Whether you make widgets or wine, sell consulting services or software, deep down inside of you, there's an author waiting to come out. Regardless of your writing skills or lack thereof, you and the business you represent have a story to tell-not a fairytale, thriller, romance, or science fiction adventure, but a nonfiction narrative that shares your unique knowledge and expertise with others who are hungry for it.
Welcome to the ebook era, a time when nonprofessional scribes everywhere can digitally disseminate their thoughts to the masses with ease, and self-published instructional, informational, and educational tomes can be accomplished with a few keystrokes. Social media may be the marketing tool of choice today, but smart companies, analysts, and marketers are learning that ebooks-ranging from tutorials to recipe collections to advice-rich autobiographies-can pack a profile-boosting wallop of their own.
A BUSINESS CARD FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
Ask Rachel Olsen, founder of Best Mom Products and self-published author of Shark Tank MOMpreneurs Take A Bite Out of Publicity, and she'll tell you that an ebook is considered the modern day business card. "It adds a level of credibility and seriousness to what you are providing and makes you stand out in your field as an expert," says Olsen. "The benefits include raising your profile, obtaining traction with potential customers, and creating awareness."
Rick Ramos, founder of a consultancy in Miami, can certainly vouch for the power of ebooks. In 2013, Ramos' Content Marketing: Insider's Secret to Online Sales & Lead Generation was the top-selling marketing book (in print and digital) on Amazon-the success of which enabled him to launch his own online marketing and social media agency and grow his social media presence from a handful to more than 50,000 people worldwide today. "Publishing ebooks helps [you] establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. It can increase your authenticity and help grow your social connections," Ramos says.
Furthermore, a nonfiction ebook is one of the best vehicles for subject matter experts to present their experiences, ideas, and disruptive points of view, according to Liora Farkovitz, a content developer/strategist and author in Brooklyn, N.Y. "Your ebook is an entre into other types of consulting, training, and experiential products and services," says Farkovitz, who adds that the title of "author" brings with it respect and admiration. "Completing the book demonstrates that you take your topic seriously, have thought it through, and can articulate and present your point of view. It leads to other publishing outlets taking you more seriously as a business person."
Jason Thibeault, senior director of marketing and strategy for Limelight in Tempe, Ariz., agrees. "The dedication and focus required to write a well-written book says a lot about the author as a potential vendor or partner. Not a whole lot of people can say, ‘I wrote a book,' even if it is self-published," says Thibeault.
Becoming an ebook author can also jump-start media opportunities to promote you and your business. "Television and radio hosts will be more likely to be interested in talking to you about your accomplishment and your ideas," says Farkovitz.
Aria Solar, inbound marketing coordinator at the Chicago-based UrbanBound, says her company uses ebooks to increase brand loyalty. "By producing content through ebooks, we serve as a valuable source of information to our followers and offer them something they truly need," says Solar. "But content in the ebook needs to have educational value to readers, and it needs to be information that they can use in growing and improving their companies. It should spark ideas, conversation, and even arguments. In doing this, your audience will not only trust you more, but they will have a reason to keep coming back."
Unlike blog posts or articles that can get buried in websites, an ebook will also withstand the test of time. "Ebooks never disappear," Thibeault says. "They can exist forever in the digital world, and more importantly, they can be updated from time to time, which provides new reasons for redistribution."