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The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Introduction Over the last few years, Content Marketing Institute has published biannual roundups in which Roger C. Parker highlights books that he considers must-reads (and we agree!). They range from big-name best-sellers that can benefit any businessperson to under-the-radar gems that offer detailed guidance on managing specific challenges. A great number of these books come from within the content marketing community, but as Roger points out, the most productive content marketing ideas often originate outside the content marketing world — for example, in the areas of traditional advertising, creativity, personal branding, and psychology. As such, we have categorized our list by the function each book primarily serves: Content Marketing & Content Strategy Writing & Content Creation Marketing & Branding Creative Ideas & Business Inspiration Processes & Productivity
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Regardless of whether it explicitly focuses on the topic of content marketing, each of the following books includes valuable insights that we believe will benefit every content marketer. As is the case with any of our lists, we are sure there are plenty of other books out there that can inspire, improve, or simply inform your content marketing journey. Did we miss your favorite one? Feel free to share additional suggestions in the comments below! Special thanks to Roger C. Parker for his invaluable reviews, suggestions, and source materials!
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers CONTENT MARKETING & CONTENT STRATEGY APE: Author – Publisher – Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book By Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch APE is an extensively documented guide to the steps involved in writing, publishing, and profiting from printed books and e-books. It offers significant value for any professional (content or otherwise) looking to publish a premium book and sell it using online channels like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Barnes & Noble. Even if you’re not interested in publishing a book, APE offers valuable lessons on navigating the options involved in creating and leveraging short, inexpensive premium reports and user guides — powerful tools for attracting qualified prospects and boosting buyer satisfaction.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The Language of Content Strategy By Scott Abel and Rahel Anne Bailie Even the best-designed and most-well-written content creation and curation messages are wasted if they don’t reflect a coherent content strategy. With refreshing clarity and conciseness, The Language of Content Strategy takes content marketers deep into the field of content strategy, introducing the vocabulary and resources needed to implement an efficient and sustainable content strategy program. Organized in five logical sections, each of the 52 topics covered is explained in a concise, highly readable two-page spread — not a single word is wasted. Written by specialists in a narrow discipline but understandable by all, it’s recommended for content entrepreneurs, managers, and other business professionals who have created an efficient content platform but want to take their planning and strategy capabilities to the next level.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Content Chemistry: An Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing By Andy Crestodina The expanded second edition of this book by popular Content Marketing World presenter Andy Crestodina proves that even the best books can be improved upon. The latest edition retains its unique, college-chemistry-courseinspired metaphor of Part One: Lecture and Part Two: Lab Work, its emphasis on atomizing your content, and its signature Periodic Table of Content, but adds new sections and enhanced visuals. Reflecting Crestodina’s unique combination of insights, concise writing, and visual appeal, the book is recommended for both newcomers to content marketing and veterans looking to be re-inspired.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Global Content Marketing: How to Create Great Content, Reach More Customers, and Build a Worldwide Marketing Strategy That Works By Pam Didner As content marketing grows, more and more topic-specific books have appeared. One of the best is Pam Didner’s Global Content Marketing, which provides the perspective that content marketers need to extend their reach beyond the borders of their country. Using case studies and examples that many will find familiar, Didner reviews the well-known four Ps of marketing (Product, Price, Place, and Promotion) and adapts them to the realities of today’s global content marketing: 1. 2. 3. 4. Plan: Create a strategy before executing, in conjunction with stakeholders around the world. Produce: Create content that matters and systems that can continuously provide fresh content in appropriate formats for key market segments around the world. Promote: Distribute and promote content using both paid and social media. Perfect: Continuously measure and optimize results, creating an ongoing feedback loop.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Subscription Marketing: Strategies for Nurturing Customers in a World of Churn By Anne H. Janzer By identifying a key concern faced by all content marketers and sharing a system to address it Anne Janzer has created a niche that she can dominate within the content marketing world. Janzer has positioned her book in terms of length and value. In less than 150 pages (print version), she convincingly describes: 1. The problem (i.e., the symptoms and implications of the subscription shift) 2. The solution (i.e., an alternative: a series of value-nurturing strategies) 3. The implementation (i.e., how to put the strategies into action)
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Content Marketing Works: 8 Steps to Transform Your Business By Arnie Kuenn and Brad Kuenn Content Marketing Works is an excellent one-stop guide for entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and corporate managers who need to convince the powers that be to allow them to invest in content marketing. The eight steps are well chosen and provide a useful framework for change. Each chapter contains enough detail to structure the tasks involved in each step. The cover and chapter title pages also provide a useful example of tasteful design and inside-page branding.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insights Into Your Customer’s Expectations, Align Your Marketing Strategies, and Win More Business By Adele Revella You may think you’ve learned all there is to know about buyer personas from Adele Revella’s frequent Content Marketing Institute blog posts and Content Marketing World presentations. But no matter how much you already know, Revella’s book will show you how to go deeper into buyer personas in ways that your clients, co-workers, and C-level executives will appreciate. And, if you’re selfemployed, you’ll learn how to gain a better understanding of your own clients and prospects, and will be better able to align your content marketing to their needs.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing By Robert Rose and Carla Johnson In Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, Robert Rose, the Content Marketing Institute’s chief strategy officer, and Carla Johnson, a frequent Content Marketing Institute storyteller and contributor, offer an informed guide to what content marketers can do today to prepare for the future. It outlines an action plan for serious marketers who want to escape the “copy and graphics business” and, instead, become missioncritical leaders and decision-makers for their firms. Consider it a handbook for those who seek growing influence and responsibility at every touchpoint of the buyer-seller experience.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The Content Code: Six Essential Strategies for Igniting Your Content, Your Marketing, and Your Business By Mark Schaefer The Content Code addresses the problem of “content density,” the tsunami of content competing for your prospect’s attention. It offers a simple but scalable six-step framework. It’s written in a conversational style, using colorful language like “content shock” and “ignition strategy.” In particular, you may find Chapter 3, “Building Shareability Into Your Content” and Chapter 4, “22 Practical Ways to Achieve Content Ignition” especially helpful.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break Through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less By Joe Pulizzi Epic Content Marketing lives up to its title by providing the type of detail-oriented implementation advice needed to produce the type of inspiring content Pulizzi describes. The chapters are organized into five logical sections that build upon each other, and within those chapters, Pulizzi has helpfully balanced discussion and interviews with bulleted lists, insightful thoughts, and useful resources. Epic Content Marketing is a “dictionary of possibilities.”
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers 100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People By Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D. Over the past few years, Susan Weinschenk has published several engaging books about marketing and communications that are written from her perspective as a psychologist. They are filled with stories that summarize the latest research on how the brain perceives and processes information. Her latest book offers 100 ideas for increasing the effectiveness of your presentations, as well as stories, tips, and takeaways. Its lessons are as valuable for content marketers who are preparing e-learning courses or embedding SlideShare presentations as they are for those using PowerPoint at staff meetings.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers WRITINg & Content CREATION Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content By Mark Levy Mark Levy’s idea is very simple: Nothing will happen unless you start to write something. When you are unable to conjure up the words you are looking for, just write anything that comes to your mind — a letter to your mother explaining why you can’t write what you’re trying to write, a letter to your client or your boss explaining why you can’t deliver your content, etc. Levy is a corporate writing coach who encourages stuck business professionals to set a timer and write for 7 minutes, then stop (without reviewing what you’ve written), then write for another 7 minutes. Soon, quality ideas and appropriate words and sentences will begin to appear. And, you’ll be on your way to success! Accidental Genius is a great book for any freelance content marketer’s library or for a shared bookshelf in a marketing department.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Help! for Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces By Roy Peter Clark Bringing a journalist’s pragmatic approach to content marketing productivity, this third book in Roy Peter Clark’s writer’s series is organized around a seven-step writing process, with three chapters dedicated to addressing the most common problems associated with each step. Unlike many media-specific writing guides, (i.e., how to write a book, how to write for the web, etc.), the 210 solutions presented in Help! for Writers are appropriate for all experience levels and all types of writing — articles, blog posts, books, speeches, etc.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers White Papers for Dummies By Gordon Graham Any content marketer looking for a structured approach to creating white papers — or e-books and reports that are structured like white papers — will benefit from the “everyman” positioning and step-bystep organization of Graham’s instructional book on the subject. One of the book’s features that demonstrates the author’s extensive experience (derived from preparing over 600 white papers) is his continuing emphasis on the planning and marketing phase of this type of content. Freelancers, in particular, will likely appreciate the detailed advice he provides on how to position and price white-paper marketing services.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The Visual Marketing Revolution By Stephanie Diamond Stephanie Diamond was the marketing director at AOL during its period of greatest growth. Her latest book is an illustrated how-to guide to putting the best visual marketing tools to work. In her definitive guide, Diamond describes the primary characteristics of and best uses for myriad visual content formats and shares resources and tips for creating great graphics. Keep this book on hand in your department’s library (or your home office) and use it to help select the best images for your articles, blog posts, white papers, or any other content you are creating.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Picture Your Business Strategy: Transform Decisions with the Power of Visuals By Christine Chopyak If you attended Content Marketing World 2013, you were likely fascinated by the way Kelly Kingman used graphic recording to create eye-catching visual content — in real time — during the keynote presentations. Picture Your Business Strategy shows how the technique of graphic recording can also be used to facilitate meetings and encourage attendee participation at content marketers’ staff meetings and brainstorming sessions.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times By Roy Peter Clark How to Write Short is loaded with surprises and practical tips. Clark begins by showing that there’s nothing particularly new about effective short-form writing (think Facebook posts, Twitter updates, and the like), and provides numerous examples of how short messages can have long life spans. As he does in his previous books, Clark also suggests specific habits and practices that can improve your ability to deliver compelling content in a brief format. As he puts it: “In the digital age, short writing is king.”
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds By Carmine Gallo Although the primary focus of Carmine Gallo’s Talk Like TED is on public speaking and presenting, its importance transcends this medium; you can apply its lessons to any type of successful content marketing project. Gallo analyzed hundreds of the most popular TED presentations and interviewed their creators. He then distilled their best practices into the nine lessons described in this book. As one example, Gallo’s Message Map Template is a marvel of simplicity. It contains a headline that states the main idea to be communicated and three key points, each accompanied by three supporting points. You can use it for planning everything from articles, blog posts, and presentations to e-books and white papers.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Show and Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations By Dan Roam In Show and Tell, Roam summarizes the essence of extraordinary presentations in three points: 1. Tell the truth. 2. Tell it with a story. 3. Tell the story with pictures. He then describes the four types of presentations, each requiring a different story and timeline (or sequence): 1. Reports, which convey facts 2. Explanations, which introduce insights or abilities 3. Pitches, which recommend a new action 4. Dramas, which inspire a new belief or perspective Show and Tell includes an example of the timeline appropriate for each type of annotation, along with notes for each step in the story’s development. Once you begin thinking about other types of content marketing projects in terms of Roam’s universal presentation tools, you’ll find it easier to organize and plan your own presentation text and graphics. You’ll probably find Roam’s storyline examples relevant for other types of content, as well.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Everybody Writes: The Go-to Guide to Writing Ridiculously Good Content By Ann Handley Handley’s original co-authored book, Content Rules, introduced many marketers to the basic concepts of content marketing. Everybody Writes, however, takes content and writing to new levels. Though it is a serious, in-depth analysis of a complex topic with which many struggle, Everybody Writes reads as easily as a letter from a long-time friend. In a story world, Handley tells her story — the writing challenges she encountered, how she overcame them, and how she balances her need for privacy (i.e., building a house in the backyard for writing) with the challenges of leading a successful virtual corporation of collaborators who rarely meet face to face. Everybody Writes offers detailed advice for just about every aspect of writing, but the two themes to which she frequently returns are the need for brevity and for clarity — the keys to writing for today’s primarily online readers.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The Art of Explanation: Making Your Ideas, Products, and Services Easier to Understand By Lee LeFever Explanations form the heart of content marketing success. So it’s particularly helpful that Lee LeFever starts his book by detailing the planning and writing steps necessary to create an effective explanation. He then describes how to make explanations as visual as possible using animated, simple drawings. In a world filled with books stressing persuasive copywriting techniques, it’s a rare pleasure to see a book dedicated to explanatory writing.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers MARKETING & BRANDING Book Yourself Solid Illustrated By Michael Port For years, Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid has been a bestselling guide to marketing success for self-employed professionals. This latest, illustrated version improves on the original and sets new standards for using design to differentiate, organize, and add value. Port partnered with a visual strategist, Jocelyn Wallace, who took a 90,000-word manuscript and breathed new life into the ideas, with 800 pictures and workbook exercises. Each two-page spread clarifies Port’s advice and invites readers to take advantage of his process by systematically completing his steps for service business success.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The New Rules of Marketing & PR (4th edition) By David Meerman Scott With over 300,000 copies in print in more than 25 languages, David Meerman Scott’s New Rules of Marketing and PR has become the bible of online marketing and can be considered the best all-around introduction to today’s changed marketing world. The latest edition is the best one yet. Scott revisited every chapter, updating stories and adding resources, in addition to adding new chapters on topics like social media, online video, and mobile applications.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype By Jay Baer Youtility is an “attitude” book that inspires by the strength of its examples and the logic of its arguments. It’s the perfect book for content marketing skeptics who say, “This wouldn’t work for my type of business,” because the examples come from businesses of all sizes, across all types of fields. From Baer’s opening perspective that, “your friends and family are now competing with you,” to the six blueprints he provides, Youtility delivers, both as a book and as an overall content marketing philosophy.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program By David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek Marketing the Moon is the first content marketing case study to move from the home office to the living room coffee table. It’s an exhaustively researched, carefully written, and graphically rich book that contains hundreds of photographs and images of documents (like memos and letters) that aren’t typically accessible to the public. The fascinating story describes how, ultimately, the success of the Apollo Lunar Program was based on NASA’s focus on content and storytelling, instead of on a governmental entity “pushing an agenda.” NASA provided unprecedented access to the key players in its program — in particular, the astronauts — allowing the media to tell the story everywhere. As a result of this early example of “letting go of the conversation,” America’s media and citizens “bought into” the story of Apollo and willingly supported the huge expenditures, which made the successful moon landing and return possible.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Difference: The One-Page Method for Reimagining Your Business and Reinventing Your Marketing By Bernadette Jiwa Many authors talk about the importance of continually reinventing yourself and your business by focusing on what makes you different from your competition. However, most books skirt the issue of how to identify those differences so you can communicate more effectively. Jiwa’s Difference is one that actually provides a methodology (the 6-pillar Difference Method) and a tool (the Difference Map) to help you identify your points of distinction. Working with the downloadable Difference Map template and referring to the completed Difference Maps she provides will help reinforce the book’s lessons and makes it easy to develop a fresh perspective on your firm’s (or your client’s) key differences.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The New Rules of Sales and Service: How to Use Agile Selling, Real-Time Customer Engagement, Big Data, Content, and Storytelling to Grow Your Business By David Meerman Scott The New Rules of Sales and Service integrates Scott’s narrative of the changed world of business that began with his international best-seller, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, by showing how businesses large and small are either profiting from the internet or falling behind through apathy or mismanagement. It’s particularly relevant for savvy marketers and business owners who have a blog and web presence but haven’t fundamentally evolved the way they do business in the digital age. Scott does an excellent job of inspiring by showing how to use technology to prosper and take advantage of opportunities in all types of businesses. In addition, his impatience with poor customer service and lost opportunities is as inspiring as his excitement over those who are on the cutting edge of internet-enabled customer service.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Launch: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula to Sell Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, and Live the Life of Your Dreams By Jeff Walker Jeff Walker and his Product Launch Formula may be new to many content marketers, but his name and signature product are well known to a generation of internet marketers who have (or claim to have) made millions from his advice. Launch echoes now-accepted content marketing tenets, including a focus on building and carefully cultivating email lists. Walker begins by describing the four steps of the Product Launch Formula, and the tasks associated with each step: 1. Pre-prelaunch: a learning phase 2. Prelaunch: where you build anticipation for your product 3. Launch: where you begin to take orders for your product 4. Post-launch: where you follow up with new clients as well as prospects who didn’t purchase. Even if you read no further than this, you’ll be exposed to plenty of ideas that could be adapted for your content marketing strategy.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The Marketing Performance Blueprint: Strategies and Technologies to Build and Measure Business Success By Paul Roetzer Paul Roetzer’s second book addresses two of the biggest challenges that have emerged from the B2B, B2C, and nonprofit research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs — the need to create more content and to become more confident about content’s ROI. A hands-on management guide for content marketing agencies and departments, its chapters are organized into four sections: 1. The Backstory discusses challenges like the need to address gaps in talent, technology, strategy, and performance through an ongoing program of adoption, adaptation, and evolution. 2. Marketing Talent addresses real-world issues like finding the right staff members and keeping their skills sharp and current. 3. Marketing Technology addresses the connected customer experience, its significance, the impact of automation and artificial intelligence, and the need to provide appropriate experiences to customers at the right time. 4. Marketing Strategy addresses the issues that are emerging as the lines between marketing, metrics, and technology vanish
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Hello, My Name Is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick By Alexandra Watkins This is a slim (under 100 pages), inexpensive book with a wealth of knowledge from the founder of a firm that specializes in developing product and business names for firms like Adobe, Disney, Dunkin’ Donuts, eHarmony, Hasbro, and Microsoft. Although Watkins’ background is from the corporate world, her methodology can be applied by all. Hello, My Name Is Awesome covers all the bases, including tips for choosing the right domain names (while avoiding frequently encountered traps). There’s even a chapter comparing the pros and cons of name changes.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers CREATIVE IDEAS & BUSINESS INSPIRATION The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles By Steven Pressfield In this book, which Seth Godin has called “the most important book you’ve never heard of,” Pressfield contends that inside all of us is a Resistance, an inbred predisposition to avoid change — even positive change. As a result, we experience distress, anxiety, and sometimes even writer’s block when expected to complete creative projects (like that blog post you’ve been struggling with all week). The War of Art is not always a pretty book. Hopefully, no one reading these words will ever experience the angst that even most accomplished authors suffer from. But, we should all thank Seth Godin for bringing The War of Art to new audiences so that we recognize these triggers and take appropriate action.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Red Thread Thinking: Weaving Together Connections for Brilliant Ideas and Profitable Innovation By Debra Kaye, with Karen Kelly Debra Kaye’s Red Thread Thinking provides an inspiring alternative to creativity books that focus on “Aha!” moments of breakthrough innovation. The book shares “red threads,” those more predictable and realistic sources of innovation that can be found in everyday business situations — not just in isolated geniuses or deep-pocketed research departments. Illustrated with case studies and interviews, this is one innovation book that won’t put you to sleep on your next flight.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results By Gary Keller, with Jay Papasan Personal productivity and time management play key roles in content marketing success; The ONE Thing is an insightful book about “getting it together” and making a major leap forward in accomplishing your personal, departmental, or business goals. Reflecting the experiences of Gary Keller, the founder of KellerWilliams Realty — the largest real estate franchise in the U.S. — the book serves as an excellent example of the marriage of content, illustrations, and design. The premise is simple, and the implementation is easy, but it really works.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand By Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio The Power of Visual Storytelling provides a detailed overview of what you need to know to take visual content marketing to the next level, including a description of the importance of the technique and its seven key elements. At every step, there are useful lists of best practices, options, questions, tips and tools — including a particularly helpful rundown of image sizes to use for popular social media platforms. Best of all, the extensive lists are keyed to each specific platform, such as tips for engaging on Facebook, Tumblr, SlideShare, etc.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently By Sunni Brown Sunni Brown’s Doodle Revolution describes a fresh approach to visual thinking, showing how everyone can tap into the power of doodling — an underestimated tool that creative thinkers as diverse as Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Nikola Tesla have relied upon. Brown begins by addressing both the reasons doodling is frequently overlooked as a creative tool and the frequently heard objection, “I can’t draw!” She then provides a capsule course in the anatomy of a doodle, showing the basics of hand-drawing text and simple graphics. Each chapter contains assessments and exercises, helping readers build their confidence as they familiarize themselves with the simple building blocks of a storytelling graphic. (If you attended Content Marketing World 2013, you may remember Kelly Kingman’s graphic note-taking in real time.)
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The Advertising Concept Book: A Complete Guide to Creative Ideas, Strategies and Campaigns By Pete Barry The Advertising Concept Book provides content marketers with a valuable source of content and design inspiration based on the best examples from the past. You won’t find this much insight, analysis, and detail in one volume anywhere else. Each page is a visual treat. Classic ads have been redrawn to highlight the key ideas, free from distraction. This is a book to be read slowly on paper, giving your mind time to digest the ideas.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It By Dorie Clark Stand Out (a companion, implementation guide for Clark’s first book, Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future) describes a three-step process for: 1. Finding your breakthrough idea 2. Building a following around it 3. Making it happen Stand Out covers the tasks and details involved with each step with examples, interviews, and tips. To help you begin your journey, each chapter ends with challenging, thought-provoking questions that will help you identify which ideas may be worth pursuing.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision & Reality By Scott Belsky Scott Belsky’s Making Ideas Happen addresses a broad range of real-world productivity issues for a broad spectrum of content marketing writers and designers — as well as those who hire and manage them. It describes the challenges shared by creative individuals and outlines specific, actionable ways the challenges can be overcome. Making Ideas Happen avoids a “one size fits all” solution. Instead, it outlines a variety of strategies for enhancing content marketing productivity, such as: 1. The action method: This is based on immediately following up new ideas by identifying the specific tasks needed to bring an idea closer to reality. It involves prioritizing, delegating, and monitoring progress. 2. Creative’s compromise: In this approach, managers must encourage writers and designers to explore new restraints and best practices that may initially be uncomfortable.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business By Charles Duhigg Charles Duhigg’s best-selling book shows content marketers how to improve their habits so they can become more efficient and get more done in less time. It’s a proven, jargon-free approach for harnessing existing talents and abilities without endless introspection. It begins by describing the “habit loop” — the building blocks of repeated behaviors that put our brain on autopilot: 1. Cue: A sensation, emotion, or other stimulus that triggers a habitual behavior. 2. Routine: Behaviors that occur without conscious thought (e.g., tying your laces when you put on your shoes). 3. Reward: The benefit you enjoy after you’ve performed the routine (e.g., a feeling of accomplishment, a burst of energy, an emotional connection, etc.). By consciously manipulating routines and the rewards, The Power of Habit shows you how to replace inappropriate behaviors that can be interfering with your content marketing productivity — or the productivity of those you work with.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Universal Methods of Design: 100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions By Bella Martin and Bruce Hanington Design-inspired best practices, habits, and approaches to problem solving can recharge your ability to plan, write, and manage all types of content marketing tasks, from writing and publishing to conversions. Universal Methods of Design also provides a case study in creating an efficient structure for visually organizing and presenting a complex topic. The book’s consistent text formatting and layout for each of the 100 ideas may suggest an artful solution to challenges like publishing a premium book, creating a series of white papers, or syndicating your message over time through multiple blog posts and media outposts.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Note Taking By Mike Rohde This is a must-read for content marketers who dislike taking notes but recognize the importance of documenting meetings and information-filled events (like this year’s Content Marketing World conference). Even if you think you have lousy handwriting and no artistic experience, with Michael Rohde’s help and the techniques he describes, you’ll likely find yourself enjoying the act of taking notes for the first time ever.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well By Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield The Art of Doing profiles 30 “superachievers” — people who have achieved significant success in building their brands in a variety of fields. Sweeney and Gosfield’s list includes both high-profile media professionals as well as an eclectic mix of individuals who are well known in other areas of experience. Based on interviews, each chapter tells the story of an individual, describing his or her success and providing 10 lessons that others can learn from the person’s experiences. The Art of Doing is fascinating reading, both for its narratives and the conclusions the authors have drawn from their interviews.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less By Greg McKeown Essentialism’s four sections describe 19 tactics that business owners and managers can use to distance themselves from distraction and disturbance without alienating co-workers. Each tactic is illustrated with anecdotes and stories and is supported by the latest psychological research. There are also ideas and tips for implementing the ideas, backed up by a visual summary so gorgeous, you may even want to photocopy it and hang it on the wall.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want By Alex Osterwalder, et al. For years, visual thinkers like Alex Osterwalder, Dan Roam, Nancy Duarte, and Sunni Brown have been showing marketers how to use imagery to make better, faster decisions while communicating with greater efficiency. Value Proposition Design is the latest and most sophisticated example of the visual revolution. This is the second book in the Strategyzer series and it provides a visual platform for addressing the core challenge of every business — creating compelling products and services customers want to buy. It provides tools and a process for analyzing your market’s needs, stress-testing your assumptions, and generating meaningful metrics.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence By Daniel Goleman This is the easy-to-read and immediately applicable progression of the ideas Goleman first introduced 10 years ago in his best-selling Emotional Intelligence. Focused on career and workplace issues, it’s less of a general textbook and more of a guide to best practices for day-to-day interactions when dealing with bosses, co-workers, and clients. It’s an excellent example of psychological research boiled down to day-to-day acceptance, recognition, and self-management.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers PROCESS & PRODUCTIVITY The Pomodoro Technique By Francesco Cirillo Francesco Cirillo’s The Pomodoro Technique is a proven and established writing, productivity, and time-management system. Used since the 1980s, it continues to gain enthusiastic followers. It’s based on focused, short, “beat the clock” writing sessions, frequent breaks, and strategies to handle interruptions. In addition to the book, there are four valuable, free resources available for download at the Pomodoro Technique website: • • • • Pomodoro Technique e-book: A 45-page, illustrated overview and implementation guide. Pomodoro Technique Cheat Sheet: An exquisitely formatted one-page introduction to the Pomodoro Technique. To Do Today Worksheet: One of the Pomodoro Technique’s most important tools. Activity Inventory Worksheet: If your content marketing productivity is frequently interrupted, the Activity Inventory will help you document the tasks you’re trying to accomplish and help you see how you actually spend your time.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Visual Teams: Graphic Tools for Commitment, Innovation, & High Performance By David Sibbet Envision stronger teamwork and partnerships. Rather than being a solo effort, content marketing success usually involves collaboration with clients, management, vendors, and freelancers. Visual Teams is an important read for any content marketers who are looking to strengthen and better manage these partnerships. This third book in David Sibbet’s Visual Teams series focuses on the role that graphics and graphic templates can play in facilitating information sharing and encouraging collaboration. The numerous examples, captions, lists, and sidebars alone offer invaluable tools to help content marketers deal with everyday.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers The Disorganized Mind: Coaching Your ADHD Mind to Take Control of Your Time, Tasks, and Talents By Nancy Ratey Have you ever noticed how some of the most brilliant, creative, people you know experience difficulties completing even routine tasks? Nancy Ratey offers a possible explanation: They may be suffering from ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The Disorganized Mind is not a “medicine” book, but rather it’s a selfcoaching book. It’s about learning how to acknowledge the way your brain operates and developing self-monitoring strategies to assign priorities, resist distractions, and focus on what needs to be done right now in order to achieve long-term goals — something that every busy content marketer can relate to.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, & Sharpen Your Creative Mind By Nancy Ratey This slim anthology of 20 essays about the origins of creativity reflects the mindset behind Scott Belsky’s Making Ideas Happen (see above) — in fact, Belsky wrote Manage Your Day-to-Day’s foreword, and many of the book’s ideas reflect the goals of his group’s website, 99U. The book’s small format, low price, and 8- to 10-page essays make this a particularly suitable gift for content marketers who like to read during their daily commutes.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers Driven to Distraction at Work: How to Focus and Be More Productive By Edward M. Hallowell, MD Distraction is ubiquitous in today’s 24/7, always-connected world and, ultimately, it is probably content marketing’s biggest productivity killer. Pioneering ADHD researcher Hallowell coined the phrase “attention deficit trait” to describe this growing problem in the workplace. In Part 1, he describes the six most common work distractions (and how to overcome them), while in Part 2, Training Your Attention, he shares seven specific ways to increase your focus. Imagine how much more productive you could be if you mastered just one technique a month starting now.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers A Beautiful Constraint: How to Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages, and Why It’s Everyone’s Business By Adam Morgan and Mark Barden Not only are constraints found everywhere — both in marketing and in the world at large — they’re inevitable. However, constraints are often considered obstacles, rather than the drivers of creativity they can be. A Beautiful Constraint offers a comprehensive, detailed, and tastefully designed description of the “opportunity power” of constraints, and outlines 11 different approaches to turning them using resonant examples you’ve likely encountered or read about in the business press. If you liked Robert Cialdini’s landmark Influence: The Power of Persuasion, you’ll love this book: It builds on many of the same principles, positioning them in a real-world corporate marketing environment.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers BONUS BOOK Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses By Joe Pulizzi Though currently only available for pre-order (available Sept. 11, 2015), you’ll have to take our word for it that Content Inc. will be a must-read for anyone seeking to start a brand-new business or drive innovation in an existing one. Content Inc. provides everything you need to reverse-engineer the traditional entrepreneurial model for better, more sustainable success. Simply put, it’s about developing valuable content, building an audience around that content, and then creating a product for that audience. Joe Pulizzi’s radical, six-step business-building process is practical, costeffective, and proven to work — after all, it’s the foundation on which Pulizzi built Content Marketing Institute from the ground up.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers What are your book recommendations? Have we omitted any of your favorite recently published content marketing books or books in adjacent areas like career management, creativity, or psychology? Also, if you’ve read any of the books we mentioned, please share your experiences, impressions, and key takeaways — including value. Looking for more advice on how to manage your content marketing efficiently and effectively? Subscribe to CMI’s e-newsletter.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers ABOUT CONTENT MARKETING INSTITUTE Content Marketing Institute is the leading global content marketing education and training organization, teaching enterprise brands how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multi-channel storytelling. CMI also runs the Intelligent Content platform focusing on content strategists, and the Content Inc brand platform on entrepreneurs and startups. CMI’s Content Marketing World event, the largest content marketing-focused event, is held every September in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and the Intelligent Content Conference event is held every spring. CMI publishes the bi-monthly magazine Chief Content Officer, and provides strategic consulting and content marketing research for some of the best-known brands in the world. CMI is a 2012, 2013 and 2014 Inc. 500 company.
The Essential #BestBooks Reading List for Content Marketers ABOUT ROGER C. PARKER Roger C. Parker is a popular and prolific Content Marketing Institute contributor who has a lifetime of experience examining the DNA of successful business, design, and marketing productivity books. He’s written over 40 titles (which have been published in over 37 countries) that help readers master the skills needed to succeed in today’s world. He’s also helped thousands of clients and newly minted authors save time organizing their content marketing and book ideas at Writing to Sell, where you can also find dozens of interviews with top content marketers. Roger invites you to visit his Read and Remember resource page, where you’ll find ideas, tips, and a free worksheet to help you retain more about the books you read and act on the ideas they share.