Did you make any New Year’s resolutions this year? Or set some goals for 2017?
A lot of us take the New Year as an opportunity to read more books. And with good reason. According to this study, reading can slow the process of declining brain function as we get older. Plus, it can help us relax and escape the digital pings that keep our brains in “distraction mode.”
Plus, you learn stuff when you read. For business leaders, books are one of the most affordable ways we can master a new skill or boost an area of our business.
So if you’re creating a list of books you’d like to dig into this year, here are our recommendations from around the StoryBrand office.
FOR CONTENT MARKETING
by Ann Handley
If you know it’s time to get started with content marketing, or take your existing efforts to the next level, consider this book your field guide.
In it, Ann Handley (of MarketingProfs fame) breaks down the complicated world of content marketing so anybody can feel confident and comfortable creating great content. It’s super practical, with one section that just walks you through the common types of content that marketers create.
Don’t think of yourself as a writer? Even better. We’re all writers, Handley says, and in a digital age, our words tell people who we are. They can introduce us as warm and knowledgable, or boring and flat. If you have hang-ups about writing left over from a lifetime of persnickety English teachers, this book will give you the confidence you need to write clearly, share your wisdom, and grow your business.
FOR WEBSITE DESIGN
Don’t Make Me Think
by Steve Krug
Design isn’t just about making things look pretty. It’s about making them functional and easy to use. And that’s the idea behind this book by Steve Krug, a usability consultant for companies like Apple and Lexus. It’s a classic of web design, so if that’s your field, you probably already know this book well.
But it’s also a great read for business leaders who play a strategic role in how their website is created. It will help you understand the basic human motivations that influence how we behave on websites. You’ll find you speak the same language with the people who are designing and building your website, allowing you to collaborate better. Oh, and it’s a short read, with lots of illustrations and humor throughout.
FOR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
The Apple Experience
By Carmine Gallo
The best thing you can do for your marketing budget is to improve your customer experience. (After all, it costs a lot more money to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.)
This book gives you a glimpse into the customer-centric culture at Apple. So much strategy goes into your journey as a customer — from walking into a retail store to talking to a sales rep to opening the packaging of a physical product.
A huge part of their strategy is caring for their internal customer — their employees. When you get the internal experience right for your team, you pave the way for your team to care for the external customer.
As we say at StoryBrand, “The day you stop losing sleep over the business and start losing sleep over your customers’ lives is the day your business will grow.” Everything shifts when we start thinking about our customers and our employees above all else. That’s the recipe for a world-changing business, and this book will inspire you to run your business this way, too.
FOR EMAIL MARKETING
Invisible Selling Machine
by Ryan Deiss
This book is a practical, proven guide for how to generate leads and convert them into sales using email marketing.
If you’re trying to build an email list or use it to sell something online, this is the resource you need to show you how. Ryan walks you through the different kinds of email campaigns and how to write them. He even includes email templates with swipe copy — and if you know much about Ryan’s work at Digital Marketer, you know his copy works.
Automating your email marketing is one of the smartest things you can do for your business’ bottom line and your own personal margin. This book is a big shortcut to making it happen.
Words that Work
by Dr. Frank Luntz
If you need to communicate something, this book tells you how. Frank Luntz is a legendary Republican political consultant, but in this book he goes beyond politics to lay out broad principles of communication that will serve anyone who needs to get a message across (especially business leaders).
His key point? It’s not what you say. It’s what other people hear. So often in our businesses, we make assumptions about what our staff and customers understand. We get it, we’ve said it, so they must get it too, right?
Not exactly. There’s a gap between what you say and what people actually understand, and this book will help you narrow it. In fact, you could put the book down after the first chapter (“The Ten Rules of Effective Language”) and have gotten your money’s worth.
I know these books will have an impact on your business this year. And compared to other resources out there, you don’t have to make much of an investment to see a big return on what you learn.
What books have transformed your business? Leave a comment and share your recommendation with us!