In the year 1900, with less than 3,000 cars in the whole of France and the Model T Ford still more than a decade from its debut, Edouard and André Michelin published the first edition of a guidebook for motorists. The Michelin Guide contained useful information such as road maps, petrol station locations, maintenance instructions, and car mechanic listings.
Over a century later, Michelin is one of the world’s top tire manufacturers.
Obviously, it would be foolish to attribute all of this company’s success to an informative booklet. The Michelin brothers were savvy businessmen who manufactured an excellent product. On the other hand, it would be just as foolish to pass over such a unique tool employed by such savvy and successful businessmen as these. Indeed, Michelin has continued publishing its guidebooks across the world to this day, and businesses of all shapes and sizes are still finding success in our 21st-century economy with similar content marketing strategies.
What is Content Marketing?
You may have noticed that “tire manufacturer listings” was not mentioned among the information provided in the Michelin Guide. This was not a book designed to advertise Michelin’s products directly.
Instead, the guidebook took a more roundabout approach. The Michelin brothers hoped their book would promote automobile tourism in general, thereby indirectly increasing demand for tires. “A rising tide lifts all boats,” as they say. And it certainly didn’t hurt that the Michelin name was sitting in the glove compartment of nearly every car in France.
This is precisely the essence of content marketing. Provide useful information in an accessible and engaging way to people who need it, and don’t tell them to buy anything. Then, just wait. They will come knocking when the time comes.
Why does this work? Because as you provide them with reliable content, potential customers learn to trust your brand. If Michelin makes reliable guidebooks that I can trust to get me where I need to go, why shouldn’t I trust them to make reliable tires to do the same? Through something completely unrelated to your product, your customers can build a relationship with you(without feeling threatened by “the sales pitch”).
Why a Book?
Perhaps in the early 20th century, a book was the obvious choice for content marketing. Now, there are so many options it’s almost overwhelming. Why should you choose to use a book as the medium for your content marketing instead of starting up a blog or a vlog or a meme page?
Of course, there’s no rule stating that you have to stick to one method or another, and no one method is perfect for every situation; so by all means, do what you feel inspired to do! Keep in mind, though, that there are certainly distinct advantages to writing a book to promote your business.
One major advantage of a book over more “tech-savvy” strategies is longevity. The internet has conditioned consumers for immediacy and recency. The information we receive from a social media post must be relevant to us at the precise moment we first encounter it, or else we’ll scroll right on by it. In fact, even if we do give it a few moments of our time, we rarely (if ever) return for a second glance. And, of course, we’ve all heard how this thing or that thing is “so two weeks ago.”
Blogs, videos, and social media all fall prey to this sort of “right now” mentality. But when was the last time you picked up a book at the library and flipped straight to the publication date? Books have a life beyond “right now.” Books take time to write and time to read; everyone knows that. A potential reader isn’t going to write off your book just because it doesn’t fit perfectly into this present moment in time.
Books also seem more credible. Now, whether that apparent credibility is deserved may be a different matter entirely—any writer can tell you about their plenteous battles with imposter syndrome. Regardless, the word “author” on your LinkedIn profile can change the way your clients perceive you. You’ve written a book; you must be an expert.
What Can I Write a Book About?
Of course, that word expert can be intimidating. The truth is, you don’t have to be an expert to write a book. Even so, as a solopreneur, you absolutely have the expertise to share.
So, what do you know? If you have some revolutionary new idea, that’s great! If not, that’s great too!
Perhaps the experiences you’ve had have given you a different perspective on some age-old piece of wisdom. Maybe you are fascinated with one corner of your industry that often goes overlooked. Maybe you have a niche interest that is only loosely related to your business. Perfect!
Remember, your book shouldn’t directly advertise your product. Your book should be a free gift of useful information to potential customers, increasing name-recognition and inspiring trust in your brand. Write something people will want to read; don’t let your book smell of selling! (If you want, though, you can definitely collect email addresses in exchange for the free gift!)
Once You Have Your Idea…
It’s time to get to work. At this point, there are no rules. Should your book be short or long? Should you publish as an eBook? In print? Both? All of that is up to you, and there are resources readily available to help you make it happen. Here at Inspired Press Publisher we can help you with every step in your publishing journey.
So, what will you write your book about? Tell us in the comments below, then get started!