I read a lot in 2012. Despite my best intentions, I did not keep track. Nevertheless, I’m confident that it was well over 100 books. By July 13, I had read 33 books. Also, I read 26 books in the last 26 days of the year. One particular type of book I made an extra effort to read was business books published in 2012. By the end of the year, I hadn’t read half as many as I had wanted, but I did manage squeeze out 18. A few of them were fairly well-known, but I’m willing to bet that most of them aren’t yet on your radar. Allow me to introduce you to some of 2012′s greatest gems…
1) The ABCs of Marketing Myths by Margie Clayman
An excellent eBook that serves as a critique of the various ideas about marketing running rampant on the web. It’s easy to get lost in the drivel that the latest guru is spewing. Margie sets the record straight. From “Agencies are bad news” to “Zebras could do social media,” Margie leaves no stone unturned. I highly recommend reading this book if you do any digital marketing (that probably means all of you).
2) Return on Influence by Mark Schaefer
An overview of the rise of gamication in social media. Mark explains how digital influence has come to mean real influence in many circles. Discussion revolves around brand monitoring on social networks and social scoring tools like Klout. I recommend this book as a reference for understanding how to monitor your brand online.
3) Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs
An eloquent argument about the importance of storytelling. Marketers who tell the most captivating and awe-inspiring stories get the most (and best) customers. I recommend you read this book and then think about the story your business is telling its customers and community.
4) The New Elevator Pitch by Chris Westfall
A guide on extemporaneously selling yourself. When you’ve got to speak on the fly, you might find yourself stumbling over your words and not really sure how to explain who you and what you do. Chris does an amazing job of putting you in scenarios and showing you how to sell yourself in everyday interactions. I recommend this book to any and all small business people who are trying to grow their networks. Excellent tool!
5) Selling Fearlessly by Robert Terson
This book was written by a man who spent 40 years traveling to small cities and selling Yellow Pages advertising to small businesses. In other words, he is someone who has lived it. Bob shows salespeople (and small business people who are, in effect, salespeople) how to adopt the right attitudes and behaviors to be successful in selling. In my opinion, this is the best book on the simple (one-call-close) sale ever written!
6) New Sales Simplified by Mike Weinberg
This book addresses the most pressing issue facing sales people and business development today: prospecting. This book is all about how to go out and get new sales from scratch. I highly recommend this book to small business people whose business has become stagnant and is reliant on repeat sales. Mike will show you how to make your customer base new again.
7) Lead with a Story by Paul Smith
This book is all about how to use the concept of storytelling to motivate, inspire, and persuade people outside and within your organization. Paul tells countless stories about how stories can be used to increase productivity of employees, convince investors to invest in your company, lend credibility to your marketing messages, and so on. Excellent book full of profound stories!
8) 52 Sales Management Tips by Steven Rosen
Great guide for managing a sales team…or any team for that matter. The recurring theme is one of leadership. The attitudes and behaviors of your team members are reflections of the quality of their managers. I highly recommend this book to small business people struggling with how to properly manage and motivate their employees.
9) Content Rules by Anne Handley and CC Chapman
This book is a complete guide for content marketing. It’s not about theory. Anne and CC spell out exactly how to develop blogs, podcasts, ebooks, videos, and more. There are countless ideas for subject matter, tips on social media and search engine optimization, and streams of expert advice on how to understand customers. Hands down the number one book I’ve ever read on content marketing. If you have a blog, read this. If you don’t, read this, and then start a blog.
10) The Impact Equation by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
Excellent book on how to leverage existing tools and technologies to amplify your message and connect with a relevant audience. I recommend this book to small business folks who have jumped into things and are lacking clarity on where to go next.
11) Do You Mean Business? by Babette Ten Haken
An excellent book on teamwork and collaboration. Babette emphasizes the importance of everyone on the team contributing to the bottom line. I recommend this book not only for you, the small business person, but also as assigned reading for your team. Babette will explain why it’s important for every to be cognizant of their contributions to profits.
12) High Profit Selling by Mark Hunter
This book is all about selling without caving. Mark shows salespeople how they can and why they should sell their products and services without giving discounts. As a small business person, perhaps you need to hear this more than anyone. It’s easier to get a sale by giving a discount, but are those the kind of customers you want? See what Mark says about it.
13) Platform by Michael Hyatt
Excellent how-to guide on building an audience. Whether you are just starting out in business or are thinking about launching a new product or service, this book will show you how to build an audience before you even ship. More than ever, small business people need to know how to do this. The tools are accessible. Michael will show you how to use them.
14) Unmarketing: Revised Edition by Scott Stratten
This is a book about social media engagement. It’s about talking to your customers. Mainly using Twitter, Scott talks about how to connect with people, grow a network, and build trust with customers. He’s a really funny guy, so if you want to read a business book but you also want to be entertained, this book is good way to kill two birds with one stone.
15) What’s Your Purple Goldfish? by Stan Phelps
This book is definitely the customer service book of the year. Stan explains a revolutionary concept: that the little extras you give along with your product or service is what really sets you apart. That’s how customers perceive as different. These “little extras,” Stan calls “purple goldfish.” The book is a collection of stories about businesses that have wowed their customers with purple goldfish. Read it and take notes.
16) The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
This book is a great treatise on how to make positive changes. Change your habits and you’ll change your life. Charles relays several stories of how successful people have used habits to accomplish lofty goals and achieve great success. I recommend this book to you as a small business person to help you get yourself established in the right habits that will lead you to the right results.
17) Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain by Elain Fox
This book tackles that neurological nature of positive and negative mindsets. This isn’t a self-help book; it’s a book about neuroscience–the way the mind works according to scientific research. I recommend this book to small business people in order to understand their own minds and how they can place themselves in situations that will increase the likelihood of them maintaining positive mindsets.
18) The Non-Profit Narrative by Dan Portnoy
An excellent admonition for non-profit organizations to focus more on their core stories. Dan shows how various tools like social media and video can be used to tell the story about why the organization exists. As a small business person, you need to hear this message. Without your story, you are simply a commodity. Learn how to tell a better story and the rest will take care of itself. Dan will give you some great pointers!
Well, those are my recommendations from 2012. I hope you pick up something that sounds interesting to you, read it, and apply it in your business. Good luck and happy storytelling!
(P.S. If you want to get into being a crazy reader like me, my friend Kenna Griffin has made it a goal to read 100 books this year, I’ve joined her, and I would like to invite you to do the same. Let us know what you’re reading at the hashtag: #100Books ).