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I love reading marketing books and listening to marketing podcasts. I think I’m a bit of an information junkie when it comes to tactics, tips and tricks that may help me grow my business. So, I decided to take a deeper look at what I’ve been reading lately and share with you some must-read marketing books that cover a wide range of topics; from usability to branding to coaching to the art of persuasion. I hope you enjoy this list — let’s get to it!

Fascinate, Revised and Updated: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist by Sally Hogshead

I cannot say enough good things about this book and Sally Hogshead in general. In fact, I’ve purchased multiple copies of it and given to to friends and colleagues. If you are a left-brained business owner dipping your toes into the left-brained side marketing and branding this book will give you a clear system to follow.

First, you’ll read about all the different “brand fascination profiles” then take a quiz to determine which type of brand your business is. Hogshead then gives you clear guidelines to help you with brand messaging and tone — all the way down to giving you specific words that you can use when speaking to your audience. She even teaches how to mix your brand’s fascination profile with a different profile to create unforgettable marketing campaigns. I love how she takes branding — which is such an abstract concept for so many business owners — and breaks it down into actionable steps you can take to make your brand impossible to resist.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Written by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of best-selling Eat, Pray, Love), Big Magic is one of the most honest discussions about the creative process that I’ve ever read. Learn tactics for breaking out of creative ruts, finding fulfillment and facing fear- all while finding more balance in your life. If you’ve ever stalled, set down, given up, cried privately and/or wondered if it’s just too freaking late for you to be an artist or creative, Gilbert will call your bluff and give you the confidence to pursue your passion. It’s written in a playful and conversational tone, but make no mistake; this is all straight talk.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

What makes things popular? If you said advertising, think again. People don’t listen to advertisements, they listen to their peers. But why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others? I would recommend this to pretty much anyone who plays a role in promoting their business or organization. If you are seeking a bigger impact, especially with a smaller budget, you need this book.

The Wizard of Ads: Turning Words into Magic and Dreamers into Millionaires by Roy H. Williams

The Wizard of Ads covers a lot of main principles of timeless marketing. Williams gives good insight into the history and inner-workings of great advertising. It reads very much like a classic or a way of thinking rather than a nuts-and-bolts how-to book.

Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype by Jay Baer

Great book for understanding the dynamics between service and marketing. Baer explores changing the shift from creating marketing needed by companies to creating marketing that’s wanted by customers. Baer covers relevant examples on how and why you should focus on being useful to your target customer. This is a great read for anyone in marketing and would be a great supplementary read for anyone taking undergraduate or MBA level marketing & communications courses.

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier

Love, love, love this book about how to be a great coach and leader. Stanier provides seven transformative questions that can guide your coaching strategy and make a difference in how you lead and support. If you are overwhelmed with your current coaching role, this book should make it more manageable and focused. Mastering Stanier’s question techniques will allow you to put forth less effort while having a much bigger impact on your students.

The Smarter Screen: Surprising Ways to Influence and Improve Online Behavior by Shlomo Benartzi

If you’ve ever felt helpless in today’s technological world finding yourself unable to make meaningful decisions in what to buy, read or watch (on your five hundred TV channels), you’re not alone. This is an easy-to-read book about human behavior and how computer screens are amplifying the problem of information overload. As a designer with a concentration on website usability I found this to be really affirming. There are things you can do (and some are simple) to make your website better. You just have to understand and account for the attention and information processing limitations of human beings. If you’re trying to understand usability and want to learn ways to make your website easier to use rather than just pretty, check this book out.

The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer

Author Amanda Palmer — an indie musician/artist/blogger/frequent exhibitionist/formerly half of the punk cabaret band The Dresden Dolls — is a polarizing figure. This book springs from her popular 2013 TED Talk in which she described her early days working as a “living statue” street performer and how her lifelong business model formed from the relationships she built with fans. Palmer is both celebrated and attacked for her fearlessness in asking for help. But she’s found that when your work is meaningful to someone, that person will want to pay you for it.


Palmer discusses how so many people are afraid to ask for help even though it paralyzes their lives and relationships.

8 Must-Read Marketing Books for Aspiring Business Owners

What’s your favorite marketing book? Is it on my list? If not comment below and let me know what it is… I love reading new books about marketing strategy.