At the heart of any successful business is an effective marketing strategy. Making it in any market — a new or established one — depends on finding the right audience and convincing them to buy. Once that’s done, you’ll want learners to come back for more.

Staying on top of your marketing game requires being constantly aware of what’s going on in your market and adapting accordingly. Here are a few of the most useful marketing books to give you the basic information and tools you’ll need for your online business.

1. Marketing Made Simple

Marketing Made Simple: a Step-by-Step Storybrand Guide for any Business by Donald Miller is a step-by-step introduction to creating an effective sales funnel. It talks about the three critical stages of building customer relationships: curiosity, enlightenment, and commitment. It also helps you figure out what to do to get to that final step. Furthermore, the book offers an in-depth analysis of the five marketing components that are essential to converting customers:

  • Creating your one-liner;
  • Wireframing your website;
  • Building a lead generator;
  • Creating a nurture campaign;
  • Plugging in a sales campaign.

Read more: 4 Basic steps on how to set up a sales funnel for your online course


2. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! by Al Ries and Jack Trout starts with the question, “why do some brands have great success for lengthy periods of time while others struggle to matter on their market?”. The answer is the power of positioning. It looks at the thought process customers go through when choosing brands and offers excellent advice about what you can do to stand out and be picked.

The focus needs to be on getting into the customer’s mind first. Moreover, it’s better to create your own category rather than struggle to fit in an existing one. There are also many examples from past campaigns, so you get a realistic picture of what works and why.

3. Made to Stick

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath is rooted in ten years of study meant to answer the question in the title. The authors provide a practical and systematic blueprint for creating ideas that are understood, remembered and have an impact in the long run.

According to them, six principles guide the emergence of ideas that stick: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotion, and stories. They help entrepreneurs create their own strategy for presenting their ideas to the world. If you follow their principles, your budding ideas will become extra “sticky.”


Read more: How to choose a bestselling online course idea


4. Difference

Difference: The one-page method for reimagining your business and reinventing your marketing by Bernadette Jiwa is all about figuring out what makes you and your business different and finding the right tools to showcase that. The author offers a “difference map” that helps you learn how exactly you can stand out on the market.

With enormous budgets spent on advertising only to interrupt people’s lives with messages they don’t want or like, the current state of things is not working that well. Instead of being louder or more persistent than everyone else, you could focus on creating needs and giving customers a good reason to choose them. The author looks at success stories to offer insight into the method.

5. Contagious

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger explains why certain products gain instant popularity and which factors make ideas “go viral.” The author shows that it’s not the usual marketing markers of quality, price, or advertising but social influence and word-of-mouth. Using the acronym STEPPS, Berger lists the main factors that lead to contagiousness:

  • Social Currency (S): the author agrees with the theory is that humans share things and information that make them look good – wittier, funnier, and more entertaining than others;
  • Triggers (T): Certain things can trigger related thoughts. As a result, they stay on the “tips of our tongues.”
  • Emotion (E): We are more likely to share information that evokes different emotions such as awe, stress, or anxiety. Depending on the feeling it brings to the surface, we are more likely to spread an idea;
  • Public (P): If a product is more visible and “public,” it gains popularity quickly. In the author’s words, “Making things more observable, makes them easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to become popular.”
  • Practical Value (P): Information with a practical value is more likely to be shared widely;
  • Stories (S): A good story woven around a product or an idea makes the audience more likely to share it with others.

Read more: How to use customer testimonials to boost your e-learning business


Closing thoughts

Marketing is that it is ever-changing. The way technology evolves and shapes our world is the biggest game-changer, shaping consumer behaviors and expectations. Entrepreneurs need to constantly keep an eye on the market, think fast, and be innovative. These books can give you a good platform to stand on, observe, interpret, and build your own strategy.

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