Regardless of what niche you are in, there is no doubt that building a list of prospects and customers who know you, like you and trust you is your most powerful business marketing strategy.
So what’s the second most powerful business marketing strategy? It’s up for debate, but I’d like to suggest the following:
Writing a book in your niche to give away to your prospective customers.
And no, I don’t mean a 20 page report, although that’s far better than nothing. Nor am I suggesting you write a “book” that’s nothing more than a cleverly disguised sales letter, although those can be useful as well.
Let’s stand in our prospect’s shoes for just a moment. Let’s say you live in Chicago and you’re looking to invest a substantial amount of money in marketing your brick and mortar business online. Obviously you don’t want to hand the work over to just anyone – you want someone who clearly knows exactly what they’re doing and can deliver the results you seek. Someone who will get customers streaming through the door and the cash register ringing non-stop. Bottom Line: Someone who won’t waste your time and money.
A fellow drops by out of the clear blue and offers to do your marketing. You’ve never heard of this guy and you’re cautious. You do some research, ask your fellow business people, and locate 3 more small business marketing types who all say they’re experts at marketing small businesses online. They even have references. Still, you’re cautious.
Then one day you’re at a friend’s place of business when you spot a book on his desk. The title immediately grabs your attention: Effective Online Marketing For Small Businesses In The Chicago Area.
It’s not a snappy title by any means, but you don’t care. You’re riveted. You want to know everything in the book and you especially want to know who the author is and can you hire him.
And all you’ve seen so far is a book title. So why are you so interested in hiring THIS guy? Why does he stand head and shoulders above all the other small business online marketers you’ve already spoken to?
First, he’s an author. And like it or not, author’s carry a mystique and an air of credibility virtually untouchable by any peers who haven’t authored a book.
Second, not only did he write a book on marketing your small business online – he wrote about marketing your small business online in the area in which you live.
It’s akin to having the name Abdul Anderson and finding a book titled: What Abdul Anderson Should Do Right Now to Solve His Problems. Tell me you wouldn’t pick that book up in a heartbeat if your name was Abdul Anderson!
Okay, you’ve got the point. When you write a book, you’ve got instant star attraction and a ton of perceived credibility. People are no longer asking, “Can I see 5 references?” They’re not asking, “What if you can’t do what you say you will do?” They’re not asking about your guarantee, how long you’ve been in business, and all those other questions.
Instead, they’re asking how much you charge and when can you start.
And this isn’t just for marketers working with offline businesses – this is for almost anyone offering a service or even a product.
Imagine someone comes to your website – has never heard of you before or been to your website before – and there on the home page sees the book that you’ve written. Do you think you’ve just scored some serious credibility with that new visitor? Absolutely.
Or what if you’re sending traffic to a squeeze page to capture their email address. Do you think offering them the e-version of a REAL book that is currently being sold on Amazon will increase your conversion rate? You bet!
Back to marketing to offline businesses – if you hand a prospect a copy of your book, do you think you’ve increased the odds you’ll close them on a $5,000 marketing package? Of course.
Your book should contain tons of dynamite information and no sales pitch. Yes, it’s fine to refer them to your website, but the main focus should be on educating your reader. The more you tell, the more of an instant expert you become in your reader’s mind.
Make the book comprehensive, covering a great deal about your particular niche. Don’t be afraid of telling too much – generally when a prospect realizes how complex your service is, if they can afford you then they will hire you rather than attempt it themselves.
Include your contact information, including phone number, address and of course your website. Realize that people hang onto books, and even if they don’t need your service right now, they might refer back to it in a year or even in 5 years, so don’t change your contact information unless you absolutely have to. The book you give to someone today could result in a $20,000 sale 5 years from now, but only IF they can easily find you.
Make it easy to read. Just like a sales letter, you don’t want page after page of fat paragraphs. Use plenty of headings, bullet points and space to break it up.
And by all means edit it. Get someone else to read it over and tell you if there are any errors or places where it’s difficult to follow. You want it to read as professionally as possible because it is a direct reflection of you and your business.
If you are giving away the e-version of your book on your squeeze page or website, by all means either give them a link or a screen shot that shows your book on Amazon. Anyone can SAY they are giving away a $19.95 ebook, but when they see that you really do charge that much on Amazon, your free gift suddenly becomes much more valuable in their eyes, increasing the likelihood that they will opt into your list AND read your book.
Do encourage your readers to review your book on Amazon. The more reviews you get and the better reviews you get, the more credibility you build up. After all, if you see a book on Amazon with 1 or 2 reviews, and another with 50 reviews, which seems to be the more popular? People tend to be followers, not leaders. That’s why they look for social affirmation that others are reading and liking your book. You might even offer a free gift for every unbiased review you receive. Just be sure not to offer a free gift for every POSITIVE review you receive, or you will lose much of the credibility you’ve worked to achieve.
Is writing a book hard? Yes and no. For some people it’s extremely difficult, not because they’re not intelligent, but because their intelligence lies elsewhere. We all have particular skills we’re good at and others that we really should leave to the “experts.” So if you don’t like to write, consider hiring a ghostwriter to write your book.
If you’re going to write it yourself, set a deadline by which you’ll have it finished, and then decide to write 2 to 5 pages a day, every day. If you’re writing a 200 page book at 2 pages per day, you’ll be finished in 100 days. At 5 pages per day, you’ll be done in just 40 days. See? It doesn’t take long if you stay consistent.
The secret to writing a book? Write your table of contents first. This will become your outline, and it’ll break the book up into manageable pieces. It seems like a daunting task to write 200 pages about your subject, but 10 pages about one particular facet of your niche is a breeze.
For your book cover design, I recommend hiring a professional. People really, truly do judge your book by its cover. Sure, you can create your own, and if you’re a graphic artist then maybe that’s the way to go. For the rest of us, we put too much time and effort into our book to make do with our own amateurish cover. So do some research and find a professional book cover designer with a portfolio you like, and spend the extra money to get it done correctly.
Once you get your book finished, I believe you’ll find it’s the second most important tool in your marketing arsenal, right behind your list of customers and prospects. Your book has the potential to generate more business for you than perhaps a dozen full time sales people, and through the power of the Internet it can be working for you 24/7, making you an instant expert and the go-to person in the eyes of your prospects.