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Follow These 7 Guides for Successful Content Marketing

2013 recommended readingAs a follow-up to last year’s roundup, 7 Top Productivity Books for Content Marketing Success, here are several recently published books that offer exceptional value and insight for producing successful content marketing. All were published in the last few years (and all complement the books published by Content Marketing Institute).

Relevance, plus…

In addition to their solid advice on how to create successful content marketing projects, the books that follow share several key characteristics:

  1. Relevance: Each offers specialized information that can significantly enhance a content marketer’s efficiency and effectiveness.
  2. Structure: In addition to conveying valuable information, each reflects the importance of a structured approach to organizing and sharing information. Content marketers can apply these examples to all types of projects, including eBooks, reports, and white papers.
  3. Visual communications: Most of this year’s crop of content marketing books reflect the importance of using simple hand-drawn (as opposed to formal — i.e., art director-created) visuals and graphics for engaging, communicating, and simplifying.

1. The structure used by “superachievers”

art of doing-book coverCamille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield‘s “The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well,” reflects the important role that structure plays in making big projects feasible by breaking them into a series of tasks.

In this case, the goal was to interview 30 superachievers and ask them to share — in their own words — how they achieved their success.

Unlike most interview-based books, “The Art of Doing” doesn’t include the full text of each interview. Instead, each of the 30 chapters focuses on the 10 most important takeaways contributed by each superachiever. This is followed by an easily scanned list of information about the subject’s signature achievement, plus a second list about the field in general.

2. Record-keeping: Never miss a storytelling moment

Mike Rohde‘s “The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Note Taking” is a must-read for content marketers who dislike taking notes, but who recognize the importance of documenting meetings and information-filled events (like this year’s Content Marketing World conference).

sketchnote handbook-book coverEven if you think you have lousy handwriting and no artistic experience, with Michael Rohde’s help, for the first time you’ll likely find yourself enjoying the act of taking notes at meetings and events.

The author’s aggressive blogging about his book paved the way for its immediate success. (The first printing quickly sold out, requiring an immediate second printing.) While writing the book, Mike kept his prospective readers informed with chapter-by-chapter excerpts and graphics… as discussed here, with links to the each of the blog posts.

3. Illustrating a hallmark of content marketing success

book yourself solid illustrated-book coverFor years, Michael Port‘s “Book Yourself Solid” has been a best-selling guide to marketing success for self-employed professionals. But the latest version, “Book Yourself Solid Illustrated” is significantly better.

Michael 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 Michael’s advice and invites readers to take advantage of his process by systematically completing his steps for service business success.

“Book Yourself Solid Illustrated” sets new standards for using design to differentiate, organize, and add value to an information-filled “how-to” book.

4. Envision stronger teamwork and partnerships

Rather than being a solo effort, content marketing success usually involves collaboration with clients, management, vendors, and freelancers. That’s why David Sibbet’s “Visual Teams: Graphic Tools for Commitment, Innovation, & High Performance” is an important book for content marketers within client corporations, the agencies that serve them, and freelance vendors, alike.

visual teams-book coverThe third in David Sibbet’s series, “Visual Teams” is an in-depth review of the role that graphics, and graphic templates, can play in facilitating information sharing and encouraging collaboration. The numerous examples, captions, lists, and sidebars present new ways for content marketers to deal with everyday collaboration tasks.

5. Go from writer to content marketing entrepreneur

ape-book coverGuy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch‘s “APE: Author – Publisher – Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book,” has relevance far beyond writing and self-publishing a book.

It offers significant value for businesses or self-employed professionals who want to publish a premium book and sell it using online channels like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Barnes & Noble.

I’ve been a fan of premium books ever since I wrote “The Aldus Guide for Basic Design,” which established Aldus PageMaker (later acquired by Adobe) as the premium desktop publishing software program.

“APE” is a deep exploration, extensively documented guide to the steps involved in writing, publishing, and profiting from printed books and eBooks.

Even if you’re not interested in publishing a book, the book teaches valuable lessons on navigating the options involved in creating and leveraging short, inexpensive ($2.99) premium reports and user guides — powerful tools for attracting qualified prospects and boosting buyer satisfaction.

6. Content marketing success, by design

universal methods of design-book coverBruce Hanington and Bella Martin‘s “Universal Methods of Design: 100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions” has a lot to offer all content marketers, not just graphic designers. This is because, one way or another, design thinking can enhance every aspect of content marketing.

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.

The “Universal Methods of Design” also provides a case study in creating an efficient structure for organizing and presenting a complex topic. The book’s consistent text formatting and layout for each of the 100 ideas may suggest the solution you’re looking for to publish a premium book, create a series of white papers, or syndicate your message over time through multiple blog posts and media outposts.

7. “White Papers for Dummies”

Gordon Graham‘s “White Papers for Dummies” is an example of the “… for Dummies” series at its best, combining “everyman” positioning and tightly organized, short, straightforward chapters written by a first-rate author with extensive subject area experience.

white papers for dummies-book coverAny content marketer looking for a structured approach to creating white papers — or eBooks and reports that are structured like white papers — will benefit from its step-by-step organization.

One of the book’s features that demonstrate Gordon Graham’s extensive experience, derived from preparing over 600 white papers, is his continuing emphasis on planning and marketing white papers. And, if you’re a freelancer, there’s lots of advice about how to position and price your white paper marketing services.

Insert your favorite book here!

If you know of other recently published books that have important lessons to teach your fellow content marketers, please share their titles with me, below, as comments! Likewise, if you’ve read one of the above books, please share your opinions and takeaways. (I’m also interested in your suggestions for other books you’d like me to review.)

Join Roger C. Parker as he shares more tips for successful content marketing in his presentation at Content Marketing World 2013.