Writing an ebook for content marketing: Align an approach

Posted on March 21, 2018 by admin tagged with , , , under Strategy

In the first blog of this series I described the three popular outcomes for longer-form content marketing. In this post I’ll dive into what should be considered as part of the ebook project approach. In project management circles the term “approach” refers to “how” the project will be achieved.

Having settled on option two (guide or ebook) as the preferred outcome, you need a framework for deciding which components will comprise the final work and which stakeholders will take ownership of each component. Prudent planning is an essential ingredient to the success of any project.

Subject matter
  • Unique: While it’s nearly impossible to think of something that is totally unique, it is important to attempt to stand out from potentially crowded content areas. Do some searching to see if there is room for an ebook on your preferred topic.
  • Value: Put yourself in the shoes of a reader/customer and think why would I read it? What’s in it for me?
  • Expertise: Am I a reasonable authority to credibly produce the content? If not, who can I source that is (Note: I’ll be the first person to say content marketing is NOT always about a company’s expertise).
Content source
  • Time to think about how you will source the content for the ebook. Is there a central theme, or body of work, that will form a large part of the publication?
  • Also, is there an “industry standard” or practice group that can be cross-checked for which themes should be covered to make the guide most relevant?
  • Who is best qualified to relate the subject matter and assist in generating the bulk of the content? It’s the writer’s job to write the content, but the best sources of information should be drawn upon. These include:

    1. Internal staff
    2. External industry experts
    3. External customers
    4. Partner organisations
    5. Independent observers, industry bodies
    6. Academics
    7. Market researchers

  • A writer experienced with the subject matter will be able to help here.
  • If external partners and customers are required to input, ask: Will they be willing and able to participate in an interview for a public ebook?
  • Do I need to set aside a budget (say $100 gift voucher) to incentivise people to participate?
  • Insights: Are there any local or global research insights that can be used to strengthen the topics raised in the guide? E.g. “65% of people respond better to a personalised email” – Source, Research.
  • Unique: Again, think of a title that is unique and not “content washed”.
  • Do some searching around to see if anything is obviously taken and what is likely to work best.
  • Examples (arbitrary theme of customer insights):

    1. The Definitive Guide to Customer Insights
    2. The Ultimate Guide to Customer Insights
    3. The Customer Insights Handbook
    4. The Customer Insights eBook

  • Online presence: Also it helps to think about a possible domain name and social media presence that reflects the title.
  • Logo branded (only your company logo): Good for getting your name out there, but carriers the risk of losing credibility and engagement – you don’t want your ebook to be just ordinary marketing collateral.
  • Co-branded: (Your logo and an independent logo of the third-party that produced the content): This is a good balance between branding and independence.
  • Independently branded (Only name/logo of person or company that produced it). Most independent with sponsors input relegated to one or two branding pages like a foreword and “about” page.
Editorial plan and stakeholder interests
  • This will tie it all together and make sure all project expectations are met.
  • A good editor will work towards a plan (but still be able to deliver without one) and for best results the plan should be shared with, and receive input from, all stakeholders.
  • There should be NO surprises with a content marketing project like this. The client or sponsor should understand the need for independent editorial, but that does not mean they should be left in the dark until the day of publication.
  • The editorial plan will cover:

    1. All stakeholders and roles (who is doing what)
    2. Internal (client) requirements
    3. External requirements
    4. Project scope and budget
    5. Content summary and chapter list
    6. The grid

The last few points – scope, budget and the grid – will be covered in future instalments of this blog series. For now, put together your preferred approach for your ebook using the guidelines above.