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21 Best Marketing Books Students Should Read In 2020

Marketing books that cover key concepts and go further with the best case studies

Marketing is one of those fields that can make all the difference to a business. Building a recognisable brand identity, a desirable image is a powerful tool that is a prerequisite in business.

Even if you’re only thinking of pursuing a career in business, you’ll benefit from understanding the important concepts in marketing. Knowing more than the minimum is a desirable trait that employers love the hear in interviews. Learning about marketing is especially a good idea because of how applicable it is in so many jobs.

We recommend these 21 books for their quality of writing and well chosen examples of marketing success stories, broken down and explained. Anyone can write a book about marketing. The authors we list here, go further – they write in a way that motivates you to read further and apply what you learn.

This contribution was made by Kenneth Holm-Dahlin from Appeal – Moving Content

Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands by Marty Neumeier

Zag is THE definitive book on creative brand strategy. It is not only a must read, it is also highly actionable.

This contribution was made by Damien Martin from Shufti Pro

The Conversion Code By Chris Smith

Driving traffic to the business and building brand awareness is one thing and converting the traffic to leads is another thing. The conversion code simply explains how to convert traffic into leads and leads to potential customers.

This contribution was made by Eryn Lueders from Successfully Simple Sisters

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

As a future marketer, it’s vital that you understand what your potential customers experience when they see your brand. This book helps you create online experiences that are simple and effective. As a digital marketer, this book has been vital in my understanding of creating experiences that are easy to navigate and creating an easy path to success for the online users.

This contribution was made by Aleksi Halsas from Trustmary

Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Best non-technical book that makes you able to spot and avoid most common mistakes while analyzing marketing data. Is on my re-read list and have re-read it multiple times. Super fun to read, but delivers value every page of the book. One of those books you just simply can’t summarize at all.

This contribution was made by Ryan Watson from Inzpire.me

The Boron Letters by Gary C. Halbert

The Boron Letters give a fantastic insight into how to approach marketing messaging but in a fun and interesting way. The book is a series of letters from Halpert to his son Bond explaining the core principles of marketing and how to run a successful campaign that makes money. I learned a lot about direct response copywriting as well as a few father to son life lessons.

This contribution was made by Marty M. Fahncke from The Adventurist Marketer

Influence by Robert Cialdini

Although not a “Marketing book” specicially, the principals of influence and persuasion espoused in this latest version of Cialdini’s master work are as critical as anything one can learn about marketing. Understanding and applying what you learn from this book can turn a good marketer into a great marketer.

This contribution was made by Joseph Piñeiro from 360training

The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin

The Icarus Deception is an excellent choice for marketing students, as it makes clear that risk is inherent to marketing. One of the important lessons a marketer will learn early on in their career is that following conventional wisdom and conforming to what’s currently being done will lead to diminishing returns and, eventually, depreciation. Unlike Icarus, a marketer must learn how to fly close to the Sun without burning a wing.

This contribution was made by Bryan Mattimore from Growth Engine Innovation Agency

Idea Stormers by Bryan Mattimore

Every marketing should student know the creative thinking techniques and strategies to create breakthrough marketing ideas – both by themselves, and with and for their team. Unfortunately traditional “brainstorming” is often ineffective. Ideation techniques, on the other hand, which use a rich palette of proven stimuli-rich, creative problem-solving methodologies, can generate a wide range of implementable options — not to mention true breakthroughs — for virtually any marketing challenge including: creating new products, branding and innovative positionings, on-target social media, advertising and promotion ideas. Drawing on his work leading high-stakes ideation sessions at over 300 organizations, the author explains the how, what, and why of successful ideation processes and provides a framework for when and how marketers can use them. The featured creative problem-solving techniques include triggered brainwalking, the worst idea technique, question assumptions, problem redefinition, directed wishing, and many more. As importantly, Idea Stormers includes real world stories that demonstrate how marketers have applied these creative problem-solving techniques that have led to the creation of new products and services valued at over $3 billion.

This contribution was made by Luka Arezina from DataProt

New Rules Of Marketing And PR by David Meerman Scott

Both online and offline marketing strategies keep changing at an incredibly fast pace. To learn how to navigate through all of the algorithm changes, Scott offers a variety of helpful tips. The book contains a number of real-world examples of good practice that explain individual marketing and PR strategies in detail.

This contribution was made by Brandon Dale from House Buyers

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk

This is a critical marketing book for students who’ve now grown up with Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, etc., as social media is now the most important vehicle to build a company’s brand. This book highlights common mistakes businesses make on social media, and how to correct them. For example, most companies simply have a hard time understanding storytelling. They’re almost always self-promoting themselves – We are the leader in tecnology or If you need to sell your house, call me… the book highlights the importance of storytelling and providing value versus selling. Because there’s so much noise in social media, most people tune out those who are always selling immediately, but can be captivated by people’s stories and journeys, and appreciate when value is given away for free. In the title (Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook), jabs refer to providing content with value and storytelling to the readers, and right hook refers to asking for a sale. You must throw a lot of jabs before trying to land the right hook.

This contribution was made by Brad Ormsby from ColorStoneMarketing

No B.S. Direct Marketing by Dan S. Kennedy

One of my favorite marketing books, and one that students should consider because the information is timeless is Dan Kennedy’s No B.S. Marketing. It’s a cheesy title and the cover looks kind of crazy but he’s renowned as one of the greatest copywriters of all time and his books are packed with gold nugget after gold nugget. If you get this book, don’t just read it, study it.

This contribution was made by Amanda Garcia from Appetiser Apps

The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman

This book serves as a good foundation to anyone who want to gain understanding on how marketing works. It also gives you a bigger picture of how globalization is ever changing the marketing landscape as it evolves.

This contribution was made by M. Ammar Shahid from SuperHeroCorp

Marketing Management by Philip Kotler

It is a well-researched, up to date, and to the point reference book of marketing management for students who are exploring the extended marketing world.

This contribution was made by Osama from Outfitrs

International Marketing by Philip R. Cateora

International Marketing by Cateora has been a pioneer in the field of international marketing. The authors continue to set the standard in this edition with new and expanded topics that reflect the swift changes of the competitive global market.

This contribution was made by Majid Fareed from James Bond Suits

Made to Stick by Dan Heath

This book has a lot of ideas, concepts which motivate to do something new and creative if you are new to marketing must go for it.

This contribution was made by Ali Rizvi from Dream Superhero

Principle of Marketing (17th edition) by Philip Kotler

This book will help you to hone your marketing intelligence. Reading this book will give you help in the growth of your career. This book among the best I have read, and it is highly recommended.

This contribution was made by Melanie Musson from BroadFormInsurance

InstaBrain by Sarah Weise

Millennials have been the subject of marketing focus for a decade or two, but it’s time to get educated on how to reach Generation Z. This book will give students the insight necessary to understand how to market to their peers.

This contribution was made by Shiyang Gong from AILaw.Inc

How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp

In a student’s life, we are looking for books that are written straightforwardly by the authors to clear our fundamental concepts about a particular subject. I think the book “How Brands Grow” very simply takes the students from the roots towards the tip of an effective marketing strategy. It explains exceptional and fundamental concepts based on the science of marketing. How Brands Grow will superbly guide you about the trendy marketing formulas, especially social media marketing. The book elucidates an objective view of evidence-based marketing and what drives growth. It is easy to learn the difference between effective marketing and market research. The author also explains how to build a brand and maintain its name by advertisement.

This contribution was made by Sam Rexford from Chillreptile

Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson

This book is great for any type of business and helps people understand buyer psychology and storytelling to drive sales. The strategies suggested tells you how to position yourself as a trusted expert in your field by providing value related to the needs of your buyers. The suggestions and strategies here will give you an unfair advantage over your competitors.

This contribution was made by Sam Rexford from Chillreptile

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim

This book helps you reframe your thinking when it comes to your competitive advantage. It isn’t about beating the competition, but about creating untapped, new market spaces with the potential to grow. With this mindset, you’ll make your competition irrelevant. There are lots of great case studies, resources, and strategic plans to help you get started.

This contribution was made by Mason Culligan from Mattress Battle

The Life of P. T. Barnum by P.T. Barnum

The best marketing book that I recommend to students is P.T. Barnum’s The Life of P.T. Barnum. What made this book stand out to me is it presents the marketing side of his world. It shows his ups and downs in running his business. A key learning marketing student can take away from this book is his knowledge of human nature. He understands the customers’ needs and desires and provide the solution. It also goes to show how customer feedback and market research are important to product development. Moreover, P.T. Barnum had failed business ventures and experienced bankruptcy. However, his story tells us not to let these failures sidetrack us to success. In the marketing industry, you have to be prepared to pivot when needed.

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Written by Zak Parker

Journalist, writer, musician, professional procrastinator. I'll add more here later.

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