Be A Better Marketer With These Non-Marketing Books

For a long time, I didn’t read fiction because I thought I should be reading all the new marketing and business books coming out.

I needed to stay on top of the latest and greatest reads on technology and its effect on marketing, and on being a leader and an entrepreneur. There’s Steve Jobs’ biography, Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In”, Malcolm Gladwell’s latest – all books I want to read… but have not quite yet.
Non-Marketing Books-003As a marketer, I’m also  a storyteller who needs to be able to tell a great story – and the best way to learn to do that is by reading great storytellers.

With that, here are a few ideas for your reading list that will further you professionally and also be a real enjoyment to read.

Beautiful Ruins - Marketing Lessons from Non-Marketing Books1. Beautiful Ruins

Jess Walter is a new author to me. Beautiful Ruins teaches that stories are not linear. You don’t have to start at year 1 and end chronologically.

The story begins in 1960s Italy and bounces back and forth to present day Los Angeles, to World War II, back to the 60s, and to present day Sandpoint, Idaho. With rich character development, it left me missing the hero and heroine when I was done.

Lesson: Make your brand’s story as entertaining and inviting as you can without lying. Using the characters that make up your company is a great way to get prospects emotionally involved with your brand.

Steve Martin - Marketing Lessons from Non-Marketing Books2. Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life

Steve Martin’s autobiography is beautifully written. Martin tells his story in a spare, matter of fact, sometimes funny, never dramatized fashion.

Lesson: Successful content uses an authentic voice. Work hard to keep readers engaged with short, active copy. It takes work to be economical with words, but your copy becomes more compelling.

Born To Run - Marketing Lessons from Non-Marketing Books3. Born To Run

This national bestselling book started a running revolution; touting the benefits of running without expensive running shoes. Not only that, but it called big shoe brands out for causing more running injuries than they prevent?

Christopher McDougall gives you even more than that to think about in this book. Whether you run or not, the great stories and history here will inspire you to be better at what you do through discipline and practice.

Lesson: The best content shakes the foundation of existing thought. Invest in thought leadership to help your brand stand out.

Viktor Frankl - Marketing Lessons from Non-Marketing Books4. Man’s Search for Meaning

Beyond helping us with our content, Viktor Frankl’s book gives us perspective. It will change the way you react in day-to-day situations.

Frankl is a psychologist. His style is academic but the themes are important. He speaks of horrors, and how people did or did not survive them, in a way that doesn’t belabor details or sacrifice the story.

Lesson: We can choose how we react to situations. Beyond marketing, this is a life-changing lesson.

I turned to my Facebook community for a fifth book. Mana Ionescu suggests Stephen King’s “On Writing,” which teaches that tools that separate great writers from the rest. David Kilmer is inspired by the sense of place conveyed by New West authors like Ivan Doig and Thomas McGuane. Erin Feldman says “The Princess Bride” will teach you to keep things fascinating.

So go ahead. Indulge yourself. A good story is more than a great escape: it inspires us to be better storytellers ourselves.

What would you add to this list?

For more marketing advice from Lisa Gerber, click here. 

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