It's not too late to order Christmas presents! If you're struggling to buy for a marketer, here are three fantastic books published this year that should take their marketing to the next level.

1. Tim Hughes, Matt Reynolds, Social Selling: Techniques to influence buyers and change makers (Kogan Page)

Who is it for? Although the book is primarily aimed at sales people wanting to adopt social selling techniques, it’s also an important book for marketers to scour, as the lines between the two continue to blur.

What’s in it? The book takes down traditional methods of selling, which they describe as an ‘interruption’, in favour of social selling, a technique much better suited to how businesses approach problems today (through online research). The book is full of practical advice, including how to best use various social media networks. They encourage salespeople to create their own content and develop their personal brand to make themselves easier to find by businesses researching solutions.

Top quotation:“We highly recommend that salespeople start creating their own content. In the digital world they cannot rely on ‘marketing’ to create the content that will create the initial curiosity that a prospective buyer might have when starting down the road of research.”

2. Bharat Anand’s The Content Trap: A Strategist’s Guide to Digital Change (Random House)

Who is it for? The Content Trap is great read not just for marketers but also CEOs.

What’s in it? Anand gives a big picture overview, full of case studies, of various content marketing strategies, to demonstrate what they did wrong (and right). He places a particular emphasis on paying attention to the context of any situation and to not just create for the sake of creating. Rather than imitate what has worked for your competitors, he encourages you to figure out what is right for you.

Top quotation:“Create to connect. Expand to preserve. Dare to not mimic. These are simple ideas. Yet so often we fall into the trap of doing exactly the opposite”

3. Jonah Berger, Contagious: why things catch on (Simon & Schuster)

(I’m cheating a bit with this one as it’s a new edition of a text that was first published in 2013)

Who is it for? Written by Wharton professor Jonah Berger as an accessible version of his academic research, this will appeal to marketers wanting to intellectualise their process.

What’s in it? Berger dissects the causes of virality: what causes content to catch on? What makes other pieces of content fail? Berger identifies 6 keys components (or STEPPS as he calls them) that cause things to be ‘cause things to be talked about, shared and imitated’:

  • Social currency. ‘How does it make people look to talk about a product or idea?‘
  • Triggers. ‘How do we remind people to talk about our products and ideas?’
  • Emotion. ‘When we care, we share.’
  • Public. ‘Can people see when others are using our product or engaging in our desired behaviour?’
  • Practical value. ‘How can we craft content that seems useful?’
  • Stories. ‘What broader narrative can we wrap our idea in?’

Each of his chapters focuses on one of these principles in more detail.

Top Quotation: But while it’s easy to find examples of social contagion, it’s much harder to actually get something to catch on. Even with all the money poured into marketing and advertising, few products become popular”