This past year, we started a book club with our 10x digital team. While we have two offices with on-site staff, we also have distributed employees. As a way to foster relevant team building, we picked a list of business books to read, exchange and discuss every month. Actually some of these titles (specifically the marketing books), wove their way into our new client strategies. 

We live in a digital world where updated content is always available at your fingertips and industry trends come and go faster than print works can be published. You might think business books can’t keep up. However, the long-form traditional content gives you the opportunity to dive deep into themes and concepts, as well as update your tactics and mindset in the process. And books that are truly worthy have longer-term nuggets of information versus faddish content.  

We compiled a list of our favorite titles you need to read this year. Below are the 10x staff reviews for the best marketing and business books to level up your skills in 2020. 

Marketing Books 

For all the marketers out there, the following books can help you with your 2020 strategies and campaigns. 

1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Reviewed by Tracy Ring, Content and Account Manager 

The Power of Habit isn’t one of your typical marketing books, as it dives into the scientific reasons why we develop habits, with plenty of real-world examples. tl;dr: NY Times Author and Reporter, Charles Duhigg breaks down why habits happen (see the three-step process below) and how everyone from researchers, advertising execs, Alcoholics Anonymous and professional coaches can use this to their advantage to break or create habits. 

Image Credit: Charles Duhigg

The stories and interviews that were used as examples for habit loops are captivating. However, while interesting data and narratives are all well-and-good, you might ask how this can aid your marketing efforts? 

Understanding the inner-workings of your target consumers or clients on a psychological base-level can help you devise new marketing tactics to meet their needs. How do you make your product or service a part of a habit? Alternatively, how can you create messaging that speaks to common habits or social cues? 

Moreover, the case studies of epic marketing campaigns and their manipulations of consumer habits (see: Pepsodent toothpaste, Febreeze, and the Target maternity line), will definitely serve as inspo for your 2020 strategies!    

2. Contagious, Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger 

Reviewed by Cecilia Mirabelli, Accountant

As a financial expert for our company, I’m not one to typically comment on the viral nature of content or topics, which is why I picked Contagious, Why Things Catch On for my book club read—to learn something new! Wharton professor Jonah Berger reveals the six basic principles on why certain things become contagiously popular. 

1.     Social Currency: we share things that make us look good

2.     Triggers: top of mind, tip of the tongue

3.     Emotion: when we care, we share

4.     Public: built to show, built to grow

5.     Practical value: news you can use

6.     Stories: information travels under the guise of idle chatter

We all know that word-of-mouth communication and recommendations are invaluable. If you want to command the above six principles to help your product and services succeed, this book offers in-depth research, data and examples on how to do that. 

Bonus: Jonah has also given several talks on this book, (like this Harvard Business Review webinar or Google Talk), for those who’d rather listen than read.

3. F#ck Content Marketing: Focus on Content Experience to Drive Demand, Revenue & Relationships by Randy Frisch

Reviewed by Holly Rollins, President 

Ignoring the intended shock-value of the title, I recommended this book to Content Marketing Institute as a must-read because it’s a valuable resource for ALL marketers (not just content marketers). Guru Randy Frisch isn’t really saying we should forget about content marketing, but rather we need to focus on how our target audience experiences our content. 

My favorite point made by Frisch is that while writers are trained to create quality content, they don’t necessarily tailor it to the proper digital publication or outlet. In 2020, it’s all about personalization.

Pro tip: To create content that converts, repurpose your best blog posts. You can easily translate your main themes and ideas with slight tweaking for social or email marketing, even combine several articles for an ebook. Remember to craft your message based on the experience! 

Business Books 

Marketing is just one aspect of running a successful company. That’s why we also broadened our horizons to tackle some more general, macro-level business titles. Of the business books we covered in our 10x book club, here are our two favorites to read this year. 

4. Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferriss

Reviewed by Caitlin Morse, PR Manager 

Who doesn’t love short, snackable advice? I know as a working professional and busy mom of three that I certainly do! Tribe of Mentors is a compilation of tools, habits and tactics from successful leaders. While you might want to put this business book in the self-help genre, many of the actionable tips and anecdotes can relate to running a business. 

No matter what your roadblock or problem may be, someone’s experienced something similar, and this book offers practical solutions. Plus, it’s easy to read here and there during spare pockets of time—like a print listicle! 

5. Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer 

Reviewed by Caroline Liller, Vice President and Senior Account Executive 

As VP and an account executive, selling is an inevitable part of my position at 10x digital. While we have a dedicated sales function, I still work on proposals, meet prospects and focus on client retention. When it comes down to it, everyone needs to sell at some point, and you can always benefit from a sales-mindset. For this reason, we chose the Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness for our 10x book club this past year. 

Although originally published in 2004, this short guide is still applicable today. With fun visuals, each principle is well-explained, straightforward, and easy to implement. As with all sales-related business books, some points can come off as cliche or corny, but as a reference work, we all enjoyed it. Anyone who deals with people knows that sales principles and encouragement can go a long way to help interact, close or convert. 

Start Your Business Book Club 

These titles will help you think a little differently and hopefully tweak your strategies and leadership style in the new year. However, what we’ve learned through our 10x book club is that reading and discussing books is the best reward! 

Our highest recommendation would be to start a business book club with your co-workers, department, team or even in your networking group. In digital marketing, we are often screen-oriented; it’s lovely to take a break to read the written word and connect with each other to dissect and debate.

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