“The words you speak become the house you live in.“ – Hafiz

Read any good books lately? If not, you might be missing out on one of the easiest ways to improve your chances at content marketing success.

Most of us living through the technical revolution of the 21st century don’t think that it’s important to read books.  In fact,  42% of recent college graduates will never read a book again. After all, they get the information they need from blogs, news, social media and email, right?

Although we may get more than enough information from the digital world, neuroscience has demonstrated that no activity mimics the complex brain chemistry stimulated by reading books.

One of the most fascinating and useful results of a book reading practice is that we actually become better at reading minds.  As we read a description of the actions and words of a character, we imagine different ideas about what the character might be thinking, activating the parts of our brain that work to enhance empathy, communication skills and perceptive thought organization.  We also improve our descriptive capabilities through the absorption of new vocabulary.

If we read that a character firmly shakes hands as she walks into a crowded room, our minds might automatically conclude that she is confident, overbearing, or masking shyness.  We silently decide her motivations depending on the background context provided by the story.

This kind of background context is not present in real life, and it is even less likely to occur in the digital world.  We might not know anything about a woman firmly shaking hands as she walks into a room.  A disciplined reading practice allows us to see past the obvious and consider different motivations for the hand shaking.  We are more likely to withhold a snap judgment, and it is easier for us to assess possible motivations and impacts.

In addition to a mastery of motivation and impact discernment, reading improves our vocabulary in myriad ways.  In 15 minutes of daily book reading for one year, we are exposed to one million words, many of which are rarely found in the digital or speaking world.  This wide exposure to new words enables us to communicate more effectively and construct empowering contexts for all of our experiences.

If improving your communication, mind-reading, and story-telling skills is not enough to get you to read a book, then how about becoming better at content marketing in the digital world?

Remember, book readers naturally develop an elevated capability for discerning the reasons that individuals make the choices they make; in essence, you become an expert at the potential reception and impact of your content.

You also develop a talent for assessing your own motivations and telling your own story.  By enhancing your vocabulary, your understanding and your story-telling capabilities, reading books helps you to know and tell more about yourself and your company.

In his theory of the golden circles, Simon Sinek tells us that companies miss the mark when they start by telling us what they are selling, then how they make it, and finally why we should buy it.

Most organizations never even understand why they make what they are selling.

“People don’t buy what you are selling. They buy why you are selling.” Simon Sinek, Author, “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”

High performance workplaces know that the why is the most important part of any brand story.

Nike has a full time employee whose sole occupation is to tell the story of Nike to new hires so that all  employees are engaged with the story of Nike.  Apple is famous for engaging consumers in an experience and a story rather than the product itself.

So, why do you make what you are selling?  What’s your story?

Effective answers to these questions generate content that attracts the attention of popular search engines. As search engines evolve into increasingly sophisticated algorithms that comb through more than 30 trillion pages, 100 billion times a month, to provide answers to more than 40 thousand inquiries every second, it is critical that you work on your ability to stand out from the crowd.  One of the most important parameters used in search rankings is the quality of the content.

People, not machines, judge your content quality.  Feedback from human analysts following a site ranking system is used to invent search algorithms.

The newest search algorithms make it tougher than ever to get away with sloppy research, regurgitated articles or hidden sales pitches.  Only 6% of the searches on Google lead a user to a sales site; the algorithms are intentionally biased towards useful content.  Ad words are not only judged by the amount of money bid per click.  A more expensive click rate can be lower in rank if the site is not providing relevant, quality content

Even with all the sophisticated technical wizardry in the world, it still comes down to human evaluation.  Your content must be solid or you will be lost in the crowd.

The simple act of reading books is not just a pleasant pastime.  It is an essential practice for generating effective, profitable, discoverable content.

“Good content is not storytelling. It’s telling your story well.” – Ann Handley, Author, “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content”

About the Author:

MBOGrahamStedman Graham is chairman and CEO of S. Graham & Associates, an educator and a New York Times bestselling author.

Graham has built a strong reputation for helping corporations, organizations, and individuals succeed through his lectures and seminars for businesses and educational organizations worldwide on the topics of identity development and leadership.

On April 29, Stedman Graham will be taking the stage at Indianapolis’ premier digital marketing conference, MBO15 to discuss leadership and how it impacts the digital community.

The conference will be taking place at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, bringing together nearly 600 marketing professionals, as well as thought leaders and change-makers to help navigate through the chaos of modern marketing technology and evolve in the digital space.