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My 6 Must Reads from 2013

I don’t make New Years resolutions.  I don’t believe in them.  However, I do use this time of year to take inventory and edit.  So far I have removed over 100 pounds of paper from my house and have laundered and prepared three large bags of clothes to take to one of our local charity shops.  My next stop was my library.  I realize that I amassed a lot of new books in 2013.  Despite being in edit and purge mode though, I can’t get bring myself to ever dispose of books – except text books.  My collection of books tends to be heavy on biographies followed by business books.  Of course there is a bit of the fiction types that take me away into another world and time.  Thankfully being a part of a book club forces me to have more of the latter.  That is a good thing.  In reviewing and organizing my new additions from 2013, there were definitely  six books that stood out and, if asked, I would recommend. Here are my top picks from 2013:

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Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers, by Jeffrey K. Rohrs

This is a great book that really helps organizations to understand and value the role of an audience.  @jkrohrs uses great stories and examples to get the point across.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell

I really loved this book.  It did make me stop and think about a lot of things.  @Gladwell did a masterful job of looking at things differently.  I had more “aha” moments reading this book than I have for a long time.

Influence Marketing:  How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing, by Danny Brown (@DannyBrown) and Sam Fiorella (@samfiorella)

This is another one of my favs of 2013.  If you are interested in Influencer Marketing, then this is  the book for you.  It is a great source for the history and evolution of the topic.  The book also gives great information for your strategy.  For more detail on this book, check out my review by clicking here.

Lean In:  Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg

Of all the books on my list this is no doubt the book that has been discussed the most.  To be honest I needed to take time and reflect about this book.  There was so much hype about it and its author, I almost unfairly dismissed it and left it off the list.  That would have been unfair.  It is a good read and one that should be read by both women and men.

 WTF (What’s the Future) of Business, by Brian Solis

@Briansolis gives good insight into metrics and the changes that need to occur to keep pace.  Having worked in more than six industries, metrics is one of the common themes.  What are the right things to measure and how best can organizations achieve the right ROI?  Great food for thought can be found in these pages.

Youtility:  Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype, by Jay Baer

@jaybaer is one of my favs when it comes to marketing advice.  One of the things that I like best about his advice is that he is just so grounded.  His advice is based on what most would say is common sense. That being said, very few people have common sense and so many people complicate things unnecessarily.

There were a lot of great books released in 2013, what books would you add to the list?

Marketing Challenges of 2014: The Influencers Weigh-in

If 2013 taught us anything, content marketing is not going anywhere.  Nearly all leading companies finally have content strategies.  With this in mind, tactics have had to change.  What do brands do to stand out in a sea of content that flows freely in every digital space that can possibly exist?  Good question!    Thankfully you have come to the right place!  I asked 5 of the top influencers what brands should be doing in 2014 to stand out. Let’s see what they have to say:

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1.  The Return of Good Writing (Tweet this)

@marketingprofs’ Ann Handley thoughts focus on the words you use and how you use them.

“Next—in 2014 and beyond—content grows up, and with it comes the notion that good writing is the foundation of all good content, whether that content is a 140-character tweet or the product pages of your website or your content marketing infographic…..Increasingly, organizations will realize that words matter. Your words (what you say) and style (how you say it) are your most cherished (and undervalued) assets. In other words, good writing is the basis of good content that gets noticed, no matter what form that content ultimately takes. What’s more: For businesses, good writing is a mirror of good, clear, customer-centric thinking.”

2.  Being Uniquely Creative While Being Authentic (Tweet this)

Radian6 and IntroHive Co-founder David Alston (@davidalston) knows from experience that in order to stand out, you need to be unique.  After all, Radian6 did this with their Community Strategy and won the hearts and minds of a fantastic community.

“Content marketing and social media are mainstream so the big thing in 2014 will not be if you use them, but how creative your brand will be. Just using each no longer let’s your brand stand out. How you string them together and how you tie them into other platforms and processes creatively will help make your brand shine in a sea of noise.”

3. Focus on the Customer First – Before the Technology (Tweet this)

Influence Marketing Co-Author Danny Brown (@dannybrown) believes there needs to be a return to actually understanding what our customers want.

“…without understanding what your customer wants, and at what stage of the buying cycle they’re at so you can prime your message for that exact moment, it doesn’t matter how cool the technology is, or the channels we use, or the implementation of a tactic. We now have linguistic mapping tools that allow us to segment customers, who they connect with, what they’re looking for, and archival history with our brand’s core business or competitors. 2014 will see us, as marketers in the social space, truly take advantage of that technology and deliver on the ROI approach that 2013 saw us begin to implement.”

4.  Become Superior Short Form Storytellers  (Tweet this)

Digital Veteran and HBR contributor, David Armano (@armano) believes that if you want to be successful in standing out, remember that people have short attention spans.

“Short form storytelling in the form of Vines, Snaps, Instavids etc. and short stories on YouTube [will be key]. Brands need the ability to tell a meaningful “story” quickly, sometimes in seconds or other times through a series of images. Stories that have “sharing power” built into them or where you can become a part of the story (think hashtags on Vine where people do their own Ryan Gosling video etc.). So in other words, small is the new big and short is the new long.”

5.   Become More Effective – Rather than More Intrusive (Tweet this)

The Age of Context Co-Author, Shel Israel (@shelisrael) believes that for the first time in decades, marketing and communications professionals will focus on effectiveness and finally concede that being intrusive is not working.

“This will be accomplished by using the contextual technologies outlined in my recent book with Robert Scoble (@Scobleizer), where we talk about how mobile, location, data, sensors and social media converge to allow sellers to understand where people are and what their intentions are. So marketers will begin to be able to just make offers to people who might actually be interested in what they are being offered. We call it Pinpoint Marketing.”

And what do I think?  I agree with all of these thoughts.  I would add that mobile continues to be a significant challenge and opportunity. With the increase in mobile adoption , as Marketers we need to embrace mobile and make it easy for our customers and prospects to purchase via social.  After all, I believe that 2014 will be the year of mobile.

What do you think?  Will content marketing change?  Will it be replaced by something else?  What is the next “thing”?