams and rapid A/B testing based on rigorous data analysis. And above all, it focuses on the customer-centric approach.
The main premise of the book is perhaps that companies that learn the fastest grow the fastest. The top brands gather data and make their entire company culture revolve around making data-based decisions, instead of shooting in the wind. And this book gives a ton of practical examples of brands that succeeded in making growth hacking a vital component of their culture and were able to grow their revenue really fast.
About the author: Sean Ellis was the one that coined the term “growth hacking”. He is the CEO and co-founder of GrowtHackers.com and has been a startup mentor for years. Morgan Brown launched Growth Hackers with Sean and is a startup marketing veteran.
Authors: Morgan Brown, Sean Ellis
16. Traction - by Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares
How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth
Traction is another heavy hitter, it’s one of the most popular books on digital marketing. The main theme of the book is that growing companies is hard and the most important thing is customer acquisition. Without acquiring new customers your company won’t grow.
Traction introduces nineteen channels that a brand can use to build a customer base and tells you how to pick the right ones. There are a ton of practical examples of big companies that focused on customer acquisition and were able to grow fairly quickly like Reddit, Kayak, Hubspot, and Wikipedia.
It’s considered one of the foremost resources for startups and companies that want to grow their revenue and structure their marketing strategy correctly.
About the author: Gabriel Weinberg is the CEO and Founder of DuckDuckGo, the private search engine and Justin Mares is the founder of two startups and the former director of revenue at Exceptional.
Authors: Justin Mares, Gabriel Weinberg
17. Digital Marketing for Dummies - by Ryan Deiss & Russ Henneberry
This is a great read if you want to go to the basics. Be honest, how many times did you feel like picking up a guide to something for dummies? There’s a reason why these books are so popular because they explain everything in simple language and because they are comprehensive, they cover every aspect of a topic.
The same holds true for Digital Marketing for Dummies.
- Understanding the customer journey
- Choosing the right marketing campaign
- Crafting a winning offer
- Content marketing & blogging
- Crafting high-converting landing pages
- SEO and search marketing
- Social media
- Paid advertising
- Email marketing
- Data analysis and optimization
- Top marketing tools
Authors: Russ Henneberry, Ryan Deiss
18. They Ask You Answer - by Marcus Sheridan
A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today's Digital Consumer
This book was written by the famous CEO of a struggling pool company during the 2008 market crash that was about to go bankrupt. So Marcus used content marketing and blogging to really educate his customers and get on the top of search results and he was able to turn it all around. In fact, the story was used by Hubspot in the early days to popularize content marketing and the inbound approach.
This book provides some really great resources on how to create a content strategy, how to perfect the marketing funnel, the types of content you should use s and for your business. It will help you structure your marketing strategy in such a way that your customers turn into brand ambassadors and your brand grows long-term.
About the author: Marcus Sheridan was an owner of the pool company River Pools and since then became a content marketing guru. He lectures and speaks around the world and consults large brands on their content marketing strategy.
Authors: Marcus Sheridan
20. #GetSocialSmart - by Katie Lance
How to Hone Your Social Media Strategy
Social media is a huge part of your marketing strategy and one of the hardest things to do for a brand is to really create a consistent voice and tell the brand story.
This book is unique in that it not only deals with the practical strategies of all the main social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram) but it also teaches brands how to tell their brand story and how to best interact with their online audience.
It’s a really great read and a must for any brand that wants to scale.
About the author: Katie Lance is the CEO of Lance Consulting, a large social media consulting firm and she has worked with clients like DocuSign, Realtor.com, SmartZip, and Re/Max. She is a nationally-known keynote speaker, runs her own social media academy called the GetSocialSmart Academy, and continues consulting brands around the world.
Authors: Katie Lance
Marketing books are some of the best resources to develop your strategy and learn new tactics. The best part about this list is that all of these books have practical examples and real-world case studies. To get a really good foundation we recommend you check out some of the more general strategy books and then read the more practical books that talk about specific marketing channels and tactics.
And as always, if you need any help don’t hesitate to reach out 😊.