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12 Best Marketing Books To Grow Your Personal Brand

12 Best Marketing Books To Grow Your Personal Brand

Growing your personal brand continues to be a popular trend, especially among millennials. According to Business Insider, a staggering 1.8 billion photos are uploaded every day via social media. Inc.com points out that personal branding allows you to establish a reputation and an identity while still maintaining a personal level of trust and interaction, usually through social media.

If you study the marketing efforts of a major corporation like Apple Inc., it is evident how the tech company strategically creates a unique voice and a signature image that connects with their followers. Jayson Demars of Forbes states people are far more compelled to trust individuals as opposed to corporations.

“People are far more likely to follow you, talk to you, trust you, and engage with you if they believe they are interacting with a real person,” said Demars. “This is where the benefits of humanizing your brand really come into play.”

Growing your personal brand will not only build trust amongst your followers, it could end up being one of your best returns on investment. If you have a large social following and you post creative content, this won’t cost you a penny and it can raise awareness about your skill set and career ambitions. If you haven’t begun growing your personal brand or are unsure where to get started, don’t worry. We reached out to professionals in the field, including psychology and marketing expert Dr. Robyn LeBoeuf, to compile 12 of the best marketing books to help you enhance the most important brand in the world. YOURS.

1. Buzzmarketing, by Mark Hughes

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    Hughes forces you to think outside of the box when it comes to relaying your message to the masses. The former marketing executive provides real-life, memorable examples that will get people talking about your brand.

    He shares plenty of fun stories, such as how he once named renamed an entire city for a marketing campaign.

    While you won’t need to rename a city to get people talking about your personal brand, Buzzmarketing will force you to start thinking outside of the box.

    “Despite a long history in marketing I took away several things from this book and enjoyed it so much I bought a copy for all my marketing managers. its a fun, easy read yet reminds us marketers of things we already know but frequently need reminding.” – Rebecca

    2. Confessions of an Advertising Man, by David Ogilvy

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      Adweek magazine asked people in the industry, “Which individuals – alive or dead – made you consider pursuing a career in advertising?” and David Ogilvy topped the list.

      When it comes to growing your brand, if there’s one person whose advice you should follow, it’s the ‘Father of Advertising’, David Ogilvy. His book, “Confessions of an Advertising Man,” relays his marketing secrets, which helped some of the largest brands reach tremendous growth. One insight he shares is:

      “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

      If you are looking to grow your personal brand, take note of Ogilvy’s time-tested, successful pointers.

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      “This book is a “must read” for anyone considering going into advertising, as Ogilvy personally invented the industry as we know it today. However, if you want to know how to conduct yourself in the world of business, how to write, how to communicate with people, this is also the book for you.” – Tom

      3. The Brand Gap, by Marty Neumeier

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        How can you create a brand so charismatic, it draws people in and becomes an essential part of their lives? In this book, Neumeier outlines five disciplines to help you bridge the gap between brand strategy and brand execution:

        Differentiate, Collaborate, Innovate, Validate and Cultivate

        Using visual metaphors and real-life examples, Neumeier challenges you to apply his five disciplines to your own experiences and to focus on innovation when building your personal brand.

        “As owner of a small company trying to figure out branding, this book was an invaluable read in helping me got going in the right direction. Branding is still a very large boondoggle of a neverending project, but now I at least feel like I have a better understanding of what it is I’m after. I see good branding everywhere, this book explains, as much as is possible, how to get there.” – Mark

        4. Positioning, by Al Ries and Jack Trout

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          The now-popular marketing term ‘positioning’ was originally coined by Trout in 1969. If you want to learn what positioning means for your personal brand, this book is the place to start.

          Decades later, Ries and Trouts’ words still ring true. It seems that each year, media gets louder, and it’s even harder to reach your audience. So how can your personal brand overcome the commotion?

          From how we think about our friends to why we identify with a political party, ‘Positioning’ considers how you can frame your personal brand to your audience, and how you can stand out from the crowd.

          “This book is fantastic! They give you some clear examples of why companies rise and fall because of their failure to position themselves in a way that makes sense to the market. They talk about how companies go from successes to duds because of their inability to understand their place in the market.” – Matthew

          5. Influence, by Robert Cialdini 

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            Psychologist and marketer Bob Cialdini explores why people are persuaded to change their minds, and teaches you how to become a savvy persuader yourself. He introduces you to his six principles of ethical persuasion:

            Reciprocity, Scarcity, Liking, Authority, Social Proof, and Commitment/Consistency

            Cialdini supports each of his principles with sound data in psychology and provides examples so you can get the most out of his book and learn to deliver an excellent elevator pitch when you come across your big opportunity.

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            “I highly recommend this book to all professionals. It does not matter if you are a manager, sales person, pastor, or non-profit volunteer. The ideas in this book, once applied, will make it easier for you to accomplish your goals.” – Kevin

            6. Branding Pays, by Karen Kang

            2Q==-1

              One of the first lessons Kang introduces is that everyone knows the importance of a well-curated social media presence, but few people will actually take the initiative to manage their personal brand.

              “[Do] a Google search on your name. Are the links and images of you that show up on the first page of search results how you want your brand represented? If not, then you have some work to do.”

              Kang shares relatable, real-life examples of how you can improve your personal brand in all your social spheres, and offers concrete tips that you can begin executing immediately.

              Bill Mulholland, the founder of American Relocation Connections, makes sure his brand is well represented online. “We know that potential customers conduct research online when they are interested in our services,” stated Mulholland. “This is the exact reason why we are constantly trying to improve our online presence by obtaining reviews, posting relevant content and interacting with our followers. Businesses need to make sure that their top notch customer service is conveyed online for everyone to see.”

              “As a career services professional, I stress to students the importance of maintaining their personal brand. We started using this book in our career management courses because of its practical application. It’s easy to understand (“cake” and “icing”) with concrete examples. The book teaches you not only how to develop your brand, but more importantly, how to manage and maintain your brand.” – J.P.

              7. Career Warfare, by David D’Alessandro

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                In his no-nonsense, to-the-point guidebook to the business world’s battlefield, D’Alessandro shows you how to pick up the tools you already have at your disposal and best manage your personal brand for your professional development.

                This book is more focused on a corporate environment, though the lessons can easily be applied to a small business or for an individual. If you are wondering how to deal with your corporate landscape, try some of D’Alessandro’s take-no-prisoners style tips.

                “Whether you’re looking to thrive in a large company or launch a successful start up, David D’Allesandro’s book will help you get there sooner. Combining C-level experience with street-smarts, D’Allesandro delivers actionable insights and powerful recommendations on everything from using the power of information to stand out to keeping clients happy.” – Luke

                8. Brand You 50, by Tom Peters 

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                  As the business world continues to grow, at least one thing remains constant – your personal brand will define you, your future career and your relationships you build.

                  “The white collar job as now configured is doomed… So what’s the trick? There’s only one: distinction. Or as we call it, turning yourself into a brand… Brand You.”

                  Peters enthusiastically attests that surviving means not blending in, but standing out. True to the book’s subtitle, he will present you with 50 tangible strategies that will push your personal brand to the next level.

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                  “As usual, Tom Peters delivers the goods! His concept of Brand YOU! is great, and his ideas for practical implementation even better. If you want to stand out and reach for real excellence, read this book.” – Carl

                  9. The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield

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                    Canfield, a co-creator of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, definitely knows a thing or two about inspiring readers to make a positive change in their lives.

                    Canfield outlines 64 principles to reach success, and he builds on real-life stories of people who struggled but ultimately reached success, from Olympians to blue-collar workers.

                    Touted as one of the greatest self-improvement books on shelves, ‘The Success Principles’ almost reads like a self-help book, but its greater goal is to motivate you to take charge of your personal brand and start fresh in your professional development.

                    “This book is a fantastic resource for anyone who desires to get to the next level. This is a smorgasbord of personal development, psychology, and business and financial books wrapped in one burrito. Are you hungry? This book will satisfy your appetite for success.” – Thomas

                    10. Guerilla Marketing, by Jay Conrad Levinson

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                      Throughout his extensive career as an ad agency exec, Levinson was responsible for some of the world’s most recognizable brand icons, including the Pillsbury Dough Boy and Tony the Tiger.

                      Levinson shares his experiences in guerrilla marketing (a term he coined), and details how, with enough creativity and strategic thinking, you can spin any situation to your advantage. He also discusses best management practices, particularly as technology is evolving so rapidly.

                      Although Levinson’s book was first published in 1983, his teachings are timeless and they can easily be applied to the contemporary personal brand.

                      “Great book that gives you a quick introduction to the world of marketing, especially helpful for small business owner. If you’re an entrepreneur, this book is a must-read.” – James

                      11. Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath

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                        Chip and Dan Heath delve into the psychology behind viral social trends, like the gruesome urban myth where a traveller wakes up in a tub of ice, courtesy of a local organ-harvesting ring. They credit the proliferation of “sticky messages” to six traits:

                        Simplicity

                        Unexpectedness

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                        Concreteness

                        Credibility

                        Emotions

                        Stories

                        As you read about SUCCESs, the brothers Heath will show you how to apply these traits to your own personal brand’s messaging, and how to make your ideas stick.

                        “It’s brilliant! It packs the information of a textbook, while maintaining your attention like a comic book. The book on how to make ideas stick is very sticky itself. Strongly recommended.” – Vincent

                        12. You, Inc., by Harry Beckwith and Christine Clifford

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                          Husband-and-wife Harry and Christine are both CEOs of their own companies, and in this book, they team up to share the lessons they learned along the way.

                          They present over 150 ideas for how to use effective communication to build your personal brand, and though the lessons are easily understood, Beckwith cautions that there is a considerable difference between ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’ something.

                          Although this book is just over 300 pages, this is one book you’ll want to take your time reading and fully absorbing.

                          Everyone wants to excel in their professional and personal lives. The 12 best marketing books to grow your personal brand will expose you to the most effective tips on personal brand development, which in turn will help you to generate more buzz about yourself in your social networks.

                          “For knowing nothing about sales, this was a great launching pad for me to get more interested and read other sales books. Pretty motivational with great bits of information to redefine how you see the world. This book has definitely shifted my approach to “getting out there” making myself more visible.” – Scott

                          This list of books includes work from the 1960s up through 2015, and amazingly, all of the concepts and principles will still hold true across generations. No matter how much business evolves or expands, human nature will always care about compelling stories – the personal brand that you give in your elevator pitch. These time-tested philosophies hold strong, proving that a successful personal brand is everything.

                          With the help of the life-changing wisdom inside these 12 marketing books, it won’t be long before you master your personal brand with ease!

                          Featured photo credit: BigStock via bigstockphoto.com

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                          14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                          14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                          Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

                          In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

                          For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

                          For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

                          Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

                          Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

                          Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

                          How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

                          Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

                          1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

                          Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

                          For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

                          2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

                          Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

                          Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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                          Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

                          3. Create a System

                          Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

                          This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

                          You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

                          Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

                          Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

                          4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

                          We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

                          If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

                          Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

                          Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

                          5. Use a Ratings Scale

                          Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

                          Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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                          It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

                          6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

                          This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

                          You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

                          You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

                          7. Offer Feedback Forms

                          Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

                          First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

                          Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

                          You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                          8. Track Cost Effectiveness

                          This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

                          Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

                          Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

                          9. Use Self-Evaluations

                          Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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                          Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

                          10. Monitor Time Management

                          This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

                          Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

                            The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

                            While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                            11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

                            We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

                            Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

                            For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

                            Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

                            Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

                            From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

                            12. Utilize Peer Feedback

                            This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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                            Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

                            Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

                            It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

                            13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

                            When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

                            Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

                            Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

                            14. Use an External Evaluator

                            Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

                            They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

                            While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

                            Final Thoughts

                            These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

                            The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

                            The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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                            Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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