What’s the first thing you should do when you launch a business or want to jumpstart sales?
If your answer was, “Get attention,” you’re on the right track. The question is how are you going to do it?
How can you get the phone ringing and get a flood of people to contact you and buy from you — especially if you don’t want to spend a fortune on advertising, mailing or search engine optimization?
A few years ago I answered a phone call from Mike, who had just visited my web site for the first time and was ready to sign up as a client.
Let me repeat that. I’d never spoken to Mike before and he’d been to my website for the first time just a few minutes before he called, but he was ready to pay thousands of dollars to start working with me.
We talked for 15 minutes and he signed on to have me help his company generate more leads with their web site and grow their travel certificate business. Over the next six months he became one of my biggest clients and we worked together for five years. I helped his company make millions of dollars and in turn, I made hundreds of thousands.
What got Mike’s attention and so quickly convinced him that I could help him?
A free ebook.
Mike saw my free offer for the 7 Steps to Attract More Clients within a few seconds of clicking to the home page of my website. He entered his email address to receive the book and get on the mailing list for my weekly newsletter. He downloaded and read my 7 Steps ebook, and a few minutes later called to hire me.
My marketing cost was zero. My profit? Huge!
If you’ve got a web site, you’ve got an opportunity to easily generate a tremendous amount of new business — and it’s practically free.
David Meerman Scott has had his free ebooks downloaded over a half million times, and everyone from online marketers to dentists have successfully used free ebooks to dramatically grow their business.
How A Free ebook Can Help You
Remember that the entrepreneur or the company that gets the most business is the one that does the best job of getting attention and clarifying the value they provide. That’s what your free ebook will do for you.
I’ve used this simple strategy to build a list of over 47,000 qualified prospects for free.
Could you use a list of over 47,000 people who know and trust you and think of you when they need help?
Every business owner can benefit from having a big list of prospects, which is why I’m going to show you the simple steps to take to create your own profit-generating, free ebook.
How can you be sure your ebook will attract all the clients you want? How can you get tens of thousands of people to download it?
Write the book according to the simple formula below.
The Proven, Free ebook Formula For Attracting Buyers
1. Pick a Benefit-Rich Title
One of the primary purposes of giving away your book is to motivate as many qualified prospects as possible to fill in your sign-up or opt-in form on your website and give you their contact information. The simple secret to getting tons of people to do this is to use the title to define the benefits you offer. Give people a solid reason to give you their name and email address.
Names like this don’t work:
“Strategies to Better Business Processes”
“Small Business Accounting 101”
“How to Brush Your Teeth”
Boring — they sound like textbooks. And you haven’t told your prospects what they’re going to gain by reading your ebook.
Names like this do work:
“5 Unknown But Perfectly Legal Ways to Cut Your Taxes”
“Dream or Nightmare: Four Must Do’s Before Starting A Small Business”
“Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex”
The latter title is the name dentist Melanie Smith used for her ebook. Needless to say, she got prospects’ attention and in 12 months increased her net income from $150,000 to over a million dollars a year.
Wondering how you’re going to come up with a title?
Start by identifying the key words that your target market is likely to use to search for your products and services. Then identify and list words that describe the benefits your business offers or creates for customers.
Which of the titles below would you download?
“Basic Accounting Principles For Small Business Owners”
“Dream or Nightmare: Four Must Do’s Before Starting A Small Business”
Action A. List three possible titles for your free ebook.
2. Define the Problems You Solve and the Solutions You Provide
Another purpose of your ebook is to establish you as the go-to expert, the person who has special insight in your field. Your competitors may know as much as you do, but do a better job of communicating your expertise and you’ll gain a huge competitive advantage.
Start by describing the most important problems you solve for clients, and the key concepts of your most people in your target market should know but probably aren’t using.
For example: If you were a financial advisor, you’d want your prospects and clients to understand the concept of portfolio diversification.
This is the basic idea that the best way to manage risk and maximize return on investments is to diversify your portfolio between small cap stocks, large cap stocks, U.S.-based funds and international funds, bonds, commodities like gold, and of course, treasuries.
It’s a simple concept that every investor can appreciate, few fully utilize and, in order to actually execute it, they’ll need your financial services. When you share this simple idea, you’re demonstrating your expertise, and educating your prospects.
Each concept you share should be fundamental. Write about the things that resonate with your target audience. Once they understand it, they’ll want to buy your products and services to implement your solution.
You’re not trying to be sneaky, just simply helping people with good common sense advice (an uncommon commodity) and in doing so creating a perception of need for your products and services.
The simple secret to identifying the core topics for your free ebook is that it’s about helping not selling. And I know for most people who are struggling to attract new clients, the selling mode is usually what they are thinking about. Don’t make this mistake.
Focus on helping and more people will want your products and services.
David Meerman Scott wrote one whole ebook on the single concept of Viral Marketing. The dentist Melanie Smith focused her ebook, ‘Healthy Mouth – Health Sex’ on oral health.
See her table of contents below.
Action B. List the 1-5 most important and helpful ideas you can share with prospects and clients.
3. Lead with a Story
If I wanted to interest you in using referrals, I could write several paragraphs about why it’s important for the growth of your small business.
Or I could tell you the story of how my client Kris from Chattanooga, Tennessee was almost bankrupt at the end of 2007. An experienced video producer, his business was about to fold and he’d already had to lay off all his employees. He knew his work was good and the market was out there, and he asked me to help him save his business and his livelihood.
Using the simple referral strategy I showed him, Kris added over 30 new clients in six weeks. He stuck with this successful strategy and went from struggling at the beginning of the year, to turning 2008 into his most profitable year ever.
Which are you more likely to remember?
The argument about why having a referral strategy is important, or the story about Kris’s fantastic rebound? Stories grab people’s attention, paint pictures in their minds, and are memorable.
Tell stories. Illustrate the problems you solve and how you solve them. That’s what David Meerman Scott does on the first page of his free ebook Viral Marketing.
David used a real life example to illustrate the key problem and the solution. There are two simple steps to telling a story:
1. Define the problem or opportunity that existed.
2. Use a story to illustrate the solution.
Where do you find great stories to use in your ebook? Depending on what services or products you are selling, your stories could be about business problems, personal problems or situations that allow you to make your point. Pull stories from:
• Your own experience (my quirky dad has provided many I’ve used).
• Your clients (every day my clients tell me stories that illustrate business problems and solutions).
• The news (that’s where David found the story he used in Viral Marketing).
Action C. Write 1-2 sentences outlining a couple of stories you could use to make your primary point, and grab your readers’ attention so
they stick with you and understand the key concept or ideas you’re sharing.
4. Include Your Calls to Action
You’ve set the stage by clarifying the problem and sharing ideas, solutions and/or strategies, and in so doing established yourself as the go-to expert. Now let your audience — your prospects — know who you are and how you can help them.
At this point they’re much more likely to pay attention. That’s what people do when you entertain them and give them something for free. They reciprocate by giving you their attention and responding to your questions or suggestions.
What types of calls to actions should you include?
You could include a full-blown sales pitch for your products or services, but that would undermine the whole helping tone of your ebook. Instead you’ll generate the most interest with the following two strategies.
a. At the end of each section of your free ebook, include a question that picks up on the problem and solution you’ve just detailed.
For example: Imagine you’re a financial advisor and you’ve just told a story about how one of your clients diversified his portfolio in 2008 and made money in the stock market while everyone else lost 30% of their assets.
That got your prospects’ attention, so ask them a question to get them thinking and urge them to act. It could go something like this:
“Ready to discover how you can protect your portfolio and make money in any market? Call George for a 30 minute consultation.”
Use questions at key points in your free ebook to prompt prospects to contact you to get help. They won’t feel like they’re being sold and are more likely to follow through and contact you.
Action D. List 2 to 4 questions you can use to motivate prospects to contact you.
• Include a bio page at the end that is personal and engaging. Tell your readers enough about you so that they see how experienced and professional you are, but also that you’re an interesting person who has a lot in common with them. Include a professionally taken photo if you’ve got one.
• When you’ve finished writing, hire an editor. Even if you’ve written books that have hit the bestseller list, an editor will improve your ebook so that it’s clear, concise and compelling.
• Hire the best graphic designer you can. Your ebook is meant to portray you as the expert that you are. You don’t want the cover and layout to look amateurish. Image is everything with your ebook. Hire a professional to create something you’ll be proud of. The AIGA at www.aiga.org is a good source for designers and illustrators.
• When the ebook is done, let everyone know. Send out an email to your list, to bloggers, to your twitter followers, etc.
• Add an opt-in box to the homepage of your website, top right or top center, and include a link to your download page.
Ready to create your free ebook?
We’re talking about a 15 to 20-page book — with a lot of white space and possibly illustrations. That’s somewhere in the neighborhood of three to four thousand words. Or think of it as a 25-minute conversation with a prospect. I know you can do that.
One Last Step
Make a commitment to get your free ebook done. Create a schedule, set a completion date and block out the time in your weekly calendar to finish your ebook and make it available on your web site.
I’m going to repeat a statement I made earlier; remember that the entrepreneur or the company that gets the most business is the one that does the best job of getting attention and clarifying the value they provide. That’s what your free ebook will do for you.