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It may sometimes feel like an impossible task to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
- What and when should you publish?
- How personal/vulnerable should you be?
- Is it wrong to sell on social media these days?
- How do you build an audience of raving fans?
I’m sure there are many more similar questions rattling around in that entrepreneurial head of yours, which is why I wanted to recommend some incredible resources to help you get the answers you’re looking for.
Here are 10 of the best marketing books every online entrepreneur must read. (Yep not should, must!)
Read, make notes, take action!
1. All Marketers Are Liars - Seth Godin
Despite what the title says, marketers are not actually liars. We are storytellers.
Throughout this excellent book, Seth talks about how consumers will believe what they want to believe, and what marketers want them to believe.
However, rather than trying to convince people to believe in your business goals, your purpose as a business owner is to clearly define your message and then find those who already agree with your worldview. People who already believe what you believe.
This is such a powerful message and definitely the big takeaway from the book. The authentic story wins!
I’m sure you’ve heard of Seth Godin before, but what you may not know is his uncanny ability to tell stories. Don’t just read this book to learn what Seth has to tell you but to devour how he tells it.
2. Superfans - Pat Flynn
Anyone can leverage social media channels to grow a casual audience. But to grow a super-engaged and loyal audience? That’s something only the masters can do.
Pat Flynn built an audience of adoring fans through years of consistently showing up and creating massive value for those who consumed his content.
In this book he takes us from;
- Casual Audience to Active Audience
- Active Audience to Connected Community
- Connected Community to Superfans
This book is about how you, the business owner develop a culture in which your audience are your priority and they know it!
This book is crucial for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs who understand how to use social media, but need help growing an audience of people who are more than just passers by. They’re superfans!
3. Epic Content Marketing - Joe Pulizzi
If you are looking for a step by step plan to achieve a powerful content marketing plan, look no further.
The digital world is full of pushy sales messages and mediocre content that gets lost in the noise, and to stand out you need not just create great content but epic content.
If your goal as a business is to position yourself as the trusted expert (which of course it should be), then this book is quite simply a must read.
In it Joe walks you through six principles of epic content marketing;
- Your content must be useful and either fill an unmet need or answer customer questions. (I like to add the word insanely. How can you be insanely useful?)
- Your content needs to be delivered consistently. You have to be in it to win it!
- Your content needs to be human and ideally written in your own voice. Leave formal corporate speak in the office. Don’t be afraid to express your opinion. Yes you may polarize, but that’s the point.
- Forget sales speak. Content is all about meeting a need which gently leads your audience to the sale without actually having to sell at all!
- Be extraordinary! How can you become the best in your niche?
Regularly referred to as the ‘bible of content marketing’, get your copy today. You won’t regret it!
4. Launch - Jeff Walker
I love Jeff Walker's story. He makes you feel that if he can do it, anyone can do it.
I actually met Jeff back in 2010 at a conference in San Diego and he was as humble as he was generous with his time, answering questions and giving advice to keen newbies (as I was at the time).
I remember him saying that if he could give one piece of advice to any new online business, it was simply to ‘get published’.
I followed that advice and the strategies in this book and went on to do a six figure launch within a year of meeting him. And believe me if I can do it, you can too!
Regardless if you are a new business on a humble budget or a blue-chip enterprise, Launch is the perfect recipe for launching any product or business!
Made up of brilliantly positioned stories and sequences, this is the opposite of an aggressive, hard sales style product launch. Using similar principles as you’ll find in Joe Pulizzi’s book above, this is about meeting needs, answering questions, entertaining, delighting and solving problems.
There is no better way to Launch!
5. Building a Story Brand - Donald Miller
All of us live our lives in the form of a story. That’s because stories resonate with each and every one of us.
Therefore it makes sense that marketers and business owners should tell powerful stories to engage with their audiences.
This book focuses on the 7 universal story points that will help you to connect with your customers and drive more sales.
The 7 points are;
“A character who wants something encounters a problem before they can get it. At the peak of their despair, a guide steps into their lives gives them a plan, and calls them to action. That action helps them avoid failure and ends in success.”
You’ll most likely recognise these story points from good movies or fiction books you’ve read as most stories follow a similar path.
In this book Miller brilliantly tells you in great detail how to weave these points into your brand and marketing.
If you’re using any of the platforms like websites, email, and social media, this book will help you to create the most effective messaging that builds a story behind your brand.
6. The Ultimate Sales Machine - Chet Holmes
Three things about this book.
Focus, focus, focus.
Alright, maybe that’s just one thing…..
Every day I read about a new strategy that claims it needs to be implemented now, or a new social media channel pops up. But the fact of the matter is a lot of my entrepreneurial success can be attributed to doing one thing and one thing only at a time. Which is why I love this book.
The ultimate sales machine is centered around sales, marketing, management, and how to make the most impact in each category in far less time than you might imagine, by laser focusing in each area.
Like all the other books I’m recommending in this post, Holmes focuses on providing value, building relationships and becoming an educator not just a marketer.
It’s also this book which introduces the by now well known ‘Dream 100’ concept, which if you haven’t yet put into action read the book and make it happen!
Sadly Chet Holmes passed away back in 2012 but his legacy lives on in this book whose principles are just as important today as they were when he wrote it.
7. Principles - Ray Dalio
Ray Dalio attributes a lot of his success to knowing what to do when he had no idea what to do.
That may sound confusing, but in its basic form, ‘Principles’ is about creating a list of rules that each person and business lives by. You need to continuously refine your principles to be able to make the best decisions when there is no obvious answer.
During my time as an entrepreneur, there have been many situations when the answer was not immediately obvious and I had to utilize my own set of principles to guide me in the correct direction.
In the book, Ray covers his guiding principles, broken down into three main parts;
- His beginnings - where he came from and how he founded the world's largest hedge fund.
- Life principles - principles and rules to live by.
- Work principles - in which he discusses his concept of “an idea meritocracy that strives to achieve meaningful work and meaningful relationships through radical transparency.”
What I love about this book is whilst you can read from cover to cover, it’s also great just to flip open at any page and read through a principle which will help you to work through a challenge you might be facing.
And whilst we’re all great at telling ourselves stories to validate our beliefs, this book asks you to embrace reality. To open your mind to radical truths and rather than avoid pain, reflect on it and design a path through it.
If you’ve ever hit a roadblock with no answers? Principles will guide you to make the best possible decision.
8. Everybody Writes - Ann Handley
You’d be forgiven for thinking that in this day and age of Instagram bikini pics, tiktok dances and famous youtubers, writing is old hat.
You’d be forgiven, but you’d be wrong.
With more and more of this world moving onto the internet, one form of communication reigns supreme.
As a solopreneur or small business owner it’s your job to attract and retain customers through excellent communication and no matter what online medium you choose, words, as Ann expertly says in this book ‘are a form of currency’.
So thank you Ann for teaching us how to;
- Write better (or hate writing less)
- How to tell better stories
- How to get published
- How to write for all the different mediums on the web
And for sharing your own anecdotes and multitude of examples which demonstrate what you’re explaining so perfectly!
In this fast paced world, words are more important now than ever before and I urge you to read this book before you write another sentence!
9. High-Performance Habits - Brendan Burchard
I’ll be honest about something that scares me. Most of our life is spent on autopilot. This scares me because life is so short and we need to make the most out of every minute of every day.
How is it then that sometimes the weeks, months and years pass in the blink of an eye and we’re left feeling as if somewhere along the way we were never in control of the outcome?
There is a way, however, to ensure your destiny is in your hands and that you’re constantly moving your life in the direction you want to and that is by taking control of your habits.
Our habits are what pull us towards success or failure.
In Brendons excellent book he covers six habits;
Seek Clarity – Be clear about who you want to be and why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Generate Energy – Optimize your health and be intentional about the energy you’re bringing to your life.
Raise Necessity – Who needs you on your ‘A’ game? Surround yourself with the right people and verbalize your ‘why’s’.
Increase Productivity – Figure out the 20% of your workload or project that really matters and work on that.
Develop Influence – Helping others to grow and challenge themselves by being a great role model. Demonstrate.
Courage – Accept that there will be struggle and embrace the challenge. Find something bigger than yourself to focus on which will help to drive you forward.
Each thought provoking chapter is full of stories, examples and actionable steps making this a practical guide to improving and creating life changing habits!
10. Crushing It - Gary Vaynerchuk
If you’re looking for an actionable book filled to the brim with real life examples and tactical advice on how to build your personal brand on social media, this book is that!
After the success of his first book Crush it, Gary set out to provide his perspective on the strategies that he and other entrepreneurs have used to succeed.
At its center is authenticity, energy and hustle!
If you’re trying to build any kind of brand online and have yet to master social media, the principles in this book apply to you. Told in Gary’s inimitable down to earth and practical style, this book is perfect for anyone who is aspiring to become a social media mogul and amplify their personal brand online.
It’s no mistake that all the books in this article cover similar topics around transparent content marketing, personal & brand values and better ways to communicate and resonate with your audience.
It’s not enough to start a facebook page and post a few images these days. There is so much noise online that the only way to stand out and build your brand is to leverage authentic storytelling, epic content and consistently showing up.
Put your audience at the center of your brand, listen well, ask questions, respond to feedback and share your journey.
The world is waiting for your message, so what’s it going to be?
About the Author
Jo Barnes is the founder of Your Lifestyle Business, a blog dedicated to empowering solopreneurs to build a business they can run from anywhere in the world. As a globe trotting lifestyle entrepreneur Jo has explored 30+ countries in the last 10 years while building 6 & 7 figure online businesses, and is currently locked down in Thailand.