This is my personal list of the best marketing books of 2013. Like any professional, it’s important to continue to read and look for ongoing education opportunities. And this year, I’ve come across several business and marketing books that I’ve found extremely motivating and helpful. So here’s my look at the year in review in terms of the books I’ve read to further my knowledge. Hopefully you can find something in here that is useful and inspiring.
1. Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less by Joe Pulizzi
This really is my favorite for the year. I like the way Pulizzi writes—the content is practical and relevant.
I love the way this book is organized. I typically read a book from front to back, but I also found myself skipping ahead on certain topics that were relevant to discussions I was having at the time. In this book, Pulizzi discusses why customers don’t want to see mediocre content anymore, and strategies for how you can develop content that will build your business and customer base.
Pulizzi describes 6 necessary principles for content:
1. Content must fill an unmet need or answer a question for your customer.
2. You must deliver content consistently.
3. Your content needs to be written in your voice and ideally with some humor.
4. You need to express an opinion rather than a history report.
5. Avoid sales speak because it destroys the value of your content.
6. Aim to produce the very best content relating to your niche.
2. Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype by Jay Baer
Baer talks about how utilizing marketing that is actually useful will ultimately win more customer loyalty than any other strategy. The term “youtility” refers to a way of thinking and using a mindset or framework to collaborate and build relationships. I also like another term he created that describes how to help others — friend-of-mine awareness.
3. QR Codes Kill Kittens: How to Alienate Customers, Dishearten Employees, and Drive Your Business into the Ground by Scott Stratten
Scott Stratten is known for incorporating sarcasm and quick wit into his delivery whether in a live discussion or the written word, just like the title might suggest. Most of the chapters in this book contain a screenshot of some marketing blunder with just a little bit of commentary. And the marketing failures cited don’t just consist of those that use QR codes. This is a fun, lighter read with some practical insight.
4. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk
This is Vaynerchuk’s third book and this one is about connecting and telling your story in a noisy world. He’s a little rich on shock factor, but very real and real time and I think that’s one of the factors that’s made him successful. I listened in on a webinar he did where they took live calls from the audience. A caller said she’d been successful with Pinterest and was having trouble making it on Twitter. He was able to give her some solid feedback without knowing much of anything about her or her company.
5. The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
This didn’t come out in 2013, but it’s a good book and deserves to be on the resource list for any business owner that has a longer sales cycle. Adamson and Dixon researched to find out what skills, behaviors, attitudes and knowledge mattered most for business success. The Challenger approach gives customers unique insights about how they can save or make money, rather than merely delivering the facts about a product.
6. What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences by Brian Solis
I really like the fresh concepts in this book as Solis is, again, trying to make us think in terms of the client experience. Solis talks about why experiences matter to your business and why the future of business is really about creating an experience that people will share. Solis is a researcher so his writing is a little more academic, so, for most of us, it’s probably not as fast a read as many of these other books.
7. Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Sandberg discusses why women account for more than 50% of college graduates, yet men still hold the majority of leadership positions in business and politics. She uses a perfect blend of personal anecdotes, concrete data, and cutting edge research to get her points across. Ultimately, she offers solutions that will help women to achieve their potential in the workforce. Despite the fact that many of us will have different opinions about some of the points she raises, it’s important to continue to recognize those points and consider how their impact today.
8. Pick up the Damn Phone! How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal by Joanne S. Black
Joanne Black discusses why we need to utilize technology to help us with our face-to-face interactions with customers, which are generally more effective anyway in helping to actually close a sale. My good friend Dawn Westerberg is quoted in this book on why we should be actually talking to customers rather than just depending on technology to make sales for us.
9. 80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More by Perry Marshall
I’ve read a lot of Marshall’s other work and he’s been around awhile and really is the expert on Google Adwords. The title refers to a timeless business maxim: 20% of customers account for 80% of sales. In this book, Marshall gives tips on how to focus on that 20% to maximize sales. Some of his suggestions include finding customer niches, pinpointing silent but high-volume customers, and getting rid of problem clients. Overall, a very insightful and valuable book.
10. B2B Digital Marketing – Using the Web to Market Directly to Businesses by Michael Miller
I think this book actually came out in 2012. This is a cohesive, comprehensive, and complete view of digital marketing. It makes for a great preliminary read to something more complex. It would call it a should-read book on marketing planning for the knowledge worker, manager, or executive.
This is my personal list of best reads. I’d love to hear about anything you’d add to the list. Add them in the comments list below.