4 Must-Read Marketing Books for Developers

Marketing and selling a product you’ve built takes a completely different mindset than building that product. Knowing something so intimately often makes it hard to present software in a way that is appealing to end users. Usually, builders undersell their creations to the detriment of their marketing.

One of the most important factors in building a successful marketing program for a new product is having a solid marketing philosophy to build off of. Tools and tactics are important, but they evolve so rapidly that it is better to start with a solid foundation and then learn specific tools in a modular fashion when needed.

Its similar to learning the fundamentals of computer science first, then learning specific programming languages rather than just jumping into something like PHP for Wordpress. Sure, you can build a functioning blog, but the skills are less transferable should you want to build a web app down the road.

Building a solid marketing mental model is usually built from years of experience and learning from mentors. There’s no better way to do that than by reading books from some of the best minds in the industry. In 300 pages you can learn valuable ideas that have taken them a lifetime to learn.

Here are four books that I constantly recommend and personally reference multiple times a year.

Ogilvy on Advertising

David Ogilvy was real-life Don Draper. He was the godfather of Madison Avenue and a major influence on the advertising world we know today. As a maestro of copywriting and an expert on human psychology, he created some of the most well-known marketing campaigns of his time. The fact this book is over 30 years old and still holds up in today’s primarily digital world should speak to how foundational the knowledge he shares in this book is. Pick it up, you won’t regret it.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Dr. Robert Cialdini is an expert on the reason why people say “yes”. Understanding how people think when evaluating options and how they process your product is important for nearly every element of your marketing strategy. I find myself thinking about this book when I am writing website copy, emails, business development pitches and really everything that is customer facing. Again, foundational to marketing.

Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth

This is the newest of the four books, but I’ve found it extremely helpful for building processes around marketing strategy. The author interviews successful founders from companies like Reddit, Wikipedia, and Hubspot to show how they achieved growth. He also details a tactical process for finding and test marketing channels called the Bullseye. I’ve personally used it and it works.

Don’t Make Me Think

While this book might typically fall into the UX category, I think the principles are just as applicable to marketing. Living in a world with constant distractions, messaging and marketing needs to be dead simple and deliver value immediately to be successful. This book gives practical examples of how the vast majority of people use the internet which you can apply to make your product and marketing campaigns more approachable, straightforward and appealing.

These four books are a great start for anyone looking to improve their outlook on customer psychology and how to better present and sell their products.