In this second installment in the “Best of” series, the Watchword team shares just some of the reading and listening sources we use to learn about topics relevant to the work we do and the industries in which we do it.
Producing impactful content marketing is a bit like change management. You have to learn a topic well enough to write with intelligence and clarity. Even as the customer journey and marketing lifecycle shift from funnel state to a shape akin to a fidget spinner, fundamentals like awareness building, thought leadership, and conversion content still reign. It’s our job to know what and how to write based on those phases, the audiences they will inspire, and – most importantly – the executives whose names will live at the top of that piece of writing.
Without further ado, here is a selection of the books, blogs, newsletters, and podcasts that keep us sharp. (We hope you’ll check them out and add ours to your blog list.)
Great sources to learn (and discover so much knowledge)
Books: Reading to learn
- Girl Stop Apologizing
Our short form content powerhouse Brianna is fascinated by Rachel Hollis and recommends this book that chronicles how Hollis grew her successful business. It also details the importance of chasing your dream (and not apologizing for it.) Girl, Stop Apologizing is filled with great, actionable tips about how to realistically achieve your goals.
- Good to Great
It’s Jim Collins—need we say more? Good to Great explores the findings from a five-year study where Collins dared to ask, “Can a good company become a great company, and if so, how?” The result is a book filled with real-world examples of real companies achieving greatness, along with some often counterintuitive strategies for driving success.
- Imagine It Forward
A mainstay on the desk of our founder, Rachelle, Imagine It Forward is a must-read from veteran marketer and innovator Beth Comstock. Described as “an inspiring and practical guide to mastering change in the face of uncertainty,” in Imagine It Forward, Comstock talks candidly and earnestly about the importance of embracing change to nurture innovation and see what’s next.
- Scaling Up
“It’s like an encyclopedia on business.” The first major revision of Verne Harnish’s best-selling Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, Scaling Up provides practical tools and techniques to help business leaders, frontline employees, and senior managers build rewarding and successful businesses. (It’s also a mainstay of the Entrepreneur’s Organization.)
- The Storytelling Edge
If you’re a content person, names like Contently, Shane Snow and Joe Lazauskas are familiar. This short, smart love letter to great business writing offers reminders about why we care about the form and direction of our storytelling.
Podcasts: Listening to learn
- HBR Ideacast
It’s the Harvard Business Review—need we say more? (We’re HBR fans – see the first ‘Best of’ blog installment for how they inspire us.)
- How Brands are Built
Go beyond theory and really dig into the practice of brand building as host Rob Meyerson interviews strategists, designers, writers, and other branding practitioners to explore the tools and techniques of successful branding. Being a guest on this podcast is a serious goal for us—hint, hint.
- The Daily
Looking for a way to stay informed but in a crunch for time? So. Over. Contentious ‘news’ arguments? The Daily is the jam. In just 20 minutes, you get unbiased daily news updates to stay informed on the most pressing issues happening in the world around us.
- The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish (Farnam Street)
We’re a little late to the game on this one but holy rabbit hole, Batman. From dissecting mental models to interviewing some of the most influential thinkers of our era, The Knowledge Project is exactly what it sounds like. You’re going to get some brain wrinkles from this one.
- The Science of Social Media
The super smart folks at Buffer host “The Science of Social Media” podcast. In the ever-changing social media landscape, this podcast keeps you in the know, covering everything from writing tips to emerging platforms, retargeting, and even the psychology of online behavior.
- Social Media Marketing with Michael Stelzner
Consistently ranked among top marketing podcasts, Social Media Examiner’s podcast is a go-to resource for all things social. Our content strategist and long-time fangirl of the podcast Ivey especially loves the episodes that focus on social ad copy.
“We spend a quarter of our lives in our jobs. This show is about making all that time worth your time.” Brought you to by TED (also one of our faves), organizational psychologist Adam Grant conducts fascinating interviews and offers great insights on culture and leadership.
Digital Newsletters: Reading to learn
- AMA Daily
American Marketing Association has something of quality for everyone in the profession – all forms of content on any variety of topics, job boards, events, etc… hardly a surprise considering the source.
- Ann Handley
One of the singular voices on the topic of how to produce great writing, Ann Handley is our mentor whether she knows it or not. Thanks to Ann, we end the weekend fired up to write again come Monday (presuming we took a break over the weekend – unlikely).
- Content Marketing Institute
Stories, stats, and action items. If you do anything with content, you’ll find useful knowledge here.
The OG of content marketing and brand writing, their brainshare is experience-based. This is who we want to be when we grow up.
- Designed by Pentagram
If Contently is the OG of content marketing, Pentagram is the OG of brand firms. Their approach to brand storytelling and design has earned them global acclaim since the early 1970s. They’re proof that great thinking never gets old.
Reaching people and getting them to do things (then tracking whether that happened) is their sweet spot. That they’re generous enough to share those secrets makes HubSpot a fave in our book.
Learn something every day. Start here.
- Under Consideration
Another great source of design inspiration, this is the quick-hit email newsletter we look forward to every week. If you need to jog your creativity, this is a good place to start.
When you read and write for a living, sitting down at the end of the day to kick back with a book can feel a bit more like…well…the workday. So don’t take these suggestions lightly. We’re a really picky, really well-read crew. We hope you enjoy! Please let us know what’s inspiring you.
Watchword produces intelligence-driven branding and content that works efficiently across many channels to help businesses articulate who they are and what they do to the people who matter most. We listen carefully, communicate thoughtfully, respond consistently, and deliver absolutely – that is our rally cry – our watchword. What’s yours? We’d love to hear your story.