Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by John Dumas from EntrepreneurOnFire. During the interview with John, I talked a bit about the two most important activities that helped us launch and grow into what is now the Content Marketing Institute: a blog and a book.
We launched the company back in 2007, and if I had to do it all over again in 2013, I would do the exact same thing… a blog and a book covering a particular niche area.
Funny thing is, everyone today has a blog (approximately 80 percent of companies have a blog, according to our latest content marketing research), yet less than three in 10 have a book.
Strategy first, but…
If I were a proper content marketing consultant, I would first take you down the path of identifying your customers’ needs, finding your content marketing mission statement, creating your buyer personas, and then working your content marketing channel strategy to figure out if a print book was a good content distribution method.
But today I’m feeling a bit saucy. Frankly, if you are going to position yourself and/or your company as the leading expert in your niche, you need a book. No, not an eBook distributed solely online… you need a “makes-a-big-thud-when-dropped-on-a-desk” book that is produced from dead trees.
I’m astonished and saddened that more organizations aren’t looking seriously at developing a book. But yet, some are…
Revenue Disruption from Marketo
Penned by Phil Fernandez (co-founder of Marketo), but this baby is a Marketo product. I received a signed copy in the mail as part of a very smart promotional effort by Marketo, and have also seen the book in multiple airport bookstores. The book title, “Revenue Disruption,” is a perfect description of Marketo’s mantra and purpose.
Precision Marketing from Ricoh Infoprint
From authors Sandra Zoratti & Lee Gallagher, the concepts play perfectly into the core of what Ricoh provides for customers: highly targeted and personalized content solutions. The book makes a slew of comparisons using real numbers about how precision marketing pays off more than traditional marketing.
Engagement Marketing from Constant Contact
From CEO Gail Goodman, the book provides a great road map for small businesses on how they can communicate more effectively with customers. Constant Contact, like Marketo, used a signed copy as part of its direct mail program. Honestly, it’s a helpful book and provides some great CC case studies.
Why have these companies developed a book? First, there is no better way to show true thought leadership than a printed book. A close second is this: It may be the best customer giveaway ever created (see the Marketo and Constant Contact example). And third, once the book has been developed, you have an amazing resource to develop ancillary content from the book, including more blog posts (excerpts), eBooks, SlideShare packages, white papers, and much, much more.
8 tips for making your book happen
Creating a book that makes an impact on your industry and business is anything but easy. That said, there are some tips I’ve picked up along the way that can make a difference in getting the book off the ground:
1. The deep dive content audit
You may already have a treasure trove of material that can be repurposed, or at minimum you have content that can be collected to form the initial workings of some key chapters. Be sure you do the work up front to see what you have to start with.
2. Mine the blog
For both “Get Content Get Customers” and “Managing Content Marketing,” much of the material came from existing blog posts, just reworked. If you have been blogging for at least six months, you might already have half a book.
Do you have key, noncompetitive partners that target the same prospects and customers as you? If so, consider reaching out to them about partnering on the book concept. Also, once you start promoting, you have two different networks to reach out to.
4. Get it funded
“Get Content Get Customers” was self published before McGraw-Hill purchased the rights. Much of the up-front investment came from selling bulk shipments to partner companies. If you don’t like that route, find a sugar daddy that really wants to get your message out there and have them support it through either distribution or monetary funding.
5. The mission
Be very clear what you want your readers to get out of the book. Write it down and keep it posted to your wall as you work on the book. So many companies focus on what they are trying to say, instead of pinpointing the focus on the pain points of the reader.
6. Include the influencers
If possible, include key examples from industry influencers, as well as partners, as long as it’s good content. The more people you can include into your stories the more opportunities for outside sharing.
7. Consider a ghostwriter
Believe it or not, many of the books from the authors you love have been written by someone else. I know, hard to believe right? But it’s true. The best ghostwriters out there start at about $50,000 and then go up from there. If you simply can’t make the internal time or don’t have the resources to get it done, consider it.
8. Stop somewhere and realize that perfection is unattainable
We could have kept writing both books forever if we wanted to. At some point, you have to draw a line in the sand and publish it. As soon as you finish it there will be some new research, some new story, or some new perspective that you should have covered. Don’t worry about it… just use it for your next book.
For more ideas on books that serve the content marketing audience, check out CMI Books.