The most common reason why businesses fail is due to a lack of customers. It’s not enough to just offer a great product or service. You must also attract potential customers, so let’s explore five of the best advertising books for startups and small businesses.

Each of the books in this list provides an important perspective. Some directly address the topic of advertising, while others cover complementary topics that help maximize the value of your ad spend. So, even if you’re eager to jump right into buying ads, I recommend that you carefully consider all five of the books on this list.

It’s important to note that this list is far from exhaustive. There are many great books on advertising, copywriting, and marketing in general. So, I’ve focused on a few great books that can have an immediate impact on startups or small businesses.

1. Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

Traction Book Cover
Traction by Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares

Before spending a small fortune to advertise your business, it’s important to appreciate that marketing channels can perform differently for every business. An advertising opportunity that might work exceptionally well for another business may not be cost-effective for your business, and vice-versa.

Traction explores 19 proven marketing channels. But even more valuable than that, it covers a simple four-step process for validating marketing opportunities. It’s called The Bullseye Framework and it can help you identify the best channels so that you can make the most of your advertising dollars.

While much of the book covers non-advertising related channels, it’s a worthwhile read to explore The Bullseye Framework as well as to consider alternative options. You may end up finding a great marketing opportunity that you hadn’t previously considered.

Traction is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. You can learn more by reviewing my Traction book summary.

2. The Ultimate Guide To Google Ads by Perry Marshall, Bryan Todd, and Mike Rhodes

The Ultimate Guide To Google Ads Book Cover
Ultimate Guide To Google Adwords by Perry Marshall and Mike Rhodes

Many people turn to Google’s search engine when they need a solution to a problem. Therefore, it’s one of the best places to get your brand in front of potential customers. And, while being listed in the search rankings is free for anyone, Google Ads provide an option to appear at the very top of the listings for specific keywords.

If there are search phrases that relate to your business, this should be one of the first advertising opportunities that you test. Especially if those phrases have local-terms or commercial-intent related to your business, like “Chicago dental office” or “buy winter tires for GMC Sierra”. Those kinds of phrases are much more likely to convert than non-commercial terms like “how to change truck tires”.

The Ultimate Guide To Google Ads is a great resource for exploring this advertising option. It can help you adopt best practices and avoid common mistakes. And that can make or break your ability to get the most out of this marketing channel.

I’ve read through a previous edition of the book, but it does get updated every year or two, so be sure to get the most recent version for the latest tips and strategies.

Ultimate Guide To Google Ads is available from Amazon.

3. The Ultimate Guide To Facebook Advertising by Perry Marshall, Bob Regnerus, and Thomas Meloche

The Ultimate Guide To Facebook Advertising Book Cover
Ultimate Guide To Facebook Advertising by Perry Marshall, Keith Krance, and Thomas Meloche

Facebook is another highly effective platform for getting your brand in front of potential customers. It makes it easy to target an audience based on age, gender, language, location, and interests. While it isn’t a fit for every business, it’s a powerful channel that is worth testing as it’s highly scalable for many industries.

One of its key strengths is social sharing. If there is a social element to your product or service, or if customers are likely to recommend your brand to others, this channel can magnify the impact of your advertising campaigns in ways that alternatives cannot.

The Ultimate Guide To Facebook Advertising can help you determine if this is the right marketing channel for you. And of course, it can help you adopt best practices and avoid common mistakes to make the most of Facebook’s advertising platform.

As with the last book, I’ve read a previous edition of this book. Be sure to get the latest version as it’s updated every year or two with the latest tips and strategies.

Ultimate Guide To Facebook Advertising is available from Amazon.

4. Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller

Marketing Made Simple Book Cover
Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller

Attracting attention to your business is only part of the equation. It’s also critical that you have an effective way to convert prospects into paying customers. Otherwise, you run the risk that your advertising dollars will be largely wasted, because no amount of advertising can make up for a weak or confusing sales process.

Marketing Made Simple can help you build a great sales funnel. One that makes it easy for people to understand the benefits of your product or service. The book guides you through building five critical marketing tools, including a one-liner, a website, a lead generator, an email nurture campaign, and an email sales campaign.

The advice can also influence the direction and messaging of your advertisements. While copywriting is not a major theme of this book, much of the advice is relevant when it comes to how you create curiosity around your products or services.

Marketing Made Simple is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. You can learn more by reviewing my Marketing Made Simple book summary

5. Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan & Edward Boches

Hey Whipple Squeeze This Book Cover
Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan & Edward Boches

One of the most important aspects of successful advertising is creating great ads. While the “ultimate guide” books on this list do cover some helpful advice for crafting ads for their respective platforms, you may be interested in learning more.

The fact is, many businesses just create generic ads. They mention their product or service, highlight a few key features, and include a call-to-action. But this common approach does little to help a brand stand out among its competitors.

“Hey Whipple, Squeeze This” can help you turn your advertising ideas into successful campaigns. It addresses digital, social, and traditional ads. And it can help you create great advertisements, work across multiple channels, and attract more customers.

As with the previous two books, there are multiple editions available. So be sure to get the latest version for the most up-to-date information and advice.

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This is available from Amazon, and Apple Books.

Beyond The Best Advertising Books For Startups

Ready to explore other great books? Consider checking out the best social media marketing books, the best digital marketing books, or the best startup books.

You can also subscribe to The Rick Kettner YouTube Channel or The Rick Kettner Podcast to get updates about future book summaries and reading lists.

Rick Kettner

Rick is an avid reader and lifelong entrepreneur. He co-founded popular online music education platforms including Drumeo, Pianote, and Guitareo. He now spends much of his time sharing tips on business strategy, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

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