10 Marketing Books for Small Business Owners to Read in 2024

In the fast-paced world of marketing, staying ahead of the curve is vital, especially for local small businesses. With limited budgets and resources, effective marketing can make a significant difference in growth and sustainability. Here’s a curated list of 10 must-read books that offer valuable insights and strategies tailored for small business marketing.

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works

by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin

The book is co-authored by A.G. Lafley, former CEO of Procter & Gamble, and Roger L. Martin, a renowned business strategist. Together, they share their insights on how to develop and implement effective business strategies. At the core of “Playing to Win” is the concept of making deliberate choices about where to compete and how to win.

My thoughts – This book offers a deep dive into strategic thinking and planning, which is crucial for any business, regardless of size. The principles discussed by Lafley and Martin, although based on a large corporation like P&G, are surprisingly applicable to small businesses. I appreciate the analytical approach to choosing where and how to compete. It’s a refreshing perspective that challenges conventional small business marketing strategies.

Small Business Big Money Online

by Alex Harris

Harris focuses on leveraging online platforms to maximize profits for small businesses. This book is perfect for those who want to understand how to effectively use social media, SEO, and online advertising to boost their business.

My thoughts – Harris nails it with actionable online strategies. I appreciate the focus on maximizing ROI using social media and SEO. It’s a solid investment for any business looking to expand its digital footprint.

The 1-Page Marketing Plan

by Allan Dib

Simplifying marketing into a single page, Dib’s book is ideal for small business owners who need a clear and concise plan. This book helps you create a straightforward strategy to streamline your marketing efforts.

My thoughts – Dib simplifies marketing strategy effectively, but I’m skeptical about the one-page approach. It seems overly simplistic for complex marketing needs, although it could be a good starting point for small business owners.

Guerrilla Marketing

by Jay Conrad Levinson

A classic in the marketing world, this book introduces innovative, low-cost marketing tactics that are perfect for small businesses. Levinson’s strategies are designed to be effective and budget-friendly.

My thoughts – Levinson’s low-cost tactics are ingenious. The book is a treasure trove of creative ideas that are perfect for businesses with tight budgets. It’s a must-read for anyone looking to make a big impact with minimal investment.

Building a StoryBrand

by Donald Miller

Miller teaches business owners how to clarify their message and connect with customers through storytelling. This book is excellent for those who want to create a compelling brand narrative.

My thoughts – I listened to this as an audiobook while kayaking. I finished and immediately started it again. Miller’s approach to branding through storytelling is powerful. It aligns well with creating impactful brand messages that resonate with clients. Highly recommended for developing a strong brand narrative.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

by Robert B. Cialdini

Understanding the psychology behind why people say “yes” is crucial in marketing. Cialdini’s book is a foundational read for small business owners looking to improve their persuasion skills.

My thoughts – This is one of my favorite marketing books. Cialdini’s book is foundational, but it’s more psychology than direct marketing strategy. While it’s insightful, I prefer books that offer more straightforward marketing tactics.

Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype

 by Jay Baer

Focused on creating helpful and valuable content, Baer’s approach is particularly effective for small businesses aiming to build long-term customer relationships.

My thoughts – Baer’s concept of ‘Youtility’ aligns perfectly with providing value to clients. This book gets a big thumbs up for its focus on long-term customer relationships over short-term gains.

Contagious: How to Build Word of Mouth in the Digital Age

by Jonah Berger

This book is all about making your business or product so compelling that it becomes naturally word-of-mouth. Berger provides insightful tactics to make your small business talk-worthy.

My thoughts – Berger offers a great perspective on viral marketing. However, some tactics seem a bit hit or miss for small businesses. It’s useful, but I recommend applying these ideas judiciously.

Duct Tape Marketing

 by John Jantsch

Jantsch offers a step-by-step guide to developing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses. His approach is practical and straightforward, making it a great read for those new to marketing.

My thoughts – Jantsch’s practical approach is spot on. The step-by-step guide is exactly what small businesses need. It’s a straightforward, no-nonsense book that I highly recommend.

The Referral Engine

by John Jantsch

Focusing on the power of referrals, this book is essential for small businesses looking to leverage their existing customer base to attract new clients.

My thoughts – Jantsch’s emphasis on referrals is good, but I find some of the methods a bit outdated in the digital age. It’s a decent read but needs to be supplemented with more current digital strategies.


Each of these books offers unique perspectives and actionable strategies that can help local small businesses amplify their marketing efforts. Whether you’re new to business or looking to refine your existing marketing plan, these reads are sure to provide valuable insights and tools for success.

Remember, the key to effective marketing for small businesses lies in understanding your audience, leveraging your unique strengths, and being innovative in your approach. These books provide the foundation and inspiration to help you achieve just that.

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