I read a stack of business books this year – some were released through traditional publishing houses while others were self-published for Kindle and usually focused tightly on a particular niche and thus tended to be shorter.
But three stuck out in my mind that collectively covered social media and content marketing, leadership, PR, marketing and sales. If you read just these three books, you’ll get a good grasp as to what’s required from a marketing leadership perspective in 2015.
Here they are:
TAGLINE: How to use agile selling, real-time customer engagement, big data, content, and storytelling to grow your business
‘New Rules of Sales’ sees David Meerman Scott in a fighting mood – it’s a high-spirited romp through today’s hyper-connected commercial landscape in which some companies are cleverly leveraging social technologies to better serve their customers, while many others are hopelessly falling behind, preferring to rely on techniques that worked a decade ago but not so well today. David holds nothing back relaying stories of the dumb things some brands do that annoy savvy connected customers; never fear though, he more than balances the ledger by providing plenty of shining examples of companies that are doing things right and winning business as a result (e.g. Nobis Hotels, Quark Expeditions, OPEN Cycle).
‘New Rules of Sales’ is not just for marketing and PR people but small business operators, customer service executives, and C-Suite leaders of major organisations. It paints a vivid picture of an ever-evolving digital backdrop that is causing angst for some brands and opportunities for others.
Buyers are in charge!
David contends: “Today, buyers are in charge. But most companies run their sales and customer service organizations as if it were still 1989.”
‘New Rules of Sales’ sees David going back to basics (after the left-field ‘Marketing The Moon’ in which he and co-author Richard Jurek tell the story of one of the most successful marketing and public relations campaigns in history: the selling of the Apollo program) – indeed, it serves as an excellent ‘bookend’ to David’s seminal work The New Rules of Marketing & PR which is in its fourth edition and continues to sell by the truckload.
I’ve been an unabashed David Meerman Scott fan since 2007 when I first picked up The New Rules of Marketing & PR. His style is easy-going, non-hype and jargon-free (as jargon-free as you can get in a technology-fuelled marketing world). If you like your business books practical, easy to read and packed with examples, then you could do worse than pick up a copy of The New Rules of Sales and Service.
TAGLINE: Communication and reputation management in the digital age
Spin Sucks is also the name of Gini’s hugely popular PR blog. If you read the blog and like it, you’ll love the book. And vice-versa.
Like David Meerman Scott, Gini writes in fluff-free, economical style; she has been on the leading edge of PR for years now and while many of her contemporaries are probably still struggling to come to grips with blogging and Twitter, Gini has scooted ahead of the pack and has become a bona fide ‘go-to’ resource in her industry.
Gini hates the ‘spin doctor’ connotations that come with PR (pretty obvious from the book’s title, heh) and is a tireless promoter of PR being more than just media relations – she writes “there are many other tactics in a cohesive strategy: content, email marketing, social media, crisis and reputation management, events, social advertising, investor relations, lobbying and regulatory work, and more”.
Like the other two books recommended here, Gini’s contribution also provides context by painting a picture of the landscape against which we all have to do business today.
However, she then forges ahead and outlines PR best practice for today’s social age, explaining how to build a communications program “that can withstand the constant changes at Google, and how working ethically … will deliver more valuable long-lasting results, as well as a spotless reputation”.
In short, Spin Sucks is a no-nonsense look at what PR can (and should) achieve in today’s real-time, hyper-connected world. A ‘must-read’ for any PR practitioner – for sure – but marketers and business owners, managers and leaders will also get value.
I think this para sums it up:
You have an incredible opportunity to build trust through communications, using technology to deliver it to prospective customers who would never before have the chance to buy from you.
Practical, expansive, thoughtful and jam-packed with ideas and examples. Read Spin Sucks (blog and book) and let Gini take you by the hand and guide you into the promised digital land!
TAGLINE: How companies must adapt to survive
It’s tough writing a straight social media book these days as there have been so many of them published in recent years, it’s difficult to come out with something new.
So while many social media books get bogged down in the tools and the technologies, with A World Gone Social the authors Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt have provided a holistic view from a business leadership perspective. Their message is that leadership in today’s ‘Social Age’ is a heck of a lot different than in the previous Industrial Age, and if senior executives don’t grasp that reality and adapt, they’re going to find the going tough at some point in the future.
Section one of A World Gone Social provides an introduction as to how social media technologies have disrupted the business landscape; in section two, Ted and Mark explain how large organisations need to think and act small in order to survive and thrive in the Social Age; section three is a little more ‘how-to’ and takes business leaders through what they need to do in order to start positioning their company as a social business. Section four provides a glimpse into the social future, and touches on the subject of ROI.
Power of community
Ted and Mark explain how the “customer holds all the cards” today, and a company’s own employees are also coming into power thanks to the proliferation of social technologies. They discuss the power of community, and why all brands need more vocal advocates, champions and ambassadors (while at the same time providing advice on how to deal with “drama queens, divas and … pesky trolls”).
I really enjoyed Chapter 10 which talked about the importance of company CEOs to be more social, but how in fact they’re as rare as ‘blue unicorns’ (hat-tip to Jim Claussen, founder of Executive Social Academy).
A theme throughout the book is what the authors call their ‘secret to social’ – More social. Less media. It sums up Ted and Mark’s book, I think, and is in my opinion a great way to look at how businesses need to start thinking in 2015 and beyond.
All in all, a ‘must read’ for business leaders, but I think anyone interested in the social space from an organisational aspect will get value from A World Gone Social.
The problem with having to select a small number of books to highlight means other great books get overlooked.
Dionne’s book – like A World Gone Social – is aimed fairly and squarely at senior executives and business leaders. It combines intellectual depth with practical examples and case studies and, importantly, it manages to paint a broad picture of the ramifications for doing business in today’s ‘connected economy’ without losing sight of the need to provide ‘in-the-trenches’ how-to tips and advice.
The Great Fragmentation is a ‘strategy playbook for the future, a business survival manifesto for the technology revolution’. I consider it to be a one-two punch in the face for outdated corporate business practice; it’s somewhat of a subversive work, and reminds me a bit of the seminal work The Cluetrain Manifesto.
It contains 20 chapters and 20 different ideas; Steve describes it as “non-linear, just like today’s business environment” – he said his goal was to assess the entire landscape we’re living in and provide a philosophy so readers can find the right tactics.
And finally, here are two others!
- Show Your Work by Austin Kleon – 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered – I LOVED THIS BOOK!
- Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi – without a doubt, THE bible for content marketing and a must-read for anyone interested in the space!
What marketing and business books did you read this year that you’d recommend?