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My Top 7 Recommended Marketing Books

One of my students asked me today if I could put together a list of the various marketing books that I recommend in our calls.

There are a LOT of marketing books out there to buy. Many of them offer you one particular tactic, often presented as a very good thing, but my experience is that what’s right for one business could be catastrophic for another. So I don’t want to recommend any particular tactic.

This short list of 7 titles contains the books that I really think every single marketer should have on their shelf, and should read many times.


Influence” is a one-of-a-kind book, a landmark in the study of how we buy, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Psychologist Robert Cialdini set out to figure out why he ended up paying for stuff he didn’t want, which started him on a long journey into the underworld of sales tactics. He even went undercover to learn techniques from sales organizations!

Influence” brilliantly sets out a few common tricks that marketers use to make us say yes to stuff, and walks you through how and why they work.

Of course, like anything, you can use this knowledge in many ways: ethically or less ethically. That is up to you.

Start With Why

Start With Why” is one of the books that I can confidently say changed my life.

Somehow, one day Simon Sinek had one of those realizations that geniuses get. He saw that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

This book is more than a masterclass in marketing or branding. It can help you find, or refine, your own direction in life. And it’s packed with wonderful examples. You absolutely MUST read this book!

80/20 Sales and Marketing.

Perry Marshall’s “80/20 Sales and Marketing” is, for me, another landmark book in both marketing and business.

Perry got snared by the 80/20 (“Pareto”) principle, and it took him down a rabbit hole that caused him to challenge a lot of his assumptions and habits.

He takes you on the whole journey in this books, which I can confidently say is a work of pure genius.

Quite simply, friends, if you’re in business, in any shape or form, read it.

Zag (Marty Neumeier)

You must read either “ZAG” or “Purple Cow” because these will show you the primary importance of being unique.

Hey, we’re all unique anyway, aren’t we? But one of the biggest problems in marketing is, failing to BE who you really ARE, and trying to look, sound, or behave like your competitors. That is a huge mistake.

I particularly love “ZAG” because it’s concise and intelligent, and it doesn’t just stress why you should zag against the market, but has a step-by-step process for figuring out your ZAG.

Purple Cow

Seth Godin is one of my favourite marketing writers. “Purple Cow” is kind of similar to “ZAG” but I couldn’t leave it out of my list.

You know what, get both, they’re both short and entertaining, because you NEED to get uniqueness into your bloodstream.

It isn’t a marketing trick, it isn’t something you can add on, it’s becoming more and more essential to survival in the marketplace. It is that important, folks.


I had to include this one by Seth Godin as well. (I might also recommend “All Marketers Are Liars“). “Tribes” shows you the vital, natural tendency that we all share as humans to want to belong.

We’ve lost the close-knit family communities that we evolved with, but we’re still tribal, so now those original community groups are replaced with a new form of tribe: communities of interest. And they need leaders. “Tribes” shows us just what kind of leaders we need to be, at whatever level, to be successful in the market today.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

I also considered adding Al Ries and Jack Trout’s “Positioning“, which is a masterpiece (and highly recommended if you’re into brand development), but this one simply had to make the list.

Father and daughter team Al and Laura Ries’s “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding” tells you pretty much everything you need to know about branding, and nothing you don’t. It’s another quick read (I just inhale books like this) and backed up with wonderful case studies from the trenches.

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