B Y   T O M   T O R T O R I C I   

 

Want to draw attention online, stand out from competitors, and showcase your particular brand of expertise? Of course you do.

Just about all companies have websites, and many have blogs to achieve those aims, but that’s the problem. It’s hard to stand out by doing what everyone else is doing.

But most companies don’t have their own cleverly written, colorfully designed, and succinctly insightful ebook.

While it’s meant to supplement, not replace, the ongoing presence of a website or blog, an ebook generally has a higher perceived value than any given page or post.

Like blogs, ebooks offer helpful, educational tips and ideas to help your prospects overcome their challenges. But with information broken up page-by-page into bite-size snippets – vs. one long gray block of text – ebooks are more fun and inviting to read, and therefore are more likely to be read.

The best ebooks take a fun, provocative and even surprising approach to a topic, compared to most standard blog posts and web pages.

A sequence of brief ebook pages can also be more effective in taking readers step-by-step in their thinking, as you identify their likely issues, then re-frame them in terms of your company’s distinctive approach to problem solving.

There’s a good chance that people will see the wisdom of that approach, but realize they can’t actually pull it off themselves. Since no one else is likely to execute your approach as well as you can, doesn’t that give you the inside track in the buyer’s mind?

People think of ebooks as a chance to learn something. What they’ll be learning is why your company’s perspectives make the most sense for them.

How can you squeeze the maximum benefit out of your new ebook? In all kinds of ways.

Promote it on your web Home page, with a bit of teaser copy, and a link. It’ll give visitors a place to go next. Before ‘being sold to’ on specific product pages, they may want to learn a little more to widen their own perspectives.

Use it in place of a blog if the idea of weekly, or even monthly, blogging seems like way too much of a commitment. Like a blog, your ebook shows that you know what you’re doing, and that you’re here to help, not just sell.

Offer it as sign-up bait for your company email list. It’s harder than ever to get folks to subscribe to your newsletter or emailed blog posts. But the chance to download an enticing-sounding ebook can be the perk that gets them to opt in.

Promote it in social media posts, with a tempting description, a link, and a ‘cover’ graphic. Include it, if possible, on your profile page, where anyone who’s checking you out will discover it. You can also turn it into a slide show and post it on Slide Share.

Use it in paid social media as a premium giveaway offer in at least some of your ads or sponsored posts. New prospects are more likely to click on a freebie than a link to your home page.

Send it to business prospects by including a link, or the pdf itself, in prospecting emails or social media direct messages. It shows a willingness to put something valuable forward before asking for anything in return.

Include it in follow-up emails after you’ve met someone at a conference or other industry event. It’ll give you a chance to impress new colleagues who could become referral partners.

Add a link to your email signature. That way, all your email recipients will have access to your ‘free gift.’ And who knows who they might share that link with.

Promote it at your public speaking gigs, perhaps with the URL in your closing slide. People who enjoyed your presentation will have a chance to explore your approach further.

Ebooks can be written in a breezy, conversational style, even with a bit of attitude or edge. Perhaps start with a unique twist on a topic that takes ‘em by surprise.

The topic, of course, should be relevant to your audience’s world of goals, circumstances, obstacles and influences. The voice should be that of a helpful and knowledgeable colleague.

After a cover and brief intro page, include anywhere from 6 to 12 content pages, then add a closing page with a Call to Action. You can create a live link to your website in your pdf ebook using Adobe Acrobat.

Each content page could cover a sub-topic, maybe with a 10 to 25 word intro, 60 to 80 words of supporting text, and a graphic. But the beauty of ebooks is their flexibility, so see what works best for you.

Ebooks need to be easy to read, with no tiny text. They should also be colorful, with some white space avoid a cluttered look.

Try creating a standard page template, and also a color palette, that allows for a bit of page-to-page variation.

For visuals, try to be creative and think past standard stock photos. I prefer carefully selected images of people who seem to be emotionally reacting to the surprising headline.

As long as your pdf ebook is created with selectable text (vs. from ‘flat’ jpg imges), it’s scannable by Google, so it’s not a bad idea to include keywords to attract search engines.

The ebook on your website also counts toward the larger volume of text that Google tends to rank higher.

So how do you create an amazing new ebook for your company?

The design:

There are websites and templates out there for developing your ebook on their proprietary platform, often with a cookie-cutter approach. But I’ve already mentioned the simple pdf as the most universal, flexible, and easily-shared format available.

However you’ll need to actually create the design in another program, then convert it to a pdf. Typically, that program is InDesign, Adobe’s page-layout application that allows for multiple pages. If you’re a designer who has an Adobe subscription, you’re all set. Otherwise you’ll need to contract with a designer who does.

Single horizontal pages (vs. ‘spreads’) tend to work best. I prefer a starting page size of about 11 in. wide by 6 in. high.

The cover design can’t merely be good. It has to grab the eye of the reader and not let go. Your designer will also need to create a graphic with the cover art applied to a 3-dimensional looking book, for a ‘realistic’ look when promoting it in social media or on your website.

Once the pdf is ‘parked’ on the server along with your other website assets, it’ll have its own url, from which it can be read online, or easily downloaded to the person’s computer or phone.

Although you can distribute that direct url link to others, it’s not a bad idea to create a web landing page, from which your pdf ebook can be accessed, then distribute the url for that landing page. The advantage here is that you can see in Google Analytics how many people went to your landing page (and when) to download your ebook.

The writing:

If you consider yourself a great writer, then feel free to take a stab at writing the ebook yourself. But keep in mind that although the total number of words in an ebook may be similar to the word count in a longer blog post, more careful word crafting is needed for that extra bit of polish that makes for an outstanding final product.

Also, company owners and employees sometimes can’t help getting a little salesy in presenting their information, and other than a call-to-action at the end of the ebook, that’s not what your readers are looking for at this point.

In any case, start by deciding on your overall topic, then coming up with one sub-topic per page. And be sure your cover headline and subhead are so incredibly intriguing that people can’t wait to download it and dig in.

After reading this far, would it help to see what this kind of ebook looks like? Check out the three different ebooks I’ve done for my copywriting business, at TomTortorici.com/ebooks.

A series of ebooks, done over time, allows you to cover different topics, address different issues, or appeal to different audiences.

Plus remember the principle of reciprocity: if you offer something of value to people up front, they may feel compelled to offer something in return. It may be their next project, or at least a chance for it. And that’s how things seem to work these days.

Need help putting together an amazing ebook for your company? Let’s talk it out.

You can learn also more about online marketing that’s Optimized for Humans by reading An Atlanta Copywriter Shares 3 Surprising Secrets.

Tom Tortorici Inc. | Tom@TomTortorici.com | 770-934-7861 | 3101 Rockaway Rd | Atlanta GA 30341

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