There are thousands of books on marketing out there. Most focus on how to market products sold by large corporations, not the services of small professional businesses.
But marketing is not just for the big guys; it’s something that all businesses, whatever their size, should and can do – and it works. Here are 4 books I’ve read this year that show you how:
This is a massively positive and inspiring book for small businesses: the manual for anyone looking for new, cost effective ways to get the word out there and bring in leads.
David Meerman Scott smashes up the old rules: big budget advertising, ‘interruption’ marketing, flashy design, branding and spin – they no longer hold sway in our internet-driven world. In this book he paves the way for a new approach based on thought-leadership, education, two-way conversations and useful content – all targeted at solving customer problems.
This is great news for small businesses: a real opportunity to prove your worth and build your fan base by positioning your company as a trusted resource, and without a huge budget too. In this new world, authentic content is king. Ditch the spin and learn how to use a variety of tools to drive sales including content-rich websites, white papers, articles, e-books and blogs.
(Check out his blog too for regular articles – www.webinknow.com.)
The following 2 books tell you how to use some of the new tools that David Meerman Scott refers to:
White papers are persuasive documents that describe business problems and how to solve them. Somewhere between a magazine article and an academic paper they contain useful information and expert opinion. A well written, relevant and interesting white paper will show your customers that you are a thought leader in your field.
This is ‘educational marketing’ – a great way for small businesses to inform and influence by giving customers something they value, for free. In return, you’ll get their loyalty and often their business; a total ‘win-win’ for both sides.
Micheal Stelzner is the daddy of white paper writers. His very clear, practical book gives you everything you need to know if you’re thinking of writing one. It includes some great examples and useful tips. He teaches you how to write, format and market your white paper, including the art of selecting the right topic, crafting a compelling title, researching and interviewing your subjects.
A well-crafted white paper is a super weapon in your marketing arsenal and a great credibility builder for any small professional business. As Michael Stelzner states:
“White papers are able to fly under the radar and penetrate most organisations’ anti-marketing defences because they are sought after and brought in by decision makers. If they are well written, white papers will not only reach their target, they will influence them.”
If you are a small, professional business you should consider writing white papers. This book will show you how. If you’re interested, read his white paper on white papers first! – How to Write White Papers
A corporate blog can help you to communicate more effectively and intimately with customers and contacts than ever before. Debbie Weil’s book is a good place to start if you are thinking of entering this world. It’s well written and accessible and thankfully jargon free, answering some of the major fears that small companies have:
How much time will it take? What are the legal risks? Will it open my company up to unwanted criticism? How does this fit alongside my website? How do you write an effective blog? Where do I start?
Blogging is a fantastic communiation tool for small businesses and a quick and easy way to get your ideas up and out there. It’s easy to get it wrong however: there are rules of engagement in the blogosphere. Debbie Weil guides will guide you with clear advice and some great examples. Read this book before you jump in.
Still feeling stuck? Get some motivation from Jane Northcote’s book below:
Many small business owners get stuck when it comes to marketing their businesses. They either take no action at all in this area or wallow in ‘activity’ – endlessly planning, analysing and preparing the ground rather than taking the direct action needed to bring in leads. This book gives you specific techniques to get things done and make progress.
Making Change Happen is not strictly a marketing book, but it will help those looking to grow small companies to take action and get results. Jane Northcote is a London-based management consultant who specialises in implementing business change. Marketing is all about change. For those selling services it is about persuading potential customers to do something differently and to use your company to help them do so. Jane shows you how to describe change in a way that will motivate customers to take action.
Marketing is not just a ‘nice to have’ activity; something to think about when the work dries up. It’s an essential function for all businesses – even for one-man-bands. In this uncertain market, it pays not to be complacent. Jane Northcote’s book will inspire you to get up out of your chair and make it happen.
(I helped to produce and edit this book, so you could say that there is a bit of self interest in posting it here, but Jane’s words have totally inspired me. This blog is a direct result of the metaphorical kick up the arse that I got from my involvement in getting it published!).
These are the 4 books I’ve found most useful and relevant to my business this year. I hope they are useful to yours too. If you have any favourite books that have influenced the way you run and market your company, please tell me. I’d love to read them.