Buyer’s Guide to the Best Content Marketing Books of 2018

Buyer’s Guide to the Best Content Marketing Books of 2018

During 2018, authors and publishers created some of the most helpful and sophisticated content marketing books. Drivers of content marketing As in previous years, this year’s roundup focuses on the latest ideas and techniques for increasing conversions. The authors speak my language.” And I proceeded to read Chapter 1, Advertising: A Story of Addiction. Like Blue Ocean Shift, Never Lose a Customer Again would make a great companion with Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin’s Talk Triggers. But, when things go wrong, customer emotion can quickly turn against the business. If you’re familiar with Jay’s Unthinkable.fm podcasts or his high-energy keynote presentations at Content Marketing World, you know that Jay doesn’t particularly like formulaic marketing – mindlessly coming up with copy-and-pasted quick solutions like 10 tips, 20 shortcuts, or – in his words– “Oh, well, you get the idea.” In fact, he has several things to say about supposedly creative people who look for “expert advice” and “proven, step-by-step directions.” Though those ideas worked in the past, they may not work in the future. If you listen to Jay’s podcasts, Break the Wheel offers an extra level of understanding. Her latest print book, Story Driven, is among her best. Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team Alina Wheeler Designing Brand Identity is a large, letter-size format compendium of design and copy techniques. Usually, the resource is defined on the left page with relevant illustrations on the right.

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If you’re looking for a holiday gift book to advance the recipient’s content marketing skills, I have good news. During 2018, authors and publishers created some of the most helpful and sophisticated content marketing books.

I speak from review experience, as I’ve been sharing the plusses and minuses of content marketing books since 2012. Books published in 2018 tended to have better designed covers and short, punchy titles coupled with longer subtitles that described the benefits to readers. In addition, some acclaimed authors returned with new books.

Drivers of content marketing

As in previous years, this year’s roundup focuses on the latest ideas and techniques for increasing conversions. The most effective formula for increasing profits and sales continued to involve increasing the size of your newsletter’s mailing list by offering first-time visitors ethical bribes or content bonuses in exchange for signing up to receive the firm’s email newsletter.

In 2018, content marketers renewed attention to the why’s and how’s of brand storytelling techniques, almost as if storytelling didn’t exist until January 1, 2018.

As in previous years, many of the best books originated in the growing field of neuroscience – applied brain research. Thanks to authors such as Dan Ariely, we know readers’ brains are highly selective. Messages are filtered for relevance in real time.

In 2019, the most important driver of content marketing will remain neuropsychology, but with an interesting twist – using classic narrative story formats for sharing brand mission and customer.

Bottom line: Whether you’re looking for a book to help you reinvent your content marketing or a gift for someone who realizes they need a fresh approach, the shelves are filled with options. Here are some of the best options published in 2018 (and, in one case, the closing months of 2017).

Make Blue Ocean Shift the first step in reinvention

Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing – Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New GrowthW. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

If someone is contemplating a major marketing change, Blue Ocean Shift is an ideal choice. It’s a road map based on the authors’ 30 years of consulting and researching the path to smoother, more successful reinventions.

The Blue Ocean Shift helps readers identify and answer the foundational questions before proceeding further. The authors characterize two marketplace types:

  • Red oceans are traditional, highly competitive markets. They are usually no-growth markets filled with hungry businesses competing primarily on price. Red refers to the color of the waters, reflecting the traditional warfare that has entered a new era of violence.
  • Blue oceans offer a welcome alternative. They are unexplored and untainted by competition. Blue oceans are vast, deep, and powerful in terms of opportunity and growth. A Blue Ocean Shift emphasizes creating new demand in uncontested market space rather than fighting over a shrinking profit pool.

Just as a map (or GPS system) spells success for a cross-country drive, your team’s answers to the questions posed in Blue Ocean Shift can spell the difference between a successful or unsuccessful reinvention. Blue Ocean Shift details the how’s and the why’s of each step as a reinvention project moves forward. I was particularly impressed by the authors’ description of the steps involved when dealing with members of the various reinvention teams.

The authors emphasize respecting the feelings of everyone involved, while going into great detail for each step. Nothing is left to chance. They even include sample scripts for team leaders to follow during group question-and-answer sessions.

Profit from your most effective and least expensive marketing tool

The first time I heard about Talk Triggers was an email announcement Jay sent in which he said it was his “best book.”

“Aha,” I said. “We’ll see about that!”

After I read it, I agreed he was right. It is not only an excellent book about an often overlooked aspect of content marketing, but the book itself is a great example to help anyone write an excellent how-to book.

I was excited to hear that Jay and Daniel wrote a book about word-of-mouth advertising. During the 1990s and early 2000s, working as advertising manager of a fast-growing retail store, I was frustrated by the disconnect between the reality of how we dealt with customers in the store and the owners’ ambivalence about taking the high road and featuring satisfied-customer stories.

My enthusiasm for Talk Triggers is based on three things:

  • Simple organization. Its structure takes the pain out of reading a complex topic. The authors have spent considerable time organizing the information in a logical format. As a result, chapters are relatively short and appear in a logical order.
  • Detailed advice. As someone who appreciates the power of word-of-mouth advertising, I was impressed by the depth of information. The authors detail the planning of a strategic “Talk Trigger” campaign and clearly describe how to spread talk triggers throughout the organization. This topic has never been addressed with such detail.
  • Enthusiasm. The authors describe a strategic campaign, permitting you to learn details that might not be appropriate for broader media, particularly Section Four, Create Talk Triggers in Six Steps, and Chapter 18, Amplify Your Talk Trigger.

Not only does Talk Triggers address a crucially important topic, Jay and Daniel present a model that can teach and inspire the next generation of authors as well. The design and simple graphics are especially appropriate at communicating context without overwhelming adjacent text.

Get your story read and remembered, a step-by-step guide

Storynomics: Story Driven Marketing in the Post-Advertising World
Robert McKee and Thomas Gerace

“As with the weather, everybody has an opinion, but nobody does anything about it.”

Luckily, however, there’s Robert. He’s a distinguished educator who has devoted his career to sharing the power of story in Hollywood, corporate board rooms, and conferences/workshops. And, luckily, his writing partner Tom is head of one of the most respected and successful content agencies in the world, Skyword. Together, they have written the first practical book about storytelling that offers step-by-step guidance that simplifies a complex process and topic.

Most books about writing begin with a discussion of Joseph Campbell’s hero journey, a description of the underlying pattern behind most fables, published fiction, and movies. Now, there’s nothing wrong with Campbell’s story and its diagrams of action and reaction except that it often distracts from the current author’s original purpose. I often buy a book titled, A Busy Executive’s Guide to Business Writing (a hypothetical title) and suddenly realize I’m reading a different book, an abstract and theoretical one.

When I found Storynomics’ brief introduction titled The Marketing Crisis, I think, “Good! The authors speak my language.” And I proceeded to read Chapter 1, Advertising: A Story of Addiction. Addiction and advertising fascinate me. They’re more relevant to me than cavemen telling stories around a campfire. Soon, it was daybreak and I was still reading Storynomics.

All first-class books have a step-by-step process, and Storynomics is no exception. It goes through eight stages of storytelling, from the target audience and subject matter, to the inciting incident and objective of desired, followed by the first action, reaction, and the crises choice and closure. The concluding section, Putting Story to Work, contains chapters each addressing a process for each stage.

Resurrect the forgotten lessons

The minute I discovered Never Lose a Customer Again, I decided to feature it in the best content marketing books of 2018. It’s not just another customer retention book. It’s a long-needed step-by-step guide or “partner book” that can be paired with implementation books focusing on specific platforms or techniques.

Like Blue Ocean Shift, Never Lose a Customer Again would make a great companion with Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin’s Talk Triggers. It would also make a logical companion to any of the books in the mini review later in this article.

Its provenance is impeccable. Author Joey Coleman has built his international career helping clients reduce customer loss, which undermines most businesses ranging from startups to major brands like Deloitte, Hyatt Hotels, Zappos, and NASA. He helps clients create memorable experiences so emotionally powerful they cause lapsed members to renew their memberships, baseball fans to renew their commitment to a lagging team, and users of personal computers to upgrade their software.

In Never Lose a Customer Again, Joey starts…

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