Before I was introduced to the “influencers” and “thought leaders” of today’s content marketing field, I was much more familiar with the landscape known as “content strategy.” Although I’ve been practicing some form of content strategy since co-founding a newsmagazine in 2000, we didn’t use the term in the altweekly world, and so I was genuinely surprised to encounter such a thriving group of kindred strategists applying similar editorial planning methods online.
I imagine the experience is akin to that of marketers who have been publishing brand content in print for years, who then one day—suddenly it seems—happen upon buzzing hubs of activity like the Content Marketing Institute: You discover your tribe has grown exponentially, and a geeky excitement takes hold.
Yet with all the commonalities shared by these two content communities, a gulf-size gap often remains. And while the roles and duties of strategists and marketers are often distinct, both are focused on business goals that require the skills and talents of each.
Lately, the gap appears to be shrinking, at least on a surface level, with more marketers talking about a “content marketing strategy.” If you are one of them, this post is for you. Yes, your strategy will need to be customized for the particulars of your industry, business culture, goals, objectives, etc. Content strategists have taken those needs into account and have been refining the processes along the way—for much longer than a decade in some cases.
Here are what I consider to be four essential reads that help content professionals with diverse backgrounds and titles tap into the best and most intelligent practices from the strategy side of our trade:
1) Content Strategy for the Web: The second edition of this must-read book by strategy pioneers Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach is now available.
2) Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy: Also in its second edition, this tome by Ann Rockley and Charles Cooper empowers large companies to tackle massive projects.
3) The Elements of Content Strategy: This thoughtfully succinct guide was written by Erin Kissane, founding editor of the smart and beautiful online magazine Contents.
4) Clout: The Art + Science of Influential Web Content: Content is nothing without credibility, and author Colleen Jones proves that over and over in this book, which now has an addendum, of sorts, issued as this recently released report.
We’ve also put together a Slideshare dedicated solely to the must-read books for content marketers. View it here: