The 10 Best Marketing Textbooks

video play icon 10 Best Marketing Textbooks

This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in May of 2017. One of the hardest parts of running a successful business is getting the word out to customers. Advertising is a field with rules that are constantly changing, but these marketing textbooks will help set you up with a firm foundation and give you a head start on the competition. Regardless of whether you're a student or a professional, you'll find a wealth of information in these pages. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.

10. International Marketing

9. Marketing 20th Edition

8. Marketing: Real People, Real Choices

7. Marketing: An Introduction

6. Kerin-Hartley Marketing

5. Principles Of Marketing

4. Marketing Strategy: First Principles And Data Analytics

3. Consumer Behavior

2. Digital Marketing Strategy

1. Grewal-Levy Marketing

Special Honors

American Marketing Association If you're looking for a community of like-minded marketers and access to bootcamps, conferences, training, and essential resources and tools, joining the American Marketing Association might be helpful. There are over 65 chapters across North America that allow members to network with other professionals and exchange ideas about the latest best practices in the industry. ama.org

Udemy Digital Marketing While many textbooks focus partially on online communication tools, it's not likely you'll always find the granular lessons required to work in digital marketing, from learning how to deploy retargeting ads and gather email subscriptions to profiting off the pay-per-click model. These courses at Udemy can help with this aspect of marketing and prepare students for careers in e-commerce. udemy.com

Editor's Notes

November 23, 2020:

Thanks in part to the employ of digital marketing in almost every company's strategy these days, this discipline evolves quickly and often, so we were glad to see the majority of the texts on this list had updated versions. You'll find every one save International Marketing and Principles Of Marketing have been changed to reflect a newer edition, and the two aforementioned selections are still recent enough to merit remaining on this list. Basic Marketing, however, we officially decided to remove, as it has not been updated for several years.

Joining the ranks in its place is Digital Marketing Strategy, an affordable and comparatively short choice for students who want to go even further into digital marketing. While all of the texts listed here cover aspects of the online world, you can count on this one to take things a little deeper, choosing to focus on cutting edge updates and online strategies and leaving out the theory you'll find in a more traditional option. This makes it a great pairing with tomes like Kerin-Hartley Marketing if you're just beginning, and Consumer Behavior or Grewal-Levy Marketing if you want to heavily lean into the tech side of things. The latter two help better position readers to work with advanced tools in the future.

As part of a marketing team, you will almost certainly have to monitor trends and prepare reports on analytics, which is where Marketing Strategy: First Principles And Data Analytics comes in. Even if you're not a numbers person, this side of the business is unavoidable if you want to succeed.

March 13, 2019:

Considering how potentially snore-inducing this category stands to be, we placed a strong emphasis on tone and readability in our ranking, which is why Basic Marketing climbed so many spots this time around. Additionally, it was important that a given text take digital trends into account, since so much promotional work is being done these days online and through social media. Conversely, Consumer Behavior fell to a lower spot thanks to a lack of certain essentials in its layout like a glossary and an index. A new addition, the 18th edition of International Marketing, broke into the ranks thanks to its focus on teaching students how best to navigate a changing global economy with respect to cultures they might unintentionally offend without an understanding of their customs and behavior.

A Long History Of Honest Salesmen

Recognizable packaging allowed the mostly illiterate public to identify what was inside, where it came from, and who made it.

The first signs of branding in the Western hemisphere emerged between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago, when producers packaged their goods in specific, uniquely colored and shaped jars. Recognizable packaging allowed the mostly illiterate public to identify what was inside, where it came from, and who made it. While this lacks the same focus and intention of today's persistent and complex ad campaigns, it was a precursor to modern-day advertising.

As urban civilization gained a foothold and durable goods became more advanced, vendors began to adopt techniques meant to gain attention, increase market share, and drive profits — the forces behind free-market capitalism. This concept began to explode during Europe's Middle Ages, and opportunistic businessmen took advantage of expanding empires and access by forming commercial-centric market towns as well as groups of traveling merchants. While the Europeans began to advertise and differentiate their products for capitalist reasons, the Chinese tied their branding to societal structure. The distribution of product varieties, their quality levels, and the family name on the package all contribute to Chinese social stratification, quite unlike the somewhat more egalitarian intent of the West.

Historians generally accept that the first advanced marketing techniques were roughly concurrent with the British Industrial Revolution, as the factories called for specific demographic information to maximize output. Josiah Wedgewood popularized the use of traveling salesmen and direct mailers, laying the foundations for modern cold-callers and spam e-mail (thanks, Josiah!). His contemporary Matthew Boulton engaged in product differentiation while introducing celebrity testimonials and planned obsolescence (what a guy!). Marketing remained a mostly local endeavor, however, until the advent of true mass production.

Marketing 101

Most broadly, marketing is divided into two subcategories: its conceptual and practical sides. Marketing practice relates to the real-world uses of research, targeting, and persuasion. While it dates back thousands of years, its academic study is considerably more recent. Its most-agreed-upon year of origin is 1902, when multiple US colleges offered the first courses on the history of marketing. Since then, we've seen several schools of thought arise regarding how to research and classify the topic. There's little agreement on exactly how to group the various scholars and their styles. But everyone does agree that it's important to be on top of new developments both conceptually and practically.

There's little agreement on exactly how to group the various scholars and their styles.

Fundamentally speaking, practical marketing is the creation and execution of a relationship between a supplier and a consumer. Suppliers can be businesses, governments, churches, or any organization. Likewise, the consumer can be any entity that uses the goods, whether or not it's the end user. Of prime importance are the consumer's needs and wants, which turn into real demand once those potential customers have buying power. Whether a product appeals to a prospective buyer depends on the consumer's perceived value of it. That's why retailers not only target advertisements at specific groups, but even tailor their products and other business decisions to convince certain markets that they're a company worth supporting.

Due to worldwide connectivity and mass communication, the 21st century is witnessing the rapid rise of value-in-use. This type of asset occurs when a good or service provides a specific consumer with tangible benefits aside from the nominal market value. It originally referred primarily to the income that someone could reap with the use of a certain product, but with the proliferation of crowd-funded, beta-tested, and socially conscious offerings, there are more opportunities to create this novel, external value than ever before.

An Inescapable Activity

In our capitalist culture, the things we buy and how we use them are pretty reliable windows into who we are. So, there's no shortage of marketing-related studies at basically every higher-level institution in the world, and there's a huge variety of pathways in nearly every industry for someone with the right abilities.

Historians, anthropologists, and psychologists are often found deep in marketing territory, using the purchases of our past to chart how we became 21st century humans. Academics like these are concerned with the foundational aspects of the field, considering topics like consumer evolution, worldwide marketing, and similar philosophical elements.

In some industries that's already becoming reality; in many others, there are plenty of career opportunities for the enthusiastic worker.

The professionals who actually do the marketing are the ones who generally come to mind first. A practical degree allows for the obvious paths like small business owner, sales manager, or advertisement designer. Equally important, though, are the researchers and public relations officers. Specialists in the overall makeup of the market and its segments, researchers help companies to point their products in the right direction. Conversely, public relations is a lot like marketing, except it promotes the company or brand, rather than their product. In that light, a good PR department can actually add some value-in-use, as most consumers find value in buying from a company that they also support emotionally. And with the unstoppable spread of online commerce, an entirely new industry of online marketers, salesmen, and sometimes charlatans is running at full tilt to reach the world via social media.

Marketing has somewhat of a seedy reputation, likely due to decades of less-than-scrupulous suits selling poor-quality goods to an unsuspecting public. However, marketing can be key to not just quality of life, but also to social success and resource conservation. At the heart of it all, consumers provide demand, and suppliers attempt to fill that need to the customer's satisfaction. An upstanding company recognizes that doing right by their base is a good financial decision in the long run, and thus it pays to have an honest and integral marketing team.

Now consider this: an honest and expressive marketing scheme can help consumers to find the product that satisfies their demand, ideally without having to replace, return, or trash the product before it's time. Every time we don't have to throw something out or send it back, we're conserving precious resources like time, money, and fossil fuels. But the world needs honest and talented workers making up those teams in order to achieve such positive results. In some industries that's already becoming reality; in many others, there are plenty of career opportunities for the enthusiastic worker.

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Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Last updated on November 26, 2020 by Gia Vescovi-Chiordi

Born in Arizona, Gia is a writer and autodidact who fled the heat of the desert for California, where she enjoys drinking beer, overanalyzing the minutiae of life, and channeling Rick Steves. After arriving in Los Angeles a decade ago, she quickly nabbed a copywriting job at a major clothing company and derived years of editing and proofreading experience from her tenure there, all while sharpening her skills further with myriad freelance projects. In her spare time, she teaches herself French and Italian, has earned an ESL teaching certificate, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, and unashamedly devours television shows and books. The result of these pursuits is expertise in fashion, travel, beauty, literature, textbooks, and pop culture, in addition to whatever obsession consumes her next.


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