From new releases to timeless classics published over 30 years ago, here are 15 books that should be required reading for product marketers — and anyone that might just be looking for a good marketing book.
12 Of The Best Marketing Books
Despite the varying definitions and opinions of what product marketing does, there’s one thing that everyone can agree on: product marketing typically owns positioning and messaging. This book was originally released in 1981 and has truly stood the test of time as one of the best marketing books. In Positioning, Reis and Trout walk through case studies from legendary brands and offer up advice that still applies more than 30 years later, including what to do you if your brand is not the first to market in your industry.
2. Four Steps to the Epiphany
Steve Blank is credited with the Customer Development methodology, which helped launch the Lean Startup movement. As an entrepreneur, Blank spent over 30 years in technology and this book is filled with many of the lessons he learned along the way. Blank’s step by step process in The Four Steps to Epiphany show you how rapid iteration, customer feedback, and testing can help you find the best market and the right product to build and launch (see How to Launch a New Product).
3. The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million
Traditionally, sales has been more of an art than a science, but Mark Roberge wanted to break that mold. As SVP of Worldwide Sales and Services for HubSpot, Roberge helped HubSpot go from three people to an IPO with a billion-dollar valuation and 15,000 paying customers. The key piece behind HubSpot’s sales success? Data. As a product marketer, you need to know how to help sales move the needle, and there’s no one better to learn from than Roberge in The Sales Acceleration Formula.
4. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
There are few people in the business world that are more fascinating that Elon Musk. While most entrepreneurs dream of changing the world with one company, Musk has found a way to do it four times with PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity. Veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance provides the first in-depth look at Musk in this biography, and you’ll walk away with more than a few notes on how to launch your next product (or at least have a better idea of how to convince a room of billionaires that it’s possible to make the next great rocket in a factory in Los Angeles).
5. Ogilvy on Advertising
The best product marketers have an amazing ability to turn product features into customer benefits, and when it comes to copywriting, there’s no one better to learn from than father of advertising, David Ogilvy. Unless you’ve been converting 100% of your traffic, Ogilvy on Advertising is a book that you need to read.
6. Crossing The Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers
When Geoffrey Moore released Crossing The Chasm in 1991, he created a new game plan for marketers everywhere by breaking down different segments of buyers (innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards) and laying out a plan to “cross the chasm.” 20+ years ago, Moore hit on a key theme that many marketers still struggle with today: trying to be everything to everyone.
7. Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business
Great companies can fail even if they do everything right. That’s The Innovator’s Dilemma, according to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen in his 1997 book that The Economist calls one of the six greatest business books of all time. Christensen shows that even if you listen to your customers and invest in the most successful parts of your business, you can still crumble unless you innovate, adopt new technologies, and adapt to change.
8. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
Nir Eyal uses examples like the iPhone, Twitter, and Pinterest to walk readers through how successful companies have been able to get customers hooked on their products. His four-step process in Hooked provides a set of actionable steps that product marketers can use to drive demand and create better relationships customers.
9. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
Daniel Pink knows a thing or two about sales (his TEDTalk on motivation has been viewed over 14,500,000 times). In To Sell Is Human, Pink walks through the six successors to the elevator pitch, the three rules for understanding another’s perspective, the five frames that can make your message clearer and more persuasive and forces you to look at sales in a new light: everyone is in sales in one way or another.
10. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success
Great product marketers are enablers. They help sales sell better. They help fellow marketers drive more demand for their products. They help the product team better understand the market and the customer. In Adam Grant’s Give and Take, he breaks down the reasons why it pays to help others in the workplace, and breaks the myth that the nice ones finish last.
11. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition
Influence is last on this list, but many argue that it is the most important marketing book ever written. Dr. Robert Cialdini, an expert in influence and persuasion, shares the six universal principles of influence and how to use them to become a skilled persuader — or in this case, a skilled marketer. Today, Cialdini is referred to as the “guru of social influence.”
12. Scientific Advertising
“The advertising man studies the consumer. He tries to place himself in the position of the buyer.” Speaking of the test of time: no other book on this list has lasted longer than Scientific Advertising from Claude Hopkins. Written in 1923, this book is filled with 92 pages of marketing gems, and is cited as one of the must-read marketing books by all of the advertising greats from Ogilvy to Gary Halbert. Bring a pen for this one — all of the knowledge Hopkins drops about copywriting still applies today.
Did we miss one? Tell us what your favorite marketing books are in the comments below.