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Social Media: Do books still matter in the digital age?

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By Nick Westergaard, correspondent

While we’re creating and consuming more online content than ever before, business books — in both classic paper and digital formats — are still the go-to source for busy professionals looking to sharpen their saw. To do what they do better.

Last year I read approximately 30 books. Over half those were non-fiction business books related to my field of study.

In consulting, speaking and teaching about digital marketing, I’m constantly looking for the latest, greatest ideas and constructs. Books meet this need by offering deeper explorations of rapidly changing fields.

At the same time, because of my consulting, speaking and teaching, I became aware of that the fact that the world of marketing books was missing one key entry: A guide for how the frustrated marketers of today can do more with less.

“It was the best of times, it was the worse of times.” When he wrote that Charles Dickens wasn’t talking about marketing today but he could have been.

Marketing is changing rapidly. New channels and platforms provide us with endless opportunities to connect with customers and build direct personal relationships.

That’s the “best of times part.” However, it’s also the “worst of times” as many struggle to keep up — lacking the resources — people, budget, etc. — to get the it all done.

In talking with marketers from organizations of all sizes throughout the world I kept hearing these same challenges. As Samantha Hersil of Schwinn said when we spoke, “We all wish that we had a few people and a few dollars more.”

We need a system for doing more with less. A framework for not falling prey to all of the shiny new things in social and digital media.

To do this, marketers need to get scrappy. And that’s how my own book, “Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small,” was born.

There are lots of different definitions out there for the word scrappy. My personal favorite comes from the Urban Dictionary, which notes that scrappy is, “Someone or something that appears dwarfed by a challenge, but more than compensates for seeming inadequacies through will, persistence and heart.”

Scrappy is putting your brains before your budget, doing more with less, and having the creativity and courage to see ideas everywhere. It’s this mind-set that helps small businesses such as the Corridor’s own Scratch Cupcakery and Fortune 500 companies such as Salesforce accomplish amazing things and stand out with their marketing.

You have to start with the smart steps you can’t skip — branding, mapping your marketing strategy and following your digital compass. The scrappy marketer knows that despite all of the shiny new things online today, strong brands with great stories still matter.

The scrappy marketer knows to look before they leap, strategically speaking.

You also have to focus on how you can do more with less. Three key constructs — employing questions to create content and conversations, reframing your “people problems” as an opportunity, and better marketing integration — can help the scrappy marketer punch above their weight class.

Finally, you have to simplify your marketing for the long haul by optimizing your marketing, measuring what matters and putting it all together.

• Nick Westergaard is founder of Brand Driven Digital, nick@westergaard.com, @nickwestergaard

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