Every couple of years, Emerald Lake Books conducts a poll of entrepreneurs and business owners to ask about the most common business problems they face. We routinely ask them to rate ten potential issues to determine which are the most relevant to our respondents.
In all the years we’ve conducted this survey, there are four issues that always rise to the top:
- There aren’t enough hours in the day.
- I need more leads.
- I need to improve my cash flow.
- I need better brand visibility.
Amazingly enough, even though better brand visibility is often a distant 4th in the list of complaints, it often solves two of the other business problems that frequently tie with each other for second place (more leads and improved cash flow).
Regardless, all the common issues we see businesses deal with can be addressed by creating a well-structured, well-designed and well-positioned book.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the Top 4 business problems to see how a book can resolve those issues.
Problem #1: There aren’t enough hours in the day
When someone says, “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” what it typically means is there’s too much work to be done by too few people. Right? Okay.
So, how do you create more time?
You create a system that handles repetitive tasks for you.
If you could streamline the process of getting a new lead to say “Yes” to working with you, would you do it?
A book introduces people to you and what you have to offer without the pressure of feeling “sold to.” The point of the book isn’t to sell them lots of things. You’re only going to educate them so they can make the right choice for their own situation and needs.
If you’re generous with your knowledge, sharing who you are and what you do, and demonstrating that you’re familiar with the problem they’re facing, you will begin to establish that crucial know, like and trust relationship with them. But besides establishing a connection, you’re going to introduce them to the solution that solves their problems.
Some of your readers will take what you share with them and implement it themselves, but others will look to you to show them how to apply your solution to their unique situation.
Your book will shorten your sales cycle and do some of the initial education for you. As a result, you’ve created more time for yourself.
Problem #2: I need more leads
Your book can generate leads for you in a variety of ways.
For example, some of the methods you use to get the book itself into readers’ hands can generate leads, like creating a Free+Shipping offer or giveaway, or taking part in a bundled product promotion with partners who share the same audience. Alternatively, you can use the concepts shared in the book to springboard into other areas, like an online course, virtual summit or conference built around the concepts in your book.
But you can also generate leads from offers made inside the book. These can be bonus materials, like checklists, templates and workbooks. Or they can be content that expands further concepts in the book, like quizzes, videos and courses. They can even be invitations to work directly with you in a group or one-on-one.
We’ve seen people simply have fun generating leads with their book by creating word searches, crossword puzzles and coloring pages. Others have provided more utilitarian resources closely aligned with the book.
Whatever approach you take, there are plenty of ways to generate leads using your book.
Problem #3: I need to improve my cash flow
When it comes to improving your cash flow, book sales will help to a certain extent. For example, if you’re a speaker, you can often negotiate to have the event coordinator purchase copies for the attendees.
But most first-time authors sell fewer than 250 copies of their book, and most of them are to people who already know them. So that won’t go very far toward improving your cash flow.
The real money comes from converting readers to customers.
Think about the impact on your bottom line if you can reduce the time it takes to close a deal with a prospective client by 25 or even 50% because they’re better prepared for working with you after reading your book. That can be a tremendous boost to your bottom line.
So, when you consider the cash flow opportunities of a book, think about it in terms of the average lifetime value of a client. Once you secure a new customer, how much do they spend with you on average over the course of their relationship with you?
That’s what you want to be focusing on when using a book to improve your cash flow.
You can even work your book into your sales funnels in a variety of ways. For example, when someone opts into your mailing list with one of your free offers, you can reward them by offering a subscriber-only discount on your book. People who buy from you are more likely to buy from you again in the future, even if their first purchase is a 99¢ book. So, this is a great method to identify those willing to spend a little money with you from those who just want your free stuff.
Problem #4: I need better brand visibility
When properly done, a book will (100% of the time) create better brand visibility for you. That’s just a bonus, and it wasn’t even the problem most businesses are focused on fixing. But a book will certainly help!
If you want to learn more about what we consider to be the best solution to your worst business problems, I invite you to download our free workbook that helps you explore the best ways to use a book to grow your business.
This article originally appeared in the 2nd quarter edition of Marketing, Media and Money magazine in 2021.