Top five alternative books for content marketers

Non content-marketing books that may boost your nine-to-five.

1. Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell).
What does it say? That moments when a society changes its values or behaviours can be rationally explained by small events. Gladwell’s analysis is broken into three parts: ‘The Law of the Few’, ‘The Stickiness Factor’ and ‘The Power of Context’.
Why read it? For an explanation of the above, but especially the author’s take on stickiness – the content of a message that makes it potently memorable. He raises children’s TV show Sesame Street as an example, which attracted its audience with sticky content – entertainment – but educated it at the same time. The book contains other simple, yet powerful lessons for content-marketers.
Memorable quote: “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”

2. Nudge (Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein)
What does it say? That consumers are rarely rational. Rather than making choices that maximize good, they let heuristics and prejudice guide their decisions. This opens the door for policy-makers (or ‘choice architects) to guide people to the ‘right’ choices, from healthcare to pensions.
Why read it? While some dispute with the teleological rubric, the book is a good reminder of the power that choice architects hold. For instance, by removing sweets from near its checkouts, a Tesco marketing executive could probably improve the health of its clients. It’s a lesson that easily applies to content-marketing – not only should you think about the messages in your content, but that positioning (and finding your audience) is important too.
Memorable quote: “The trick is to promote actual freedom – not just by giving people lots of choices (though that can help) but also by putting people in a good position to choose what would be best.”

3. The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture (John Battelle)
What does it say? The power of search is here to stay. It’s had an enormous effect on media, pop culture, dating, job hunting, international law, civil liberties, and marketing.
Why read it? The book came out in 2005, so it won’t offer you any insights about Google’s recent years. But it does paint a picture of Google’s rise, and how the success of the company is down to just a few individuals. In the meantime there has been a fair crop of books about Google, but this one defines the sub-genre.
Memorable quote: “The only thing Google has failed to do, so far, is fail.”

4. Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman)
What does it say? Humans, at heart, are far from the rational beings we think we are. Nobel-prize winning Kahneman says there are two types of thought: fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, subconscious; and slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating and conscious.
Why read it? Which type of thought do different marketing strategies engage? Much of Kahneman’s work focuses on the engagement that advertising and sales has with the first type of thought – in essence, the branding and presentation of a product is far more important than its inert quality. But what about content-marketing? Could it be the corporate world’s attempt to engage with the latter type of thought?
Memorable quote: “A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.”

5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Susan Cain)
What does it say? Thanks to the likes of Dale Carnegie (author of How to Win Friends and Influence People), society wrongly values extroverts over introverts. While society needs the former, Cain argues for a re-appraisal of the world’s more quiet types – those who are cautious before making decisions, love reading in detail and are happy in solitude.
Why read it? The book is full of insight with implications for education, business and beyond. For a content marketer, it’s a good reminder of the importance of quality engagement. And while it’s too simplistic to think of readers as purely extrovert or introvert, it’s probably healthy to think of content that appeals to these two different mind-sets.
Memorable quote: “There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”

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