Stop me if you’ve heard this one already: “A book is the new business card!”
I’m hearing it everywhere, too, and while that is a true statement in many ways, there is much, much more to the story.
Yes, when a new contact you meet asks for your business card and you’re able to point them toward your book instead, it’s impressive! It’s a much better representation of your expertise, and it leaves a long-lasting impression, whereas a business card could easily be discarded or forgotten.
But maybe you’re thinking, “I’m not even sure I need a business card. Why would I need something even bigger like a book?”
If there’s one thing Rodney and I have learned after creating and publishing books for such a variety of clients in such a variety of fields, it’s that any business owner can benefit from having a book. How? So many ways. That’s why this article is only the first in a series. Here are three ways just to get you started:
ONE: Solidifying Your Own Vision or Mission for Yourself!
Many people, when they think about having a book, immediately think about their clients and their audience. They think about the people who will eventually buy and read the book. Those aren’t bad thoughts. Those are great thoughts. They’re just a little premature.
When creating a book as an expert in your field or for your business, you have to think carefully about the message you want to communicate. You have to think of a main purpose or theme for the book, and you have to devise an outline that clarifies and supports it. You also have to think about how you will use the book most effectively once it’s published.
Whether you work with a ghostwriter or decide to write your content yourself, you will be taking a set of broad ideas and getting very specific about them so that you can communicate your message as concisely and clearly as possible. For example, at Maven, where we do a lot of ghostwriting for our clients, we make sure that it is a collaborative process from Day One. This means that something even as simple as the first skeletal outline of the book is reviewed and approved by you, the client.
All of this thinking about your message and whittling away at an outline provides an enormous benefit to you: you are very clearly reminded of what your business stands for and how you want to operate, or what it stood for and how you wanted it to operate! You may remember core values that you thought about during the early phase of building your business that you’ve moved away from. You may uncover a practice or procedure that made sense when you implemented it, but is now outdated or inefficient. You may simply fall back in love with your own mission statement and strengthen your confidence and your own direction.
Any knowledge or insight you gain about your own purpose is helpful. It may not directly affect your readers, but it sure will help you as you move forward in your business.
TWO: Expanding Beyond Your Local Area
Thanks to the digital age, a book is an instant gateway to a national, and even an international audience. More and more people are buying and downloading e-books than ever before, and it seems like new devices and apps are constantly being developed to facilitate more digital reading. And not only is the actual act of reading more convenient than it used to be, but searching for the right book has become just as easy.
The latest numbers suggest Amazon’s previously super-dominant market share is decreasing while its e-book sales do nothing but expand. This means the book-buying market is growing as a whole. Like something of a tidal wave, and thanks to modern conveniences and new popular interest, more and more people are buying all kinds of books and reading them. So where is yours?
For example, Blue Bottle Coffee, which started out here in the San Francisco Bay Area, was doing a lot of things differently than other shops. Their entire business philosophy, from coffee buying to coffee preparation to customer service was new. People in this area knew that they were doing something revolutionary, but it took a while for word to spread beyond Northern California.
Now, they’re internationally known. They have locations on both coasts, and even one in Japan. Getting to that level involved a lot of hard work and customer loyalty, but one thing that sets them apart from other great coffee shops is that they have a book. Not just any book, but a beautiful, professionally created book that is chock full of photos, recipes, and anecdotes from their founders and employees.
What other vehicle besides perhaps a video documentary could accomplish such relationship building?
Blue Bottle’s book has become so popular and so well-known that it is one of the first books that pops up when you enter “coffee” into an Amazon search. They sell the hardcover edition in their shops, and I just saw it at Whole Foods last week.
But back to that Amazon search for a moment. Being able to display your book in your shop or on your waiting room shelves, or even offering a download of your book to your clients as part of their initial welcome package is great, but never underestimate the power of the internet and search engines. When people enter a simple keyword like “coffee” into Google or Amazon and your book is one of the first things that comes up? That is priceless positioning and promotion. Your shop may be in California, but you better believe people in New York and Michigan are paying attention now. They want to know what you’ve done that is so book-worthy, and they are likely to not only buy your book, but make an effort to visit your location also!
Matt Smith with Modmacro pointed this out to us, that even purely local businesses and practices benefit from a worthy larger-scale (national or international) representation. Powerful. So if you’re ready to start reaching clients and customers who will take you more seriously, or are located on the other side of town or even on the other side of the country (or world!), a book is absolutely one of those things that can help you get there.
THREE: Growing Your Professional Network
New clients are great, and having them find your business is one of the greatest benefits of having a book and reaching beyond your immediate surrounding area. But when you have a book, you won’t just create an opportunity for new clients to find you, you’ll find yourself with new industry contacts as well.
Industry contacts are useful for all kinds of reasons. They can help you with referrals or strategic partnerships. They can coordinate joint marketing efforts. You may even find that you have something very valuable to teach them (or vice versa), opening the door for speaking and consulting opportunities. Knowing other people in your field can only help you. And if (or in this age more like “when”) you’re ready for a career or company change, it’s your professional network that will most easily be there (even more quickly than head-hunters and agencies) to turn a potential calamity into a golden opportunity, only bolstered by your perceived value as an expert by virtue of your book(s).
Two Books that Blew Minds
There was a fantastic psychotherapist I knew who practiced a specific type of therapy that was known for being effective, especially in a short-term setting. It was one of the therapeutic theories that was taught to counseling students in graduate programs across the nation, but not very widely practiced (at least not officially) because of its intricacies and the specialized training it took to learn it correctly.
This therapist I knew had the incredible experiencing of learning this type of therapy directly from the very people who developed it. She realized what an asset she had, and she went on to write two books about it. Therapists and counselors from all over started contacting her to see if she would be willing to teach workshops and do some consulting. Because of her books, her professional network expanded exponentially, and we’ve seen the same happen in other fields and businesses, of course.
With and Without
In fact, imagine, for a moment, a speaker, guest or keynote, without a book! Imagine a television or radio program without one! It’s vital nowadays. Professionals who have been published are more believable and much more likely to be invited across a range of media. Once you show your expertise in your field through a published book, other professionals want to know you. They want to know what you’re doing right, and they want to know how they can do it too.
So next time you’re thinking about your business and what your next step could be, think about the possibilities a book can bring you. These are only three ways a book can help boost your business, and I wasn’t kidding when I said this was only the first of a series. There’s plenty more where these came from! Stay tuned for the next installment, and with or without us, start writing an outline!