Five Reasons an e-Book Should Be a Core Component Of Your Content Marketing Strategy

five secrets of talent ebook Of course, I’m assuming that you already have a website and are probably doing some business blogging.  You may also do a regular eNewsletter to inform your customers and prospects about the great content you have created recently online.  Your next step is to create an e-book that targets your ideal customers.

Joe and I learned this lesson with the e-book that preceded the print version of Get Content Get Customers.  We were able to distribute our content marketing message to thousands of folks from around the world who took the time to download our e-book.  We got plenty of positive and helpful feedback.

The power of e-books hit me again while I was reading David Meerman Scott’s new book, the World Wide Rave.  He wrote about an Australian company the RPO group which is a recruitment outsourcing firm.  Although David covered their website and their blog, I was particularly impressed by their e-book, 5 Secrets of Talent.  It’s only 23 pages long, but conveys critical concepts clearly and compellingly. 

Their e-book works for them.  E-books can work for you as well. Here are five reasons why:

  1. You can quickly, compellingly, visually, and inexpensively establish thought leadership with an e-book that provides relevant information on the toughest challenges your customers face.  Although you should have complete, in-depth information on your website that delves into those same challenges, an e-book distills your organization’s wisdom in an easily digestible format.  In the case of the RPO group, they boil it down to 5 Secrets of Talent that target c-level executives who care deeply about talent but probably think very little about the minutia of recruitment.
  2. Offering a free e-book, is a wonderful incentive to entice your prospects to begin in their engagement with you.  You don’t need to require that they sign up to download your e-book In fact, author David Meerrman Scott, stresses that you should never require registration for the downloading of e-books. The RPO group follows this rule and has managed to get more than 4000 prospective customers to download theirs. Their CEO, Liam Ovenden, explains their thinking about providing this kind of great, free content, "Now we’ve got qualified buyers coming to our website who are being turned from strangers into friends.  And that makes our business development instantly more successful, which was the whole point in the first place."
  3. E-books, in the universally acceptable PDF format, are easy to pass along from one prospect to another, giving you potentially infinite reach.  This means that however many initial downloads you get, you will undoubtedly get much broader viral reach with an e-book that delivers relevant and compelling content.  E-books don’t suffer from the limitations of print material.  Once you have made the initial investment it costs no more to generate a million copies than it does to generate a hundred copies.
  4. If you need help in designing your e-book and in generating the content, you can find talented designers and freelance writers easily. The skill set required to create an e-book is much more universal than that required to build a highly sophisticated website.  Thus, there is plenty of available talent.  The key is to make sure to partner with folks who understand the importance of great content that precisely targets your ideal customers.
  5. If your budget is very limited, you can create your own e-book by starting with PowerPoint and then transforming the PowerPoint files into PDF files. Even if you need to bring in professionals to fine tune your work, your investment will still be minimal while yielding maximum results.  Take a look at the 5 Secrets of Talent and you’ll see that although it is certainly well designed, you could probably replicate the basic style yourself and wind up with a highly effective content marketing vehicle that delivers infinitely greater impact and reach than a traditional print brochure.

Even if you’re not quite ready to make the plunge into e-book publishing, start exploring e-books that you find compelling in terms of information that’s directly relevant to you.  I think you’ll find that the best ones have a pretty powerful impact in positioning the e-book writers as experts you can trust to help solve your problems.

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  1. Posted March 20, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I disagree strongly on point #2 and David’s pov that you should not require registration to download a free ebook. Giving away valuable information should, imho, only be done in exchange for an email address. If you’re truly giving away valuable, relevant, free information readers can use, then they should be willing to receive follow-up messages from you including other offers. It’s just a smart way to build up a list of interested people. Of course, it’s also important not to waste people’s time with garbage email promos and stuff that’s not related to their original response. Am I the only one here who disagrees with David on this?

  2. Posted March 20, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Are there any good resources on writing an e-book?

    We were thinking about putting one together.

  3. Posted March 21, 2009 at 6:27 am | Permalink


    Looks like we disagree on this one. However, I think that the right answer might be based on your goals for doing an ebook or a white paper.

    If your goal is to build a list of email address to market to, then registration is okay.
    If your goal is to reach out to the people who register and try to sell them something, then registration is okay.
    However, if your goal is to spread your ideas to as many people as possible, then registration is a terrible idea and puts the brakes on your efforts.

    Last week we made my new book “World Wide Rave” free on Amazon Kindle. Neither me nor my publisher asked for any registration. The book became number one on Kindle for all of 2009, well over 10,000 people downloaded, 500 people tweeted and dozens blogged. And all were talking about my book. That kind of ideas spreading is impossible when registration is required.


  4. Posted March 21, 2009 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    It all depends upon how you plan on making use of it. I don’t require registration for some of my ebooks because I have a number of affiliate links in them. In others, I DO ask for registration to help build my list.

    You can always create an ebook for a specific marketing idea in mind.

    Data points, Barbara

  5. Posted March 21, 2009 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    …well put, David, I now understand your point better. And btw, I want to thank you for the free book on my Kindle! I am one of the 10,000 people who appreciate this and who rave about it!

  6. Newt Barrett
    Posted March 21, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Patsi and David

    One thought on the ‘registration’ issue: A good compromise under certain circustances might be to offer your e-book as a motivator to sign up for an eNewsletter. That way, your visitor has two shots at value from both the eNewsletter and the e-book.

    I still think that in many cases, you simply want to spread the word via your e-book rather than sign up registrants. By not limiting access to the e-book, you make it much more easy to build viral buzz. Kind of like YouTube videos. Of course, your e-book needs to be pretty compelling.

  7. Posted March 23, 2009 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Regarding registration, this is always a tough one. I will often register with bogus information – particularly if I have questions regarding the credibility of the registrar. (never an ex spouse) I may also tunnel tho a proxy VPN to further mask my ID if I have more serious concerns. So registration is one of those things where you build a list but it may be peppered with a deal of bad resources.


  8. Posted March 24, 2009 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Newt and David. Use the eBook to spead the word, and of course promote the newsletter sign-up or lead form in the eBook if that’s what you’re after.

    I think that it’s going to make the prospects that you get out of the excercise more manageable since they will be more qualified.

  9. Posted July 19, 2009 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I know I’m late to this party, but I’d like to add a thought. Patsi correctly suggests that in exchange for quality content, ebook creators should get something of value. But in my mind, it doesn’t have to be an email address. By opening the gates, as David recommends, you DO get something of value in return: widespread distribution and acclaim — and those virtues are priceless.

  10. Posted July 23, 2009 at 4:06 am | Permalink

    I am still trying to finish my first e-book ever. Sharing e-book is a fulfilling action especially when you give it for free. It helps people solve their problems and at the same time help your marketing goal to be achieved.

  11. Posted October 26, 2009 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    While I agree that an eBook is a great vehicle for spreading the word and promoting yourself as an expert, I disagree that it should be given away for free. As long as you are really providing valuable information, I believe that you can charge for an eBook and still get the marketing and promotional boost. In fact, there is a certain psychology involved in charging for information that is truly valuable that may give a further boost.

    I will be marketing an extensive eBook guide to creating websites using WordPress. I plan to charge for this information (somewhere between $7 and $15) and believe the information to worth far more than the asking price.

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