Top 10 Marketing Books of All Time

Essential books for entrepreneurs who really want to understand how and why their customers buy.


10. Crossing the Chasm


By identifying the differences between “innovators” and “laggards” and everything in between, Geoffrey Moore creates a roadmap for how new markets develop.  While his book focuses on high tech, the lessons that he draws and the example he gives are applicable to every industry and business situation.

 Best quote: “‘Why me?’ cries out the unsuccessful entrepreneur.  Or rather ‘Why not me?’ ‘Why not us?’ chorus his equally unsuccessful investors. ‘Look at our product. Is it not as good–nay, better-than the product that beat us out?’… In fact, feature for feature, the less successful product is often arguably superior.”


9. The Life of PT Barnum


You may think that “personal branding” is all the rage, but the true expert of self promotion was the great PT Barnum, who managed to enhance, build, change and strengthen his public image over half a century, forcing the world to take him on his own terms.  Fascinating stuff.

Best quote: “I have been a farmer’s boy and a merchant, a clerk and a manager, a showman and a bank-president. I have been in jails and in palaces; have known poverty and abundance; have travelled over a large portion of two Continents; have encountered all varieties of men, have seen every phase of human character.”


8. Selling the Invisible


The most significant economic transformation of the past 50 years has been the change, in the United States and Europe, from a manufacturing economy to a service-based one.  According to author Harry Beckwith, the key to making the transition successfully is your unseen ability to build strong relationships with the people with whom you work.

Best quote: “The new marketing is more than a way of doing; it is a way of thinking.  It begins with an understanding of the distinctive characteristics of services–their invisibility and intangibility–and of the unique nature of service prospects and users–their fear, their limited time, their sometimes illogical ways of making decision, and their most important drives and needs.”


7. Influence


As useful to salespeople as it is to marketers, Bob Cialdini’s book is all about how people say “Yes!” and what you can do bring them to that point.  In a series of intensely practical observations, Cialdini reveals how your actions and words can profoundly effect the desires and needs of your customers, colleagues and even your competitors.  Essential stuff.

Best quote: “There is a group of people who know very well where the weapons of automatic influence lie and employ them regularly and expertly to get what they want.  They go from social encounter to social encounter requestin others to comply with their wishes; their frequency of success is dazzling.”


6. Positioning



As true today as it was when published 20 years ago, this classic by Al Ries and Jack Trout lays out the basics of finding where your product fits in larger picture of what other people want and what other companies are doing.  Some of the case studies are showing a little age, but this remains a seminal, essential text.

Best quote: “Positioning is now what you do to a product.  Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect.”


5. Buy-ology



By injecting neuroscience into the art of marketing, Martin Lindstrom explains how everything we think and do is influenced by mental forces of which we are only vaguely aware (if at all). More importantly, Lindstrom shows how these impulses might be scientifically measured and then used to hone marketing campaigns.  Scary, maybe, but sci-fi no longer.

Best quote: “If marketers could uncover what is going on in our brains that makes us choose one brand over another–what information passes through our brain’s filter and what information doesn’t–well, that would be key to truly building brands of the future…read more

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