Product marketing is a complex blend of art and science. There’s a lot to master, from the creative aspects (crafting impactful and clear messaging and positioning, or designing compelling and memorable presentations) to the analytical and strategic ones (synthesizing tons of information – like customer data and market intelligence – into actionable insights or helping define a product or company strategy to gain market share).
You have to be an expert on your product, your market and target audience, your marketing funnel, and your sales organization. And don’t forget the project management and internal influence skills you need to make your work come to life.
So when we put together the list of the 12 books that will make you better at product marketing, it’s no surprise that we ended up with a mosaic of different disciplines, industries, and areas of focus. We hope these books inspire you, help you hone your craft, and put a fire in your belly to turn some heads when you launch the next big thing ⚡︎
12 of the Best Product Marketing Books
1. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Jack Trout and Al Ries
Despite the varying definitions and opinions of what product marketing does, there’s one thing that everyone can agree on: product marketing typically owns positioning and messaging. This book was originally released in 1981 and has truly stood the test of time as one of the best marketing books. In Positioning, Ries and Trout walk through case studies from legendary brands and offer up advice that still applies more than 30 years later, including what to do if your brand is not the first to market in your industry.
2. Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin
“Strategy is an integrated set of choices,” this bestseller notes, and if the choices are easy and leave too many doors open, you’re doing it wrong. Product marketing is highly strategic, and chances are you’re working with product leaders and executives to help shape, articulate, and execute on a larger company or product vision. If so, this classic is a must-read. Co-written by A.G. Lafley (former CEO of Procter & Gamble) and Roger Martin (Professor and former Dean at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management), this is a step-by-step guide to defining and validating strategic choices. Rumor has it this is the framework Martin and Lafley used to double P&G’s sales and quadruple its profits – no big deal.
3. The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million by Mark Roberge
Traditionally, sales has been more of an art than a science, but Mark Roberge wanted to break that mold. As SVP of Worldwide Sales and Services for HubSpot, Roberge helped HubSpot go from three people to an IPO with a billion-dollar valuation and 15,000 paying customers. The key piece behind HubSpot’s sales success? Data. As a product marketer, you need to know how to help sales move the needle, and there’s no one better to learn from than Roberge.
4. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
What makes some ideas (or products) stickier than others? The answers are in this book, co-written by Dan and Chip Heath – the latter being a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. As a product marketer, you’re crafting messaging and positioning that needs to be memorable, and designing ways to make your product more virally adopted. The concepts in this book are great food for thought on how to do both.
5. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
The best product marketers have an amazing ability to turn product features into customer benefits, and when it comes to copywriting, there’s no one better to learn from than the father of advertising, David Ogilvy. Unless you’ve been converting 100% of your traffic, Ogilvy on Advertising is a book that you need to read.
6. Crossing The Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore
When Geoffrey Moore released Crossing The Chasm in 1991, he created a new game plan for marketers everywhere by breaking down different segments of buyers (innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards) and laying out a plan to “cross the chasm.” 30 years ago, Moore hit on a key theme that many marketers still struggle with today: trying to be everything to everyone.
7. The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christensen
Great companies can fail even if they do everything right. That’s The Innovator’s Dilemma, according to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen in his work that The Economist calls one of the six greatest business books of all time. Christensen shows that even if you listen to your customers and invest in the most successful parts of your business, you can still crumble unless you innovate, adopt new technologies, and adapt to change.
8. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal uses examples like the iPhone, Twitter, and Pinterest to walk readers through how successful companies have been able to get customers hooked on their products. His four-step process in Hooked provides a set of actionable steps that product marketers can use to drive demand and create better relationships with customers.
9. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink
Daniel Pink knows a thing or two about sales (his TEDTalk on motivation has been viewed over 26,600,000 times). In To Sell Is Human, Pink walks through the six successors to the elevator pitch, the three rules for understanding another’s perspective, the five frames that can make your message clearer and more persuasive. Plus, it forces you to look at sales in a new light – because, one way or another, everyone is in sales.
10. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience by Carmine Gallo
It’s a cliché at this point to take your marketing cues from Steve Jobs, but clichés exist for a reason – he truly changed the game. And nowhere did Jobs shine more than on stage, whipping up a global audience into a tizzy as they clamored for the latest product releases. This book is a great guide for how to structure presentations so they are compelling and memorable – whether you’re launching the latest iPhone to consumers, rolling out new positioning to press and analysts, or creating a new slide deck and talk track for sales to pitch.
11. Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins
“The advertising man studies the consumer. He tries to place himself in the position of the buyer.” Speaking of the test of time: no other book on this list has lasted longer than Scientific Advertising from Claude C. Hopkins. Written in 1923, this book is filled with 88 pages of marketing wisdom and is cited as one of the must-read marketing books by all of the advertising greats from Ogilvy to Gary Halbert. Bring a pen for this one – all of the knowledge Hopkins drops about copywriting still applies today.
12. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
Influence is last on this list, but many argue that it is the most important marketing book ever written. Dr. Robert Cialdini, an expert in influence and persuasion, shares the six universal principles of influence and how to use them to become a skilled persuader – or in this case, a skilled marketer. Today, Cialdini is referred to as the “guru of social influence.”
Did we miss one? Tell me your favorite product marketing books here.
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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2015 and has been updated to reflect new information.