Originally published on expermedia on December 13, 2013 by Trevor Young
It’s that time of the year when we take a break and if we have the inclination, soak our brains in the words of some of the finest minds in the world when it comes to PR and brand communications (with a skew towards social media and content marketing, given that’s where all the action is these days).
So, without further ado, here are six books released this year that get a ‘gold star’ recommendation from my good self (with a bonus three ‘honourable mentions’ mentioned at the end of the article).
SUBTITLE: How to tell a different story, break through the clutter, and win more customers by marketing less.
There are some great content marketing books out there, but if you were only going to buy one, this is it!
Written by Joe Pulizzi – the ‘Godfather of Content Marketing’ and founder of the Content Marketing Institute – ‘Epic’ leaves no stone unturned in its quest to educate all and sundry on the discipline of content marketing, and how – when done correctly – it can help brands of all sizes.
I’m not sure Joe has left anything out?
He starts with the history of content marketing, moves through the building blocks of developing a content strategy and managing the content creation process (includes an outline of the many and varied content types available to marketers), then on to content promotion and measurement. Along the way, Joe peppers his theories with practical examples of brands that are doing things well in this space.
Importantly, he concludes each chapter with ‘Epic Thoughts’ (bullet-pointed summaries) as well as ‘Epic Resources’, a list of information sources for those who want to dig in a bit deeper in terms of research.
I love this book so much I’ve bought it twice – I first got it on Kindle but also purchased it in good old-fashioned hard copy so it stays within arm’s length on my desk!
SUBTITLE: How a social business strategy enables better content, smarter marketing, and deeper customer relationships
Michael Brito’s new book sweeps across the new media landscape, ‘joining the dots’ for anyone in business who is currently (or contemplating) embarking on creating their own content for PR and marketing purposes, with the bigger picture view of becoming a progressive and relevant ‘social business’.
The fact Michael takes a big picture view but also is unafraid to get into the nitty-gritty ensures the reader will be in a good position to better understand the dynamics of a technology-driven landscape that’s rapidly evolving all the time.
I especially like how Michael provides the names (and examples) of the many and varied tools that are available to help. This information is absolute gold and will save people huge amounts of time in research should they go down this path.
As Michael’s promo video says: Your brand must adopt the principles and transition into a media company if you expect to make an impact, break through the noise and reach consumers with game-changing content. Why? Because media companies are storytellers.
SUBTITLE: Reboot your business. Reboot your life. Your future depends on it.
I’m a massive Mitch Joel fan; I read his first book Six Pixels of Separation (great name that!) and am a regular reader of his blog (and listener of his podcast) of the same name. If you want to get some sort of handle of what’s happening in the world of digital and where things are going, skewed with a marketing flavour, then anything Mitch writes (or records) will be of interest.
Mitch uses Ctrl Alt Delete to explain how disruptive technologies are changing the way we not only do business but also think about the world.
He comes out swinging early, setting the tone for what will be a confronting read for some in business. In the prelude, he writes: “The next time you attend a conference, I want you to look to your left and then to your right. In the next five years, odds are that one out of three of you won’t be around.”
He says we’re in business purgatory, and then challenges you to do something about it.
This book sweeps across a multitude of topics, all areas affected by technology, including media convergence, personalisation versus privacy, personal branding in a social age, where and how we work using digital tools, and the major shift toward direct relationship with consumers.
As I said, it’s broad sweep, but that is what makes it interesting, relevant and useful.
SUBTITLE: Why smart marketing is about help not hype
Jay Baer’s star has risen higher than most in this space over the past 12 to 18 months. A lot of the hype – and it’s justified by the way – comes by way of Jay’s new book called YOUTILITY.
Indeed, more than a book, YOUTILITY is a philosophy, a call to action for the marketing world, as it were.
Jay’s describes YOUTILITY as marketing so useful that people will pay for it. He says that instead of betting all your money trying to become an amazing company (lofty heights which you’re probably unlikely to attain on a consistent basis), focus instead on being useful.
“What if you decided to inform, rather than promote?” Jay challenges.
He then proceeds to turn the traditional concept of marketing upside down, along the way providing a diverse array of practical examples of brands that are indeed having success in their quest to be useful to their customers e.g.
Phoenix Children’s Hospital,
Taxi Mike (a taxi driver from the Canadian ski town of Banff), and
the Charmin brand of toilet paper (I told you the examples were diverse!).
Telling the stories of brands that are out there marketing in interesting and useful ways really brings YOUTILITY (the book and the philosophy) to life.
P.S. The story of Marcus Sheridan from River Pools and Spas is also a ripper; he provides the foreword to the book – don’t skip over it!
SUBTITLE: Unlock the hidden power of connections for wealth, success and happiness in the digital age
This book from Porter Gale, former vice-president of marketing at Virgin America, is more about personal branding than marketing your business per se.
It’s an intriguing read, and is as much about helping individuals to discover their passion/s and pinpoint exactly who they are and what they stand for – from a positioning point of view – as it is how to gain visibility and influence for one’s self in today’s cluttered environment.
Your Network Is Your Net Worth contains plenty of stories and examples of people who live by Porter’s new networking model e.g. military wife who connected with social communities while her husband is deployed overseas, a young woman blogger battling leukemia, and a dyslexic politician who wins elections by telling stories.
The book is also a practical one; Porter dispenses tips and advice throughout and has included exercises designed for the reader to take action.
If you’re keen to grow and nurture your professional network in 2014, this book is worth a look.
SUBTITLE: How to leverage social media and content marketing to build a mini-business empire around your personal brand
Okay, you got me – this is a gratuitous plug for the book I released this year through Wiley Publishing.
The central tenet of microDOMINATION is based around the emergence of what I call ‘micro mavens’ – these are entrepreneurs who have developed their own media platform and built their personal brand via social media, as well as grown significantly- sized businesses literally from the comfort of their own home or for some, on the road somewhere.
We’re talking about a virtual global movement here, a fast- growing trend where people with expertise in a certain area and a passion for sharing their knowledge and connecting with people on and offline, can build a sustainable business without the need to employ permanent staff or rent out physical office premises.
However, before these experts can take their business to the next level and beyond, they first need to build their profile and reputation as well as cultivate a vibrant and engaged community of fans, followers, advocates, allies and supporters. They do so primarily using social media tools and platforms such as blogs, podcasts, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Pinterest.
microDOMINATION is a mash-up of social media and content marketing, mixed with dollops of PR and personal branding strategies; it joins the dots of a personal business revolution that’s taking place right here, right now.
NOTE: You can buy microDOMINATION from all good book stores, or Amazon and other online book retailers, or you can purchase a signed copy of the book directly from my good self
SUBTITLE: How to tell your story in a noisy, social world
I haven’t read this yet (waiting for the hard cover to hit our shores!) but I’ve been following Gary Vee’s massive pre-launch promotional efforts with considerable interest, including heaps of video and podcast interviews.
First up – l love the book title, I love the concept generally, and I love Vaynerchuk’s marketing philosophy generally.
Vaynerchuk isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but he’s on the cutting edge – he lives this stuff and is experiencing huge success as a result – plus he doesn’t, errr, pull any punches.
For that reason, you should at least put yourself in front of the Vaynerchuk social media freight train. If you don’t agree with him, that’s fine, but at least he’ll challenge your thinking, and that can only be a good thing in today’s disrupted and hyper-connected world.
Like all the books mentioned here, Jab, Jab, Jab contains many practical examples and case studies to bring to life the author’s philosophies. Always a good thing!
Some good yarns here – many of the new media operators are still in ‘grassroots’ start-up phase; it makes for fascinating reading if you’re interested in the future of journalism and the Australian media sector generally.
SUBTITLE: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing, and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly
This book has been around since 2007 but this year has been revised and re-released a fourth time. Given so much has changed in marketing and social media since the book was first released, it’s well worth getting your hands on this updated version.
To discover more about this book and what has changed over the years (and importantly, what hasn’tchanged), check out this interview I recorded recently with David: