10 Marketing Books Every Entrepreneur Should Have on their Bookshelf
April 8th 2021
by Marcia Layton Turner
Success or failure in business often comes down to marketing. Developing a product or service that people want and are willing to pay for, that you can sell at a price that generates a profit, is at the core of building a sustainable company. Master that and you can build a strong foundation.
The good news is that, despite what it may appear to be, marketing doesn’t have to be complex. You can learn as you go, and there are many great books on the topic that can help you. Of course, there are very general books, including Duct Tape Marketing, by John Jantsch, as well as super niche titles, like The 1 Hour Social Media Plan, by Kelly Smith, or Be Brand Brilliant: It’s All About Instagram Hashtags, by Julie Christie-Clark, and everything in between.
Ten marketing titles worth at least skimming include:
An oldie but goodie, this book is a treasure trove of short, actionable steps you can take to market your company, written by the former editor of Entrepreneur magazine, Rieva Lesonsky. Those tips include buying radio advertising for less, direct mail tactics, public speaking, networking, and hundreds of others, literally.
Abbie Widin, PhD combines practical business advice with money mindset guidance in this book, which is designed to help women imagine what a 7-figure business looks like and then leads them through steps to get there. Plenty of bonus materials, which are accessible through links listed at the end of each chapter, are useful supplementary information. The biggest takeaway is that to reach seven figures, you’ll need to take a different approach than you’re currently taking, starting with how you see yourself and your relationship with money.
Although Paul Jarvis’ book is considered a book about entrepreneurship, rather than marketing, it is written to help business owners think about how they operate their companies, including the customers they pursue. In that sense, it does touch on marketing and resource allocation to best attract the work you want. Although it is not a marketing how-to guide, it will help you consider whether you need an empire to be successful.
Since free publicity is one of the most cost-effective ways of building awareness of your business, you may want to read through Sandra Beckwith’s guide to the many ways of pursuing publicity. From writing pitch emails to press releases and press kits, you’ll find terrific templates for effective pursuit of media coverage. Although the book is a few years old, the strategies and advice are still spot on.
You’ve probably heard that “Content is king,” in this era of social media. Demand for information has never been higher and shows no sign of slowing. So how can you keep up? Andy Crestodina’s book provides more specific, technical guidance in how to build content that will have an impact, with illustrations and research that back up his suggestions regarding things like effective subject lines, best time of day for posting, and thank you message length.
For those entrepreneurs who like a step-by-step process with daily action items, CJ Hayden’s book may be for you, especially if you’re a service provider. You’ll find advice about defining your target audience to effective networking strategies and cold calling tips. The action worksheets and downloadable forms help with implementation of Hayden’s strategies.
Granted, this marketing guide is more than 20 years old, but that doesn’t mean its principles are any less relevant. Written by the pioneers of the work from home movement, Paul and Sarah Edwards, this is a terrific basic guide to identifying your target customer and helping them find you. The marketing tools covered are simple and inexpensive to use, relying more on traditional methods than digital, due to its publication date.
If you know that most of your work is going to originate online, or that you’ll be selling products through a website, you may want to start your reading with Mitch Meyerson’s book on digital marketing. He emphasizes the importance of a good website, how critical a mailing list is, and he reviews some of the basics of online copywriting and web design, to help improve sales conversions.
Businesses providing a service should take a look at Stephanie Chandler’s guide to dominating your market niche, using online marketing tactics to build a website that establishes credibility and establishing yourself as an authority in your field. Using content creation, social media, and networking tactics, she offers tips for standing out, even in a crowded field.
The idea that you should figure out what one thing you do better than everyone else, focus your resources on nurturing relationships with your best clients, and weed out those that are unprofitable or no longer a fit for your business is so simple that it’s brilliant. Mike Michalowicz offers guidance based on study of successful pumpkin farmers, which follow this same strategy. And it works.
There are great marketing lessons to be found in these pages, whether you order copies through your local bookstore or check them out for free from your library. You might even decide to listen to the audiobook versions while you commute to client meetings. However you tap into all the great information these authors have shared, you may want to keep a notebook handy so you can jot down notes for how you can apply their wisdom to your own venture.