5 Super Valuable Marketing Books That Are Older Than You

July 31, 2015

old marketing books

Modern architects read Frank Lloyd Wright. Aspiring military leaders read Sun Tzu. For content marketing professionals, there’s also much to be gained from reading the work of industry revolutionaries.

Here are five historical marketing books that can add context and clarity to your modern marketing approach.

5 Historical Marketing Books to Guide Your Modern Marketing Strategy

1. Tested Advertising Methods, by John Caples (1931)tested advertising methods

A still-practical guide for optimizing marketing results, this classic is considered by many to be the ultimate standard of advertising best practices. A brilliant and compelling storyteller, and one of the greatest copywriters of all time, Caples will teach you best practices that are likely to remain relevant for yet another century. The book has been reprinted many times, and Caples himself continued to revise it until his death at 90-years-old.

While giving homage to Caples, Hypnotic Writing author Joe Vitale said, “As far as most experts are concerned, his book is THE bible in advertising. It's the one I keep by my side.”

2. Scientific Advertising, by Claude Hopkins (1923)scientific advertising

Scientific Advertising is packed with insights that go beyond the basics. Author Claude Hopkins pioneered many of today’s industry practices, including risk-free trials, money-back guarantees, and market testing. You can also get your hands on the autobiographical follow-up to this book, My Life in Advertising, for free.

David Ogilvy, who is frequently cited as the father of advertising, once said of Scientific Advertising, "Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times. It changed the course of my life."

3. The Robert Collier Letter Book, by Robert Collier (1937)The Robert Collier Letter Book

This is empathetic writing at its best. Many copywriters cite this book as their inspiration because of the masterful way in which Robert Collier is able to make each person in his audience feel as if he if speaking directly to them. Packed with examples of engaging copy, this is a book every content and social media marketer will want to check out.

“As an expert in marketing, his sales savvy and writing expertise placed hundreds of millions of dollars in his clients' pockets,” says this description of Collier’s book.

4. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by Charles Mackay (1841)Extraordinary Popular Delucions

Filled with historical insights that still ring true today, this book is proof that human nature hasn’t changed. Mackay does a timeless job of analyzing human neurosis, and examining how and why people will throw common sense out the window to throw themselves in with the masses. It’s a must-read for all marketers who want to better understand how their audience operates.

An Amazon review calls it “Essential reading for any student of human nature or the transmission of ideas.”

5. Breakthrough Advertising, by Eugene Schwartz, (1966)

Eugene Schwartz opens his book by beautifully explaining that a copywriter’s job isn’t to create desire for a Breakthrough Advertisingproduct, but to channel and direct existing desires within an audience to the product being marketed. Both his style and strategy were ahead of the times, and this read remains engagingly relevant and useful. Scwhartz also had a great writing system and work ethic, as described here by Copyblogger VP of Marketing Robert Bruce.

If, like many digital marketers, you are looking to improve brand awareness online, check out how Brian Clark breaks down Schwartz’s five phases of prospect awareness.

As you know, context can make all the difference in content marketing. Doesn’t it make sense to give yourself a deeper, richer understanding of what you do by learning from the pioneers of your field?

Once you’ve learned from these timeless masters, learn how to apply their advice on LinkedIn by checking out The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn.