Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Five Marketing Books Every Creative Marketer Should Own

Part four of five.

Since taking (what I thought would be) an easy night school A-level in psychology back in the 80s, relating psychology and sociology to marketing has always fascinated me. It’s an area I read for pleasure. Content marketing leans heavily on the core principles of engagement, and crafting the right headline or ad copy is the meat and two vegs of what we do. From creating buyer personas to target our output and weaving the right call to action, catering to user intent and the purchase process must be an underlying consideration of our work. We are not being paid to believe in the power of our dreams, and we are here to support the sales process.


As such, here are five books I have repeatedly mined for marketing theory gold, specifically with an eye to creative content creation and copy for marketing. Yes, we may already know the core principles, but sometimes we need a reminder and a kick to apply them to our day-to-day.


Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith

Tons of quick, practical tips that'll open the eyes and stimulate the neurons of even the most jaded marketeer. Yes, you may know them already, but we all need to be reminded and inspired from time to time. Packed with easy-to-digest insights, it debunks common myths like the pitfalls of focus groups and discount pricing while shining a light on the emotions that genuinely sway an audience. The magic of vivid storytelling, the power of first impressions, and quirky lessons from black holes to grocery lists. Overlooked gems for research, presentations, and keeping clients happy. I own it; I pick it up and open it at a random page every so often to stop myself from getting cocky.


Everybody Writes by Ann Handley 

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer (CCO) at MarketingProfs, set out to create an accessible paperback that was: “Part writing guide, part handbook on the rules of good sportsmanship in content marketing, and all-around reliable desk companion for anyone creating or directing content on behalf of brands.” This she achieves with aplomb. This is peppered with golden rules that blend empathy and integrity into brand work. Ann dishes out practical tips for mastering branded content, equipping us, the reader, with the skills to support solid copywriting and B2B/B2C strategy. Updated in 2022, it’s a must-have for agency bookshelves and was always suggested reading when mentoring content creation colleagues.


Letting Go of the Words by Ginny Redish

This is a must-have for those of us tapping away at the content marketing keyboard. Whether we're crafting technical documents by day or copywriting by night, this book is a gem for its clear-cut guidance on how to make our writing more engaging, punchy, and memorable. Loaded with tips on everything from perfecting web content to making every word earn its place, the interactive, almost conversational tone makes it a comfortable and informative read, and its 'key messages' summaries at the end of each chapter are a godsend for quick reference. 


It's far more than just theory; she gets into the nitty-gritty with practical guidelines to help us cut the fluff and get straight to the point, ensuring our content is a conversation our readers will want to join. Don't expect to snooze through this one; it's the kind of book you'll read with a highlighter in hand. Whether you're a novice emailer or a seasoned scribe, grab this book, stick in some Post-Its, and you’ll be back.


Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson

Kristina Halvorson is one of the leading figures in the world of content strategy and user experience (UX). As the brain behind Brain Traffic, a consultancy specializing in content strategy and the voice of The Content Strategy Podcast, she’s shaped our industry with her killer expertise. She's the driving force behind the widely celebrated Confab and Button conferences. Her work has made her an indispensable resource for anyone looking to master content strategy and UX.


This guide is a clear and simple roadmap for those of us crafting content strategies, tailored especially for business professionals who do the writing themselves. It's especially useful for its practical advice on shaping our strategy and turning it into effective content that actually makes an impact. Well worth a tenner of anyone’s budget.

Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath

This book is a riveting exploration into the mechanics of why certain ideas become unforgettable while others fade away. The Heath brothers, combining academic insight with real-world examples, show us the “secret sauce” to creating ideas that stick through their SUCCESs acronym. This book isn’t just for marketers but for anyone looking to make their ideas resonate, including librarians and educators grappling with making instructional content and strategic communications more impactful. With a mix of storytelling and practical advice, the Heaths dissect the anatomy of ideas with longevity, offering tools and techniques to make our messages unforgettable. Whether we're crafting a strategic plan or looking to leave a lasting impression in job interviews, this is an essential guide filled with wisdom and resources to help our ideas make a mark.

If you liked that, try these:

5 Writing Books

5 Web Design Books

5 Film Production Books

5 Art and Design Books

Thanks for reading, and if you pick up any of the above, I hope they inspire you like they have me. I’m always open to reading something new, so please grab me via Threads if I’ve missed something I should have on my bookcase or if you just want to correct my punctuation.