20 Business / Marketing Books Every Business Owner Should Read

books-every-business-owner-should-readAs your business grows and evolves, so do business and marketing trends. What was once a best practice, can change quickly these days due to technology and new research. Meanwhile, some philosophies and strategies manage to stand the test of time.

As a busy professional, you’ve got a million things to do and sometimes reading and educating yourself can be put on the back burner, and the last thing you want to do is waste your time on a book that just doesn’t deliver the value you’re looking for. We get it!

That’s why we’ve put together this post. You’ll find a library of our personal favorites, from business authors and marketing professionals that continue to shape the way in which our industry grows. These books are inspiring, educational, motivating, and spark creativity in marketers around the globe.

This isn’t an official list; there are just too many incredible books out there that would take a lifetime to consume. Here, however, we’ve curated a collection of books every business owner should read, but, pay-it-forward by sharing some of YOUR favorite books in the comments below. We’d love to hear your recommendations!

1. Buy-ology

Martin Lindstrom: This book fuses neuroscience and the art of marketing by explaining how everything we think and do is influenced by our mental forces of which we are only vaguely aware (if at all). Author Lindstrom further breaks down how these impulses could be measured and then used to fine-tune marketing campaigns.

2. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

Al Ries and Jack Trout: We’d be remiss if we didn’t start with this: Positioning was named the best marketing book of all time by Advertising Age. Agree or not, it’s widely considered by industry professionals as one of the “must-haves.” Positioning covers how to brand products and services, and how to best place them in both the market and the mind’s eye of the consumer.

3. Permission Marketing

Seth Godin: This book points to the idea that, as consumers, we have so many choices and options on a daily basis, that we’re going to pick and choose what messages we want to hear. This turns the old marketing concept, cramming your calls-to-action down people’s throats, into what Godin likes to call permission marketing.

4. A Whole New Mind

Daniel H. Pink: This entertaining book has already been translated into 20 languages. In this read, Pink offers a refreshing look at what it takes to excel with six essential aptitudes you’ll need to succeed professionally and personally. It also includes a series of hands-on exercises collected from experts around the globe to help readers sharpen certain skills.

5. Think and Grow Rich

Napoleon Hill: Described as a classic with pages full of relevant lessons on business, marketing, and entrepreneurship, Hill’s mental exercise and self-help book teaches you everything you need to know to empower yourself for success. The book is full of real-world lessons created from the experiences of not only the author but famous U.S. businessmen.  

6. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

Seth Godin: In this book, Godin, a best-selling author, highly sought-after lecturer, and successful entrepreneur, urges readers to find a way to stand out from the crowd — to be, say, a purple cow in a field of monochrome cattle. The author is respected for his understanding of the internet, and widely read and respected essays, which is why it’s not surprising that he has more than one book on this list.

7. Fascinate

Sally Hogshead: Hogshead is a world-class branding expert that has discovered a new way to measure how people perceive your communication with seven key advantages of fascination: innovation, passion, power, prestige, trust, mystique and alert. Read this book to find out how to discover your personal value and what makes you intensely valuable to others so that the world will see the best version of yourself.

8. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant

W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne: If the title isn’t intriguing enough, this book has sold 3.5 million copies, is published in a record-breaking 43 languages and is a bestseller across five continents. Blue Ocean Strategy was written based on Kim and Mauborgne’s decade-long research on key strategic moves transcending more than a century and thirty industries.

9. How to Win Friends & Influence People

Dale Carnegie: This classic amongst industry professionals has been referred to as the PR bible. It’s sold more than 15 million copies and, as Carnegie states in the book “success is due 15 percent to professional knowledge and 85 percent to the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people."

10. Choose Yourself

James Altucher: This book will teach you how to make millions by illuminating your personal path to allow you to create art, and gain real inward and outward success. Altucher believes in the power of this book so much that once you read it, he’ll buy it back from you. He writes on his website: “I don’t need to make a dime off of this book. The ideas in the book have already made me wealthy in many ways. What I really care about is that as many people as possible read this book and understand this message, even if it puts my own personal investment at risk.”

11. Good to Great

Jim Collins: This book addresses one and only one question - can a good company become a great company, and if so, how? Collins takes a look at five years of research comparing companies that made that leap, to teams that did not, and discusses why greatness is not a matter of circumstance, but conscious choice and discipline.

12. The 33 Ruthless Rules of Local Advertising

Michael Corbett: In this book, Corbett examines 33 rules he developed for local advertisers. He discusses how investments can produce results that are not only trackable but predictable.  

13. Brandsformation

Chuck Mefford: In this book, Mefford teaches you how to tap into the minds of consumers and understand how to connect with them. He shares real branding success stories and his personal system for branding that any business can implement to grow their business. Written for local businesses, this book teaches you how to keep your business top-of-mind.

14. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

Gary Vaynerchuk: Social media expert, Vaynerchuk offers a blueprint for social media marketing strategies that really work in this witty book. He shows that while communication is still key, context matters now more than ever. He explains that it’s not just about developing high-quality content but developing high-quality content perfectly tailored to specific social channels and mobile devices.

15. Hiring for Attitude

Mark Murphy: In a recent Leadership IQ study, the firm found that 46% of all new hires fail within their first 18 months. But here’s the kicker: 89% fail for attitudinal reasons ― not skills. In this book, Murphy explains that while skills are certainly important, attitude should be your number-one focus during the hiring process.

16. Great Leaders Grow

Ken Blanchard: In this fictional narrative, Debbie Brewster becomes a mentor to a young man, Blake, as he begins on his own career. Together, they discover ways that leaders must keep growing, both on the job and off. The takeaway of the fictional story is an abundance of lessons for anyone who desires both personal and professional fulfillment. We also love The Secret, Raving Fans, and anything else by Blanchard you can get your hands on!

17. The Orange Revolution

Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton: In this groundbreaking guide to building high-performance teams, Gostick and Elton reveal that the true driver of exceptional success for great companies is not an exemplary CEO. But greatness is driven by a particular breed of breakthrough team that generates its own momentum.

18. The Little Red Book of Selling

Jeffrey Gitomer:  Written by the author of The Sales Bible comes another lively and humorous must-read for salespeople. Reading this will open up many doors for sales reps, and for those who are running into dead ends, stale leads, price objections, and unreturned phone calls, Gitomer shows them how to get past the obstacles and sell their products and services with new passion and vigor.

19. Lead G2

Matt Sunshine: Sunshine’s book is a breath of fresh air from all the stale information that threatens salespeople. It makes a well-reasoned Call-to-Arms to either adopt inbound marketing or get left behind in the age of the informed consumer. The book lays out in detail an Inbound Marketing Road Map that is easily adaptable and helps you determine if Inbound is something you can do on your own, outsource completely, or find some middle ground.

20. Emotional Intelligence

Travis Bradberry: This book provides a step-by-step guide for increasing your emotional intelligence using the four core EQ skills―self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management―to exceed your personal and professional goals and achieve your fullest potential. This bestselling book will show you where your EQ stands today, and what you can do to begin maximizing it immediately.

So there you have it, 20 of our personal favorite marketing and business books. It’s never too late to add professional development as a part of your everyday life, and there is no better way to do that than to catch up on your reading. While these books are full of research, case studies, and statistics, they all read like can’t-put-down, page-turning sci-fi novels.

Benjamin Franklin once said: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about.” Many of the authors of the above books have done both. Being leaders in their industry, or having spent so much time researching, these business and marketing books for business owners are packed full of incredible insight into the growing landscape of marketing.

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