Out of all the books you read in a given year, what percentage do you LOVE?
My rate was pretty high this year, higher than past years. I also read more than I ever have before: 105 books. My keys to reading a lot kinda seem like cheating: 1) read a big variety including graphic novels and kids’ books, 2) read short books to keep up your momentum, and 3) quit a book when you’re not enjoying it. Nevertheless, I made it through 100, and liked and loved a majority.
In what I hope is a soon-to-be-outdated list – I am certain there are favorite marketing books out there that will fast become my favorites once someone introduces them to me – I thought I’d share a few of my favorite marketing books that I’ve read over the past years.
Funny enough, I didn’t read books until I started working at Buffer four years ago. I read a lot of magazines (and still secretly want to start my own someday), but books never quite held the same allure for me. I guess I have a lot of ground to make up. This year I read 85 books.
Here are a few of my favorites, as well as a full list of everything I read.
I just finished reading Crossing the Chasm, a book about marketing for high-tech products. And wow, if you ever wanted to know exactly what your customers might be thinking, this book seems to have it figured out.
It’s magic. I’d love to tell you more about it.
First, the book introduces the concept of the High Tech Marketing Model, pictured below:
Let me say that a different way: If you notice something, it’s because it’s important.
^^ Verlyn Klinkenborg
I’ll read just about any writing book I can, and I tend to have a pretty short list of ones I find worth marking up. In Several Short Sentences, the several short sentences are a very literal thing as the way Verlyn Klinkenborg writes breaks up sentences into their own line and there’re no chapters to speak of in the book. It was a fun read, and I found plenty of good takeaways and encouragements here to heartily recommend giving this one a look.
Powerful, crushing, eye-opening: The first few chapters of this book transformed me into a kinder, more empathetic person—and (I hope) a better parent.
Most of us believe that our children are the children we had to have; we could have had no others. They will never seem to us to be happenstance; we love them because they are our destiny. Even when they are flawed, do wrong, hurt us, die—even then, they are part of the rightness by which we measure our own lives. Indeed, they are the rightness by which we measure life itself, and they bring us to life as profoundly as we do them.
I haven’t stopped thinking about the heaven chapters since I first read them 9 months ago.
Love does not exalt itself, is not vain, does not do stupid things, is not acquisitive, is not easily irritated, does not dwell on what is bad. Love is not happy because of evil but rejoices in what is true. Love holds up under anything, has confidence in everything, hopes no matter what and puts up with everything imaginable
Nonviolence means allowing the positive within you to emerge.
Be dominated by love, respect, understanding, appreciation, compassion, and concern for others rather than the self-centered and selfish, greedy, hateful, prejudiced, suspicious, and aggressive attitudes that dominate our thinking.
We often hear people say: This world is ruthless, and if you want to survive you must become ruthless too. I humbly disagree with this contention.
Author and poet Jack Kerouac was the master of improvisational prose, which is to say that he enjoyed a fluid writing process, heavy on the process. For those in the world of content, we’re keen on refining that process—an act that Kerouac would surely shirk at.
I’m not sure I can relate all of them to online content (truthfully, I don’t fully understand all of them even), though there are plenty here to make for some really great advice and encouragement for anyone who writes, any which way.
Here’s my translation:
Study your topic deeply, fully, and joyfully — Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
Help others, know how to help by listening — Submissive to everything, open, listening
When the time comes to write, Just Write — Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
Use clear language — No time for poetry but exactly what is
Be descriptive and complete in your detail — Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
Believe in yourself. You will do great work. — You’re a Genius all the time
Many people know Upworthy as the originators of click-worthy headlines, some might say clickbait even.
And sure, headlines are a big part of what Upworthy does, but in a very strategic sense. I admire them for thinking outside the content box in a lot of ways, challenging themselves to write 25 headlines per blog post, coming up with cool SlideShares like these:
I had the pleasure of coming across even more of their cool tactics in Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown’s Startup Growth Engines.
Here are some snippets:
While editor-at-large Adam Mordecai cites their very low success rate in making things go massively viral as proof that virality is unpredictable, this flow chart produced by the company displays a level of growth-oriented thinking that isn’t common among other media outlets.
Upworthy understands what it takes to go viral, and then goes out to test and find the best combination of elements to drive that virality. Their primary signals are both shares per view and clicks per share.
To calculate shares per view, take the total number of social media shares and divide by unique visits to the content. Do the same for clicks/share, replacing uniques with clicks.
Facebook A/B tests for headlines
Here’s how they do it: First, they pick two promising headlines for the same content and create a bit.ly url for each—one with url?r=A and one with B. Next, they find two cities with similar demographics and populations amongst their Facebook fans and share one bit.ly with each city. They set a timer and wait for the clicks to roll in. When the time is up, they add a “+” to the end of the bit.ly and compare stats. The title with the most clicks is the winner. And they don’t just test clicks—they also compare shares per view to see which headlines results in the most reshares.
I have the amazing opportunity to focus on self-improvement at Buffer and, by extension, to focus on reading. Books are baked right into the culture—all new hires get a Kindle and any ebooks they’d like. I’m incredibly grateful for the chance to focus on reading more and to learn from the amazing authors who put together such influential books.
So far this year, I’ve read through a few dozen books on a wide variety of topics. I thought I’d share them here in case they inspire any summer book reading for you!
Let me know if you want to chat about any of these. The comments are open. :)