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Sifting through the best marketing books for the perfect guide can be daunting, especially when the goal is mastering successful marketing for small business.

I’ve spent years curling and dog-earing the pages of different digital marketing books, applying learned strategies and testing out new ones in my marketing efforts, all so I can keep my appetite for optimization alive and sated. So, I thought I'd share with you a few of my favorite titles with you here. Whether your goal is to connect with potential customers, create impactful marketing messages, or increase your level of customer loyalty, it's all here.

If you’re a beginner eager to enhance your marketing skills and understand the essentials of running successful business campaigns, rest assured, you’re in the right place. I’ve curated a list of paramount marketing reads teeming with invaluable insights to guide you in this ever-evolving domain.

17 Best Marketing Books For Small Business Shortlist

Having sifted through countless reads, I've handpicked these titles perfectly tailored to address your small business marketing needs.

  1. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
  2. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath & Dan Heath
  3. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
  4. Building A StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller
  5. This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin
  6. Killing Marketing: How Innovative Businesses Are Turning Marketing Cost Into Profit by Joe Pulizzi & Robert Rose
  7. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
  8. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
  9. The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand Out From the Crowd by Allan Dib
  10. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk
  11. Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers by Jay Baer
  12. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries & Jack Trout
  13. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne
  14. The Art of SEO by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, & Jessie Stricchiola
  15. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
  16. Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital by Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya, & Iwan Setiawan
  17. The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, and More to Reach Buyers Directly by David Meerman Scott

Overviews Of The 17 Best Marketing Books For Small Business

Here’s a quick summary of each book, what you’ll learn, and why you should read it, plus a quote I like from the book. I added the author’s LinkedIn and other places to connect with them online.

1. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Contagious - Why Things Catch On - Best Marketing Book For Small Business

Summary:

"Contagious: Why Things Catch On" provides readers with a deep understanding of why certain things go viral and how marketers can make their products more shareable. The book combines groundbreaking research with powerful stories to explore what makes information contagious.

What You'll Learn:

In this insightful read, you'll learn the six principles that drive things to become contagious, from customer behavior to social influence, and how to apply these principles to make any idea or product spread like wildfire.

Why You Should Read It:

If you’re eager to discover the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission, this book is a gateway. It will empower you with the tools and insights needed to transform your marketing strategy and create contagious content that elevates your brand presence and reach.

Quote From The Book:

“Virality isn’t born, it’s made.”

About The Author:

Jonah Berger is a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. For more insights, connect with Jonah on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter, or visit his website.

2. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Made to Stick - Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die - Small Business Marketing Book

Summary:

"Made to Stick" explores why some ideas endure and spread while others die. It breaks down the anatomy of ideas that stick and explains ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the human scale principle, using the Velcro Theory of Memory, and creating curiosity gaps.

What You'll Learn:

You will grasp the six key principles, or SUCCES model, to make ideas stick—Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories—and how to implement these principles in your communications effectively.

Why You Should Read It:

This book is crucial for anyone who struggles with communicating ideas clearly and effectively. It provides actionable techniques to transform the way you communicate ideas, making them more compelling and resonant.

Quote From The Book:

“Sticky ideas of all kinds—stories, urban legends, proverbs, myths—are plausible. They are doable.”

About The Authors:

Chip Heath & Dan Heath are renowned authors and professors, Chip at Stanford Graduate School of Business and Dan at Duke University’s CASE center. Explore more about their works on their Amazon portfolio: Chip and Dan, and explore their website.

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3. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion - Best Marketing Book For Small Business

Summary:

"Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" unveils the psychology behind why people say "yes" and how to apply these principles ethically in marketing and persuading others. Dr. Cialdini, through extensive research, delineates the six universal principles of influence and how to use them to become a skilled persuader.

What You'll Learn:

You’ll learn about the six principles of influence—Reciprocity, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Authority, Liking, and Scarcity—and how to utilize these principles to sway others and avoid being manipulated by them.

Why You Should Read It:

If you wish to master the art and science of persuasion, this book is the foundation. It not only explores the depth of human behavior but also teaches how to spot and defend against manipulative tactics, making it a staple in the field of influence and persuasion.

Quote From The Book:

“People’s ability to understand the factors that affect their behavior is surprisingly poor.”

About The Author:

Dr. Robert B. Cialdini is a globally recognized expert in the fields of persuasion, compliance, and negotiation. To connect further with Dr. Cialdini, you can follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, or visit his website.

4. Building A StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller

Building a StoryBrand - Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen - Small Business Marketing Book

Summary:

"Building A StoryBrand" illuminates the seven universal story points all humans respond to and how to simplify a brand message so people understand it. Miller’s approach is about creating a more effective brand story that helps businesses connect with customers and grow.

What You'll Learn:

In this enlightening read, you'll grasp the seven elements of storytelling and how to leverage them to make your brand message clear, so customers listen and react.

Why You Should Read It:

If you want to clarify your message, engage your customers more effectively, and grow your business, this book is the key. It will reshape the way you approach branding and content creation for maximum impact.

Quote From The Book:

“If you confuse, you’ll lose.”

About The Author:

Donald Miller is the CEO of StoryBrand. To delve deeper into his insights, connect with Donald on LinkedIn.

5. This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin

This Is Marketing - You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See - Best Marketing Book For Small Business

Summary:

"This is Marketing" redefines marketing as the act of making change happen. Seth Godin argues that marketing isn't about the stuff you make but the stories you tell. The book emphasizes empathy, connection, and the deep desire to make a difference.

What You'll Learn:

You’ll learn how to identify your smallest viable audience, create a marketing story that resonates, and lead a tribe, fostering a community of like-minded individuals.

Why You Should Read It:

This book is indispensable for those looking to elevate their marketing strategy. It’s not just about selling products but about creating a movement and making a meaningful impact.

Quote From The Book:

“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.”

About The Author:

Seth Godin is a marketing maestro and renowned author. To further explore his world of marketing wisdom, connect with Seth on LinkedIn.

6. Killing Marketing: How Innovative Businesses Are Turning Marketing Cost Into Profit by Joe Pulizzi & Robert Rose

Killing Marketing - How Innovative Businesses Are Turning Marketing Cost Into Profit - Small Business Marketing Book

Summary:

"Killing Marketing" explores a radical and groundbreaking approach to marketing, where marketing’s role is reimagined as a differentiator that creates value. It unfolds how successful companies are turning their marketing into a profitable revenue-generating function.

What You'll Learn:

This book will enlighten you on how to transform your marketing strategy to focus on building audiences and then monetizing those audiences in multiple ways.

Why You Should Read It:

If you aspire to revamp your marketing model and turn it into a distinct profit center, this book lays down the revolutionary path to redefine marketing and business strategies.

Quote From The Book:

“Your goal as a business is not to sell to your customers but to create passionate subscribers to your brand.”

About The Authors:

Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose are the pioneers in content marketing and strategy.

7. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

Ogilvy on Advertising - Best Marketing Book for Small Business

Summary:

"Ogilvy on Advertising" is a comprehensive guide providing insights into the advertising world. David Ogilvy, known as the "Father of Advertising," shares his knowledge on what works, what doesn’t, and why, covering a range of advertising topics.

What You'll Learn:

You’ll understand the essence of effective advertising, how to make successful ads, and acquire insights on consumer behavior, research, and market positioning.

Why You Should Read It:

For anyone interested in the foundations of advertising and seeking timeless advice on how to create memorable ad campaigns, this book is a valuable resource. It combines wit and wisdom to offer a compelling learning experience.

Quote From The Book:

“Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ballpark. Aim for the company of immortals.”

About The Author:

David Ogilvy was a legendary advertising tycoon and a self-made man.

8. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

Purple Cow - Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable - Small Business Marketing Book

Summary:

"Purple Cow" postulates that being safe is risky. The book is about being remarkable and creating products and services worth noticing. Godin urges businesses to create a "Purple Cow" – something phenomenal, exciting, and flat-out unbelievable.

What You'll Learn:

This book will teach you how to turn your business into a Purple Cow, enabling it to be the remarkable one that stands out and is worth talking about.

Why You Should Read It:

If you want to transform your business strategy and stop invisible advertising, "Purple Cow" is the guide. It’s about making your product the one that gets noticed and garners attention.

Quote From The Book:

“In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is failing.”

About The Author:

Seth Godin is a renowned author and entrepreneur. To further explore his world of marketing wisdom, connect with Seth on LinkedIn.

9. The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand Out From the Crowd by Allan Dib

The 1-Page Marketing Plan - Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand Out From the Crowd - Best Marketing Book For Small Business

Summary:

"The 1-Page Marketing Plan" is a breakthrough that makes creating a marketing plan simple and fast. Allan Dib reveals a marketing implementation breakthrough that makes creating a marketing plan as simple as one page.

What You'll Learn:

Readers will learn how to generate leads, convert them into customers, and keep them coming back for more with a single, streamlined plan.

Why You Should Read It:

This is a must-read for anyone who finds marketing overwhelming or complicated. It provides clear, concise, and practical advice to help your business grow and stand out.

Quote From The Book:

“The end goal of marketing is to have your customers know, like, trust, and finally, buy more from you.”

About The Author:

Allan Dib is a serial entrepreneur and rebellious marketer. For more insights, connect with Allan on LinkedIn, or explore his website.

10. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook - How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World - Small Business Marketing Book

Summary:

Gary Vaynerchuk shares a blueprint for social media marketing strategies that work. He presents the concept of giving value, or “jabbing,” before asking for customers - the “right hook.”

What You'll Learn:

You’ll learn to connect with your audience, create compelling content, and adapt your story to various social media platforms effectively.

Why You Should Read It:

In the era of a noisy social media world, understanding how to make your story stand out is crucial. This book is packed with practical insights and examples, making it an essential read for those looking to excel in social media marketing.

Quote From The Book:

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”

About The Author:

Gary Vaynerchuk is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and co-founder of VaynerMedia. Connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter.

11. Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers by Jay Baer

Hug Your Haters - How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers - Best Marketing Book for Small Business

Summary:

Jay Baer’s "Hug Your Haters" is a comprehensive guide to effectively dealing with customer complaints. It uncovers the frameworks for embracing haters and turning bad news into good.

What You'll Learn:

The book offers a new approach to customer service, focusing on how to handle unhappy customers and turn them into your most devoted ones.

Why You Should Read It:

Reading this will change your perspective on negative feedback and complaints. It's a practical guide that offers real solutions to transform your customer service approach and build stronger customer relationships.

Quote From The Book:

“Haters are not your problem. Ignoring them is.”

About The Author:

Jay Baer is a renowned marketing expert and customer service speaker. To learn more, you can connect with Jay on LinkedIn, or visit his website.

12. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries & Jack Trout

Positioning - The Battle for Your Mind - Small Business Marketing Book

Summary:

Al Ries and Jack Trout’s "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind" explores the art of positioning and how it can help in shaping consumer perception. It’s a groundbreaking approach to creating a “position” within a prospective customer's mind.

What You'll Learn:

You will understand the principles of positioning and strategies to carve a distinct position in the minds of your target consumers.

Why You Should Read It:

For anyone in marketing or business, understanding positioning is crucial for brand success. This book provides valuable insights and is a pioneering guide in strategic brand positioning.

Quote From The Book:

“The basic approach of positioning is not to create something new and different, but to manipulate what's already up there in the mind, to retie the connections that already exist.”

About The Authors:

Al Ries is a marketing professional, and Jack Trout is a business owner and marketer. Connect with Al Ries on LinkedIn.

13. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne

Blue Ocean Strategy - How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant - Best Marketing Book for Small Business

Summary:

“Blue Ocean Strategy” presents a systematic approach to making the competition irrelevant and creating uncontested market spaces. It provides frameworks and tools to create new markets rather than competing in saturated ones.

What You'll Learn:

Discover insights on creating ‘blue oceans’ of uncontested market space and learn about value innovation concepts and how to apply them to break away from the competition.

Why You Should Read It:

This book is for those seeking to innovate and create new market spaces that are ripe with opportunities. It's a guide that is both conceptual and practical, with strategies that can be applied to any business.

Quote From The Book:

“The only way to beat the competition is to stop trying to beat the competition.”

About The Authors:

W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne are professors at INSEAD and co-directors of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute.

14. The Art of SEO by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, & Jessie Stricchiola

The Art of SEO - Small Business Marketing Book

Summary:

“The Art of SEO” is a comprehensive guide to SEO best practices, offering insights into the complexity of SEO and how to optimize websites to rank better in search engine results.

What You'll Learn:

Understand the importance of SEO, learn about search engine algorithms, and discover actionable strategies to improve website visibility and rankings.

Why You Should Read It:

If you're looking to master SEO and increase your website's visibility and rankings, this book is the perfect resource. It combines insights and practical advice from renowned SEO experts.

Quote From The Book:

“Effective SEO requires a commitment to producing regular, quality content, and that means finding someone in your organization who can take on this responsibility.”

About The Authors:

Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, and Jessie Stricchiola are experts in SEO and digital marketing.

15. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

Hooked - How to Build Habit-Forming Products - Best Marketing Book For Small Business

Summary:

“Hooked” offers insights into the psychology of product creation. It provides a framework for creating products that are captivating and habit-forming, ensuring sustained customer engagement.

What You'll Learn:

Gain knowledge about the “Hook Model,” a four-step process a company uses to build customer habits and learn how to apply behavioral techniques in product design to influence user actions.

Why You Should Read It:

It's essential for product managers, designers, marketers, and start-ups looking to create products that consumers can’t resist. Nir Eyal provides real insights into building habit-forming products to secure customer loyalty.

Quote From The Book:

“Companies who form strong user habits enjoy several benefits to their bottom line.”

About The Author:

Nir Eyal is a renowned author and lecturer in the areas of psychology, technology, and business. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter, or visit his blog website.

16. Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital by Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya, & Iwan Setiawan

Marketing 4.0 - Moving from Traditional to Digital - Small Business Marketing Book

Summary:

“Marketing 4.0” is a transformative guide that uncovers the shifts in the marketing world, offering insights and strategies for navigating the transition from traditional to digital marketing.

What You'll Learn:

Explore the integration of online and offline marketing, learn about the new paths to purchase, and understand how to engage customers in a complex digital landscape.

Why You Should Read It:

If you are seeking to understand the evolution of marketing in the digital age and how to leverage new technologies and methodologies, this book is a pivotal resource. It is rich in strategies and insights that are crucial for marketing in today’s environment.

Quote From The Book:

“The role of marketers is to create a brand that is ambitious and altruistic.”

About The Authors:

Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya, and Iwan Setiawan are respected authorities in the field of marketing.

17. The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, and More to Reach Buyers Directly by David Meerman Scott

The New Rules of Marketing and PR - How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly - Best Marketing Book For Small Business

Summary:

This book serves as a comprehensive guide to the ever-evolving world of digital marketing and public relations. It elucidates how to effectively leverage the myriad of tools available to communicate directly with buyers.

What You'll Learn:

Discover how to utilize social media, online video, mobile applications, blogs, and more to create powerful narratives and connect with customers and stakeholders.

Why You Should Read It:

For anyone looking to navigate the complexities of digital marketing and public relations in today’s world, this book is an invaluable asset. It provides actionable insights and strategies to reach buyers directly and efficiently.

Quote From The Book:

“Marketing is not about your agency winning awards. It's about your organization winning business.”

About The Author:

David Meerman Scott is a marketing strategist, advisor to emerging companies, and a professional speaker. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter, or visit his personal website.

Which Best Marketing Books For Small Business Do You Recommend?

I hope this curated list serves as a valuable resource on your journey to marketing mastery. There might be noteworthy books that have not been included in this selection. If you’ve encountered a gem that’s not listed here, please share your recommendations.

I am always eager to discover more insightful reads in the realm of marketing and would appreciate your input to enrich this compilation.

Stephanie Hood
By Stephanie Hood

Stephanie Hood is an experienced marketing professional and Editor of The CMO. With nearly a decade spent as Marketing Manager at Discover Holidays and Executive Editor at VIVA Lifestyle & Travel, she built her career leading editorial and marketing teams and strategies that turn six-figure budgets into seven-figure profits. She now enjoys connecting with the world's top executives to learn their secrets to business success, and shares those insights right here with her community of like-minded professionals. Curious what she’s uncovered? Be sure to sign up for The CMO newsletter.