How do you market a corporate/self-published business book
31 weeks ago

How do you market a corporate/self-published business book

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As a corporate storyteller and business book publisher I am often asked this question and I always cover it off when I have an initial meeting with potential clients. Given that I have published two books in the last 3 weeks and am about to help launch and market a third – on completely different subject matters and to radically different target audiences – I thought it was an opportune time to share some of my insights into marketing corporate and self-published business books.

The three books I am going to use as examples are:

  1. A self-published book (through Global Stories) titled 5 self-guided walks around central Paris;
  2. A corporate book celebrating 100 years and three generations of a family business, Sutton Tools, project managed by Global Stories; and
  3. A comprehensive handbook on wills, probate and administration practice, where Global Stories is advising on the launch, marketing and promotion of the book.

You couldn’t get a much more diverse group of books if you tried. That said, there are some basic principles that apply if you want to have a successful corporate/self-published book. Here are my top insights.

1. Be clear on your purpose.

I am always excited when someone calls me and discusses their business book idea. With corporate books this is mostly prompted by an up-coming significant anniversary or event, the departure of a long-standing chairman/CEO, after a significant merger/acquisition, name change or brand refresh.

The first question I ask is what is the purpose of the book? While I know a little about why they want to do it, what I am more interested in is what they want to achieve by publishing it and how they will measure if it has been successful.

It’s important to be clear about the purpose of the book and how you will measure success. For example: if the purpose was brand recognition I’d be exploring this to define what audiences were important and HOW they would measure if they had been successful. If the purpose was a combination of brand development and cost recovery, I’d be advising on a clear understanding of the target audiences needs and challenges, avenues to market and sell the book and the requirements around marketing and promotion.

If the purpose was to celebrate/recognise a major milestone and engender corporate pride within and externally to the organisation, the approach to the content, presentation, launch and engagement with the book post the launch, would look completely different.

The Paris Walks book purpose was to share a personal story and recover costs, at a minimum.

The Sutton Tools book is purely a corporate pride/recognition story…not one book will be sold. The book on wills, administration and probate has a strong commercial imperative with a level of brand building and success will be measured in the number of sales and new business generated.

Being clear on the purpose of your book drives a range of other decisions such as what is written, the style it is written in, the design and presentation and the commercial outcomes required, if any.

 If your purpose is clear, outcomes can be measured and value substantiated.

2. Know and understand your target market.

Whatever the subject of your book understanding who your target audience is the most critical part of marketing it well. Understanding your target market is not simply pulling together a database, that’s lazy marketing.

You need to give serious thought to who you want to engage with your book and why. The answers to these two questions will drive all the other decisions you make about your marketing and promotion of the book.

For example, the Paris Walks book is being marketed to people over 35, with disposable incomes who travel once or twice a year overseas. They may have been to Paris already, or always wanted to go. They might know someone who visits Paris. They read the travel section of newspapers, buy travel magazines, are more likely independent travellers, enjoy food and wine.

Knowing this we can target our review copies, media releases and marketing efforts to those magazines, online travel, food and wine sites, business magazines that this target group will be engaging.

It also means we engaged Alliance Francaise, created a Facebook page 6 months prior to the launch to start developing a community, and teamed up with a charity to help launch the book.

The Sutton Tools book is a different case altogether. As a third generation family business with a small but loyal workforce across Australia and New Zealand, their target audience was their staff, suppliers and retail partners. The company is understated and has strong family values. They’re not selling their book, it is being presented to their target audiences as a thank you and with a sense of pride.

Front cover of Sutton Tools 100th anniversary book

It was launched at the State Library of Victoria, what better place for a book on a 3rd generation family manufacturing business.

3. Be clear on the messages you want to deliver AND how they are relevant to your target audiences

This may sound obvious, but just because you have written and published a book does not mean that everyone is or will be interested in it. This is really the flip side of knowing who your audience is…you need to be clear on the messages you want to share with them. These messages have to be relevant to them and to you.

While you should have thought through this way before you start thinking about marketing your book (and at Global Stories this is something we work on very early on), if you haven’t paid too much attention to this throughout the process of creating your book it’s really important to think about this as you develop your marketing plan.

You may have 2-3 separate audiences. Therefore, you’ll need to craft 2-3 separate engagement programs, different media releases, letters to accompany books, strategies and plans for presenting the books. For example large clients may be presented with a book by their key account representative; government/industry leaders may be invited to a special event (not necessarily a launch event); employees may be presented with a copy by their division head, country head, CEO or manager; industry journalists might received embargoed advance copies and one might have an exclusive interview; you might share across internal communications channels and/or external social media channels; executives could share through their LinkedIn presence . . .

There’s a wide range of opportunities, options and ways to engage specific audiences about your book but you have to think about what’s of interest to them and frame your communications around this. Do not create a generic media release and then hit the send button on a global media or executive email. This is simply confusing activity for action and you won’t get the resonance or response you want.\\

4. Be prepared to work on leveraging your book for 4-6 months after the launch

It’s not uncommon for businesses and self-employed people to put all their effort into getting their book published. This is a huge commitment in time, money, creative input and organisation. Then its followed up with the launch preparations and the event itself. HOWEVER, I advise all my clients that the real work and value from any corporate/business book comes in the 4-6 months post the launch. If you leverage this time the right way you have a much higher chance of achieving your objectives. It’s just that this is where the hard work starts and its way less glamorous.

In book marketing and awareness terms persistence is what will deliver success for your book. It’s where you can leverage the actual book to get the media attention, client engagement and interaction, employee pride, supplier appreciation and more. And, its where you really get to leverage the content of your book across all platforms as you’ve effectively got at least a years worth of content you can use IF you plan and know how to use it, with specific target audiences and know how to repurpose it.

So, enjoy the launch event and know that the day after and the months after the launch is where ALL the real value of creating your corporate/business book will be captured.