It’s back-to-school time for many. In that spirit, we thought we’d share some of the best small business marketing books for 2021. Entrepreneurs don’t have to go back to class, but they can learn a thing or two from these helpful marketing books.
As a small business owner, you are passionate about your product or service. Regrettably, that doesn’t always mean you’re great at marketing them. You probably know you have to:
- Launch a professional website
- Leverage social media
- Do some digital advertising
- Learn about search engine optimization
- Create local awareness
- Build a business network
- Offer discounts
But that’s just the basics. To learn how to get the most out of these and to plan a successful marketing strategy, it can help to read these best small business marketing books:
- “Marketing Made Simple”
- “The Age of Influence: The Power of Influencers to Elevate Your Brand”
- “Brand Storytelling: Put Customers at the Heart of Your Brand Story”
- “The Results Obsession: ROI-Focused Strategies to Transform Your Marketing”
- “Lemon: How the Advertising Brain Turned Sour”
- “The Ultimate Guide to Google Ads”
- “They Ask, You Answer”
- “Duct Tape Marketing”
- “Content Inc: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences”
- “This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See”
“Marketing Made Simple”
With apologies to Jerry Maguire, this book “has us as the title.” It helps too that this book from Donald Miller, CEO of BusinessMadeSimple.com, is just 130 pages. He’s also the bestselling author of “Building a StoryBrand.”
“Marketing Made Simple” outlines:
- Marketing planning
- Websites that work
- Lead generators
- Email campaigns (both sales and nurture)
- Sales funnel
The book, co-authored with Dr. J.J. Peterson, also offers a step-by-step checklist.
“The Age of Influence”
Business often hears that cash is king. Well, influence is power. This 2020 book from Neal Schaffer covers the power of influence marketing, understanding the influencer landscape, and ways you can engage with them. It has a part devoted to how you can become an influencer and also notes that your employees can be influencers too.
This one is not to be confused with “Influence,” a classic small business marketing book by Robert Cialdini. It’s been around since 1984, but it’s still making lists of highly recommended small business marketing books.
If you want a book that comes with accolades for credibility, Miri Rodriguez’s 2020 “Brand Storytelling” won several. These include Best Public Relations Book of All Time and NYC Big Book Award.
A review on Amazon from a Walt Disney Company writer tells us the book is “an engaging and insightful must-read for all digital marketers and storytellers.” Michael Raymond says the book provides “plenty of ah-ha moments for brand storytellers seeking to infuse their communication strategies and tactics with empathy and vulnerability that will resonate with their customers, but in the most authentic, emotional, and immersive way possible.”
“The Results Obsession”
Being asked to provide metrics? Justify the marketing ROI? This is the book for you. Karen J. Marchetti helps readers identify the areas where their efforts can have the biggest impact. Providing a roadmap to effective use of digital marketing channels, “The Results Obsession” provides marketing metric formulas to help you strategically “craft offers for a big change in results.”
Looking for a metric to boost this book’s credibility? The sales sites state, “These digital strategies have doubled and tripled client sales, boosted online leads 67%, increased email click-through 200%, and generated a 22% opt-in rate for clients like Qualcomm, Union Bank and more.”
This is less a how-to, more a provocative examination of “what has gone amiss since the golden age of advertising.” Author Orlando Wood argues that our analytical culture is “reducing what was once dazzling art form to dreary science,” according to a Q&A on LinkedIn.
Drawing on Iain McGilchrist’s “groundbreaking theory of how the brain attends to the world, the book explains why we have seen this shift, what we might do about it, and points to a more effective style of advertising.”
“The Ultimate Guide to Google Ads”
Entrepreneurship blogger Rick Kettner tells us, “The Ultimate Guide To Google Ads is an excellent resource for getting up to speed with this marketing channel. It can help you determine if it’s right for your business, and it covers best practices to help you get better results.” He also cautions that you should get the most recently updated version to be up on the latest tactics.
Perry Marshall, a co-author of this book, is also behind the “Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising.” So, if you like this one, you already have an idea of one more for your to-be-read shelf.
“They Ask, You Answer”
This book is popular with small business marketing teams looking for a fresh way of appealing to customers. Instead of writing content that sells the brand, product, or service, the focus is on answering the buyers’ questions. The book promises to help readers:
- Learn how to get your content at the top of search results
- Build buyer trust with content and video
- Convert current customers into advocates
- Magnetize your web presence for qualified buyers
- Achieve internal buy-in
Author Marcus Sheridan describes his book as “a revolutionary approach to inbound sales, content marketing and today’s digital consumer.”
“Duct Tape Marketing”
This is a “practical and actionable guide” showing “readers how to develop and execute a marketing plan that yields more revenue and ensures the longevity of small businesses.” Author Joe Jantsch suggests taking a strategic, systemic approach to marketing.
Written for small business owners, “Duct Tape Marketing” emphasizes the simple, affordable, and efficient.
The author of this bestseller, Joe Pulizzi, is billed as “the godfather of content marketing.” Indeed, if you’ve ever done any reading on content marketing before, you’ve probably heard his name. Or at least of the Content Marketing Institute he founded.
The idea behind this book? You start with the content, build a massive audience, and then roll out the product they want. Pulizzi’s site suggests this book “provides a lower-risk, better way to build a successful business by re-engineering the process that so often leads to failure.”
“This is Marketing”
Written by another heavy hitter in the marketing field, “This is Marketing” was both a #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller and instant New York Times bestseller. The book helps reframe how you present your business, product, or service to the world.
His insights and examples go into detail regarding:
- Permission-based marketing
- Solving the customer’s problems
- Positioning your marketing
- Buying decision tensions
- How marketing taps into the stories we tell about ourselves
So Many Small Business Marketing Books
Of course, there are many more than ten great options available (12, really, since we snuck in two more along the way). This is simply a suggested reading list of some of the best small business marketing books. Only, unlike the suggested book lists you might have received in college from professors and immediately ignored, we encourage you to take a look at some of these inspiring ideas about doing marketing differently.