The 8 Best Advertising Books

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No matter how great your service or product is, more than likely it will not sell itself. Getting the word out has somehow gotten both easier and more complicated all at the same time. Ad campaigns need to both stand out and reach the target audience. Excelling in advertising requires honing your creative process, learning how to effectively communicate with your clients, and of course, a little bit of ingenuity.

It is time to get those creative juices flowing and take massive action. Starting with a strong foundation and using proven advertising methods will help you get ahead of the competition. Whether you need to brush up on your advertising skills or you are starting from scratch, there is a book about advertising that can help. Take a look below to find the best advertising books to read today.

Best Overall: Ogilvy On Advertising

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This book is an undisputed classic for a reason. For over 30 years, this book has been the virtual bible of the advertising world. Ogilvy covers everything you’ll need to begin your career in advertising, choose the right firm, craft the right content, copy write like a champion, analyze data and use your skills for the causes you care about. You won’t find much in this book that relates to digital marketing and advertising specifically (it was written well before that was much of a thing!), but all of the principles inside can apply just as well to the modern world as to the Madmen days of old. Whether you’re a seasoned pro, starting your own firm or just entering the field of advertising, this book has something for you.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands

As Michelle Obama famously said, “when they go low, we go high.” Marty Neumeier’s book, in the same spirit, proclaims that the secret to successful advertising is similar: “When everybody zigs, zag.” To truly advertise effectively, you have to show consumers why and how your product is different from all of the others. But you can’t just prove that you are different – today, you need to prove that you’re radically different. How? Well, that’s what this book will teach you, including 17 steps to differentiate your products in a big way, how to pick the best names, and the dangers that legacy brands increasingly face.

Read Next: The Best Strategy Books

Best for Account Planning: Truth, Lies & Advertising

In a world filled with information, sometimes it’s vital to take a step back and simplify things. Research is far from foolproof, and if you have a ton of clients, the most important thing for you to do is bring your most creative self every day, rather than obsessing over the numbers. After all, you cannot open people’s wallets without first opening their hearts and minds. To be the best account planner ever, you have got to be thoughtful and empathetic – which requires being a good listener. Creating a brand that makes an impact needs to be thoughtfully put together. Jon Steel explains the importance of good research and how to use it as leverage to provide the best value. Gaining your audience's trust and creating a mutually beneficial relationship can pay off big time. Learn how to better use strategic thinking from multiple case studies throughout this easy read that will leave you feeling inspired.

Best for Removing Writer’s Block: A Technique for Producing Ideas

Writer's block is a real thing! Creating the perfect copy can take a toll on any writer especially when there is a lot of pressure involved. No worries, this short and straightforward book will change the way you think about the creative process. In order to constantly generate exciting new ideas, you need to learn the secrets of constant motivation. This book gives you a five-step formula that will help you understand how and why you get writer’s block, how the best ad campaigns were born, as well as how to bring your creative process to the next level.

Best for Ad Entrepreneurs: Rework

If we had to summarize this book in one sentence, it would be, “burn it all down and then get to work.” If you are starting or thinking of starting your own ad agency, you’re probably planning on writing a business plan, wooing investors and looking for good people to hire. But that’s a bad idea, the authors of this book explain. Rather than all of these things and more, all you need to be successful is a good work ethic. This book will show you how to increase your productivity, get exposure for a bargain and use counterintuitive thinking to your advantage.

Best Classic: Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This

In advertising, you have to be creative, but raw creativity is not what separates the decent advertisers from the great ones. In order to truly excel in the field, you need to prove to consumers that you are authentic. You have to tell a genuine story. You have to convince them that purchasing your product or service is of the utmost importance, perhaps that their very lives depend on it. And most of all, you have to do so in a straightforward way. The entire industry is changing, but if you read this book, you’ll be able to stay afloat​ and attract new customers in an increasingly competitive market. If you want to stop making noise and start making an impact, this book is a must-read.

Best for Reaching Women: Why She Buys

Half of the people on this earth are women, and it’s high time advertisers started taking them seriously. They also control the purse strings: As Bridget Brennan explains in this excellent book, women drive a full 80 percent of consumer spending in the U.S., but so many advertisers have no idea how to speak their language. If you want to learn how to be one of those rare brands that do not overlook this critical buying group, you need to read Brennan’s book. You’ll learn how to analyze the female culture like the massive market force that it is, critical differences in the way men and women often make decisions that could impact your advertising strategy, as well as how to get noticed by them. Brennan also outlines the five major forces you must tap into in order to succeed in this space. This excellent read draws from solid data and case studies of some of the largest and most successful companies – as well as those who tried, and catastrophically failed, to tap into the elusive female market.

Best for Understanding Word Of Mouth: Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Why do certain things go viral while other similar-seeming products can’t catch a break, and what’s the secret to replicating the successes of the greats? Counterintuitively, Jonah Berger makes the case that no amount of ad spending will save a product or company if no one is talking about it with their friends and family. Rather than thinking of the most creative ads, Berger argues, you should focus on getting people talking. It may sound gimmicky, but it works, and Berger has the evidence to prove it. His team has also analyzed reams of data to help understand the key factors that make something more shareable. He distills his results into six basic principles that anyone can use to help make success a reality, and make seemingly anything become positively infectious.