Content marketing is huge these days. The words you choose, the way you represent your brand online, the way you communicate with your customers and how you authentically engage with the world are all key to the success of your business.

I’m committed to continually growing my knowledge and understanding of content marketing, so I can better help my clients tell their stories and grow their businesses online. Here are my five top reads of 2018 (along with some quick links if you’d rather skim/watch/listen).

 

1. Building a Storybrand: Clarify your message so customers will listen (Donald Miller 2017)

Building a Storybrand

The problem:

I see a lot of websites that look as if they were designed in the early 2000s – back when I was first designing them myself! I see a lot of websites that have WAY too many words. Websites that look beautiful, but don’t really say what the company does. Websites with ‘About’ pages that give a mind-numbing history of the company, but don’t tell me how they can help me.

The solution:

Miller gives a refreshing approach to figuring out the message you want to give to your customers and prospective customers, and how best to communicate that message on your website and across your business brand.

Key quotes:

“The fact is, pretty websites don’t sell things. Words sell things. And if we haven’t clarified our message, customers won’t listen.”

“The day we stop losing sleep over the success of our business and start losing sleep over the success of our customers is the day our business will start growing.”

The online extras:

The book comes with a free online tool you can use to put his ideas into practice. I’ve used it myself. You can also read the Storybrand blog and subscribe to the podcast (which is well worth a listen – it’s one of my fave’s) here.

I loved it because:

I was totally captivated from the start by this book’s message and its straightforward, practical solutions. Miller’s pet website peeves are mine, too! The problems he describes might seem to be on the surface at first, but they are revealed to be far deeper – as is the process for eliminating them.

 

2. The Rise of the Youpreneur: the definitive guide to becoming the go-to leader in your industry and building a future-proof business (Chris Ducker 2018)

Rise of the Youpreneur

The problem:

Building a traditional business is hard work, and making a big change of direction often means selling up and starting over. Growing an online business can look comparatively easy from the outside – we mainly see the successes, not the struggles or failures along the way. How do online business owners go from zero to an audience of thousands, without making costly mistakes?

The solution:

Being a Youpreneur means that, once you’ve established an audience/following, you can take people with you wherever you go – your business isn’t about a product or service, but about you. Chris Ducker’s book combines theory and personal experience with a series of practical steps for growing a successful online business and brand.

Key quotes:

“The two words people type in most often when the go to the Google search bar are how to. For me, without a doubt, the best type of content to create, particularly when you’re starting out, is how to content.”

“Your business will only grow to the size of your current circle. Unless you actively and purposefully grow [your] audience, you will never get your message in front of new prospects.”

The online extras:

There’s a companion website to the book, with further reading, videos and tools, and if you post a review on Amazon you get a free workbook. You can also tune in to Chris Ducker’s podcast here.

I loved it because:

It’s practical and clearly written, gave me a good few ‘lightbulb’ moments, and has a wealth of information relevant to my own clients. It’s also a rare instance of a book in this genre by a British author! Double win.

 

3. Slideology: the art and science of creating great presentations (Nancy Duarte 2008)

Slideology

The problem:

I discovered this book while looking for ways to improve my own PowerPoint presentations. I regularly need to give presentations at networking events, and also recently started delivering workshops. I knew I needed to up my game. I knew what a bad presentation looks like, but wanted to find a reliable framework for producing an outstanding one.

(This may seem an odd choice for a list of books about online business growth – but I have clients who regularly use slide decks for webinars and as part of online courses and membership sites, so this is 100% relevant to them, too.)

The solution:

Nancy Duarte offers a gorgeously visual look at the principles of great slide design, from colour palettes, to continuity of images, to how much text is too much.

Key quotes:

“When generating ideas, one idea per sticky note is preferable. And use a Sharpie. The reason? If it takes more space than a Post-It and requires more detail than a Sharpie can provide, the idea is too complex [for a presentation slide].”

“Take the time to select a family of images that work well together. Photos should work as a cohesive system, as if the same photographer took them all.”

The online extras:

See Nancy Duarte talking about the secrets of great presentations here.

I loved it because:

If you appreciate aesthetics at all, this book is simply beautiful. It is a pleasure to read. At the same time it is crammed with extremely usable, simple to implement advice for transforming a bad or mediocre presentation into a thing as lovely to look at as Duarte’s book.

 

4. Your Press Release is Breaking my Heart: A totally unconventional guide to selling your story in the media (Janet Murray 2016)

Your Press Release is Breaking my Heart

The problem:

How do you get your voice heard and your work published in the media? Whether you’re pitching a magazine article or publishing a blog post, it can feel like there is a lot to get your head around, many tips and tricks to discover and many pitfalls to avoid. Where do you start when you don’t know what you don’t know?

The solution:

Janet Murray offers a no-nonsense guide to getting your content read by a wider audience – from how to engage with journalists to what types of content to put out there. I got to experience some of Murray’s idea creation strategies first hand at her Content Live event this autumn – many of the ideas and examples in the book are an extension of the exercises Murray took as through live.

Key quotes:

“Instead of pitching stories about your business, the more you can look around the edges of your business – in the areas of your life that intersect with your business e.g. family, relationships, money, work and so on – the more success you’re likely to have.”

“Most people don’t read copy word-for-word any more. They skim and scan instead, often on their phone. And as most of the copy you produce these days will end up online, in my opinion there is no such thing as ‘writing for the web’ – there’s just good and bad writing.”

The online extras:

There’s an online resource for every section of the book, as well as a wealth of other free content on Murray’s website. You can listen to her excellent podcast here – I’ve been tuning in for about 18 months now and it’s packed with useful tips.

I loved it because:

Although most of my clients hire me to sort out their online content, most of the principles in the book can be applied in the online world as well as traditional media. And it’s packed with great content ideas (and idea generation methods) that can be used just as easily for blog posts as for magazine articles. And this is another one flying the flag for British entrepreneurs!

 

5. They Ask, You Answer: A revolutionary approach to inbound sales, content marketing and today’s digital consumer (Marcus Sheridan 2017)

They Ask You Answer

The problem:

What do you do when you need to attract new customers online, with no marketing budget?

The solution:

Sheridan turned his failing swimming pool business around following the crash of 2008 by putting out content on his website. In this book he tells the story of how he did it, and shows how any business can do the same by following some basic principles (including the counter-intuitive decisions that made his content marketing strategy a resounding success).

Key quotes:

“Take a moment to brainstorm every single reason (fear, worry, question, concern) as to why someone would not buy from your company. How many of these issues have already been addressed well on your company website? Is it possible for you to address all of those issues? Find a way to do this.”

“No one wants to hear (from you) that you’re awesome. What consumers want is to look at your works, judge them, and then make their own decision.”

The online extras:

Watch Sheridan talk through his marketing philosophy here.

I loved it because:

It’s a beautifully easy read, packed with real life examples, and plenty of stats to back up Sheridan’s claims, and lots of readily usable ideas for your own content.

Are you planning to launch your membership site in 2020?

I support my clients with building, marketing and managing their memberships and online courses, helping them to:

  • Plan, create, edit and upload course content
  • Join the dots behind the scenes to automate processes and make things run smoothly
  • Integrate CRM, course delivery and marketing

If you'd like to have a chat about getting some support with your membership, you can get in touch to arrange a free 30 minute chat here.

I'm looking forward to finding out more about you, your business, and your goals for the coming year.

Content marketing is huge these days. The words you choose, the way you represent your brand online, the way you communicate with your customers and how you authentically engage with the world are all key to the success of your business.

I’m committed to continually growing my knowledge and understanding of content marketing, so I can better help my clients tell their stories and grow their businesses online. Here are my five top reads of 2018 (along with some quick links if you’d rather skim/watch/listen).

 

1. Building a Storybrand: Clarify your message so customers will listen (Donald Miller 2017)

Building a Storybrand

The problem: I see a lot of websites that look as if they were designed in the early 2000s – back when I was first designing them myself! I see a lot of websites that have WAY too many words. Websites that look beautiful, but don’t really say what the company does. Websites with ‘About’ pages that give a mind-numbing history of the company, but don’t tell me how they can help me.

The solution: Miller gives a refreshing approach to figuring out the message you want to give to your customers and prospective customers, and how best to communicate that message on your website and across your business brand.

Key quotes:

“The fact is, pretty websites don’t sell things. Words sell things. And if we haven’t clarified our message, customers won’t listen.”

“The day we stop losing sleep over the success of our business and start losing sleep over the success of our customers is the day our business will start growing.”

The online extras: The book comes with a free online tool you can use to put his ideas into practice. I’ve used it myself. You can also read the Storybrand blog and subscribe to the podcast (which is well worth a listen – it’s one of my fave’s) here.

I loved it because: I was totally captivated from the start by this book’s message and its straightforward, practical solutions. Miller’s pet website peeves are mine, too! The problems he describes might seem to be on the surface at first, but they are revealed to be far deeper – as is the process for eliminating them.

 

2. The Rise of the Youpreneur: the definitive guide to becoming the go-to leader in your industry and building a future-proof business (Chris Ducker 2018)

Rise of the Youpreneur

The problem: Building a traditional business is hard work, and making a big change of direction often means selling up and starting over. Growing an online business can look comparatively easy from the outside – we mainly see the successes, not the struggles or failures along the way. How do online business owners go from zero to an audience of thousands, without making costly mistakes?

The solution: Being a Youpreneur means that, once you’ve established an audience/following, you can take people with you wherever you go – your business isn’t about a product or service, but about you. Chris Ducker’s book combines theory and personal experience with a series of practical steps for growing a successful online business and brand.

Key quotes:

“The two words people type in most often when the go to the Google search bar are how to. For me, without a doubt, the best type of content to create, particularly when you’re starting out, is how to content.”

“Your business will only grow to the size of your current circle. Unless you actively and purposefully grow [your] audience, you will never get your message in front of new prospects.”

The online extras: There’s a companion website to the book, with further reading, videos and tools, and if you post a review on Amazon you get a free workbook. You can also tune in to Chris Ducker’s podcast here.

I loved it because: It’s practical and clearly written, gave me a good few ‘lightbulb’ moments, and has a wealth of information relevant to my own clients. It’s also a rare instance of a book in this genre by a British author! Double win.

 

3. Slideology: the art and science of creating great presentations (Nancy Duarte 2008)

Slideology

The problem: I discovered this book while looking for ways to improve my own PowerPoint presentations. I regularly need to give presentations at networking events, and also recently started delivering workshops. I knew I needed to up my game. I knew what a bad presentation looks like, but wanted to find a reliable framework for producing an outstanding one.

(This may seem an odd choice for a list of books about online business growth – but I have clients who regularly use slide decks for webinars and as part of online courses and membership sites, so this is 100% relevant to them, too.)

The solution: Nancy Duarte offers a gorgeously visual look at the principles of great slide design, from colour palettes, to continuity of images, to how much text is too much.

Key quotes:

“When generating ideas, one idea per sticky note is preferable. And use a Sharpie. The reason? If it takes more space than a Post-It and requires more detail than a Sharpie can provide, the idea is too complex [for a presentation slide].”

“Take the time to select a family of images that work well together. Photos should work as a cohesive system, as if the same photographer took them all.”

The online extras: See Nancy Duarte talking about the secrets of great presentations here.

I loved it because: If you appreciate aesthetics at all, this book is simply beautiful. It is a pleasure to read. At the same time it is crammed with extremely usable, simple to implement advice for transforming a bad or mediocre presentation into a thing as lovely to look at as Duarte’s book.

 

4. Your Press Release is Breaking my Heart: A totally unconventional guide to selling your story in the media (Janet Murray 2016)

Your Press Release is Breaking my Heart

The problem: How do you get your voice heard and your work published in the media? Whether you’re pitching a magazine article or publishing a blog post, it can feel like there is a lot to get your head around, many tips and tricks to discover and many pitfalls to avoid. Where do you start when you don’t know what you don’t know?

The solution: Janet Murray offers a no-nonsense guide to getting your content read by a wider audience – from how to engage with journalists to what types of content to put out there. I got to experience some of Murray’s idea creation strategies first hand at her Content Live event this autumn – many of the ideas and examples in the book are an extension of the exercises Murray took as through live.

Key quotes:

“Instead of pitching stories about your business, the more you can look around the edges of your business – in the areas of your life that intersect with your business e.g. family, relationships, money, work and so on – the more success you’re likely to have.”

“Most people don’t read copy word-for-word any more. They skim and scan instead, often on their phone. And as most of the copy you produce these days will end up online, in my opinion there is no such thing as ‘writing for the web’ – there’s just good and bad writing.”

The online extras: There’s an online resource for every section of the book, as well as a wealth of other free content on Murray’s website. You can listen to her excellent podcast here – I’ve been tuning in for about 18 months now and it’s packed with useful tips.

I loved it because: Although most of my clients hire me to sort out their online content, most of the principles in the book can be applied in the online world as well as traditional media. And it’s packed with great content ideas (and idea generation methods) that can be used just as easily for blog posts as for magazine articles. And this is another one flying the flag for British entrepreneurs!

 

5. They Ask, You Answer: A revolutionary approach to inbound sales, content marketing and today’s digital consumer (Marcus Sheridan 2017)

They Ask You Answer

The problem: What do you do when you need to attract new customers online, with no marketing budget?

The solution: Sheridan turned his failing swimming pool business around following the crash of 2008 by putting out content on his website. In this book he tells the story of how he did it, and shows how any business can do the same by following some basic principles (including the counter-intuitive decisions that made his content marketing strategy a resounding success).

Key quotes:

“Take a moment to brainstorm every single reason (fear, worry, question, concern) as to why someone would not buy from your company. How many of these issues have already been addressed well on your company website? Is it possible for you to address all of those issues? Find a way to do this.”

“No one wants to hear (from you) that you’re awesome. What consumers want is to look at your works, judge them, and then make their own decision.”

The online extras: Watch Sheridan talk through his marketing philosophy here.

I loved it because: It’s a beautifully easy read, packed with real life examples, and plenty of stats to back up Sheridan’s claims, and lots of readily usable ideas for your own content.

Are you planning to launch a membership site in 2020?

I support my clients with building, marketing and managing their memberships and online courses, helping them to:

  • Create and upload course content
  • Join the dots behind the scenes to automate processes and make things run smoothly
  • Integrate CRM, course delivery and marketing

If you'd like to have a chat about your membership, you can get in touch to arrange a free 30 minute chat here.

I'm looking forward to finding out more about you, your business, and your goals for the coming year.