Gisele is a powerhouse of a management consultant. She pulls in nearly $1 million in annual sales, three-quarters of which is profit. But while she’s always been sharp and talented, she wasn’t always landing the five- and six-figure deals she does today. You see, Gisele struggled with lead generation with many enquiries being a poor fit for the type of work she did or simply being small and low impact — not the kind of work she knew she was capable of. Publishing a book changed all that as she now gives away thousands of copies of her book each year, which directly accounts for hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting sales.
That, my friends, is how it’s done.
The lead-generation strategy involves using your book to generate and qualify leads for sales of the core products and services your business offers.
Your book, used correctly, can help you achieve several lead-generation objectives:
- Reach more people in a scalable way. Your book works twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, wherever and whenever you can’t.
- Reduce sales cycle time. Your readers have already spent a significant amount of time with you before you speak to them. They’ll already know, like, and trust you, so the time from contact to sale is less.
- Improve conversion rates. For the same reason, leads who’ve read your book are already pre-sold and more likely to convert.
- Improve customer quality. Finally, these leads will have learned about you, your business, your methodology, and how you work. If they contact you, then they like what they read and are much more likely to be the type of client you want to work with.
As you can see, if you can write a book that’s relevant to your customers and use it to execute a lead-generation strategy that super-charges these metrics, that can really boost your business.
So, how can you optimize your book to generate leads, and what are the core components of an effective, book-led strategy to generate them?
1. Optimize your book for lead generation
While your book will typically generate leads for you regardless, if this is your primary goal in publishing, there are a couple of things you can do within the text itself to optimize its effectiveness as a lead generator:
Deliver the goods
It goes without saying…but I’ll still say it. Your book must deliver for your readers. It has to answer the central question the reader has and provide enough value that they’ll believe that you can help them further.
Lead the reader to a new need
Conceive your book as a prequel to your core product. While it must fully answer its central question and address the reader’s problem, it should also naturally lead your reader to a sharper understanding of the need for your core product or highlight new needs that your core product addresses. How do you do this?
First, you could share your ideas freely in your book and then sell implementation. For example, a book by a marketing expert might cover her approach to branding with a goal of converting readers into clients for a branding implementation.
Another approach is to fully solve one problem that then uncovers another need that you can help your reader with. A financial planner might write a book about how to reduce expenses and free up monthly cash flow. When the reader successfully does this by following the advice in the book, the extra money they have each month makes them an ideal prospect for the author to help invest wisely for their future.
Filter for your ideal customers
The content of your book must attract the type of customers you want to work with and repel those you don’t. If, for example, your business serves owners of established, $5-million-to-$10-million manufacturing businesses, a book about how to finance a new manufacturing business will attract leads with little capital who want help getting their business off the ground rather than the established business owners you want to work with.
If your book delivers for the right readers (your ideal customers) and leaves them with a clear understanding of how you can help them and why they should work with you, then the next thing you need to do is get your book into the hands of your prospects.
2. Turn prospects into readers
Having lots of people read and enjoy your book is nice. It might even be ego-boosting and provide some pocket-change to cover your Starbucks latte addiction. But for the serious entrepreneur using a book for lead generation, it’s important that you focus on getting your book into the hands of the right readers — prospective customers of your core business.
There are two ways to think about this. First, you could think of it as trying to convince readers to become your client. Or second, you could think of it as trying to get your prospects to read your book. The truth is that neither perspective is wrong, but I believe that the more effective mindset is that of turning your prospects into readers. Why? Well, with that mindset, you’re seeking out people who you know are already a good fit for your business. You know they’ll get a tonne of value from your book and if that happens, the odds of turning them into a client goes way up. You’re thinking like an entrepreneur.
So, don’t be afraid to gift your book freely to anyone and everyone who you consider to be a good fit with your ideal customer profile, absorbing the printing and distribution costs as a marketing expense. While footing the bill for printing and shipping paperbacks to thousands of prospects may sound like a big expense, it doesn’t take many high-ticket core product sales to make that up.
With that in mind, here are five proven approaches for getting your book into your ideal customers’ hands:
Make it sharable
Often your best customers have more of your best prospects in their network, so make it easy to share your book. You can do this in the analog way by giving clients multiple copies so they can pass one to someone else in their network. Digitally, consider a viral giveaway using a service like KingSumo, Gleam, or Shortstack, that encourages people to share it. Just be careful in how you design giveaways, so they attract your ideal readers and not just people who want to win free stuff.
Seek out partnerships
Identify organizations (companies, associations, even influencers) with access to large numbers of your ideal readers. Develop an offer that will be valuable to them and their members and pitch it. This could even be a bulk sales opportunity, but if the audience is a great fit, don’t get caught up on price. Seek creative ways to increase your exposure to the group, perhaps layering in a workshop, speaking engagement, and bonus resources.
Organize (or speak at) in-person events
Done well, in-person events generate credibility and establish a personal connection that can be more difficult online. Organizing your own event is a great way to generate high-quality leads, prime them, gift them your book, and move them along the buyer journey. Once you nail the format, repeat it annually, monthly, or even weekly. Not keen to organize your own event? Speaking at someone else’s event involves less effort on your part, and, if the audience is aligned with yours, it can be a great lead generator.
Pony up for paid ads
Use content from your book to create valuable digital resources, then use paid digital ads to drive traffic to a landing page. By offering your book along with this bonus content at a hard-to-resist price point, you can not only get your book into the right hands, but also collect contact information at the same time.
Make the ask
At the end of your book, let your reader know about the various ways they could work with you. A hard upsell is rarely as effective as giving readers a valuable reason to get in contact with you. Then you can nurture the relationship toward a sale when the time is right.
Of course, converting prospects to readers is one thing, but how do you then convert readers to leads and ultimately to customers? Let’s dig into that question next, shall we?
3. Capture, nurture, convert
This last step in the lead-generation strategy is vital in monetizing all that work you’ve already done. Unless you capture, nurture, and convert those leads, you’ll never make the high-ticket sales you need to make this strategy work.
Collect contact details
A lead is not truly generated until you have the prospect’s contact information stored in such a way that you can use it to make a sale. To do this effectively, there are a few basics you should have in place.
Website landing pages
To capture leads on your website, you need landing pages to send prospects to. Use a separate landing page for each campaign you run so that the details on the page can reflect the messaging used to drive traffic to it. You also need a lead magnet that your prospects will see as valuable enough to exchange their contact details for.
Email marketing tool
You also need an email marketing tool that lets you add a sign-up form to your landing page, store people’s contact information once they’ve submitted the form, deliver them the lead magnet as promised, and then communicate with them via email.
There are many tools that provide all this functionality in a single service, such as LeadPages or ConvertKit, while others are best-of-breed in one area and are best knitted together by your technical lead or VMA. You can also review the Email Capture topic in Chapter 13 to help you come up with the right system.
Just as live events are often ignored by online marketers, physical, printed collateral — such as brochures and sign-up forms — are also underused.
Especially when pitching live, whether one on one or in groups, tangible brochures that prospects can touch and feel make a big difference. They communicate legitimacy and, especially when your service is intangible, make your service feel more real.
Be sure to have a physical sign-up form and even the ability to take payment on site rather than sending prospects away with a URL, expecting them to sign up later. By doing so, you’ll find your conversion rate is much higher.
Customer relationship management
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform becomes more important as your sales team grows and when your sales process is more complex. It helps manage more than just contact information, letting you assign leads to specific salespeople, move prospects through stages of your sales funnel, and track the progress of deals until completion.
If your sales team speaks to prospects on the phone, whether inbound or outbound, a CRM like HubSpot, Pipedrive, or Copper, is essential for capturing and acting on details.
Nurture and sell
You’ve got leads! Now what? Now, you need a sales team to reach out, be helpful, and ultimately convert leads into paying customers. Your sales team may just be you selling one on one to individual clients. Regardless, develop a clear conversion strategy that includes ongoing communication that moves leads who aren’t yet ready to buy toward an eventual sale (this can often be automated), and effective sales processes and scripting to close sales with those who are ready to buy (this is usually best done live).
Next logical product
Obvious, right? Plus, you already have a core product or service. But there are some considerations around what products work best for this strategy. Your product should meet the following criteria to be most effective and profitable:
- Be designed for the same audience as your ideal reader
- Relate to the methodology described in your book
- Extend from or pick up where your book left off
- Be priced high enough so that it offsets the cost of gifting your book and provides enough profit for your business
If your existing business and product ecosystem already lend themselves to this, you’re well on your way to a significant return on your publishing investment.