14 Books About Marketing Strategies to Put on Your Reading List

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Why is Ogilvy on Advertising considered the “primer on all aspects of advertising”? What’s a Purple Cow? Are all marketers liars?

If you’re looking for books about marketing strategies, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a list of 14 books, from best-selling classics to more recent publications.

Continue reading to discover some of the best books about marketing strategies.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

TITLE: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
AUTHOR: Al Ries and Jack Trout
TIME: 22
READS: 89.8
IMG_URL: https://www.shortform.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/the-22-immutable-laws-of-marketing-cover.png
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: the-22-immutable-laws-of-marketing-summary-al-ries-and-jack-trout

Marketing seems like a simple task: Have a great product, tell people about it, and they’ll buy it. But it’s not that straightforward. In fact, the success of your business depends less on the quality of your product than on consumers’ perception of your product—and that’s where skillful marketing comes in.

First on our list of books about marketing strategies is The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, in which advertising experts Al Ries and Jack Trout explain the universal laws that govern what works and what doesn’t in marketing. Ries and Trout spent more than 25 years studying the successes and failures of countless well-known and little-known brands, and they boiled their findings down to these 22 principles.

In the Shortform guide to The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, you’ll learn:

  • Why it’s better to own up to your shortcomings than to gloss over them
  • How Marlboro sold more cigarettes to women by marketing to cowboys
  • Why trying to be everything to everyone will sink your sales

All Marketers Are Liars

TITLE: All Marketers are Liars
AUTHOR: Seth Godin
TIME: 40
READS: 58.2
IMG_URL: https://www.shortform.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/all-marketers-are-liars-cover.png
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: all-marketers-are-liars-summary-seth-godin

If you have an idea to spread, Seth Godin believes you’re a marketer. All Marketers Are Liars makes our list of books about marketing strategies because it offers a fresh take on marketing—one that focuses on connecting with your customer, rather than on catchy advertising jingles or gimmicks. Godin defines marketing as telling consumers a great story about your product, your political campaign, your job experience, or even just yourself. This book explores new marketing concepts that you can use to tell a better story in any area of your life.

In Shortform’s guide to All Marketers Are Liars, we explore Godin’s ideas on marketing, authenticity, and telling a great story. We also discuss how to understand your customer and common obstacles you’ll encounter in your marketing. Along the way, we give context on his definitions and provide actionable tips from other marketing experts.

Breakthrough Advertising

The ultimate goal of copywriting is to craft advertisements that spur demand for what you’re selling. You do this by understanding what customers already need and framing your product as the only solution to fulfill these needs.

Next on our list of books about marketing strategies is the best-selling classic Breakthrough Advertising. Renowned copywriter Eugene M. Schwartz offers timeless advice for crafting persuasive advertisements that convince customers to buy your products.

Shortform’s guide to Breakthrough Advertising walks you through Schwartz’s methods for writing advertisements that sell. You’ll come away knowing:

  • Exactly what you need to understand about customers to craft successful advertisements
  • Specific techniques you can use to create captivating headlines
  • Persuasive methods you can apply to write compelling copy
  • Additionally, we’ll clarify Schwartz’s ideas with research from marketing professionals and suggest actionable strategies to help you integrate these concepts into your copywriting process.

Building a StoryBrand

TITLE: Building a Storybrand
AUTHOR: Donald Miller
TIME: 37
READS: 262.8
IMG_URL: https://www.shortform.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/building-a-storybrand-cover.png
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: building-a-storybrand-summary-donald-miller

Most marketing falls flat because marketers don’t understand how customers consume information. In Building a StoryBrand, marketing expert Donald Miller reveals how to turn your brand messaging into a story—a format so compelling that customers won’t be able to look away.

In Shortform’s guide to Building a StoryBrand, you learn how to attract customers by weaving them into a compelling narrative: casting them as the protagonist, presenting them with a problem, and showing how your brand can help them overcome their problems and reach a happy ending. Along the way, we connect Miller’s ideas to the ideas of other marketing specialists, like Daniel Pink (To Sell Is Human) and Seth Godin (All Marketers Are Liars), and illustrate his concepts using real-world examples. We also supplement Miller’s advice with additional marketing guidance that will allow your brand to reach its own happy ending of success.


TITLE: Contagious
AUTHOR: Jonah Berger
TIME: 30
READS: 99.6
IMG_URL: https://www.shortform.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/contagious-cover.png
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: contagious-summary-jonah-berger

Why is it that some new products and ideas gain widespread popularity while others fail to “catch on”? According to marketing expert Jonah Berger, the driving force behind products and ideas catching on and becoming “contagious” is word of mouth: Things catch on when people talk about them. You might think you have to spend large amounts on advertising to trigger this effect—but Berger explains that generating word of mouth only requires a compelling product or compelling marketing.

In Shortform’s guide to Contagious, we explain Berger’s strategies for generating word of mouth, why they work, and how you can implement them. Through our commentary, we also bring in psychological research and alternative perspectives that add nuance and contrast to Berger’s strategies. In addition, we provide real-world examples of Berger’s principles and practical advice on how to adapt them to your product or idea.

Guerrilla Marketing

Many businesses assume they must rely on expensive mass-media marketing campaigns to build customer awareness and generate sales. However, this assumption doesn’t bode well for small businesses with limited resources.

Bestselling author and marketing guru Jay Conrad Levinson argues that, with the right marketing strategy, even the smallest of businesses can make a significant impact. We include Guerrilla Marketing on our list of books about marketing strategies because Levinson provides timeless advice for creating a profitable marketing strategy that any business can use to establish its place in the market.

Here’s what you’ll learn how to do as you explore Levinson’s advice for creating a profitable marketing strategy:

  • Define your target market
  • Create an appealing marketing message
  • Keep your marketing costs low
  • Identify the most profitable marketing methods for your business

In Shortform’s guide to Guerilla Marketing, we clarify Levinson’s ideas with research from marketing professionals and suggest actionable strategies to help you apply these concepts to your business.

How Brands Grow

TITLE: How Brands Grow
AUTHOR: Byron Sharp
TIME: 15
READS: 50.5
IMG_URL: https://www.shortform.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/how-brands-grow-cover.png
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: how-brands-grow-summary-byron-sharp

What if everything you knew about marketing was wrong? In How Brands Grow, marketing professor Byron Sharp argues that many of the marketing principles commonly taught in business schools are unsubstantiated myths. By examining the real-world data that indicates which marketing techniques succeed and which fail, Sharp claims to have discovered a new set of empirical rules that directly contradict the widely-held “common sense” principles of marketing.

In Shortform’s guide to How Brands Grow, we explore what Sharp believes most marketers get wrong about where a brand’s profits come from and the psychology behind consumers’ purchasing decisions. Furthermore, we define what Sharp believes to be the optimal strategy to market any brand. In addition, we contrast Sharp’s theories with those of marketing experts who argue against his contrarian stance, such as Al Ries and Jack Trout (Positioning) and Seth Godin (Purple Cow). Finally, we update Sharp’s theories in light of the most recent marketing developments and trends, including personalized advertising, social media engagement, and the renaissance of the subscription business model.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

TITLE: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook
AUTHOR: Gary Vaynerchuk
TIME: 29
READS: 78.1
IMG_URL: https://www.shortform.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/jab-jab-jab-right-hook-cover.png
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: jab-jab-jab-right-hook-summary-gary-vaynerchuk

In Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk calls on the sport of boxing to illustrate how to create striking social media content. “Jabs” are interactions that build relationships with your customers and should be thrown far more often than “right hooks,” which are calls to action.

This book makes our list of books about marketing strategies because it focuses on social media marketing. Vaynerchuk explains how to tailor your jabs and hooks for five major platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr), how social media marketing is different than any type of marketing that’s come before it, and how small businesses can successfully compete with large ones in the social media arena.

The Marketing Plan

TITLE: The Marketing Plan
AUTHOR: William Luther
TIME: 13
READS: 39.4
IMG_URL: https://www.shortform.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/the-marketing-plan-cover.png
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: the-marketing-plan-summary-william-luther

In The Marketing Plan, management and marketing expert William M. Luther outlines the variables that impact both the immediate and long-term success of your product or service. He encourages analyzing how these variables impact your business so that you can:

  • Assess the profitability of potential products and services before you commit to developing them
  • Develop an effective business plan
  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors
  • Structure your operational procedures to maximize your profits

In Shortform’s guide to The Marketing Plan, we expand upon Luther’s advice with research and actionable ideas from other marketing experts and management professionals.

Obviously Awesome

If you work in marketing yet still can’t define what “positioning” is, consultant and speaker April Dunford is here to tell you that you’re not alone. We include Obviously Awesome on our list of books about marketing strategies because, as Dunford contends, most marketers don’t fully understand what positioning is or its vital importance to selling. This gap in knowledge is a huge disadvantage to any product because, without proper positioning, customers can’t understand why they should bother to buy it.

To fill this knowledge gap, Dunford proposes a 12-step process—taking you all the way from creating a cross-departmental positioning group to sharing your final positioning across the company—that lets you position any product well.

In Shortform’s guide to Obviously Awesome, we supplement Dunford’s recommendations with actionables that allow you to implement her advice as well as alternative perspectives on positioning and selling from other marketing and sales experts.

Ogilvy on Advertising

TITLE: Ogilvy On Advertising
AUTHOR: David Ogilvy
TIME: 47
READS: 71.2
IMG_URL: https://www.shortform.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/ogilvy-on-advertising-cover.png
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: ogilvy-on-advertising-summary-david-ogilvy

David Ogilvy (1911-1999), the “father of advertising,” started one of the most successful advertising agencies in the world and worked with major clients such as Rolls-Royce, Shell, and Hathaway. We couldn’t leave out his classic on our list of books about marketing strategies. In Ogilvy on Advertising, he shares his decades’ worth of experience as a salesman, copywriter, and adman.

Ogilvy teaches you the craft of advertising—how to create legible, easy-to-understand print ads, engaging radio ads, and TV commercials that sell. He also covers how to use marketing and research to increase your chances of success. Finally, he gives an overview of the advertising industry as it stood in 1985, covering how to get a job in advertising, run an agency, find an agency, and manage public opinion.

Play Bigger

In today’s competitive selling environment, it’s not enough to create a great product and hope it sells in an existing market: You have to create an entirely new market for your product. That market should show that your product isn’t merely better than its competitors but that it’s in an entirely different league. Creating a new market for your product is the only way you can become a market winner—the uncontested top dog who reaps most of the profits.

But as lucrative as designing a new market is, it’s also difficult. That’s why Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, and Christopher Lochhead of the advisory firm Play Bigger, with the help of business writer Kevin Maney, have distilled their years of experience designing new markets into a plan that will help you determine your ideal market, define your company identity, and explode onto the marketplace.

In Shortform’s guide to Play Bigger, we compare the authors’ ideas to those of other marketing and sales experts, suggest actionable steps to execute their advice, and provide updates on example companies the authors mention.


TITLE: Positioning
AUTHOR: Al Ries and Jack Trout
TIME: 14
IMG_URL: https://www.shortform.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/positioning-cover.png
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: positioning-summary-al-ries-and-jack-trout

In Positioning, advertising consultants Al Ries and Jack Trout explore the concept of positioning—a strategy of framing your product, service, company, or self against your competitors and within your market. They examine not only how you can use positioning for your organization, but also how you can use it to achieve your personal career goals.

In Shortform’s guide to Positioning, we look at what Ries and Trout mean by “positioning,” compare it to how others have defined the concept, and explore strategies and techniques you can use in a positioning campaign. We also touch on a few positioning strategies that Ries and Trout caution against. Throughout, we discuss ways that other marketing professionals have interpreted the strategy that expand on and amplify Ries and Trout’s insights.

Purple Cow

TITLE: Purple Cow
AUTHOR: Seth Godin
TIME: 16
READS: 105.8
IMG_URL: https://www.shortform.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/purple-cow-cover.png
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: purple-cow-summary-seth-godin

Purple Cow explores how and why traditional mass marketing is failing in today’s market, and how your business can thrive without it. Your business needs to stand out like a Purple Cow would stand out in a herd of brown cows.

Author Seth Godin is an entrepreneur and marketing expert who’s written nearly 20 books on business and marketing, including several bestsellers. In Purple Cow, he teaches you how to leverage the power of remarkability to succeed in a world already overrun with brown cows. In short, he teaches you how to create your own Purple Cow.

Wrapping Up

Doubtless, you could add more books to this list (feel free to do so in the comments below), but you’ll certainly want to check out these titles as you hone your marketing skills. Whether you’re part of a startup or an established business, and whether you’re creating a strategy for social media or billboards, these books about marketing strategy will help you navigate your way to success.

14 Books About Marketing Strategies to Put on Your Reading List

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Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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