Reading lists are always a popular topic as one year closes and another begins. We’ve pulled together some titles we think are a great addition to everyone’s bookshelf! Some are recent publications and others have been around for decades, yet remain as relevant today as when they were first published. While these books discuss a variety of topics across sales, marketing and business development, a recurring theme throughout is the importance of developing and maintaining relationships with consumers and colleagues. The cornerstone of all productive relationships is rooted in communication.

Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People (Marc Gobé)
This groundbreaking book provides a roadmap to building powerful brand loyalty by showing marketers of any product or service how they can engage today’s increasingly overwhelmed and cynical consumers. Gobé uses case histories to demonstrate how all five senses can be used as powerful marketing tools to respond to demographic and behavioral shifts in populations and retail distribution channels. Topics include developing strong brand personalities, customizing brand presence to different consumer groups, using brand strategies in packaging and display, and facilitating interactive online access to products or services.

Top of Mind: Use Content to Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter To You (John Hall)
More than just another recap of the role of content marketing as part of a branding strategy, Hall’s book reminds us that while metrics and analytics play an important role in marketing, it is personal relationships that are the core of lasting success. Chock full of practical advice for creating meaningful content, Hall never loses sight of the importance of the human element in keeping a brand “Top of Mind” – he sums up his philosophy with a single goal: “If you can get the right people to think of you at the right times, you can accomplish great things.”

Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing (Harry Beckwith)
The United States has transitioned to a predominantly service based economy and away from the manufacturing-based economy of the first two-thirds of the 20th century. Written in 1997, this book is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. Beckwith’s position is that consumers are interested in, and value, relationships more than features in both tangible and intangible markets. The book identifies other key concepts including the importance of listening to customers, providing excellent service, operating with integrity, and don’t over promise. With 160 quick, practical strategies this book is a great go-to reference guide.

How To Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
Arguably one of the pillars of the self help movement, Carnegie’s book, originally written in 1934, has withstood the test of time (and should probably be re-read every 5 – 10 years). Using a combination of folksy anecdotes and modern psychology, Carnegie addresses human relationships in a practical way that makes it accessible to everyone. The book has had several revisions since its original publication, including a section on building successful relationships in the digital age.  The core message, however, has remained constant, success can be achieved through charm, appreciation, personality and empathy for others. A simple message that continues to resonate decades after it was first written.

Leadership and Self-Deception (The Arbinger Institute)
Written as a parable that anyone can relate to about challenges in our personal and professional lives, this thoughtful book shows us the unconscious ways we may be sabotaging our efforts to be successful. Using the concepts of “in the box”: viewing others as the source of a problem, or objects to help us achieve our goals vs. “out of the box”: viewing people with empathy, with their own needs, feelings or goals. Being “in the box” limits our ability to reach our full potential because of lack of commitment to goals outside our own, conflict, stress, poor teamwork, lack of trust, lack of accountability, and communication issues. In order to be “out of the box” the focus should be on helping others succeed and achieve results. To be a successful leader, we need to be “out of the box” and create an environment based on communication, trust, and teamwork where all team members are working toward collective goals rather than individual needs.

“The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeable, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.”
Sidney J. Harris (American Journalist)