They say everyone has a story or a book inside of them. It follows then, that every business has an ebook inside of them – so why aren’t more businesses creating them?
Growth in ebook sales may have plateaued recently but if your business is still not producing ebooks as part of your marcomms/content marketing strategy then you may be missing out on a significant business opportunity.
It’s strange then, that there is a resistance to embracing ebooks as part of the marketing communications circus that comes to town when a new product is about to be launched or a refreshed brand is unleashed on the world.
When I spoke to some of our SME clients on the subject, they told me there were various ‘perceived’ barriers to creating in-house ebooks – one of which is time.
There’s an ever increasing amount of plates to spin from LinkedIn, to Facebook and Twitter, to Blogging, YouTube, podcasts and so on. For many companies, these activities still happen on the peripherals of their marcomms or content marketing strategy.
Yet these same SME’s did find time for blogging when they saw the business value, and even if they laughed at the idea of Twitter for business to begin with, they’re there now, Tweeting with the best of them. Which makes me wonder whether ebooks need to assert their business value more effectively.
In terms of business value, ebooks offer a number of well-documented opportunities. Ebooks will:
- attract targeted leads
- grow your mailing lists
- increase brand awareness
- establish your authority
- position you as a thought leader
- allow you to cover specific topics or pain points
in greater detail (beyond the blog)
- make your business money if you create an ebook that people are willing to pay for
- differentiate you from your competition.
If you’d like to keep reading about the benefits of creating ebooks you can catch up on one of our other blogs – ebooks could it be time to add another string to your bow?
Another barrier often cited is the level of technical know-how when it comes to digital publishing. I get it. Even if the business value is apparent, the world of ebooks is a scary new dimension for some SME’s to jump into. In terms of formatting, the good news is that creating an ebook is not as hard as may first appear. All you need is a simple Word doc and you are well on your way. More on that at the close of this article.
As far as a definition goes, an ebook is
an electronic version of a printed book which can be read on a computer or a specifically designed handheld device. An electronic book may also be referred to as an e-book, ebook or digital book
To this end, I have seen many businesses compile a document and convert it to a PDF and call it an ebook (and technically this is correct – you can still read PDFs on handheld devices), so there’s nothing stopping you doing this (see I told you it was easy).
The only reason I have a slight issue with this is, it’s about managing expectations. If you are expecting an ebook packed with great content, only to receive a 4-page PDF with regurgitated soundbites, you may feel ripped off. That negative experience will impact how you view the brand overall. This may seem harsh, after all, said brand is giving something away for nothing right? But this viewpoint means you are missing out on one of the key benefits of an ebook which is its greater sense of perceived value. That’s assuming you’ve taken care to create something in line with best practice and you’ve created something your clients want.
If you give your clients something they find valuable or informative (with no strings attached) these potential clients and existing customers are more inclined to trust your business. You have given them something for very little in return.
I’ve also read ebook with appalling spelling, appalling grammar and bad writing. These ebooks do nothing to enhance said brand’s business or their reputation as a thought leader. In fact, they do the very opposite. So don’t make the mistake of thinking just because you are creating an ebook for free that you can churn out dodgy work – think brand – think touchpoints and most of all – think of your customer.
The only other ‘perceived’ challenge to creating an ebook is ROI and the ability to measure success. Remember the confusion businesses expressed when it came to quantifying the ROI on social media way back in the day? Of course, it’s imperative you understand the value of your social marketing efforts – and there are many analytic platforms out there that can help you do just that. As long as you employ a landing page, a sign-up form, active campaign channels and some Google Analytics you’ve enough know-how to track ROI on your ebook.
don’t make the mistake of thinking just because you are creating an ebook for free that you can churn out dodgy work – think brand – think touchpoints and most of all – think of your customer.
Other than that, there is nothing mystical, scary or new about creating ebooks. The same communication rules apply. The same branding rules and the same messaging rules. When it comes to communicating with your audience, you should always have their needs to the forefront and you should always consider quality to be the cornerstone of your business. This should never change, whether you’re writing web content, creating brochures or Tweeting. It’s in your power to make it a pleasurable brand experience for everyone.
The only real challenge, therefore, is formatting and the technicalities. It’s never too late to add another string to your bow. Learning new skills is a great confidence booster at the very least and a huge asset to your business’s bottom line at best. Once you have gone through the process once or twice (as you did when you first started blogging) it will soon become an intrinsic part of your communication strategy.
Our latest ebook in the Become the Guru series guides you through the basics of writing and publishing your very first ebook even if you are a complete technophobe. This one is aimed at small business, though we will be producing another one for non-geeky Indie authors in the near future. If after reading our ebook you still can’t quite bring yourself to create an ebook for your business, get in touch with us.