If you’re looking to start an online business, copywriting and marketing are two essential skills to learn.
You must know how to sell, and you must know how to speak in the language of your audience.
While copywriting and marketing both take a lot of skill, there are a few geniuses who have cracked the code on how to sell through the written word.
This list of books provides proven methods and systems for improving your copywriting and marketing.
Most, if not all, copywriters reference this book as a must-read. Originally published in 1923, it’s the definitive guide to writing good copy. Hopkins commanded a nearly $200,000 salary at an advertising firm because his approach was that good. Some of the phrases in this book may be outdated, but the tactics are still useful. Your education isn’t complete until you read this book.
Collier is another one of the great copywriters of the 1900s, and his book is still recommended by many copywriters today. If you’re selling anything on the internet, you need to read this book before creating a sales letter for your product or service. Note that other copies of this book have been reported to have typos and missing page numbers; this version – published by Robert Collier Publishers – is from the original source.
Ogilvy is one of the more recent greats in advertising, and this is a great book for beginners to read. Ogilvy discusses creativity, human emotion, and copywriting as it pertains to print and TV. It’s not a definitive guide, and it might not directly translate to digital media, but it’s a solid read. He also offers tips for those looking to break into the industry, either as freelancers, employees, or CEOs. Some of the references will be dated, but it’s worth looking past and finding the wisdom in his success.
Even if you’re not a copywriter, there’s a lot of learn from this book, as Cialdini peels back the curtains of human nature and explains why people react the way they do. It covers six different concepts: consistency, reciprocation, social proof, authority, liking and scarcity, and the psychology behind how these concepts can help us influence others (in a good way).
The Heath brothers explore an important question all entrepreneurs should ask: why do some ideas stick while others die? They unpack this question with great examples of ideas that have stuck, and the elements that made them stick in the first place. It’s a useful book for anyone with an idea or message to spread. You’re sure to come away with a plan on how to make your idea (or business) stick in the minds of others.
This is a great beginner’s reference guide to come back to time and time again. Sugarman teaches you the copywriting methods and principles that worked for him, and then provides examples of his own sales letters so you can see how it all comes together.
Another book from the father of advertising, this one is more autobiographical in nature. Oglivy shares candid stories from his time in the advertising industry, from dealing with clients to creating his firm. His honesty and blunt writing is refreshing, and he doesn’t shy away from the success he experienced. The lessons in this book are good for anyone in management to learn.
Looking for advice that’s more modern? This book covers selling services, versus selling products. Since services are intangible, it takes a different process to market them. This is an insightful read for any entrepreneur or freelancer looking to market themselves or their services. You’ll learn how to view selling differently, the fallacies of planning, and how to brand and position your business.
Sullivan authored this classic back in the 90s, and Boches added onto it in this updated version. This is one case where updating a classic was worthwhile. Boches provides brilliant insight into how the digital marketing landscape is forcing businesses to change the way they market, and even change what they create. It’s an entertaining and informative read for today’s aspiring copywriters.
This book has a simple, but powerful premise: what’s your purple cow? How does your business stand out? What is your marketing material communicating about your business? Godin helps you answer these questions by sharing examples from top-tier companies that milk their purple cow for all it is worth.
Halbert is yet another one of the greats in the copywriting industry. He wrote these letters to his son, Bond, as a way to teach him about life and the lessons he learned in the marketing business. Don’t expect to read quick tips about copywriting; instead, Halbert offers practical advice to his son on all life matters, but there is still much to glean on the subject of marketing.
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