The 11 Marketing Books You Need To Read

(The following comes from a book proposal that I’ve been sitting on since the Summer. I was thinking of self-publishing “The Attention Game” after I finished the other project I’m currently working on. If you like what you see and would buy the second book IF I complete it, I want you to do two things: 1. Buy the first book. 2. Send me an email at brandon at brandonmendelson dot com saying you’re interested in reading the follow-up.)

The Full Abed (Part 1)

The two biggest complaints about marketing books is that the author wastes too much time bragging about all his accomplishments, or worse, the book only exists to generate business for her consulting services.

So, before you and I do anything together, I thought we would take care of these complaints first. Cool? Cool. Cool. Cool. Cool.

Now, I’m going to assume you agree since this is a book, and I literally can’t hear you answer my question. I’m also assuming this because I have no doubt you are an awesome, smart, and good looking person. One who gets Community references, and is about to make the best book-related purchase of your life. (Hey, nobody ever complained on Amazon about the author sucking up to the reader before.) I mean, I guess you could call me at 518-832-9844, and just as you read my request for agreement, you can be like, “No Brandon, it is most certainly not cool. I would like to hear more about these complaints and grievances before I agree to anything.”

In which case I’d reply with something like, “How did you get my … Oh, right. I wrote another book. Don’t worry. Just keep reading the chapter you’re on, and I’ll address those complaints and also explain how this book is different. Now if you don’t mind, I really want to go back to watching bad movies on Netflix like Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned. The First Black Scream Queen, Monique Dupree, goes topless in this movie and she is a sweet, sweet, mocha goddess who I’d … Hello? Hello?”

That’s exactly how the conversation with you and I would go. Not gonna front. But enough about my love for topless black women and Netflix. I have a book to write!


Complaints & Grievances

If I can go full Abed and get a little meta on you: Most books like this suck. You know it. I know it. Heck, even the authors of those books know it, which is why so many of them read like glorified business cards.

The books they write are just a means to an end, not the end itself. Because of this, a lot of marketing books are often vague or give generic advice. The idea being, if you want to learn more, you’ll contact the author and they’ll try to upsell you with their services. I’m not saying every book in this category sucks. There are some great ones you should read. It doesn’t matter if you live in Moscow, London, or even Glens Falls, New York. In the world we live in, we all have to be good at marketing. You want to know why? Because it doesn’t matter where you live or what language you speak. Marketing is critical to your very survival and happiness in life.

For example, we pick our mates almost entirely based on how well we sell ourselves to each other. That’s all dating is. It’s an elaborate marketing campaign. That makes these books more important than you might think, and why it’s such a big deal that so many of them suck. Being good at marketing is a universal skill that can be applied to any and all situations in life. Whether you’re looking for a job, looking to get that second date, or trying to draw attention to a cause you believe in. It doesn’t have to be applied only in situations when you have a product to sell. How you promote yourself and your cause will almost always be the determining factor in your success, all other things being equal.

For that reason, let me give you the eleven books I’ve been recommending to college students across North America for the past few years. These are also the same eleven books I ask startups and tech companies I advise to read as well. And in honor of the criminally underrated Ben Stiller movie, “Zoolander”, this list is titled: “The Brandon Mendelson Book List for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Like Marketing Good Too”

  1. “Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age” by Dr. Duncan J. Watts
  2. “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less” by Dr. Barry Schwartz
  3. “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” by Dr. Jonah Berger
  4. “Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind” by Al Ries and Dr. Philip Kotler
  5. “Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Dr. Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  6. “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” Dr. Robert Cialdini
  7. “Comedy Writing Secrets”:  By Melvin Helitzer and Dr. Mark Shatz
  8. “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach To Web Usability” by Steve Krug
  9. “How To Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
  10. “On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft” by Stephen King
  11. “Why We Buy: The Science Of Shopping” by Paco Underhill


These are the books you want to own and know backward and forward to be awesome at marketing. They are also not the typical marketing books you might find on lists like this.

Buy a couple of copies of each of them in print too. One for you to lend out to a friend and another to markup with your notes. Having that second copy to lend helps ensure that you don’t lose all your notes. Especially when your friend borrows it and places it behind her toilet inside a basket filled with “Prevention Magazine” and “Fitness” for three months. (True story).

You can do the highlighting on your tablet, but I found I’m more focused when I’m reading an important book in print, and that I retain what I read better than if I were reading it on the tablet. Maybe that’s just me but maybe it’s not. There are a number of studies that have come out in recent years that indicate readers can recall content better if it’s read in print than if it’s read on a screen. So if you want to do what I do and use Instapaper to read a bunch of articles from places like “With Spandex”, “The Glens Falls Post-Star”, and “Politico” on your iPad, that’s fine, but for the important stuff? The stuff that could make all the difference in your life if you do it right? Print is the way to go.

These eleven books, taken together, get to the core of what will make your efforts successful: Being able to communicate an idea or product in such a way that people will buy it, talk about it, and remember it.

What they don’t do, that this book will, is show you how to do that in a way that can be applied to anything or anybody.


(To be continued. Maybe. This is a test run for a new book. If you like it, I recommend purchasing a copy of Social Media Is Bullshit and then emailing me at brandon at brandonmendelson dot com to let me know you want more stuff like this. Otherwise I’m just going to continue making comic books.)

Holy Updates, Batman!

I’m working on a graphic novel. It’s 96 pages, and I hope when it’s done and released on Comixology that I might be able to use its success to justify raising the money to make an indie movie based on it.

I’m also working on a secret project for someone, and since I can’t disclose anything about it, I’m going to go relatively silent on this website until it’s completed. That could be a while. So if you come back here in six months and only see this update, I promise you I’m not dead.

You can get updates on the graphic novel over at the Liberty production blog here.