This Reading List Will Make You a Better Marketer [updated]

I’m too often surprised by the number of marketers who neglect to further their training once they land a job. Other professionals (e.g., teachers, doctors, lawyers) have continuing education requirements to stay current in their fields. But marketing and advertising practitioners? Not so much.

Marketing books

But just because it’s not a requirement doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep pushing yourself forward. You owe it to yourself, your clients, your marketing teams, and your career to stay connected and involved with your field.

Don’t be a part-time marketer — the field is too interesting and too rich in human motivation to be taken in half measures. Watch TV commercials. Turn off your ad blocker and pay attention to online ads. Check out Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Subscribe to newsletters and emails. But, most of all, read.

I’ve referenced these books throughout various posts on this site, but have never compiled them into a single list. Until now. That’s right, no need to scour the site searching for links. I’ve done the heavy lifting for you.

So, no excuses. Head to your local library or favorite bookseller and pick up a few of these time-tested, must-read marketing and advertising books. Your career will thank you.

Advertising and Marketing Reading List

Scientific Advertising and My Life In Advertising by Claude Hopkins
One of the great advertising pioneers. The books were written in the 1920s so the language feels a bit dated. But the core concepts are still relevant today. 

Reality in Advertising by Rosser Reeves
The originator of the unique selling proposition. 

Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy
One of the greats. Channel your inner Mad Man (or Woman) and read this one.

How to Advertise: Building Brands and Businesses in the New Marketing World by Kenneth Roman and Jane Maas
A practical guide on what works, and what doesn’t. This is the book that inspired me to start my own agency, a decision that impacted my entire career (and life).

How to Make Your Advertising Make Money by John Caples
This classic is as timely today as it was when it was written. Caples, a Jedi master of copy writing, understood human behavior and used scientific methods to back up his results.

Bill Bernbach’s Book: A History of Advertising that Changed the History of Advertising by Bob Levenson
Not cheap. But worth every penny.

Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads By Luke Sullivan
A slightly irreverent guide to telling brand stories and creating compelling brand experiences.

The Art of Writing Advertising: Conversations with William Bernbach, Leo Burnett, George Gribbin, David Ogilvy, and Rosser Reeves
Advertising masters share their insights on writing and creating. Who wouldn’t want to learn from the best?

The Idea Writers by Teressa Iezza
I actually cried when I read this book. Teressa Iezza brilliantly examines the evolution from one-way messaging to audience conversations. 

The Man Who Sold America by Jeffrey L. Cruikshank and Arthur W. Schultz
Albert Lasker invented orange juice, political advertising, and the feminine hygiene category. This is his bigger-than-life story.

Mad Women by Jane Maas
A masterpiece. One of the best advertising autobiographies ever written.

(UPDATE: 1/21/2022)

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
The personal success classic, and one of the earliest books addressing the concept of how mindset drives outcomes.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
What can you learn about modern teamwork from our 16th president? More than you can possibly imagine.

Amp It Up: Leading for Hypergrowth by Raising Expectations, Increasing Urgency, and Elevating Intensity by Frank Slootman
Principles for transforming an organization for growth and scale. It’s Slootman’s bible on how to lead hypergrowth companies.

The First 90 Days, Updated and Expanded: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter by Michael D. Watkins
If you’re in the midst of a career or job transition (and who isn’t?), this one’s for you.

The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne
I reread this probably once every year or so. Classic Jules Verne.

(originally posted 8/19/2020)