8 Books to Read if You’re a Marketing Student | Top Universities

8 Books to Read if You’re a Marketing Student

By Chloe Lane

Updated March 30, 2021 Updated March 30, 2021

If you’ve just started your masters in marketing, or maybe you’re just thinking about it, grab your kindle or head to your local bookshop, because we’ve come up with eight books you should read as a marketing student.

Whether you want to learn more about how marketing students grab the market’s attention or simply read about how big names like Starbucks, Nike or Amazon built up their brand, we have the book for you.   

Read on for eight books that will build your marketing knowledge as well as general business knowledge, while applying it to a real-life business environment, all without having to slog over a boring textbook.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdin
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

In Influence, Dr Robert Cialdini, a seminal expert in influence and persuasion, explains the psychological reasons behind why it is that people say “yes” and how to influence others, applying these understandings to a business environment. Cialdini uses case studies to support his arguments and he writes in a witty and informative style. Anyone doing a masters in marketing or anyone who is interested in the psychology behind persuasion would enjoy this book.

How Brands Become Icons by Douglas B. Holt

How Brands Become Icons

If you’ve ever wondered how it is that iconic brands like Coca – Cola, Harley Davidson, Nike and Budweiser are created, then you should read this book. In How Brands Become Icons, Douglas Holt, an associate professor of marketing at Harvard Business School, argues that icons do not build their brands through traditional branding strategies such as focusing on benefits, brand personalities and emotional relationships, but instead use a set of “cultural branding” principles.

Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time by Howard Schultz

Pour Your Heart Into It

Recommended by Harvard University’s reading list, Pour Your Heart Into It is Starbucks’s chairman and CEO, Howard Schultz, recounting how he and his team grew Starbucks from 11 small Seattle, WA based stores to almost 30,000 stores worldwide, and as a result created the nationwide business phenomenon we know today.

To facilitate its growth, Starbucks relied on innovative marketing strategies and building a brand that employees and customers will want to be a part of, which Schultz explains throughout. Schultz explains that one of the main challenges faced by the company was having to educate customers about the joys of high-quality coffee (as the coffee shop boom had not yet occurred in America). This required careful targeting marketing techniques, which (spoiler) Starbucks handled remarkably well!

However, despite the prosperity of its marketing strategies, Schultz generally credits Starbucks’ success to the firm’s investment in high quality – investing in both high quality product and people over any other aspect. If you’re a marketing student looking for an interesting read about one of the most successful companies in the world (especially if you’re a coffee lover), then this is the book for you.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly by David Scott, 2017

The New Rules of Marketing and PR

An international bestseller, with more than 300,000 copies sold in over 25 languages, The New Rules of Marketing and PR has been described as ‘the benchmark guide’ to marketing and PR. Using case studies and real-world examples about content marketing and inbound marketing success, Scott shows how companies are using modern marketing tools such as social media to achieve success.

He explains how the media landscape has changed and how to use different online tools to target buyers. This book was first published in 2013, and later updated in 2017 but even so, some of the ‘new’ techniques he describes are no longer new. Nevertheless, as one critic states, ‘Scott still provides a good basis of presence, marketing and influence on the internet in one place’ and as many other books are finding; the fast paced evolution of social media means that it’s practically impossible to keep a book updated with all of constant developments that social media platforms bring. Overall an interesting read for any marketing student!

Marketing For Tomorrow, Not Yesterday by Zain Raj

Marketing For Tomorrow, Not Yesterday

“We create, consume and critique faster than ever” says Zain Raj, author of Marketing For Tomorrow, Not Yesterday and former CEO of a top 500 company. He argues that a successful business is built on the ability to identify what the customer wants and to give them it- that it isn’t enough to just play by the old rules of marketing; educated consumers and technological advancements mean that companies’ approach to marketing has to also change. Raj tells readers how to use these modern channels effectively to truly engage with customers and informs on which new strategies are on the rise and why they’re succeeding.  A good read for anyone wondering what the future of marketing is likely to look like.

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

Written by advertising gurus Al Ries and Jack Trout, Positioning explains how to brand products and place them in the subconscious mind of the customer. The key points of this book are to pick a position in the market that no one else owns and own it, and to never stray from a product in which you are the leader. Overall, Positioning makes for an interesting read with some simple but effective ideas for anyone doing a masters in marketing.

Amazon: How the World's Most Relentless Retailer will Continue to Revolutionize Commerce by Natalie Berg and Miya Knights

Amazon: How the World's Most Relentless Retailer will Continue to Revolutionize Commerce

In Amazon, Berg and Knights explore the changing strategies and techniques used the ecommerce giant to become one of the major players in online shopping. Written by industry leading retail analysts, Amazon explores what lessons can be learnt from the firm’s unprecedented rise to dominance, as well as the impact this has had on the wider retail market.

Although this isn’t so much of a marketing book, as it is the exploration of how and why this major company became so successful, Amazon’s outstanding rise to the top is at least partly due to its advanced marketing strategies, which are uncovered in this book.

This is a must read if you find yourself interested in this major retailer’s rise to the top, and there are many lessons to be learnt (both about marketing and otherwise) which you can take away from this. You can also order it from Amazon if you wish. 

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight

Shoe Dog

Containing insightful pieces of leadership advice such as “don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with the results”, as well as fascinating marketing strategies, Shoe Dog is a fascinating insight into the decisions that created the global company, Nike. For example, Phil Knight, founder of Nike, didn’t care for advertising and instead focused on gaining publicity through athletes.

These athletes included famous runner, Steve Prefonaine and tennis player John McEnroe. With the public watching these respected athletes wearing Nike’s shoes, the publicity definitely helped Nike’s image in the media and consumer market and enabled the company to grow its market share and accelerate its sales. Like Pour Your Heart Into It and Amazon, Shoe Dog not a book solely about marketing, but about business as a whole. It’s interesting to compare these three books and learn about how these three multinational companies rose to success and how they developed their brand in different ways.

Image credit: Goodreads

This article was originally published in October 2019 . It was last updated in March 2021

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Written by

A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. She enjoys writing articles about a wide range of topics for a student audience. 

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