Category Archives: marketing

Quick Guide to Building a Website and Audience for Your Coaching Business

First of all I want to say congratulations for taking the daring leap of faith that is entrepreneurship. I’m sure you’ll find it a journey that is incredibly rewarding as well as very frustrating. I know I do.

"The more challenging the goal the more obstacles you are going to cross." - Jeff Hawkins (Palm Computing) Click To Tweet

As you are aware the first step for building up an audience for your coaching business is your website. All of your online marketing efforts will either start there or, more likely, end there as people see your marketing, visit your website, see if it looks professional, and then sign up for a consultation.

Value Proposition:

Before you start work on your website you need to figure out what you’re going to say on your site. That begins with what is called the value proposition.

All marketing is selling somebody on a better version of themselves. This is true for car commercials, purse ads in magazines, and insurance commercials on the radio (saving money makes a richer you). With your marketing for your coaching services you are doing this literally.

With that in mind let’s first look at your value proposition. Here is one formula (from Steve Blank at Stanford) about coming up with your value proposition:

“We help X do Y by doing Z”

X = your audience

In this case the X is your audience. Who are they specifically? You need to have a very clear idea about this for two reasons:

  1. It is easier to tailor your message when you can picture your audience. (Check out this article for more information about customer development.)
  2. Your first instinct is to not limit your possible customer base but that is exactly what you should do. You can pick out a niche (a smaller segment of your overall audience) and own it with very targeted messaging. Once you conquer that niche (be the big fish in a small pond) you can expand. Or, said differently, if you try to sell to everyone you’ll end up selling to no one. Instead start by selling to exactly one person (a niche of your niche).

Y = the better version of themselves

Be specific about what this is. “Achieve your goals” or “find success” are very vague and mean different things to different people. “Smile more”, “sleep better”, and “secure a promotion” are bit more specific goals that somebody might have. (I haven’t done coaching but I imagine the more specific the goal your client has the more actionable the advice you give can be. And the more actionable the advice the more likely they are to follow it and achieve a positive outcome.)

Z = that action required to achieve Y

Your coaching services but what specifically does that entail? Weekly or monthly meetings? In person? Over the phone? Is it an x-step process?

“Renew the adventure in your life with one small step a day.”

A way that I came up with to reach a value proposition is using the “Five Whys?“.

This website visitor wants to hire a coach.

Why?

To gain confidence.

Why?

They feel overlooked and/or taken advantage of.

Why?

Nobody asks them for their input at work.

Why?

They are not viewed as an authority/leader.

Why?

They keep to themselves and do not attract attention.

So, in this example (and it is just an example) they think they want to gain confidence but they really want more attention, recognition, etc.

“The path to wins, recognition, and accolades starts with one step.” (signing up for a free consultation)

tldr: be specific about your service and the outcome right at the top of your page.

"Resilience is something you do. Get up and go forward every day with hope and optimism." - Jackie Speier (U.S.… Click To Tweet

Images:

Back to selling somebody a better version of themselves I would recommend that your site use images with bright colors. Show them the person they want to become. Specifically for the first image I would use an image of an attractive female smiling (research shows both men and women are more likely to click a button on a landing page that features an attractive woman).

You can use Unsplash to find images to use on your site. I like this one if it were to be inverted (so she is facing left to right):

Photo by Fernando Brasil on Unsplash

This one also seems appropriate for coaching and could be used further down the page:

Photo by Catherine McMahon on Unsplash

Testimonials are great (they form what is called social proof) but they are even more effective with the picture of the person. Your testimonials should be on the front page of your site and, if you can, put smiling pictures next to each one.

"Expect the unexpected and whenever possible be the unexpected." - Jack Dorsey (Square/Twitter) Click To Tweet

Copy:

As much as you possibly can you want to write your copy about the visitor rather than you. A good exercise it to replace “I” and “we” in your copy with “you”.

Secondly, be confident. Phrases like “I think” and “I believe” weaken your message.

Finally, tell me about what the process will entail for me as a client. What happens day one? Is there a plan tailored to my goals and time frame?

Traffic and trust:

Most entrepreneurs learn fairly quickly that putting up a website by itself does not actually result in any customers. This is particularly true for service businesses as opposed to ecommerce businesses. You likely will get some business from people you know and referrals but you will not initially get any from strangers on the Internet.

But you can change that!

You can build trust with your audience by developing a relationship with them and building your brand. Typically on the Internet that is done with social media, blog posts, email, videos, podcasts, etc. Focus on one or two of those.

Basically you need to put in a lot of hours and give everything away for free at first. The people that connect with you the best will be the ones that become your customers.

Email

I strongly suggest email being one of your ways of building an audience, and a relationship with them, because it is a direct line to your audience that you own. You’re going to need to start with an email marketing platform. I really like Drip but there are others out there (Mailchimp probably being the most popular).

Sign up for Drip and create a five-day educational email course where you go in depth about a single sliver of what you cover in your coaching. Five lessons on meditation might be something that would be popular. Five lessons on workplace communications, going back to work after having a baby, marital nitpicking, etc. There are lots of problems that people would love to learn to handle better. Write up five emails about a topic and then on the last email mention that if they would like to explore further they can reply to the email and set up an appointment.

Put an opt-in form for this email course on your homepage.

Another way to get people to signup for your email list is by giving away an ebook. They don’t have to be long but, like with an email course, you are demonstrating what you are an authority and why somebody can trust you. (This is my guide to creating an ebook.)

Podcasting

I might recommend podcasting as your second avenue for building an audience as it is really hard to standout in the blogosphere these days and it is less work than video. Possible formats for a podcast:

  • Q&A (either with a “caller” or where people write in with questions and you answer)
  • Interviews
  • Book reviews
  • Discussions on books, academic papers, etc.

Stick to one format for your podcast (you can launch more if you want) as I hear it is good to get into a rhythm for them and it allows you to be creative inside constraints.

"Creativity loves constraint." - Marissa Mayer (Google) Click To Tweet

Instagram

Instagram could be a powerful platform for reaching your ideal client and seems to be a place where inspiration (and self-help?) thrives.

Analytics:

Eventually you are going to want to track the number of people who visit your site and how they find you so install Google Analytics.

Motivation:

Some days I struggle to find the motivation to work on my business and do my ONE Thing. One thing I posted on my business dashboard is a question, “Why are you trying to help and how can you best help them?”

Passion and Perseverance

If you needed any further entrepreneurial inspiration check out my book, Passion and Perseverance, which is a collection of advice from entrepreneurs much smarter and more successful than myself.

"Your best day is always in front of you." - Mark Forchette (OptiMedica) Click To Tweet
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The maketing secret sauce is passion

If you are like me you are constantly consuming content (like this very post) looking for that one piece of advice that will take your business to the next level. Very, very rarely is that what happens. That is no fault of the advice though. Why it fails to convert for you usually comes down to one of three reasons:

  1. You don’t have enough traffic for it to move the needle
  2. It does not fit with your brand and/or your audience
  3. You half-assed the implementation

The first two reasons stem from the fact that there is no silver bullet. No two businesses are exactly the same. What makes your businesses unique (as well as being the solution to the third issue) is:

Your Passion

Your passion comes through in your marketing. In your copy. In your emails. In your content.

“If you’re doing something you’re not passionate about you’re flunking a cosmic I.Q. test.” – Ron Conway

When you are passionate you go the extra mile which really shines through in quality. You always find the best images for your blog posts, your product videos look like a professional created them, and your mailing list emails come across as genuine rather than salesy.

Not only is your passion reflected in the quality of the content you produce but also in the quantity. When you are passionate about something it is all you want to talk about. Not only will you write blog posts but you’ll be giving presentations, going on podcasts, and shouting from the rooftops to anyone that will listen. A great conversation about my industry with a peer makes my day. Turning them into a customer is the cherry on top.

To reignite your passion answer the two following questions:

  1. Who am I trying to help?
  2. What is the best way to help them?

By revisiting your motivation you will have more success with the methods for taking your business to the next level. Answer those questions whenever you are creating new marketing content and you will have an easier time taking something good and making it great.

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Sales Meet Marketing

If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation.Up until Don Draper and Sterling Cooper started gracing our airwaves a lot of people did not understand the distinction between sales and marketing. Many still don’t. It is understandable as to outsiders they both have the same purpose: to get people to buy the product. Even in small companies where you might not have separate sales and marketing teams it can be confusing. As your company grows (or you find yourself working in one) you will find that the distinction exists and often for a good reason.

As an underdog entrepreneur it is important to make the distinction between sales and marketing early on so that when you do start hiring people for specific roles in those departments they are stepping into structure that already exists and build upon what has already been done instead of reinventing the wheel. So this is written with that in mind.

Sales -> Marketing

Sales gives marketing one crucial thing it does not have which is the customer’s voice. Sales talks to customers and potential customers all day every day. They hear what problems people face, what they are looking for in terms of solutions, and what it will take for them to pick your solution. In short, what sales can give marketing is information:

  • Any product questions
  • Most common objections
  • Current solutions/providers that customers use
  • Words, language, jargon that customers use

Additionally sales can, and might be already, monitoring their leads’ blogs, social media, and any news about them (you can use Google Alerts to do this for free). When they learn about problems that the leads face they relay those to marketing. If it is deemed that a decent number of customers would have those same problems then there might be a good opportunity for a piece of content.

Sales gives marketing one crucial thing it does not have which is the customer's voice.

Marketing -> Sales

The main thing that the marketing department can deliver to sales is content that helps them move prospects further down the funnel. This content can be product information pieces, materials that speak directly to customer objections, and industry/market data and projections. I think those last ones are particularly good for for what I call conversation pieces and can be turned into SlideShares that can be shared on LinkedIn and that sales can send to prospects that have fallen out of the funnel in order restart the conversation and bring them back in.

Here are some ideas for materials marketing can create:

  • Whitepapers
  • Ebooks
  • Slideshares
  • Infographics

Analytics

It will take time but be sure to set up tracking so you know what each prospect has been sent and by who. This will help you cull the content that does not convert and double down on the content that does.

Customization

There will be some pieces that will be more effective if they can be customized with the prospect’s name and data. Content that has projections or comparisons to industry averages are examples of those. In those cases if possible give sales the content in a format that they can customize themselves.

Segmentation

The more data that is shared between sales and marketing the better each department will be at segmenting customers. That will allow more targeted communication and content which will result in more leads for marketing and more customers for sales.

Continuous Cross-Pollination

Without veering too far down the lane towards Office Space and TPS reports, it might be beneficial to have a set list of deliverables for sales to bring to marketing for a monthly meeting between the two departments. Those might include some of the things that we just discussed. Additionally once a quarter have marketing sit in on a sales meeting and vice versa. That sort of cross pollination can lead the kind of initiatives that deliver the big results you crave.

Use the five whys to get to your value proposition

For one of my products I was getting getting polite interest but not turning any leads into customers. That is a recipe for a failed business. I knew that the product was a good one that would allow the leads to make a huge jump with their business in terms of retaining existing customers and winning new customers but nobody I talked to was signing up.

I had a problem.

Either I had grossly misread my niche’s needs or I was not communicating my product’s value proposition well enough. (Or maybe a bit of both.) I had done some customer development prior to building the product but at this point the product was built and ready for users. And if I had been effective at communicating the value of the product you would have expected to get some people signing up and trying it out.

Since that wasn’t happening the issue was clearly that the value proposition in my marketing materials and sales calls was not good enough. I needed to improve it.

When I had originally created the product’s website I had tried out some of the common value proposition formulas such as Steve Blank’s:

“We help X do Y by doing Z”.

And this is Geoffrey Moore’s:

“For (target customer) who (need statement), the (product/brand name) is a (product category) that (key benefit statement/compelling reason to buy). Unlike (primary competitor alternatives), (product/brand name) (primary differentiation statement).”

Those did not work for me in this case. I suspect that is because a lot of them are about positioning your product versus a competitor for potential customer who is already sold on the need. In my case I needed to sell the customer on the need for a product in this category rather than tell them why I am better than the competitors. One day I was reading a business post-mortem which was laid out with the “five whys” and a light bulb went off. I should use that for finding my value proposition.

The five whys are a powerful business tool that were originally developed at Toyota. The technique is used to get to the root of a problem by asking why five times. Start with the problem and then ask why it happens. Take that answer and ask why it happens. Repeat until you have asked why five times and you will be much closer to figuring out what in the organization is causing the problem you are seeing.

Groove:

Groove value proposition

For using this technique for finding a value proposition let’s use the example of Groove which provides help desk software. These are the five why’s they might ask about their customers:

Five Whys:

A customer needs help desk software:

  1. Why? – They want to better manage their support requests.
  2. Why? – To provide better service to their customers.
  3. Why? – To reduce churn.
  4. Why? – To increase revenue.
  5. Why? – To grow their business.

Value Propositions:

Based on this they could try the following as value propositions:

“Build a world class business by providing world class customer support.”

“Simple help desk software for successful businesses.”

“Help desk software you can scale with.”

Buffer:

Buffer Value Proposition

Five Whys:

A customer needs software to handle social media:

  1. Why? – They have a lot of social media accounts.
  2. Why? – They want to connect with their audience no matter what social network they are on.
  3. Why? – To share their content.
  4. Why? – To provide value to their audience.
  5. Why? – To build relationships.

Value Propositions:

“Build relationships with your audience.”

“Engage your audience with your best content whenever and wherever they are.”

“Turn followers into customers by making sure they see the content you share.”

Drip:

Drip Value Proposition

Five Whys:

A customer needs an email marketing platform:

  1. Why? – They want to dynamically send emails.
  2. Why? – To provide different content to different segments of subscribers.
  3. Why? – To deliver content that feels personal.
  4. Why? – People respond better to personal emails.
  5. Why? – More engaged people will move down the sales funnel.

Value Propositions:

“Deliver personalized emails to every customer and future customer.”

“Provide personalized content that converts at every stage of your sales funnel.”

“Build personal relationships by making every email personal.”

“A business is built on relationships and relationships are between people. Make every email personal.”

I suspect a lot of Drip’s customers, if not the majority of them, are moving to Drip from other email marketing platforms. In that case they don’t need to sell the visitor on the benefit of email marketing software but why Drip is better than the software the visitor currently uses.

(I actually really like what they are using here: “The best marketing automation platform, hands down.”)

Five Whys:

Drip is better than competitors:

  1. Why? – It is easier to use.
  2. Why? – Because it has a visual campaign builder that ties all the features together.
  3. Why? – So you can customize every communication.
  4. Why? – Because that will convert more subscribers to customers.
  5. Why? – The founders know from their years of experience.

Value Propositions:

“Created by business owners who understand that powerful software should be simple to use.”

“Decades of email marketing experience at your fingertips.”

“Developed by, and for, entrepreneurs.”

“An email marketing platform proven to be easy to use and powerful enough to convert your subscribers into your customers.”

Test. Test. Test.

Some of those value propositions were better than others but what is nice about this exercise is that by slightly altering the premise and going through the five whys again you will end up in a completely different place.

There are a lot of ways to figure out your value proposition and you should be continuously testing to see which one resonates best with your audience. It can be the difference between having a successful business and being out of business.

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engage-giveaways-plugin-color-medium

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A big reason why this plugin will help you engage your website visitors is that each entry will flow directly into your email marketing software (currently supporting Drip and Mailchimp) so that you can drop them into your workflows and start building a relationship with them immediately.

There is a limited number of lifetime licenses available for pre-order at an extremely low cost. The hope is that the first adopters help drive improvements by providing feedback so if you fit that description I’m looking to give you a deal.

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Email Template Roundup

I am all about engaging people for your business through email. (Literally that is what my book is about.) Throughout your relationships with your customers, prospective customers, and industry peers there are countless opportunities to reach out to someone and to push your relationship forward.

The problem with having so many opportunities is that it takes a long time to create all of those emails. Writing (and revising) a great email sequence takes time so to get a head start you can use email templates that sales and marketing masterminds have shared with us.

I have used each of the templates in this roundup in one of my businesses.

Educational Campaign Emails

Providing value to someone upfront is one of the best ways to turn them into a prospective customer. A great way to do that is to teach them something related to the product or service you sell. For example Home Depot does a workshop where they go over a different home repair each week. You can do the same via a webinar. However, an easier, and scalable, way is to create an email course around a topic.

The email marketing software Drip comes with a couple templates already set up for that: the “5-Day Email Mini Course” and the “4-Week Email Mini Course”. I like the daily course better for teaching a specific topic with the weekly course more when you are presenting more general content about your industry.

This is the first email:

Thanks for checking out my 5-day crash course on **TOPIC OF COURSE**

I’m **NAME**, the founder of **COMPANY**. My goal for this course is to provide you with new techniques and approaches for **MAIN BENEFIT OF THE COURSE**, while keeping them as actionable and succinct as possible.

And today, we start with a look at **TOPIC OF TODAY’S EMAIL**.

** PASTE YOUR EDUCATIONAL, NON-SALES CONTENT HERE FROM YOUR BLOG POST, WHITE PAPER OR EBOOK **

This email course will provide you with actionable tips on how you can **BENEFIT OF THE COURSE**. More on that later…

Tomorrow, we’ll be delving into **TOPIC OF TOMORROW’S EMAIL**.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please hit the reply button and drop me a line. I will respond personally to every email.

And if you’re ahead of the curve and want to get started, feel free to learn more about **PRODUCT_NAME** here.
Until tomorrow,

**NAME**
**TITLE**

Other email campaign blueprints they have are:

  • Follow-up (Post-Demo)
  • Follow-up (Sample Report)
  • Follow-Up (Subscription Trial)
  • Cart Abandonment Recovery

WIth their workflow feature it is easy to guide a customer through multiple email campaigns from the time they are a prospect to when they become a customer and to later upsell them based on their usage. Great for all businesses but particularly for SaaS businesses.

Sales Emails

Steli Efti of Close.io has become something of a motivational speaker for startups. You listen to him give a talk and come out of it knowing that you can take the leap today and start selling. Key to his method are to stop procrastinating and to just start sending the emails, making the calls, and to never stop following up.

This simple cold email (his example is selling Dropbox to a law firm) can be modified for any software or service industry:

Hi [contact.fist_name],

My name is [user.first_name] with [organization.name].

We help law firms store & manage all of their client data securely in the cloud. I wanted to learn how you handle data storage at [lead.display_name] and show you what we’re working on.

Are you available for a quick call tomorrow afternoon?

A great takeaway from the follow up emails is that you offer the lead a few specific times for a possible call:

Do you have a few minutes for a quick call later this week?

Wed @ 11 am PST
Thur @ 2 pm PST
Fri @ 3 pm PST

If you ask them to make the first move in scheduling a time you’re often going to wind up waiting indefinitely. Present them with a few times they can say yes or no to. If they come back saying that none will work then try three new times. And keep following up until you get that call scheduled!

A few more templates from Close.io that I use can be found here.

Customer Onboarding Emails

I love the “You’re In” Email from Groove as the first email in an onboarding sequence. I feel this one can be modified for use whether you are selling a product or a service. You’re engaging your new customer to learn a little bit about why they choose you which is very helpful when creating your customer profiles.

I really appreciate you joining us at Groove, and I know you’ll love it when you see how easy it is to deliver awesome, personal support to every customer.

We built Groove to help small businesses grow, and I hope that we can achieve that for you.

If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love it if you answered one quick question: why did you sign up for Groove?

I’m asking because knowing what made you sign up is really helpful for us in making sure that we’re delivering on what our users want. Just hit ‘reply’ and let me know’

By the way, over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sending you a few more emails to help you deliver awesome support to your customers. We’ll be sharing some tips, checking in with you and showing you how some of our customers use Groove to grow their businesses.

I now use the “hit reply and let me know a little about you and/or your business” in most of my email campaigns. Not everybody responds but you learn so much when they do.

This sequence of onboarding emails from Baremetrics is great for SaaS companies to use throughout a trial period. Days 1,2,3,5, 12, and 14 specifically. Some of the other days are pretty specific to their app. I also hesitate as it is a lot of emails over a two week period of time but you can check open, click through, and response rates and find what works best for your business.

Failed Payment (Dunning) Emails

This one is for SaaS or other businesses that bill a customer’s credit card monthly.

Patrick McKenzie (Patio11 on the Internet) gave a talk at MicroConf Europe 2013 titled, “Building Things To Help Sell The Things You Build”. In it he brought up “dunning emails” which are the emails that a user receives when their credit card charge fails which usually happens when somebody gets a new card but forgets to update their billing information.

He brings up the point that when a charge fails the language in the notification email needs to be gentle. Use terms like “pausing your service” rather than “cancelling your account”. From Christoph Engelhardt’s notes on Patrick’s talk:

  • Everyone gets 3 dunning emails
  • Get to the point ASAP
  • Prominent link to capture updated CC data
  • Extend a 3 day grace period, try daily within grace
  • Don’t forget a “You didn’t update so we took the liberty of pausing your account” email

This post by Richard Felix shows what Drip itself does with their dunning emails. They use a series of three emails as Patrick recommended. You can see from the first email in the sequence that they don’t place any blame on the user (the card might have expired), use language that puts the blame on Drip (“will let you know if it’s still not working”), and don’t mention the possibility of disabling the account until the second to last sentence.

From: Rob at Drip
Subject: Uh oh, credit card fail – your emails will stop sending soon…

Hello,

It appears we’ve run into a problem charging your credit card on file at GetDrip.com. We’d love to keep sending emails to your subscribers – so let’s get you back on track!

The most common two causes of card rejections are that your card has expired, or that your bank has rejected the charge.

So first, visit your billing settings to double check that your card has not expired (and just for kicks, go ahead and update it to see if that fixes things). We will attempt to charge again in 48 hours and will let you know if it’s still not working.

If you hear from us again about this, the most likely explanation is that your credit card company is rejecting our charge. Please call the number on the back of your card and ask them to allow charges from GetDrip.com moving forward.

As of now your account is still active, but it will be disabled if we aren’t able to get your card working. So let’s get your account back on track and serving up more tasty email goodness!

The Drip Team

Networking (Influencer Outreach) Emails

A quote I love from Charlie “Tremendous” Jones (a motivational speaker) is:

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Networking is a great way to learn and grow both your business and as a person. For many people it requires stepping outside of your comfort zone and reaching out to people with more experience than you and whom you respect.

I recommend creating a plan to reach out to ten people a month that you follow on Twitter, read their blog, heard them on a podcast, or are in your network on LinkedIn (or are one removed and you can ask somebody you know for an introduction). When you have a list of ten people for the month then drop them an email.

Number two and three of Groove’s email templates (they really do share a lot of great content) are emails you can use to reach out to influencers in your industry or people in your network (look at their profile for articles they have written, organizations they are a part of, and charities they support):

Hi [firstname],

I loved your post about [subject + authentic reason].

I wrote a post about [compelling teaser]. I know you’re an expert on this, and I’d really appreciate your feedback.

Do you mind if I send you a link?

Thanks,
[your name]

The Underdog Action Plan

Use one of these templates to create a new campaign of at least three emails for one of these stages of the customer relationship:

  • Subscriber
  • Prospect
  • New customer
  • At-risk customer (somebody who is paying for your product/service but isn’t using it)

If you are struggling for ideas just drop me an email (will at the domain) and I’ll help you brainstorm.

Remember, at the end of the day, the more great content you have created the more you will be able to engage your audience and convert them into happy customers.

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Guide to creating customer profiles

People respond much better to targeted marketing than they do to general marketing. Imagine being able to talk to each potential customer directly! We’re a little ways from that but with a combination of tracking, big data, and A.I. improvements I think the future is hyper-targeted marketing.

skynet_customer_profiles

Until that utopian future (if you are a marketer) or dystopian future (if you don’t like being marketed to) we will have to settle for other methods to target our marketing messages and customer onboarding processes. In order to do that you need to be able to effectively segment your customers in order to tailor your message.

The upside to creating a series of customer profiles (also known as buyer personas) is that your blog content, mailing list emails, and ads will convert better. This is particularly helpful if you place ads on Facebook. The downside is that creating separate content for each segment is a lot more work. But it is work that will pay off in the end.

Customer profile details

For creating profiles I like this character development outline that I used in my college playwriting class. It is called Character Bone Structure and is from Lajos Egri’s The Art of Dramatic Writing. I’ve used it not just for creative writing but for creating buyer personas for my marketing efforts.

PHYSIOLOGY

  1. Sex
  2. Age
  3. Height and weight
  4. Color of hair, eyes, skin
  5. Posture
  6. Appearance: good-looking, over- or underweight, clean, neat,
    pleasant, untidy. Shape of head, face, limbs.
  7. Defects: deformities, abnormalities, birthmarks. Diseases.
  8. Heredity

SOCIOLOGY

  1. Class: lower, middle, upper.
  2. Occupation: type of work, hours of work, income, condition of
    work, union or nonunion, attitude toward organization,
    suitability for work.
  3. Education: amount, kind of schools, marks, favorite subjects,
    poorest subjects, aptitudes.
  4. Home life: parents living, earning power, orphan, parents
    separated or divorced, parents’ habits, parents’ mental
    development, parents’ vices, neglect. Character’s marital
    status.
  5. Religion
  6. Race, nationality
  7. Place in community: leader among friends, clubs, sports.
  8. Political affiliations
  9. Amusements, hobbies: books, newspapers, magazines he reads.

PSYCHOLOGY

  1. Sex life, moral standards
  2. Personal premise, ambition
  3. Frustrations, chief disappointments
  4. Temperament: choleric, easygoing, pessimistic, optimistic
  5. Attitude toward life: resigned, militant, defeatist.
  6. Complexes: obsessions, inhibitions, superstitions, phobias.
  7. Extrovert, introvert, ambivert
  8. Abilities: languages, talents.
  9. Qualities: imagination, judgment, taste, poise.
  10. I.Q.

(You can bet the door-to-door salesmen of yesteryear would attempt to learn these about a customer within moments of the door opening.)

Obviously this goes into a great deal of detail and some of it you definitely don’t need (but let the data tell you what you need and don’t!). You can probably make things a bit simpler to start with. If you are targeting consumers you can start by using the following four variables or even less:

  • Gender
  • Age (brackets of ten years)
  • Marital status
  • Income

2 options for gender * 5 options for age (20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, over 60) * 2 options for marital status * 2 options for income (keep it simple with over/under an income figures such as $50,000) = 40 different possible customer profiles.

You can see that the more variables you use vastly increase the number of profiles. So, start with just a few variables that you deem important and work from there. And don’t be afraid to repurpose content or create content that spans profiles. Depending on your product somebody married in their 30s is not going to be all that different from somebody married in their 40s.

When selling to small businesses a few simple variables to start with might be:

  • Industry
  • Role (owner or employee)
  • Revenue

This is not a substitution for picking up the phone and talking to customers. The more you talk to and engage your potential customers the more you will learn about them. Whenever you are in doubt about something in your business talking to customers will go a long way towards helping you find an answer

Creating customer profiles

Here are a few steps to help you being filling in your customer profiles:

1. Identify the data you already have

You might already have some data on your customers but might not know it. If you use a CRM system for sales it likely has some data in there about your customers. (If it doesn’t you should definitely add some custom fields in order to start recording things such as company size, industry, current solutions they use, and any personal details about your contact that they mention.)

Where you definitely have some hidden data is in your email. Most business people use email signatures which typically contain a few good pieces of information you can use. Here are a few things you can probably glean from a signature and then supplement by looking them up on LinkedIn (a great task for a virtual assistant):

Creating customer profiles from email signatures

2. Go to where your customers hangout

Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, and Twitter are all places you can look at to find people talking about the problem that your product or service solves. Look at the discussions they are having and the people that are having them. You should be able to fairly quickly identify a few buckets that your potential customers fall into.

As an experiment (the Underdog Action Plan for the week) create and write down three basic profiles and then try to put twenty people into the bucket that you think best fits them. You’ll probably get most of them, particularly if you did early customer development, but you also might find that the most vocal people online are not potential customers but just people with too much time on their hands. Reach out to the twenty people you assigned to a bucket and see if you can ask them a few questions.

Pro tip: 44% of U.S. consumers go straight to Amazon to search about products. Read the reviews people leave on books and products related to your industry to learn about your potential customers.

3. Ask your customers directly

It is always best to pick up the phone and talk with a customer directly. However you can also leverage technology to get their feedback at various points throughout your relationship such as when they visit your website (I’m sure you have been asked to fill out a survey on a website), when they become a customer, and later after they have used your product or service. This is an example for a questionaire for a new customer.

Using Google Forms you can easily create a customer feedback form and ask them to fill it out. From “Start a New Form” select the “Customer Feedback” form. You might need to click on “More” in which case you will find it listed under the “Work” forms.

Click on the “Feedback Type” question and then click on the trashcan to delete it. Now click on the “Name” field followed by the plus icon on the right. Add in questions about the customer that you can use to create profiles:

Google Forms Customer Profile
Don’t add too many or you risk people not responding. Ideally it should take somebody just a minute or two to answer all of the questions.

After you have finished click on “Send” in the upper right and then click on the paperclip icon to get a link to send to your new customers. As the results come in you can view them from inside forms or, even better, view the data in Google Sheets so that you can analyze it.

Customize and convert

Knowing somebody’s background and ambitions can really change the language you use when describing your value proposition. Appealing to your customer’s interests is imperative to generating sales. It is going to require experimentation and learning to do so will be the key to your growth engine.

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    • The Engage Guide to Email Marketing

      Get a free chapter from my step-by-step guide to growing your business by leveraging the power of email marketing automation.

The step-by-step guide to creating an ebook

Finishing an ebook is a very fulfilling feeling. Much more so than a blog post. (The writing for both can be brutal work.) I can only imagine the sense of relief that a novelist feels when they type their last word and the sense of accomplishment when they see a physical copy on the shelf at their local book store. With an ebook you won’t see that physical copy (though you can if you create one through Amazon’s CreateSpace) but you still will feel like you are creating something tangible that people will hopefully enjoy.

A good ebook doesn’t need to be long. If it is informative and provides value it will be something that the target audience would like to add to their Kindle, read on their phone, or follow along with on their computer. Like all great content, if you inspire your readers to take action they will come back for more.

This guide will provide a step-by-step walkthrough of the process of creating an ebook. By the end of it I hope to have shown you that it isn’t a difficult task and inspired you to create your own. (If you do please contact me on Twitter and tell me about it!)

Why Write?

From a marketing perspective there are two reasons to write a book:

Authority

You will literally be the person that wrote the book on your subject. That goes a long way to establishing credibility in your industry and with credibility comes trust. All other things being equal people are going to purchase from the person who has written a book and established themselves as an expert on the product, service, or industry.

Reference the fact that you have written a book in every bio, feature it prominently on your blog or web page, and include a link to it under your signature in every email. People will subconsciously give your words more weight.

Reach potential customers

Using ebooks to grow your customer base can happen both directly and indirectly. Indirectly is via people who have come across your book through outside channels (on Amazon, Google, or through a recommendation) but don’t know you or your product or service. Through reading your book they become aware of you and what you do and will hopefully become a customer down the road.

More directly you can use an ebook as a way to gather more customers by giving it away in exchange for an action, email address, or sale. Let’s take a look at examples of each of those.

Action: Tweet about my new service and be entered to win a copy of my new book! One entry for each tweet.

Email address: Enter your email below for a free copy of my new book delivered right to your inbox.

Sale: Buy my product and get my book for free.

Giveaways are a great way to get people in the door (figuratively for an Internet business and literally for a brick-and-mortar business) and we are going to cover them more later. It is important to remember that with them often the people that enter are not truly interested customers. Rather they are interested in free.

Other actions that you might want somebody to take is to fill out a questionnaire or sit through a webinar (make sure the webinar is valuable in and of itself or else you’ll start resembling a timeshare salesman).

Getting an ebook in exchange for an email address is a good trade for a lot of people. For you it is a great way to start a relationship with a prospective customer. You have given them something that will provide them value up front and will, presumably, continue to do so with your newsletter. Continuously providing value builds trust and makes a person much more likely to give you money.

The Trust Bank

The final way to use an ebook to gather more customers is giving it away with a purchase. You see this in action with products on infomercials. “Buy our product and we’ll throw in X for free.” The idea is that you’re more likely to buy if you perceive you are getting a greater value by taking advantage of this (often limited-time) deal.

This is a great way to entice somebody who is already interested in your main product but won’t grow your potential customer base like the other two methods.

There is another reason to write a book which is for monetary considerations (money) but that is gravy if you are writing your book in order to help your business.

Brainstorming

Pat Flynn released a video about writing an ebook and what stuck out to me was his brainstorming method. He takes a pad of post-its and spends ten minutes writing down any word that pops into this mind while thinking about the topic. No filter. Everything goes on a paper.

Brainstorming in Trello

I do the same with a piece of paper and then create a card for each in Trello for later organization. For that I create a new board and add a list called “Brainstorming”.

If you don’t already have a topic and are at a loss for book ideas here are a few things your potential customers might be interested in:

  • What tools and software you use
  • Case studies of customers using your product or service (you should be having conversations with your customers anyway so why not ask them for an official interview as it can benefit their business as well)
  • Industry changes of past five years and what changes you expect in the next five
  • A step-by-step guide (like this one!) about one aspect of your business
  • Checklists

Creating an ebook does take a decent amount of effort so you want to make sure that what you are creating is something that people will read. Reach out to ten of your current customers and present them with a list of your two or three best ideas and ask which they would be most interested in reading about. Even then there is no guarantee so pick one and start the writing process.

Outlining

After I have finished brainstorming I start organizing my ideas into chapters. In Trello I create a list for each chapter and drag the ideas from the “Brainstorming” list to their respective chapters.

Outlining in Trello

Workflowy is another great piece of software to use for outlining.

Once I get that general outline done I copy it to paper and go into a little bit more detail. For me more detail in the outline makes the writing process a bit easier.

Title

You are going to need a title to put on the cover of your book. I am a fan of the short (four or less words) title followed by a longer subtitle that provides more description. Salt: A World History is a good example. A one-word title followed by a three word description. My book Engage: A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Your Business with Email Marketing is another example. The key is that the title and subtitle must accurately describe the content or value provided.

Copywriting formulas are a great way to craft a great subtitle. Here are some headline ideas from Joanna Wiebe who has creates some great content about copywriting for business owners–particularly for business owners who leverage the Internet like we encourage!

The only {product category} that doesn’t {objection or anxiety}.

The only accounting book that doesn’t put you to sleep.

{Do something} like {world-class example}

Build a business like the Romans built an empire.

Have a / Build a {Desirable Thing} You Can Be Proud Of

Build a restaurant that you can be proud of.

{Do Something Hard} in {Period of Time}

Lose ten pounds in ten days.

You are {comparative} than you think

You are better at business than you think.

The Ultimate Guide to {Good, Bad or Desirable Thing}

The ultimate guide to getting a raise.

What Everybody Ought to Know About {Good, Bad or Desirable Thing}

What everybody needs to know about office politics.

To the {role} who will settle for nothing less than {world-class outcome}

To the student who will settle for nothing less than straight-A’s.

Break all the rules and {world-class outcome}

Break all the rules and sell to anyone.

If you follow the link above to Joanna’s site you will find a ton more examples or you can search for “copywriting formulas” on Google and find many more. Remember the key is to capture a potential reader’s attention while also describing what your book is about.

Writing The Content

I don’t want to get too far into the writing process as everybody has their own that they developed from their years of writing high-school essays to writing business emails on the job today. In general you want to get to the point and use language that your audience understands.

As far as what tools to use to write, go with whatever you’re most comfortable with. I love using Google Docs as I can write on my desktop, laptop, and phone and always be up-to-date on each. We are going to be using Leanpub to create the book so we’re going to go over that process. If you don’t want to use their online editor you can just copy and paste your content over later.

Create an account on Leanpub if you do not have one already.

Create a new book. Enter your book title (but not subtitle as you can add that later) and select what you would like the URL to be (e.g. http://www.leanpub.com/your_book_title). Select the option to write “In my browser on Leanpub”.

New book in Leanpub

There are three style options for creating a book:

  • Fiction (size is 5.5″ x 8″)
  • Business (size is 5.5″ x 8″)
  • Technical (size is 8.5″ x 11″ – size of printer paper in the U.S.)

If you are going to be using a lot of images or screenshots then you will want to go with the technical book option. If not, select the business book option. Then click on the “Create Book” button.

You are now going to be taken to a page that has some videos about how to better use the editor but for now just click the button that says “Just take me to the write tab…”

Book chapters in Leanpub

Let’s start by adding the chapters. Click on the plus button and create a file for your first chapter. I named by “introduction.txt”. Now click create. Repeat for every chapter in your book. Then hover your cursor over “chapter1.txt” and click on the “x” to delete the file. Do that for “chapter2.txt” and “chapter3.txt”.

Now for each chapter you need to name the chapter (the filenames you just created are just to help you identify them). Click on your first chapter and then type in a number sign followed by your chapter name. For me this is “# Introduction”.

Creating chapters in Leanpub

Now comes the hard part. The writing.

This is not a word processor so there is a special way to add formatting should you want to bold or italicize something. You need to surround the word as such:

*italics*

**bold**

***bold and italic***

____underline with four underscores____

You can add links to websites:

[Google](http://www.google.com)

To add images you first need to upload them. Do that by clicking on “images” and then clicking on the “+”. Select your file from your system and hit submit. Then add your images as follows:

!(images/image_you_uploaded.png)

Writing in Leanpub

If you need to do any advanced formatting the Leanpub manual has you covered.

Cover

It is always said to never judge a book by its cover but a well-designed cover is essential for convincing people that your book is worth their time. It doesn’t matter how good your content is if nobody opens it. (This is similar to the fact that your subject line is the most important part of a marketing email as its job is to convince the recipient to open the email.)

If you have a few bucks to spend you can hire a designer on sites like 99Designs and Fiverr. Both are good options for somebody short on design skills. However screening designers does take some time and you can expect some back and forth before you arrive at the perfect cover.

If you have some design chops you can design a cover yourself in Photoshop. If you are an utter failure at colors, contrast, and fonts like myself there is still hope. Canva is a very easy to use site that helps you create all sorts of marketing materials. Many design elements are free while others cost $1. You only pay when you are happy with your design and ready to download it.

Sample ebook cover in Canva

After logging in to Canva click on “Create a design” then click on “eBook”. You will now see the premade templates on the left. I like starting with the “Turquoise Educational Ebook”.

Add your title and your name as the author. On the left you can change the background and if you click on “elements” you can add photos or icons to your cover. When you are done click on “Download” at the top and then “Image: high quality (PNG)”.

Inform cover in Canva

Bringing It All Together

Now that you have finished writing and creating a cover you can bring it all together. Click on “Book Cover”. Scroll down to “Choose File” and select the cover image that you saved from Canva. Then click on “Upload Cover Page”.

Now click on “Book Info” on the left and then “Book Details” from the dropdown menu. If you have a subtitle then enter it here.

If you would like your book listed in the Leanpub store then you are going to want to make sure it shows up in the right place when people are browsing for a book on your topic. Click on “Categories” and then “Add Category”. Find a category in the dropdown and then click “Update Book”.

Additionally if you are going to list your book on Leanpub you are going to want to set up your book’s page. Click on “Book Web Page” and then “About The Book”. The “Teaser Text” is what is shown at the top of the web page with the meat of the page being the “About The Book” section.

Now you are ready to see the fruits of your efforts. Click on “Preview” and then “Create Preview”. Congratulations!
If everything looks okay and if you are intending to publish your book on Leanpub click on “Publish Your Book”. If not, then avoid doing that.

Publishing On Amazon

Many people do not realize that anybody can publish their book on Amazon. As an author you can, and should, use Amazon’s self-publishing platforms to get your book listed on Amazon. By doing so your book will be listed just like the latest novel from Stephen King or business book by Nassim Taleb.

There are many advantages to having your book on Amazon:

Authority

We talked earlier about how being a published author (even a self-published author) establishes you as an authority in your industry. Having your book on Amazon drives that home much more than serving a PDF off your niche website. I’m not saying to abandon hosting a copy yourself but when you are referring a stranger to your book an Amazon link carries more weight.

Convenience

Once you have successfully listed your book on Amazon there is nothing more for you to do outside of promoting it. You don’t need to worry about hosting, payments, or any other issues. They handle it all.

Reach

Last year a study revealed that 44% of consumers started their searches directly on Amazon compared with the 34% that started their searches on a search engine (Google, Bing, and Yahoo!). That indicates that if somebody is looking to read a book about your topic they are going to Amazon first. If you aren’t there they might never find you.

There are two ways to get your book published on Amazon and those are CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing. As the name suggest the Kindle option is for publishing an ebook while CreateSpace allows you to publish a physical copy as well as publish to the Kindle. I like having physical copies of my books on my bookshelf but for anything less than 50 or 60 pages it really is too small to be worth the effort.

CreateSpace

What CreateSpace does is create paperbacks, CDs, and DVDs on demand so that when somebody orders one off of the CreateSpace site or Amazon the product will be physically made and shipped to them. In this case if you want to give people the options to get a paperback version of your ebook you can upload your ebook and then when it is ordered CreateSpace will print and bind a paperback and then ship it to the customer. After the initial setup you don’t have to do anything except sit back and watch the royalties be direct deposited into your account. (Obviously a lot of promotion is helpful to make those royalties happen.)

Before starting this process you need to create a second copy of your PDF that you downloaded from Leanpub. Create a copy (e.g. “book_for_amazon.pdf”) and open it. Export the cover to a third PDF (e.g. “book_cover.pdf”) and delete it from the copy you are going to upload to Amazon.

If you don’t already have an account go to the CreateSpace homepage and click on “Sign Up”. After setting up your account you will be directed to the member dashboard. Click on “Add New Title”.

Enter your title, click on the Paperback radio button, and then click the “Get Started” button for the Guided option. On the next screen enter in your subtitle if you have one, your name, and select the language your book is in. Click “Save & Continue”.

Creating a book in CreateSpace

The next step is the ISBN number. If the only way you are going to distribute physical copies of your book then the first option (Free CreateSpace-Assigned ISBN) is fine for you. If you plan on creating or selling physical copies elsewhere then getting a universal ISBN is the way to go.

I’m only going to sell physical copies on Amazon so I’m picking “Free CreateSpace-Assigned ISBN” and then clicking Assign Free ISBN. The next screen will show the ISBN numbers you have been assigned. Click “Continue”.

On this screen you select whether the pages of your book are black and white or color as well as paper color. If you are using screenshots or colored graphics then select the “Full Color” option. If not, select Black & White. I personally prefer a white paper color for business and technical books and a cream paper color for fiction so I keep “White” as my paper color.

Now you are going to select the size of the book you want printed. Click on “Choose a Different Size”. If you recall on Leanpub you selected either 5.5″ x 8″ or 8.5″ x 11″. If you selected the former then you’ll find that size isn’t available for physical printing. Instead choose 5.25″ x 8″. If you selected 8.5″ by 11″ on Leanpub you can select the same here.

After choosing your Interior Type, Paper Color, and Trim Size click on the circle next to “Upload your Book File”. Click Browse and select the PDF that you removed the cover page from (e.g. “book_for_amazon.pdf”).

You are going to be asked about bleed which you can safely ignore if you do not have any images in your book. If you do you can try the first option “Ends after the edge of the page” and then see how the images look in the preview. If an image ends up being cut off you can go back and select “Ends before the edge of the page”.

Book interior in CreateSpace

After clicking “Save” CreateSpace is going to run the “Automated Print Check” which checks for any potential issues with the file you uploaded and what the book will look like when it is done.

If you are notified of any issues then now is the time to fix them by making the changes and then clicking on “Interior” and uploading your new file. If there are no issues click “Continue”.

On to the cover. You have the choice between “Matte” and “Glossy”. If you have bright colors in your cover then I would choose glossy otherwise I would choose matte. Now click on the circle button next to “Upload a Print-Ready PDF Cover”. Click on “Browse” and select your book cover PDF (e.g. “book_cover.pdf”). Click on “Save”.

Then next page should show two green check marks that indicate the upload was successful. Click “Continue”. If everything looks good then click on “Submit Files for Review”.

While you are waiting for CreateSpace to review your book you can set up your distribution channels (which Amazon websites you want your book listed on). I recommend doing all three listed (Amazon.com, Amazon Europe, and CreateSpace eStore) so that your book will return in searches on each site.

There are also options to distribute your book to libraries and other online bookstores. If your book is academic in nature then the library option might be a good one and if you think it might have mass market appeal then the “CreateSpace Direct” and “Bookstores and Online Retailers” might be a good option. We’re not going to cover those here however.

When you have finished selecting your distribution channels click “Save & Continue”.

The next section is the price that a reader will see on Amazon. There are two schools of thought for pricing:

  • A lower price can lead to more sales (basic supply and demand)
  • A higher price indicates higher quality

I think a good balance between both is the way to go. I often see ebooks listed for $2.99 or so on Amazon and never buy them because they I assume they are really low quality. An ebook priced from $7.99 to $14.99 indicates to me that there is some quality content in there. Higher than that indicates that it is definitely some quality content but it no longer is an impulse purchase and must have business value.

Ebook pricing in CreateSpace

If your book is a marketing tool then I would keep the price lower in hopes of more buyers. Once you set the list price for Amazon.com it automatically suggests a price based on conversion rates to other markets. Click “Save & Continue”.

Click on “Description” on the left. This is important as this is the sales copy that customers are going to see on Amazon.com. I would start with the “About the Book” text you entered on Leanpub. A bullet point list of topics, reader testimonials, and some frequently asked questions and answers are all good ways to help a potential reader overcome their objections to buying a book that was not specifically recommended to them.

The other important information to add on this page is your bio as the author and search keywords which are words a reader might use to search for your book. Also, you are required to select a “BISAC Category” which is basically the section of the bookstore your book would be found in.

Click “Save & Continue”.

Finally, once your book is complete you can select the “Publish on Kindle” option which sends your book to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform.

Kindle Direct Publishing

The Kindle is the most popular ebook reader and many people use the Kindle app to read books on their phones or tablets. Getting your book in the Kindle store is the best way to reach those millions of readers.

Go to the Kindle Direct Publishing site and sign in. If you previously created your book through CreateSpace and selected the option to publish on Kindle then you should see your book listed. We are going to assume that was not the case and will create a new book.

New ebook in Kindle Direct Publishing

Click on the “Create new title” button.

The first thing you are prompted about is “KDP Select”. If your book is available on your website or blog (which should be the case if you are using it to as a marketing piece to grow your email list), or if you listed it on the Leanpub site, then you are not eligible for this program. We are going to skip going over it.

You now need to enter your book details which is the same information you entered on Leanpub. Enter your title, subtitle, and description. Click on “Add contributors” to add yourself as the author. Click on the circle button next to “This is not a public domain work and I hold the necessary publishing rights.”

Click on “Add Categories” to select two categories your book will be listed under. Follow that up with adding some “search keywords” which are words that a potential reader might enter into Google or Amazon in order to search for information about the topic you wrote your book about.

You are going to need to convert the cover image file you downloaded from Canva from .png to .jpg. You can do that with almost any image or photo editor on your computer and there are also online tools to do so. Click “Browse for image” and select the file.

The second thing you need to do to is to download the .mobi version of your book from Leanpub if you haven’t already.

Under “Book content file:” click the “Browse” button and select the .mobi file that you downloaded from Leanpub. Once it has uploaded you will see the message “Upload and conversion successful!” Click on “Preview Book”. That launches the Online Previewer where you can see exactly what your book will look like on the a Kindle.

After reviewing click on “Book Details” in the upper-left. Scroll down and click “Save and Continue”.

On the next page leave the “Verify Your Publishing Territories” on the default as you own all the rights–you wrote it!

The next section regarding pricing is kind of confusing. It asks if you would like the 35% or 70% royalty option. Why would anyone choose the first option? The reason is that your book has to be priced between $2.99 and $9.99 to be eligible for the 70% option. So if you price it below or above that range then you are required to do the 70% option. The other reason you might select the 35% option is that with the 70% option you pay for bandwidth. Therefore if you have a lot of images in your book, and the price is low, you might end up paying more than the difference in delivery costs.

Luckily KDP has a new service that recommends a price to you as well as the royalty option that they think will net you the most money. Click on “View Service” to run that.

Kindle Direct Publishing Pricing Support

If you agree with their suggested pricing click “Yes” and you will be taken to the previous screen with prices automatically created for each territory. If not, click “No” and set them yourself.

If you have created a print version of your book through CreateSpace then you might want to enroll your ebook in the Kindle MatchBook program. This gives somebody who has purchased a physical copy of your book the option to purchase an ebook version for a reduced price.

Many people are not aware that buyers of ebooks have the options of lending them to their friends and family for a limited period of time. If you would like your readers to be able to do so (it helps increase word-of-mouth) then keep the “Kindle Book Lending” option checked.

Click “Save and Publish”.

Promoting It

Mailing List

If you have a mailing list already then they will be some of the first people that you reach out to. If you don’t have a mailing list then you should start one right now. I really like using Drip for my business mailing lists but the tool you choose is less important than the fact that you are actively collecting email addresses (either through a form on your website or a signup sheet in your place of business).

Earlier we discussed using a free ebook as a tactic to grow your mailing list. That method might not convert as well as it used to but is still a great place to start. This article should hopefully get you to that point.

My next book Engage: A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Your Business With Email Marketing is going to dive in depth into how to leverage a mailing list for your business.

Twitter

Twitter is both a very easy and very hard platform to promote on. Anybody can do it but, because of that fact, 99% of tweets gets ignored. The best way to promote on Twitter is to reach out to people influential in your industry (they are called influencers) or target market and see if they might be willing to tweet about your book to their followers. You’re asking them to put their reputation, that they have spent a lot of time building, on the line so your product must both be good as well as very relevant to their audience. If it is neither of those then don’t bother.

Short of influencers you can try tweeting about your book with topical hashtags but those are typically lost in a lot of noise. Normal people do not follow hashtags–other marketers do.

When linking to your book on Twitter always try to include the cover as people are much more likely to click on a link in a tweet that contains an image.

Facebook

The way Facebook operates makes it a bit tougher to leverage as a promotional platform. Obviously you can use it to tell your family and friends about your book and ask them to refer anybody they know that might be interested in your topic.

You can also join Facebook groups that are related to your topic but it is best to work your book into an answer for a question rather than directly promote it.

Reddit

The best thing about Reddit is that there is a community for every niche. However part of what makes Reddit a great site for the users is a downside for marketers. They don’t like being sold to. Therefore if you are going to post your book on a subreddit it would be better if you are already active in the sub and regularly posting and providing value. People like helping other members of their community but will actively punish those attempting to take advantage of it.

There are a couple of subreddits where it is acceptable to promote your ebook and that is on /r/KindleFreebies and /r/ebooks (they ask that you contact the mods first).

Giveaway

We talked earlier about giveaways being a good way to promote your business. With your book on Amazon it is easy to setup a giveaway with their Amazon Giveaway program. Simply search for your book on Amazon and scroll down the page until you see “Set up an Amazon Giveaway”.

This is what that looks like for my book Passions and Other Lessons:

Amazon Giveaway Program

With Amazon you can require that entrants follow you on Twitter or watch a YouTube video in order to be eligible.

In a traditional giveaway people are incentivized to not tell anybody else about it as more entrants means they are less likely to win. That is detrimental to you as you are looking to reach as many people as possible.

If you are really looking for your giveaway to go viral then you want to encourage people to invite their friends and you can do so by giving them an additional entry for each friend they referrer. So Tom signs up himself and then posts a link about it on his Facebook wall. Ten of his friends sign up and he now has eleven chances to win. Rafflecopter’s premium tier has this option.

Goodreads

Enthusiastic fans of literature congregate on a site called Goodreads. It is basically IMDB for books. While your ebook isn’t Shakespeare it still has a place on the site.

They have an author program where you can add your book to their database. They list a preference for published books though they accept self-published books as well. They specifically mention Amazon as a publisher and, as we talked about earlier, you should publish on there.

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Marketing 101

When you have a good (marketing) line you repeat it over and over again. Somebody might be hearing it for the first time.

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The first step in any marketing plan

(Yes, I am aware that just last week I said that the first step in your marketing plan should be to define your value proposition. However doing this well help you define that.)

We are all about leveraging your marketing and sales efforts so that a little bit of work can pay off 10x or 100x but there is one important task to do before anything else.

Start by talking to your customers.

Customer development is important to undertake prior to going down the path of creating a product. It is just as important for marketing and these are three ways it helps.

Learn what content to create

Inspiration for creating content often is hard to come by. Sometimes the content you are inspired to create is not the content that your customers want to read. A great way to combat these issues is by learning more about your customers.

Based on the questions that your customers pose to you about your product, and in general about the industry, you can identify what your content should cover. Specifically what you create should teach them about a topic they are interested in or answer a specific question.

Responding directly to their questions is also a great writing shortcut. For me it is much easier to write a response to a question than it is to fill a blank page about a topic that I have deemed important enough to write about. That is similar to the hack where you start a blog post by writing, “Dear Sam” (or whatever your best friend’s name is), at the top of your blog post and then write the post as if you are writing to them. Then delete that line prior to publishing.

Learn what language to use

When I say language I’m talking about what words and phrases your customers use. Learn the industry jargon and be able to use it to describe the solution you are providing to their problem. Being able to do so better frames your product or service as one specifically for their niche and thus they will be more trusting that it is the right solution.

If you learn the customer’s language and then use it in your sales and marketing you are going to be able to establish your expertise. Without it you are just a random sales guy who doesn’t know what he is talking about. Nobody likes dealing with those guys.

Learn where to promote

You might have noticed when purchasing a product or entering giveaways that you are asked, “how did you hear about us?” There is a good reason for that. Knowing where your audience spends their time online is important as wherever that is is where you should be promoting the content you create.

When talking to customers ask the following questions:

  • Where do you get your industry news?
  • Are there any websites you visit at least daily?
  • Do you use social media for work? If so, is it more for consumption or promotion?

The answers to those questions point to where you should direct your content promotion efforts. The rule of thumb for Internet content is to spend at least as long promoting it as you spent creating it. Twice as long is even better. Because of the big time investment that is both the creation and promotion you want to make sure you are getting as big an ROI as possible.

It might not be something that comes naturally to some of us but your life will be a lot easier if you pick up the phone and reach out to some (potential) customers. Do not procrastinate on it. Start today by adding a line in your next email to your list asking if anybody can spare ten minutes for a conversation with you. If you are still working on building your list, reach out to people on Twitter or, if you are selling to businesses, call companies you find online or in your local phone book.

Business is hard enough so make it a little bit easier by asking your customers how you should market to them.

    • Inform: The Step-By-Step Guide to Creating an Ebook
    • Free ebook creation guide

      Get the the step-by-step guide to writing, publishing, and promoting ebooks and how to use them to grow your business.