September 3, 2014

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business

How to become the go-to expert in your industry

Ron Stein | 1/26/2014

Your company has been in business for years. You’ve created a solid product that customers truly love. In fact, in head-to-head evaluations your offering always comes out on top. The expertise and reputation of your company is obvious.

Yet, for some reason others are perceived as experts, but not you. So, why do your competitors get all the attention and glory?

Maybe your competition has more talented public relations people. It could be that their sales folks are simply more aggressive in going after the big deals that get all the buzz. Or their CEOs just do a better job of schmoozing prospects and the press.

It really doesn’t matter what they’re doing -- the question is, what can you do about it?

The secret to getting you and your business elevated to rock star status is a book.

Successful companies are part of the conversation in their industry. A book will do that for you. People trust things that look and feel like books. A book gives you instant credibility. A book will differentiate your business and create visibility. Your book makes you an expert and opens doors.

A book is a tool to grow a business. It will generate leads and get you in front of your target audience. And referrals will increase when these people believe that it will help their colleagues and friends -- not you.

A book has longevity too. Think about it. Give someone a business card or brochure about your company and the odds are that these will see that trash can before the end of the day. Nobody would ever toss a book away. A book is a treasured possession.

Let’s face it; people place authors on a pedestal, and by association their business. One word sums it up -- authority.

But, you can’t write just any book. It can’t be a fat sales presentation. It must help educate your ideal prospects and customers about common issues they face. It needs to inform in a way that entices people to choose you over your competition, build your brand, and establish yourself and company as an expert in your field -- a leader in the marketplace.

This is all nice, but will it really turbocharge your business? Well, BusinessWeek Magazine reported that a survey of 200 business-book authors found that 96% realized a significant positive impact on their businesses from writing a book. Most said that the benefits of more leads, closing more deals, charging higher fees, and getting better speaking engagements far outweighed actually selling their books. Wow!

Types of books your audience wants. Let’s get one thing straight upfront: This is not about writing the next great business book, deep with insight and dripping with uplifting symbolism that makes someone’s best-selling list. You need to write a book that speaks directly to the needs, desires, and problems of your audience -- while at the same time accomplishing your business goals of separating you from your competition. It should be a “how-to” book. A step-by-step guidebook format works great as does a book with real-life examples of mistakes made and ways to avoid them. Great teaching tools make for great marketing tools.

Writing a book doesn’t have to be hard. Start with an important topic based on one of the biggest problems your audience faces. Then create an outline and break your subject up into no more than ten related areas or themes as a blueprint for chapter headings. Within each list ten things your readers need to know. For each chapter jot down a significant statement based on three or four important questions you regularly hear from customers. Start writing by answering each question. Write as if you were speaking with your customer and keep sentences short. Add diagrams and photos. Aim for about 100 pages when finished and you’ll have a book drafted in no time!

Titles matter. If you want to attract attention with your book, you’ll need a magnetic title. It must instantly motivate people to look at it by letting readers know exactly what they can expect. Explain it in the sub-title if you need to. Plus, consider a bit of controversy, a powerful question, humor, a number, or even inventing a phrase. For instance, "The Ten Top Things You Need to Know Before … “ or “Your Customer Said What?” or “The Ultimate Guidebook To … “ or “Advice From The Experts: How to Alienate Customers and Drive Your Business Into the Ground”. Not only do titles matter, so do covers. Create a professional looking full color front cover design -- it’s worth the extra money. Remember, it’s not the book, it’s the hook for your prospective customers.

Get it to your audience. Before you put your book in the hands of your prospects, you first need to print it. This falls under your promotional materials budget -- check with the people who design and print your brochures and ask for quotes from companies that specialize in small print runs for books. You don’t need a real publisher, but there are a few that will help you create a book that aligns with your business purpose. You need just enough hard copies for the people that matter. Now launch it, just like a new product or service. Put it on your website letting people download a free digital copy of a chapter (or better yet the entire book) and capture their lead information. Send out news release to the trade press, Tweet about it, use it to get speaking engagements. And always have copies with you to hand out -- after all it’s better than a business card. Then send a hard copy to everyone you want to do business with and attach a handwritten note.

You really are an expert and people want to learn about what you know. The best part of having a book is that it will separate your company from your competition, generate leads, and get you in front of your target audience.

A book will transform your business. Your book is a powerful tool to leverage your business and increase revenue. It’s your brochure on steroids and can put your company on the map.

I have my book with a second one on the way -- how about you?
(Comments welcome -- post using the field below.)


Ron Stein is President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He works with small business owners, helping them to energize their marketing and sell more of their products and services. Ron has developed his own highly successful 7-step approach to winning new customers as a result of his experience as a small business owner, corporate CEO, marketing and business development executive, salesman, and mentor at two nationally recognized business accelerators. Ron offers one-on-one and small group mentoring, conducts seminars, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com.

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