So... full disclosure. I don't really enjoy reading. I know, I know. This post is about books, which require... reading.
The reason I share that bit of personal information is to show I genuinely recommend all the books on this list. I have personally read each of them (some more than once) and can vouch for their contents.
The info in these books is woven into many of processes and frameworks, too.
Here are the books we'll explore below:
Quick note: we receive a small affiliate if you buy the books listed above. This is at no cost to you.
Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses. This revolutionary method for connecting with customers provides readers with the ultimate competitive advantage, revealing the secret for helping their customers understand the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services. Building a StoryBrand does this by teaching readers the seven universal story points all humans respond to; the real reason customers make purchases; how to simplify a brand message so people understand it; and how to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures, and social media. Whether you are the marketing director of a multibillion-dollar company, the owner of a small business, a politician running for office, or the lead singer of a rock band, Building a StoryBrand will forever transform the way you talk about who you are, what you do, and the unique value you bring to your customers (goodreads.com).
I've intentionally put this book at the top of my list. If there are no other books you read this year (or from this list), let it be Building a StoryBrand.
Clear messaging is the cornerstone of:
This book and its contents will permeate every area of your business–whether you're a solopreneur or you have a team of 1,000. In fact, I'd go as far as saying this framework is the "secret sauce" for our high-performing clients.
Based on Building a StoryBrand by New York Times bestselling author Donald Miller, this checklist is a strategic and actionable guide to applying the StoryBrand framework to any brand and an essential part of any marketing professional’s tool kit.
Every day, brands lose millions of dollars simply because they do not have a clear message that tells consumers who they are and what value they will add to their customers’ lives. To solve this dilemma, Donald Miller wrote Building a StoryBrand, which has become the quintessential guide for anyone looking to craft or strengthen their brand’s message.
Now, Don is taking it a step further with this five-part checklist that helps marketing professionals and business owners apply the StoryBrand messaging framework across key customer touchpoints to effectively develop, strengthen, and communicate their brand’s story to the marketplace (goodreads.com).
I promise there are books by authors other than Donald Miller on this list. I just had to start with these two because they go hand in hand.
If Building a StoryBrand is the foundation, Marketing Made Simple is the building built upon that foundation. It will give you a step-by-step path for creating marketing materials and a simple marketing funnel (ie, like 80% of what you need to be successful).
It's super practical and super easy to implement.
As a bonus, it highlights one of our clients Speech Sisters and shows how and why we built their website the way we did.
In 100M Offers (2021), Alex Hormozi reveals the secrets and methods that comprise the Grand Slam Offer, the marketing strategy he came up with, which ended up transforming his life. Alex went from being an aspiring but broke entrepreneur, living on credit card debt, to a millionaire philanthropist within a year. He takes readers on a journey of trial and error, dreams and achievement, while offering tips and techniques for their own success (amazon.com).
This is probably the densest read on the list. It's so jam-packed with actionable and practical guidance that it can be a bit overwhelming. BUT if you want to get into the weeds of marketing and understand how to create irresistible offers, this is the book for you.
Our team recently went through this book and it took us over a month to implement its contents. The results for us were astonishing. Solely based on the advice in this book, we were able to:
I wouldn't recommend jumping into this book unless you have a little time to process it. You'll also likely want to take notes and download the additional resources he provides through his website.
That said, this book has the potential to make you tremendous amounts of money. Use it wisely.
Radical generosity is the against-the-grain secret weapon of real influencers, and it will allow you to boost referrals, retention rates, and ROI like few other strategies.
But be warned, gifts with strings attached backfire.
There is a right, and wrong, way to give.
John Ruhlin has gifted on behalf of everyone from Forbes Magazine to the Fortune 500 and his tactics lead to appreciative responses and wide-open checkbooks.
Through poignant personal stories and data-backed evidence, Ruhlin breaks down how anyone – from mail clerk to managing director – can master the magic of Giftology with these and more:
Give wholeheartedly to Giftology and reap the rewards of an expanding business and fruitful relationships, professional and personal alike (goodreads.com).
I absolutely love this book. It's a fun read that challenges a lot of perceptions we have about customer service and giving gifts. Even if you're not in a B2B brand or it's a little challenging to give your customers gifts, this book is still jam-packed with valuable insights on how to be more generous as a brand.
I listened to this book on Audible before I read the hard copy, and I enjoyed consuming the content that way.
Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?
Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?
Are you often busy but not productive?
Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?
If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the EssentialistThe Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.
By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.
Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. A must-read for any leader, manager, or individual who wants to learn how to do less, but better, in every area of their lives, Essentialism is a movement whose time has come (goodreads.com).
Essentialism is one of the two books that are not inherently a marketing or business book, but it's so essential to how I operate that I had to include it.
The description above gives a great rundown of what you can expect while reading this book, but I think the biggest thing I took away was this: we can't have multiple priorities. The word "priority" in and of itself means the first thing. The #1 thing over all the other things.
It's shaped my daily focus and work in really important ways.
Right now, I'm writing this blog. There are other items on my to-do list today, but none of those are my priority. This is. Essentialism will help you focus on what matters, too.
New managers in creative fields got the job because they were good at being makers–and learned to strategize their time, relationships, and mindset to produce the best creative work possible on their own. But when they're put in charge, the rules change, and they must unlearn their hard-won working habits in favor of new ones, and navigate a minefield of complex relational dynamics with colleagues and bosses.
Successful leaders of creative teams have mastered the difficult transition from doing the work to leading the work, and this book shows how. Todd Henry picks up where The Accidental Creative left off, and provides an indispensable handbook of on-the-ground, tactical advice for new managers of creatives. He draws from interviews with brilliant leaders and his experience consulting in creative organizations to share a wealth of practical advice, including:
Herding Tigers is a great book if you work with any creative teams or individuals. You might not really think about your "team" in that way, so here are some instances where it might be beneficial:
The point is: if you work with creative people in any capacity, Herding Tigers is a great book for you.
Do you sometimes feel like your business is an adult day care center? Are you constantly repeating yourself, fixing errors, and trying to hold things together? What if it were possible to create a business that runs itself?
You've dreamed about it - now it's time to make this a reality!
If you're anything like many seasoned business owners, you've tried and failed to systemize your business. The reality is, your shiny business isn't as functional as it looks from the outside; it's unorganized, inconsistent and key-person dependent.
SYSTEMology solves this problem with a proven, step-by-step business systemization framework - designed so that even the busiest business owner can deploy it. Drawing on 20+ years of business experience and real-life case studies, David Jenyns details the path to complete business reliability (goodreads.com).
If your business feels like it's overrun you, look no further than Systemology.
Systemology will give you a step-by-step framework for organizing your processes, and making your business (and you) more effective than ever before.
Over the last few months, the info in Systemology has given us the processes that have allowed us to:
It can help you do the same (and probably more).
Writing copy that sells without seeming “salesy” can be tough, but is an essential business skill. How To Write Copy That Sells is a step-by-step guide to writing fast, easy-to-read, effective copy. It's for everyone who needs to write copy that brings in cash – including copywriters, freelancers, and entrepreneurs.
Inside, you'll find copywriting techniques for email marketing, websites, social media, sales pages, ads, and direct mail.
You'll also discover:
The universal hidden structure behind all persuasive copy. How to avoid the most common copywriting mistakes. A simple technique for writing copy that’s easy to read. How to write powerful short copy for social media. Sample headlines, bullet points, and openings – yours to “swipe” and use as your own! Tons of templates, examples, and checklists are guaranteed to improve your copy. ...And much, much more! Writing Copy That Sells is your indispensable guide to creating fresh, fast, effective copy that generates sales like magic (goodreads.com).
Copywriting is vital to everything you do. Good copywriting will help you get your team on board with a new idea or campaign, increase your conversions in your marketing efforts, and grow your social media following.
Ray Edwards' book is one of the best (and most actionable) books on copywriting I've come across. It's packed with tips, examples, and templates that you can use again and again.
I've placed this book near the bottom of this list, not because it's unimportant, but because it's best used as a reference book. I recommend reading it once, then keeping it on hand to use as a guide when you're writing your own copy. After you read Building a StoryBrand and Marketing Made Simple, How to Write Copy That Sells will help you do the work.
No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving--every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.
If you're having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn't you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you'll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.
Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field (goodreads.com).
If you've already read one book on this list, it's probably Atomic Habits. I debated whether or not to include it because of its popularity, but it truly is one of the best books on habit formation that I've come across.
The book distills complex topics into simple behaviors that you can easily apply to your life. It's full of inspiring stories and examples that show how small habits can lead to remarkable results.
For a digital brand, habits are important. They'll help you create rhythms and habits for content creation, building relationships with your audience, and getting more done in less time.
There ya have it! My 9 favorite marketing and business books for digital brands. These books have helped me in so many ways and I hope they do the same for you.
Do you have a book we should add to this list? DM us on Instagram @kylercreative.