NOTE FROM CATHY: I loved this article from Robert Middleton, and wanted to share it with you. He offers several good lessons, especially for those of you who are building businesses based on your knowledge and expertise.The four lessons he offers are excellent, but there is something else he only hints at: If you are building a consulting or speaking business, your book can bring you many times the value of your book sales in new business. That means that if you sell $600,000 of books, you may also have $1 – $2 million or more (possibly much more) in sales of your services. Are you ready to get to work on your book now?
Also, be sure to check out the book recommendation Robert makes at the end of the article. I couldn’t agree more!
I remember that day in my office in Palo Alto in 2000 very well. I had just launched my e-book, The InfoGuru Marketing Manual and orders were pouring in.
Nothing in my business was ever the same after that.
Three years earlier I had started to publish this weekly ezine, More Clients, and with a lot of hard work and some good luck I had built my e-list to about 6,000 subscribers. Those days ezines were not so common and the demand for information on marketing professional services was high.
Three years later I had a brilliant thought: “Why not write a book about marketing and offer it to those on my list? I might sell a few copies.”
To develop the content I put on a small 12-week workshop on marketing, covering all the main concepts, strategies and techniques. I held it in my Palo Alto office with 8 participants.
Each week, I wrote up the material for that session. Looking back, I’m not sure if it would have gotten written if I hadn’t had that weekly deadline. But 12 weeks later I had a rough draft that formed the core of the book.
Then I buckled down, added more material, expanded it to 24 chapters, added an appendix with samples, got some editing help, and a few months later had a “decent first edition.”
My plan was to only make this an e-book. In fact, the book was actually published as a stand-alone website. Each page of the site was a chapter. And I also added some mp3 recordings and other bonuses, even a discussion group.
I then took what felt like hundreds of hours writing the sale letter for the manual. I got the help of a very good copywriter who happened to be a friend and who donated his time for free.
In the first week I sold maybe 20 copies.
But then something interesting happened. The very first person to order asked if he could get a hard copy. And being the obliging soul that I am, I said yes.
It was quite a feat printing out all the pages from the website, taking them to the copy shop and getting them collated into a big binder.
When I announced that I now had hard copies available, sales exploded.
For the first few months, I assembled the binders myself and shipped them out. I remember that breakthrough day when I had dozens of binders stacked up in the office with more orders coming in every day.
Finally, I hired an assistant to do all the packaging and mailing. And then not long after that I hired a designer to format the manual in a page-layout program. She designed a cover and I published it as a spiral-bound book. We also had a pdf copy available.
I’d order 100 copies at a time from the same copy shop in Palo Alto, so I was never burdened with a lot of inventory.
Sales continued not for a few months, but for several years.
For many months, my manual sales were regularly $10K or more. But I didn’t stop there. I learned the art of bundling. I would sell the manual with a set of CDs. And then I created the WebSite ToolKit and bundled it with the manual. I never stopped working on ways to package it.
My average price for the manual over several years was $59 and most of that was profit. When you publish a standard book with a publisher, you make $1 or 2 per book. So the difference is significant.
I recently learned that the average business book only sells about 5,000 copies. So that’s $5,000 to $10,000 to the author. And remember, books are sold through several channels, from bookstores to Amazon.
I only had one channel – my website. And over about a 7-year period I sold about 10,000 copies and made close to $600K.
But that’s not the end of the story.
In 2003, after I’d moved to Boulder Creek from Palo Alto, I started to offer group teleconference programs, The Marketing Action Groups. I offered three and six-month programs.
What got my attention is that almost everyone who signed up for a program had previously bought the InfoGuru Manual. They liked what they’d gotten and wanted more.
To this day I continue to offer these programs (now 9-months long) and fill them every time. The ezine, plus the manual has created an unstoppable momentum.
In 2009 I stopped the publication of the manual and added it as a bonus to membership in the More Clients Club. The Club, now in its sixth year, has hundreds of members and generates a substantial monthly income.
So, is there a system here you can follow to generate hundreds of thousands in sales with an e-book of your own? And will I be offering a course to teach you how to do it?
The answers are no and no.
Why? because what I offered was unique; my situation would be hard to duplicate. I don’t even think I could replicate this! But I can share some ideas that will help you if you want to go the route of publishing your manual or other program online.
1. Build your list. Make it a priority. Fine tune your website so that visitors opt-in on your home page. Do talks to build your list and get new subscribers. Write lots of articles and get them published in places that get a lot of traffic. Write a regular ezine and blog. Study the principles of content marketing.
2. Write more than an e-book or a book. Write something that is comprehensive and hands-on, something your readers can use and apply right away. Give it an interesting name. I came up with the word InfoGuru in the shower one day. It’s a made-up word, but it worked because it didn’t sound like anything else.
3. Take control of your website. Get a good designer, but master the process of making updates, adding pages, managing your shopping cart, etc. I still work on my website almost every day. When I want to add a promotion, I can write and format it in 90 minutes or less. You need that kind of flexibility. Or find someone who can do it for you quickly and affordably.
4. Make videos. This is not something I did and that was my biggest mistake. Videos can give prospects an experience of who you are and what you do. Videos are much more compelling than written copy. I’m now in the process of making several videos and it will be a cornerstone of my marketing moving forward.
Sure, there are a hundred more things you can do, but these are central to online marketing. Social media, affiliates, landing pages, autoresponders and a lot of other tools will accelerate your progress.
I rarely recommend books in this eZine, but there is one I highly recommend if you want to have success with online marketing. It’s called “Launch” by Jeff Walker. He teaches the most successful system for online marketing I have seen. I wish he’d been around in 2000, but I’ve studied his work since and it’s brilliant. You can get it on Amazon and it covers most of what’s in his $2,000 course.
I wish you all the success in your online marketing. It can be quite an exciting ride!
By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert’s web site at www.actionplan.com for additional marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional service businesses.