As in previous years, the range of books continues to expand beyond titles containing “content marketing.” As described in my previous book roundups (June 2012, May 2013, December 2013, June 2014), content marketing success often involves books addressing topics like management, sales, writing, and visual thinking.
Abel, Scott and Bailie, Rahel Anne. The Language of Content Strategy
At a glance: Even the best-designed and written content creation and content 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. It introduces the vocabulary and resources needed to implement an efficient and sustainable content strategy program.
Key points: Readers are introduced to 52 key content strategy concepts described in 52 brief chapters by 52 experts around the world. Organized in five logical sections, each topic is explained in a highly readable two-page spread. Not a word is wasted. Written by specialists in a narrow discipline but understandable by all, it’s a great price, too.
Crestodina, Andy. Content Chemistry: An Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing
At a glance: The expanded second edition of popular Content Marketing World presenter Andy Crestodina’s Content Chemistry: An Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing proves that even the best-written and designed books can be improved.
Key points: The new edition retains its unique, college-chemistry-course-inspired metaphor of Part One: Lecture and Part Two: Lab Work, its emphasis on atomizing your content, and its signature Periodic Table of Content. Its personality continues to reflect Crestodina’s unique combination of insights, concise writing, and visual appeal. The main difference is two new sections and enhanced visuals.
Recommended for: Newcomers to content marketing or veteran content marketers who want to be re-inspired.
Didner, Pam. Global Content Marketing: How to Create Great Content, Reach More Customers, and Build a Worldwide Marketing Strategy that Works
At a glance: 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.
Key points: 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. Plan. Create a strategy before executing, in conjunction with stakeholders around the world.
2. Produce. Create content that matters and systems that can continuously provide fresh content in appropriate formats for key market segments around the world.
3. Promote. Distribute and promote content using both paid and social media.
4. Perfect. Continuously measure and optimize results, creating an ongoing feedback loop. Didner’s use of subheads, pull quotes, lists, tables, and highlighted case studies enhances readability. She provides separate bulleted summaries of key chapters for entrepreneurs and small business owners, enterprise marketing managers, and agencies and marketing consultants.
Recommended for: Appropriate for a broad range of business owners and content marketing professionals because of her discussions of the issues involved in global content marketing. With few exceptions, the internet doesn’t care about political or geographic boundaries. As a result, Global Content Marketing is a worthy book for opportunity-oriented content marketers looking for long-term opportunities for themselves and their businesses.
At a glance: This year’s best book on writing comes from Ann Handley, co-founder of MarketingProfs. 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.
Key points: Although 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, she 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 clarity – the keys to writing for today’s primarily online readers.
Recommended for: It would be easier to describe who wouldn’t benefit from this book (Stephen King, for example). Everybody Writes is a tightly organized, easy-to-read conversation that can help any content marketer bridge the gap between information and published content.
Osterwalder, Alex, et al. Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want
At a glance: While the Content Marketing Institute and others have helped marketing reinvent itself, there has been a parallel visual revolution. Visual thinkers like Alex Osterwalder, Dan Roam, Nancy Duarte, and Sunni Brown have been showing marketers how to use visuals to make better, faster decisions while communicating with greater efficiency. Value Proposition Design is the latest and most sophisticated example of the visual revolution. It’s a cross between a coffee-table book and a workbook that invites you to start scribbling.
Key points: The second book in the Strategyzer series 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.
Recommended for: Two categories of content marketers:
- C-level executives and upper-level managers who are always interested in the latest innovation techniques, a step or two above the implementation level. The ideas in Value Proposition Design, and the previous volume, Business Model Generation, are definitely high-level books.
- Creative content marketers looking beyond words for ways to visually engage and connect. The layout and design suggest fresh approaches for designing white papers and presentations.
Roetzer, Paul. The Marketing Performance Blueprint: Struggles and Technologies to Build and Measure Your Business Success
At a glance: Paul Roetzer’s second book, The Marketing Performance Blueprint, addresses two of the biggest challenges that emerged from the latest 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.
Key points: A hands-on management guide for content marketing agencies and departments, its 10 chapters are organized in four sections:
1. The Backstory discusses today’s challenges, including the need to address today’s gaps – 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 people and continually upgrading their skills through innovations like an internal marketing academy or occasionally partnering with your competitors.
3. Marketing Technology addresses the connected customer experience, its significance, the impact of automation, artificial intelligence, and the need to provide appropriate experiences to customers at the right time.
4. Marketing Strategy addresses the issues involved as the lines between marketing, metrics, and technology vanish: Where should today’s marketers place their emphasis? What questions should they be asking?
Recommended for: Accomplished and growth-oriented upper-level agency management and marketing department managers. It also works well for creative professionals who need to take a long-range view of their employment or freelance futures.
Scott, David Meerman. 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
At a glance: This is possibly the best book to date by David Meerman Scott, one of marketing’s top voices. The New Rules of Sales and Service integrates his narrative of the changed world of business that began with his international bestseller, 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.
Key points: His most passionate book, the thinking is as clear and incisive as ever, but his voice is stronger. His impatience with poor customer service and lost opportunities is as inspiring as his excitement over those who are on the cutting edge of today’s internet-enabled customer service.
Recommended for: Savvy marketers and business owners who have a blog and web presence but haven’t fundamentally changed the way they do business. It does an excellent job of inspiring by showing how to use technology to prosper by taking advantage of opportunities in all types of businesses.
Walker, Jeff. Launch: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula to Sell Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, and Live the Life of Your Dreams
At a glance: 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. No matter how skeptical you may be, however, there are many lessons to be learned from his ideas.
Key points: Launch echoes now-accepted content marketing tenets, including a focus on email list-building and carefully cultivating your list. 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 – build anticipation for your product
3. Launch – begin taking orders for your product
4. Post-launch – follow up with new clients as well as prospects who didn’t purchase. Even if content marketers go no further, at least they will be exposed to ideas that could be adapted for their content marketing strategy.
Recommended for: Curious content marketers who have already mastered the basics of creating a content marketing platform and who enjoy being exposed to new and unconventional ideas. Even if the ideas and examples are not always appropriate, the stories are told in a lively, entertaining style.
Your book mileage
These newly published titles complement but do not replace the titles in previous roundups. Rather, they build upon existing titles and trends. They offer fresh alternatives that expand your choices and enhance your opportunities to give a truly appreciated gift.
As always, no list is ever complete. I look forward to your impressions of these books and your suggestions for books published in 2014 that I may have overlooked. I also welcome your comments about previously published books that you recommend for your fellow content marketers.
Looking to read up on the latest strategies and techniques for successful content marketing? Browse CMI’s Essential #BestBooksReading List for Content Marketers to see Roger Parker’s other top recommendations.
Cover image by Patrik Goethe, Unsplash, via Pixabay