There's just something about a book.
Blogs are a great way to keep a conversation going between your business and your customers. Social media is perfect for fast, continuous engagement. eNewsletters are the perfect tool nurturing leads. But a book ... there's just something about books that make them more relatable and more reliable in the hearts and minds of the reader. And because of that, books are an amazing content marketing tool.
3 reasons why books make better content marketing tools
Social credibility – The first big advantage of a book is that it gives you a large measure of social credibility just by existing. In fact, your book doesn't ever have to reach a bestseller's list in order to give you some serious street cred with customers and clients. Have a high quality, professional produced and published book is often enough to show that you're serious about what you do, about the level of expertise you bring to the table, and about your ability to help customers and clients reach their own goals.
Expand on your mission statement – But books also help you and your organization crystalize your mission statement. They help define who you are, as a business, in a way that's personal and relatable. This might seem like overkill. Isn't it enough to simply have a written mission statement—a sentence or two that explains who you are? It can be. But a book gives you room to expand on the ideas outlined by that simple mission statement, and it helps you to more clearly define your mission to both your team and your customers. It's the difference between a movie trailer and the movie, or the map and the territory. One suggests the other, but it doesn't encapsulate it completely.
Books feel more permanent – Unlike a blog, a book feels more permanent to your audience. There's something comforting to a reader about the idea that what they're reading is complete and whole, and that it represents ideas that are more or less set in stone. Books represent a commitment to permanence, and a confidence in your message. You felt strongly enough about what was written that you released it for the world to pick over and scrutinize. It's a bit like making a promise to the reader—"We represent these ideas as true, and we're willing to back them up."
4 tips for using books in your content marketing strategy
Now that we've seen some of the advantages a book has over other forms of content marketing, here are some tips for crafting books that can help your business do more business.
Tell a story – Every book, whether fiction or non-fiction, is telling a story. Books that miss this tend to get read by exactly two people—the author and their editor. Books that keep this in mind, however, tend to become audience favorites, and thus can extend the reach of your message. Your goal, as the author, is to craft a story that engages your reader, informing and entertaining them as you expand on your ideas and background. Crafting a story seems easy—but it actually takes a skill for organizing ideas and making decisions about language, tone, and reading rhythm. If you're uncertain about your level of skill in doing this, you should consider working with a professional. You'll rarely regret it.
Tell the truth – Remember how we said books are permanent? So the last thing you want is to publish something that you can be called on later. Readers respond best to ideas that are genuine. You book should be an honest representation of you and your business.
Solve a problem – A book can be a bit of an ego boost, but as a marketing tool it needs to do one job better than self promotion—it needs to solve a problem for the reader. If your book is part of your marketing strategy, then a logical place to start is with the problem you solve for your ideal customer. Use the book to explain the nuances of the problem, and the ways in which it can be solved. Try to keep the blatant "selling" to a minimum. And remember, even an autobiography can do this work. CEOs and executives can discuss their history with the business and the industry in terms of how they helped shape the mission of their company. Artists, designers, and successful sales people can do the same. Positioning yourself as a problem solver establishes authority, and authority is your best marketable commodity.
Make it professional – Go pro or go home. Readers see enough badly produced content out there, from newsletters that drone on and have no formatting to blog posts riddled with typos and grammar errors. To a degree, potential customers will tolerate a bit of this in the marketing soup that comes their way. But from a book? Never. Every typo is a potential jump-off point for the reader. And a poorly designed cover might mean you reader never gets onboard at all. Spend the time and money it takes to have a well-written, well-edited, well-designed book.
Having a book as part of your content marketing strategy offers you more advantages than this single post can enumerate. You can use content from the book as part of your blogging and social media strategy, as guest posts on industry blogs, and even as part of letters to shareholders. The possibilities and uses are only limited by the creativity of your marketing team. But the starting point is having material to work from. So start thinking about your author strategy. And give Happy Pants Books a call if you need a little help!
Take a listen to Kevin Tumlinson on an episode of the Resonance Content Marketing Podcast to hear a bit more about how books can help boost your content marketing strategy.