Marketing’s dirty little secret

In the world of B2B marketing a hidden secret is the humble printed book. Although eBooks are taking off there is still a place for the business paperback.

Books are a little like PR and sausages. The more you know what goes into them, the less you want to have anything to do with them. However, books are brilliant marketing tools for a few reasons:

  • Give a client a brochure and they may look at it
  • Give a client a book and they will read it and refer to it.
  • A book is a trusted source, a white paper is marketing lies
  • A book is kept by potential customers long after your marketing brochure has hit the trash
  • A book can be cheaper than a brochure, especially for small print runs.
    • No charges from the graphic design house for design, layout, clever copywriting and images
    • Print on demand means smallest print run is ONE book (£10 or less per book)
    • Print on demand means no over runs and waste
    • Changes or updates can be added quickly at limited cost

eBooks have blurred the line between the white paper PDF and a true book. But a printed book is really a book and therefore is more valuable as a marketing tool than an eBook.

But who will buy it?

No-one. It is not for sale. The value of a book is not from book sales, but the influence and credibility it gives. In fact you should give it away. The value very based on the author and business

  • A book can build personal brand. Increasing promotion prospects for employees.
  • For independent consultants it can raise their profile, and increase consulting and speaking fees.
  • For a company, a book can raise awareness or change expectations far more cost-effectively than a traditional PR or marketing campaign.
  • The author gets invited to speak at conferences, rather than their company having to sponsor the conference

How to use a book

The book is a critical piece of marketing collateral and should be used aggressively in campaigns:

  • Guerrilla marketing – books are the No. 1 weapon to change expectations.
  • A book can be a very valuable weapon, particularly if it is considered impartial. It can be used to:
    • Educate a marketplace
    • Seed key questions in client’s minds
    • Position you as thought-leaders
    • Reset expectations of you vs. competitors
    • Used as 3rd party endorsement for your ‘approach’
    • Drive up PR interest and start conversations with clients
    • Protect your IP: You share your ideas and walk away hoping for a sale or you share your ideas and leave a book with your ideas in copyrighted form

So books can be given away at conferences, seminars and other marketing events or people can “order” them from the corporate website.  Don’t be tempted to set up a dedicated website for the book. This is what authors who want to sell books do. The book is intended to drive traffic to your corporate website and improve the stickiness of the website.

Types of book

Before you start writing a book you need to consider what type of book. There are 4 types of book in 3 categories:

The types of book are:

  • Public; written by independent authors, promoted and purchased
  • Sponsored; public book that has customised content (foreword, case studies)
  • Private label; book that is branded by an organisation with customised content and not directly available to the public
  • Social need; books that need to be written and read for free, such as ‘Running a charity’

The categories are

  • Business  such as ‘Launching in China’, ‘Implementing CRM’ or ‘Using PR’
  • Life Event  such as ‘Sending kids to private school’ or ‘Emigrating to Australia’
  • Lifestyle  such as ‘Buying a high-performance sportscar’ or Running a marathon, triathalon or ironman’

Audience and objective

Next you need to be clear about the objective of the book and the audience. The more focused the book the greater its success and impact. If you want to reach multiple markets, why not write multiple books with a large overlap (copy&paste).

Be very clear on the objectives before you start thinking about the book structure.  The simplest and quickest book to write which has the most marketing impact is either a Smart-Questions book or a Dummies book.

Smart Questions

SQ provides the template, cover design, proof reading, publishing and listing on on-line sites (Amazon etc) and printing. Books are print on demand.

Every SQ printed book follows the same structure, making it simple and quick to write.

  • Cover (follows standard SQ layout)
  • Reviews
  • Author bio(s)
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgements & Foreword
  • Who should read this book
  • Chapter 1 – The situation (could be more than one chapter)
  • Chapter 2 – The complication (could be more than one chapter)
  • Chapter 3 – Ask the Smart Questions approach (standard)
  • Chapter 4 – The structure of the questions in this book
  • Chapter 5 – The Questions (could be more than one chapter)
  • Chapter 6 – Anecdotes or case studies (to bring the questions to life)
  • Chapter 7 – Summary


The Dummies brand is well known with over 100,000 books covering 120 topics. The books are both customer focused (eg Keeping Rabbits) sold to the general public and sponsored by businesses and given away at events ( eg BPM)

The books very in structure but all follow a similar style which is light hearted and makes them accessible.

Who writes and how long will they take?

Writing again is a learnt skill and many business people have managed to get to senior positions without the ability to write or speak well in public.  Writing a book takes weeks not years but it needs to be written by someone close to the business. It cannot simply be outsourced. You need to find someone senior who is 1) passionate, 2) wants to help the business and 3) has an ego.  Ideally 1 & 2, but sometimes 3 is a good substitute.

The fastest I have written a book (out of the 6) is 3 weeks. But that was a little hectic but the deadline was driven by a conference and we thought of the idea a little too late!!

What are you waiting for?


3 thoughts on “No one can throw a book away. Can the same be said of your marketing literature? #marketing

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