19 Direct Marketing Books every Marketer Should Read

As a mailing house, we understand the importance of keeping up-to-date with marketing trends and solutions.

There’s not a day goes by that we don’t see an opportunity to include in a client’s marketing strategy plan, so we’re pooling all of our knowledge. Our Marketing Manager, Jason, is sharing his favourite marketing books, with plenty of B2B marketing strategies and the like, so you can get the most out of your brand.

Any list of direct marketing books is subjective, but every recommendation has helped in creating successful direct mail marketing campaigns over the years. In fact, we’ve even incorporated some of their tips to our direct mail services.

These books should be essential reading for any marketer, whether looking for B2B marketing strategies or B2C.


Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing: Drayton Bird

This book is the bible for direct marketing. My current book is the fifth edition, with my previous two falling apart due to overuse. This book is easy to read, packed full of facts, marketing solutions, test results, anecdotes and even more advice.

This book is a masterclass in demonstrating the potential for the marketing trends it describes. In effect, the novel is a copywriting treasure, covering everything you might expect for direct mail marketing. Included are subjects on selling propositions, planning, media, digital marketing, customer and prospect lists and ideas. Plus, there are tips on making your copy foolproof. This is a permanent fixture on my desk, along with a pack of biscuits.


Yes, 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive: Noah J Goldstein, Steve J Martin and Robert B Cialdini

This book provides over 60 years’ worth of persuasion insight. This provides advice on successful marketing strategy plans, backed up by plenty of experimental and research proof. Each chapter concentrates on a specific marketing or sales question, with easy-to-digest results. In simple terms, the marketing material provides plenty of opportunities, with a scientifically-proven insight.


The Decision Book: Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschappeler

Although not strictly a ‘marketing book’, this material has proved a huge influence on how I approach planning, implement and improving direct mail campaigns. There are fifty proven models for research and analysis, creating ideas, prioritising jobs, choosing the right objectives and assessing progress. In essence, this is a practical workbook that will serve you throughout your career.


Tested Advertising Methods: John Caples, revised by Fred E Hahn, foreword by David Ogilvy

This down-to-earth direct marketing book offers tried and tested advertising techniques and is worth its weight in gold. This book takes a lot of guesswork out of creating direct mail marketing campaigns. While the tone of the advertising campaigns may have changed today, the context remains the same and can be adapted to your current marketing strategy plan. I often dip in and out of the book, with chapters such as writing powerful headlines and selling the power of your copy.


CIM Revision Notes

I’ve never been one for enormous amounts of academic studying, but if there’s one set of academic books I absolutely recommend, it’s the Chartered Institute of Marketing revision notes. The CIM revision notes offer practical references for research, business development and the creation of tactical marketing solutions.


Meatball Sundae: Seth Godin

Business and, especially marketing, changed radically between the mid-1990s and the 2010s. Even now, some companies are yet to catch up. This book takes you through the why and the how providing concrete direct marketing examples of success and failure. Plus, there is solid advice and plans for thriving in a post-digital marketing world.


Blink: Malcolm Gladwell

Marketing is, quite simply, applied psychology, and this book explains exactly how it works. Blink discusses the first milliseconds when you see or read something. It provides an insight into the brain of your consumer, showcasing example tests and case studies to appeal to your audience.


Whatever You Think Think The Opposite: Paul Arden

After fourteen years with the agency, Paul Arden became Executive Creative Director of Saatchi & Saatchi in 1987. He handled the accounts of British Airways, Anchor Butter, Toyota, Ryvita, Nivea, Trust House Forte, Alexon Group and Fuji amongst others. His advertising campaigns for BA turned them into the ‘world’s favourite airline’. In Whatever You Think Think The Opposite, Arden is, quite simply, inspirational. He demonstrates the importance of seeing the world differently, to take risks and cut through marketing jargon.


Tribes: Seth Godin

Another from Seth Godin, opening your eyes to a different marketing reality. This is about the rise of social media in the populism, explaining why existing advertising models are rapidly losing impact as control is passed from companies to consumers. The book also demonstrates how companies can take advantage of the new paradigm of ‘lead’ followers, rather than ‘tell to sell’.


The Decisive Moment: How The Brain Makes Up Its Mind: Jonah Lehrer

Similar to Blink, but The Decisive Moment goes one step further, exploring both rational and intuitive decision making. Each example is backed up by research and testing, equipping readers with the tools to produces successful direct marketing campaigns.


The Tipping Point: Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell’s original best-seller still deserves to be on this list despite it now having a plethora of copy-cat and jump-on-the-bandwagon followers. This book offers some of the clearest examples of why some marketing ideas fail and others flourish. The book even features elements that marketers must align with their message to go viral – gold dust for anyone in social media marketing.


The Google Checklist: Marketing Edition 2016: Amen Sharma

This book is a practical guide to increasing your online profile. It’s a checklist of short, snappy advice, tools to use and best practices to follow. The book also covers keyword analysis, on and off-site SEO, social media marketing, Google AdWords and link-building. This is a marketing book you can always return to and, invariably, find something else you missed the first time around.


500 Social Media Marketing Tips: Anthony Macarthy

This fantastic social media marketing book showcases immediate tactical changes you can make to your communications within minutes, saving you thousands in consultancy fees. The book is supported by over 180 free step-by-step video tutorials, and ongoing free book updates and discounts.


How to Write Great Website Content in 2017: Dr Andy Williams

Every marketer dreams of visitors sharing their content, and other websites linking back to their copy – this books shows you how to achieve those results. It’s packed with plenty of marketing trends and solutions that will help rank your content, and encourage your audience to actively share the text.


Ogilvy on Marketing: David Ogilvy

This was one of the first direct marketing books I ever bought. Despite the age of the edition and somewhat out-of-date photography, it’s still incredibly useful. One might think that Ogilvy’s advice on direct mail and direct marketing will be hopelessly outdated in this digital age. However, the pendulum has swung firmly back toward the use of direct mail as a channel-to-market. This has been further enhanced by the introduction of variable data printing and hyper-personalisation, making Ogilvy’s advice even more pertinent in this post-digital marketing world.


Free: Chris Anderson

Giving something away for free used to be dangerous, but this book helped turn that decision on its head. More than just another marketing trick, this has gone on to become a business strategy that is essential to many companies futures.


Words that Sell and More Words that Sell: Richard Bayan

These two books are indispensable to any copywriter, doing exactly what they say on the tin. These essential reference guides are effectively a Marketing Thesaurus to help you promote your products and services. They provide alternative words and phrases that are rich, descriptive, and more inclined to trigger images or thoughts in the reader’s mind. Thus encouraging them to keep reading your marketing.


2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing Success: Denny Hatch and Don Jackson

Denny Hatch and Don Jackson provide a tour de force of insights, tips and advice from nearly two hundred marketing experts. Some of the experts include Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy, Max Sackheim, Jay Abraham, Dick Benson, Malcolm Decker, Bob Doscher and John J Fleider.


Business Model Generation: Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur

My final choice brings us right up-to-date. Disruptive business models are rife in the modern marketing world. Change is inevitable, and marketers and businesses need to adapt or die. Yet change itself and, more importantly, how to change is poorly understood. This book offers marketers and managers the tested tools to design and rewire their businesses, or craft entirely new ones.

The longevity of these books is massive. Dipping back into them, even I found marketing tips I can implement into our future direct mail services. If you’d like to discuss anything mentioned, you can get in touch through the contact form. Feel free to recommend any others I may have missed.

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