Small Business e-Book Enables Company to Share its Authentic Voice.
AV Programming Associates is an independent audiovisual programming company that is consistently ranked among the top ten companies that provide programming services of its type in the US. Matthew Grisafe, President of AVPA, is an original member of the audiovisual industry’s leading council on programming (the InfoComm Programmers Council) and he sits on the programming advisory board of one of the industry’s largest manufacturers (the Crestron Services Provider Advisory Board).
But Grisafe and his team understood that top rated work and involvement in industry organizations are not the only ways to set their small business apart as a thought leader and an asset. And they are not the only ways to use marketing and relationships to drive business growth. The team recognized that content-driven marketing can build on established successes, grow their audience, and increase sales in a manner that is authentic and valuable for their customers, their industry relationships and their business.
Writing the Book on Small Business Success
With this, and the company’s unique story (the business launched on September 11, 2001) in mind, Grisafe wrote a book, Our Code: History, Practices & Processes of AVPA. The book is as much about overcoming the unique challenges of starting and running a small business in a period that has seen shifting consumer priorities, economic growth, recession, and an increased focus in the technology sector, as it is about AVPA.
From the outset, it is clear that AVPA understands the importance of relationships in growing a successful small business. Grisafe shares that, in the early days of AVPA, the company “pushed hard, worked the relationships we had formed and won our first project” (p 7). That first project happened to be with the CIA, but we’ll let you read the book to learn more about that!
Putting value on relationships did not stop when the company started to grow. Rather, it remained an important piece of the marketing and business development approach.
Also key to the company’s approach, and an important message for readers to take away from a marketing perspective, is Grisafe’s commitment to continuing to learn and grow as a practitioner in the field. In the book, he says, “we learn something new on each project and we’re constantly stretching our intellectual capacity” (p 10). Respect for the industry, for the work the company does and for the work that AVPA’s clients and partners do, runs through the book. This is an important perspective to share in a book like this, in the context of a marketing strategy. It reveals an authenticity that is necessary for this kind of content to resonate with readers.
The book carries through that authentic message as it becomes clear that, while AVPA is a small business started by an entrepreneur and originally staffed by him and one other person, the story of AVPA is created by all of those who have been a part of the team. Grisafe genuinely speaks highly of all the members of the team, and shares hiring stories and business growth stories that celebrate everyone involved. Throughout the book, that charts the trajectory of the business’s growth, there remains a clear focus on quality work and quality relationships not just as the key to good business but as the only way for AVPA to do business.
A simple example, but a telling one, in recalling some of the audiovisual programming projects that AVPA has done over the years, Grisafe notes, “it’s true that beach house entertainment systems don’t necessitate the same mission critical nature of military command assets, but we really try to treat them all the same.” This does not mean that the company only works in the residential space or only does small, local jobs, quite the opposite, in fact. Sharing this thought, and following it up with the comment, “we sometimes wish that others in the audiovisual industry would as well” (p 33), makes it all the more clear that this is a business that is about people: the people who do the work and the people for whom they do the work. In large part, that is what makes the book a good read. It is also what makes the book an effective marketing tool.
Using Content to Grow Audience and Interest
Engage the Press
With the help of web design and marketing firm Modmacro, AVPA launched and marketed the book, understanding that the content was more than a valuable read; it was an effective marketing tool for gaining exposure to the company’s target audience and to the press. Content-driven marketing tools like books, webinars and other knowledge products, give a small business a press worthy announcement to share.
In the case of a book like Our Code, that offers timely, practical insight to those in AVPA’s industry as well as to other small business owners, members of the press recognize its relevance and are inclined to share press releases and provide coverage of the book and its launch. The relevance of the book and by extension, the relevance of AVPA and the company’s message, bore out in the form of national press coverage by media outlets including the Boston Globe, the San Diego Union Tribune, the Miami Herald and the Buffalo News.
Host Launch Events
To take this a step farther on the road to increased exposure and communications and marketing value, AVPA and Modmacro recognized the value of including a launch event in the communications and marketing strategy for the book. The event, a book release party held at Iron Fist Brewery in Vista, California, near the AVPA offices, allowed AVPA to connect with continuing and prospective clients, industry and local business partners, and the press.
This is a useful example of how print or digital content can help to promote in-person connections, strengthen relationships, and create business opportunities by building an audience that is engaged with and invested in your message.
Finding a Unique Approach and Sharing Your Voice
For Matt Grisafe, telling the story of his business, what sets it apart and how it succeeds, was a natural fit for creating content that achieved marketing goals. The book syncs with the company’s mission, practices and achievements. Like Grisafe’s involvement in industry organizations and advisory boards, Our Code underscores his commitment to creating and sharing valuable knowledge. That value becomes easy for continuing and prospective clients and partners to see and understand and that is what naturally, and authentically, drives growth.
This is the key to content-driven marketing. It must be authentic. Content that is created with marketing goals in mind needs to be valuable in and of itself, outside of the good that it can do for your marketing plan and for your business. If you are producing content that is self serving or advertorial in nature, rather than content that gives your readers a reason to understand and value the work that you do, then you are ultimately undermining your credibility and diminishing your ability to make relationships that drive business growth.
Writing an accessible, relevant small business book, as Grisafe did, is a smart way to build credibility and strengthen relationships. A small business book written by a small business owner gives an author the opportunity to share his voice and provide insight into the ways in which his company does the work it does, and, as is the case in Grisafe’s book, the reasons that he and his team can be trusted to do good work. In Our Code, this works because the voice, the identity and the authenticity were shaped before the book was written. The book gave that voice a chance to reach a growing audience.