I had the opportunity to sit down with Steve Woods (CTO at Eloqua) recently when we were both speaking at Online Marketing Summit – DC. We came to the subject of our respective books (mine Get Content Get Customers, Steve's Digital Body Language) and how they serve as the ultimate marketing tool.
Readers of this blog know that we (Newt Barrett and I) originally self-published Get Content Get Customers in 2008, with McGraw-Hill picking up the rights to the book in 2009. Outside of this blog, the book has been the #1 driver of success for both myself and with the organizations I'm involved.
With that in mind, I wanted to know what Steve's book has done for him, both personally and for Eloqua. Steve was nice enough to share his time and answer my questions below. After you read through this, you, as a professional and a stakeholder in your company, should think seriously about writing a book that positions you as a trusted expert in your field.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Just talked to Steve who said he'd be happy to give away a copy of his book to our readers. Anyone who comments is automatically entered in a drawing to receive a free copy. So…comment away. Thanks Steve!
Joe – What was the purpose behind writing the book?
Steve – We’ve been working with marketers for 10 years to understand how they are interacting with today’s new buyer. These marketers have all realized that today’s buyers have fundamentally changed; they use Google, various online sources, and social media to find their information, rather than interacting with a sales person. As a marketer, they are looking at how to engage with this new buyer and facilitate their overall buying process, rather than trying to sell to them. As we’ve helped these marketers, we’ve had a great opportunity to dig deep into what it takes to be successful, and the mistakes you can easily avoid as you evolve your marketing organization. Every time we spoke with our customers, they were very interested in the lessons of what pitfalls to avoid, what is critical to think through, and how to succeed in today’s B2B marketing environment.
As the space has evolved, there have been a lot of new companies springing up who are suggesting that it’s a problem that can be solved with technology alone. Today’s marketers know that engaging with today’s new buyer requires a new way of thinking about their business, not just another flashy piece of software. So many marketers were asking us to help them think through the business problems, rather than just the technology, that we knew we had a story that needed to be told.
Why a custom print book over something else?
I think there’s still something about the format of a book. Regardless of whether it’s a physical book, or on Kindle (we did both), the length of the format lets you dig into an area more deeply than you would if you were reading a one or two page article online. We wanted to give marketers something that they could take on the plane, relax, and make their way through, getting immersed in the topic for a few hours. I’ve had many marketers tell me that that was exactly how they read the book, and when they landed, they had a host of new ideas to take back to their teams and get started on.
I think each format has its own unique characteristics, and they work best when they are used together.
Talk a bit about the process for getting the book written and produced.
That was an interesting process. I would say that it took about a year, start to finish, to do the writing of the book. I still had a day job, so much of that was on planes. A trip from Toronto to San Francisco gave me at least 3 hours of uninterrupted writing time, for example. However, I also wanted to share the stories of how various marketers were tackling the challenges of engaging with today’s buyer, and where they were succeeding. To do that, I had the marketers behind 30 of the most fascinating marketing challenges tell their story, and included those in the book.
The interview, editing, revision, and approval process for those 30 stories took almost as long as the writing itself, but was probably the most interesting for me, as I had the chance to talk with some of the best marketers around.
Interestingly, I found out that you only need cover art and an ISBN number to get your book up on Amazon. We had it live for pre-order at least 6 months before the books were ready.
Start to finish, it was about 18 months to complete the book. I outlined a rough time line in a blog post I wrote when the first copies arrived, for those considering the process.
How do you balance the need for not being “promotional” in a book with the need to drive business?
It’s a good question. I wanted to make sure that we didn’t talk at all about our technology or solutions in the book so as not to be promotional. However, in educating the market about what’s possible, how to think about the challenges and opportunities, and what is critical for success, the book has been a big driver of business for us. I would say that it helps in three ways:
- Early Stage: as marketers are thinking about their plans and initiatives, having them aware of what’s possible in the space, and how they can engage with today’s buyers better and more effectively leads to a higher level of interest in our space in general.
- Mid-Funnel: each story in the book gives readers an idea of what’s possible. Some of those stories trigger an “aha” moment, and lead to a conversation about a way we can help that marketer’s business that may not have been thought of previously.
- Buying Stage: the book gives marketers a more comprehensive view of all the people, process, and technology elements that are needed to succeed. Armed with this, they are better able to ask deep questions and get beyond the “pretty demo” phase when they are evaluating solutions.
So, although the book itself is not promotional at all, it definitely helps us in all aspects of the sales cycle. The more educated potential buyers are about our space in general, what’s possible, and how to truly achieve success, the better we do.
Once you have a book created, how do you best leverage that marketing asset? How do you get the word out about a book?
It’s a great asset to leverage, and we are using almost every channel to leverage it. The Digital Body Language blog talks about many of the ideas in the book and both drives awareness and keeps the conversation going. We use everything from Twitter and email marketing to press releases and banners to drive awareness of the blog as a central point in promoting the book. Similarly, the book provides a great foundation for webinars with other thought leaders in the industry, relations with social media luminaries like yourself, speaking opportunities, and direct client engagement.
So, what kind of results are you seeing because of the book?
The results have been fantastic so far, and we’re just getting started. It’s the stories that really help; we’ve had so many examples of people we were talking with who read an example and said it was exactly what they wanted to do. That led to a great conversation about their business and how we would make them successful. However, the real indicator of success was when they went out into the market and did their research into alternative solutions. When they came back to us saying that they had seen a variety of pretty demos, but were now able to ask the hard questions about how their business would get to success, I knew we had succeeded with the book.
Would you do anything different?
Like any first experience it’s a learning experience. I think that if I did it again, I would start the conversations in social media well before the book launches. We started the Digital Body Language blog at around the same time as the book launched, which meant that it was still building momentum well after the book was out. Starting the social media conversation around the topics in a book well before the book launches allows you to build buzz and momentum prior to the launch.
How about a second book?
Definitely something under consideration… There has been a great response to a lot of the topics I’ve covered on the Digital Body Language blog that were somewhat outside of the book’s main topic. Not sure of exactly what the book would look like or when, but it’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about very seriously.