Writing an ebook for content marketing: Publicise the product

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

This is the fun part, right? Once your shiny new ebook is complete you can go to town with the direct marketing and publicity. Here are some of the things to consider on the publicity playing field with an ebook in your pocket.

Online presence and Web site or blog
  • The online presence for an ebook can easily be more substantial to that commanded by an article or whitepaper.
  • There’s no harm in registering a domain and tossing up a landing page for the ebook.
  • You can use a new top level or slot it into and existing domain (e.g.
  • Be sure to be descriptive about what the ebook contains so you are rewarded with the rightful amount of SEO.
  • Making people register to get the product is a common form of in-bound lead generation.
  • Balance the potential for qualified leads with the greater reach opportunity open distribution presents. My content marketing report is available for free to all without any registration requirements.
  • In any event, keep the product close to your brand and presence.
Social media
  • Create accounts for all popular social networks.
  • Join social groups and communities with a common interest.
  • Think of ways to encourage sharing including sharing for some type of reward your organisation can offer.
  • Use the channels to disseminate a few words or wisdom from the book on a regular basis.
Traditional media
  • Journalists have always appreciated good content, so sending a few copies out to key writers in the space isn’t the worst thing you can do.
  • If desired engage with a PR firm to perform a professional media relations campaign around the launch.
  • If the content is compelling journalists will continue to refer to it when writing about the topic for some time to come.
Direct marketing
  • In addition to in-bound lead generation, an ebook gives you the option of using a list rental service for out-bound lead generation.
  • Both online and print channels can be used.
  • Print a few copies and have them as giveaways at events.
  • If you’re presenting, use some of the ebook content in your slide deck and offer a free copy to everyone in attendance.
  • Send a digital copy to people in exchange for a business card.
Sales support
  • The ebook will also come in handy as field sales and marketing collateral that can be offered to prospects at any stage of the sales cycle.
  • Like other forms of content the ebook will help build a trusted relationship between you the supplier and your prospects and, hopefully, increase the changes of closing deals and up-selling clients.
Partner relations
  • If you are looking to build up channels then the ebook will be perfect for articulating your core audience and value proposition as well as communicating the areas where partners can work with you.
Customer relations
  • Don’t forget your existing customers and clients. Content marketing is all about customer satisfaction relationship building as much as it is generating new business.

With the right planning, approach and content your ebook can be the little gem of your content marketing activities. And, like other content, will feed nicely into established marketing programs.

This brings blog series on writing an ebook for content marketing to an end, but I will keep it updated with new posts as developments in this area progress.

Writing an ebook for content marketing: Cost all components

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

There’s an old saying among project management circles that a project should be delivered on time, on budget and on scope. In reality you should pick two. Nevertheless, it’s good to gather an idea of what a project is likely to cost before you begin.

As I outlined in my Introduction to Content Marketing report, one of the attractions of content production as a form of marketing is the barrier to entry is acceptably low. Even if the cost of content is in line with other forms of marketing, you don’t need to commit a large amount of cost and resources to get quality results. The same can be said of ebooks. While they do require more time and resources compared with something simple like a blog post, the cost to produce one is not unreasonable for a mature marketing organisation.

As always, the final amount spent will vary depending on the extravagance of the desired outcome, but generally speaking the costs for this type of ebook project can be broken down as follows.

DeliverableIndicative cost
Written copy including research and interview time
  • Writers will typically charge a per word rate whereas editors and media companies will charge an agreed fee for this type of marketing-driven content project.
  • An experienced editor will also be able to negotiate a fixed rate for an agreed deliverable. For example, 12000 words is 300 words per page over 40 pages. Add 10 non-copy pages and you have a 50-page ebook.
Use of third-party logos/branding
  • A media company might charge a nominal fee for co-branding (or include it in a higher price) to cover off any perceived risk of being associated with another brand’s content.
Professional sub-editing and QA
  • For a project like this it is prudent strategy to set aside some loose change for a professional sub editor to perform a thorough proof-read of the copy and report back any errors and improvements.
  • The sub editor is ideally someone who is distant from the copy creation and can look it over with fresh eyes.
  • Engage with a third-party design firm just for the design and formatting (advantageous for larger projects).
Supporting data like research
  • Regarding any market research you can probably get away with using scraps of free research made public by analyst firms, but tread carefully here as they make a living licensing research for external marketing content!
  • Getting new and unique research will increase the cost and scope of the project, but it is an option.
Design work
  • A design firm will charge an agreed fee for a job like this, including cover art and illustrations.
  • You can probably reduce this cost by bundling it in with the content production or doing it in-house with existing skills. A freelance designer might also agree to an hourly rate.
  • If you want to do a print run of the book for use as a gift or handout, there are a few options:

    1. Plain paper with binding
    2. Glossy paper with binding
    3. Thicker cover stock, glossy
    4. Hard cover, glossy

  • Each of the above carries a relative cost.
Online and mobile distribution
  • The central premise of producing content like this is for lead generation, but you can also publicise it using other distribution channels:

    1. ebook stores like Amazon
    2. Create a mobile app for App stores
    3. Landing page on your Web site (lead gen)
    4. If applicable, publishing platforms like Maz

When dealing with a number of suppliers for an ebook project it is also a good idea to keep an eye on the amount of time in-house staff spend working it, including dealing with third-parties. This is difficult to quantify for many organisations, however, good suppliers won’t simply work to an hourly rate (or agreed fee), but work with you in a business capacity to ensure the best outcome is achieved. Make sure all stakeholders have skin in the game!

Writing an ebook for content marketing: Flex the format

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

In step 2, I covered the key components to consider in an approach to an ebook project. In step 3 I will outline what to consider regarding the format of the publication itself.

As you can imagine longer form content pieces can take many shapes and sizes. As part of your project scope you will need to decide how much time and energy you are prepared to set aside to produce a quality ebook without it becoming a never ending story…

Here are some guidelines for what’s involved in creating the ebook once you have decided on an approach to the content.

  • Like most forms of content, ebooks do not need to be overly lengthy to be appealing.
  • A project like this can aim for a 50-page length with the goal of being something more than a whitepaper that people can continuously refer to.
  • The word count will vary depending on the type of content and accompanying creative, including images. As a minimum there would be around 300 words per “copy page”, so if a 50-page ebook has 40 “copy pages” the word count would be around 12,000 words. Non-copy pages include title, section, graphic and contact pages, etc.
  • If desired due to timing and budget reasons, an experienced editor will employ a range of techniques to minimise the amount of raw copy required to fill a page. These include:

    1. Images including photos and screenshots
    2. Artwork and conceptual “smart art”.
    3. Tables
    4. Lists
    5. Pull quotes
    6. Any research charts
    7. Infographics

  • The format of the ebook should be a standard ebook format (like ePub), but also produced as a PDF and, if desired, made available on the Web as regular HTML.
  • The option of a well-formatted print publication should never be overlooked. You have the ebook; you can print it as well.
  • One you have the ebook you can look at mobile apps as a delivery channel too.
  • There are numerous options for the design, including letting the content marketing agency handle the design to give it an independent look.
  • Engage with a third-party design firm just for the design and formatting (advantageous for larger projects).
  • Keep the design in-house and adhere to corporate branding guidelines (the “style guide” if there is one).
  • A project like this represents a good opportunity to “break free” from a tired style and try something fresh.
  • Good editors and agencies will write but also consult on the design – particularly if there is a need to get the most out of the word count!
Grid and editorial plan for all stakeholders
  • Even for small projects like these is it useful to create a “grid” which outlines what will go on every page.
  • This is a key component of the overall editorial plan and is something non-media savvy stakeholders will understand.

Decide on the most suitable approach and variables like length and type of content to be included and work towards developing a scope of the ebook project. Once you have a scope and budget in mind, meet with your editor to discuss timing and start working on the content.

When you have decided on the format of the ebook, you’re almost ready to begin. But before you do, it’s good practice to budget for your ebook project. In the next step I’ll go over the costs involved in creating an ebook for content marketing.

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.

Writing an ebook for content marketing

Posted on January 20, 2018 by admin tagged with , , , , under Strategy

I’ve had a few recent discussions with people asking me about creating a piece of reusable content in the form of medium-sized report, or ebook, that can be used for marketing, lead generation and sales collateral.

To answer that question I usually start by saying there a numerous options for creating reusable content and a popular one is the trusty whitepaper report. Whitepapers are low-risk projects that can be produced fairly quickly for organisations on a budget – and a pressing campaign deadline!

In this case the person had a copy of an ebook guide produced by a multinational software company and was captivated by its long-term appeal. To that I said whitepapers can be appealing too, you just need to have meaningful content in them. But no, he was convinced he wanted some that is “kept and continuously referred to rather than read once and discarded”.

With that in mind I’ve decided to put together a multi-part blog series on what’s involved to produce a longer format ebook for content marketing.

Start with understanding the desired outcome

Before you start writing your ebook, think about the options you have for longer-format content. Assess whether one or more pieces of longer-format content will work with short-format content like that found blogs and social media. And, as always, consider how the final work will fit in with your overall marketing and customer relations strategies.

In the case of an ebook, the main outcome for the business is a guide that can be used as a reference over a long period of time rather than a single-campaign whitepaper report.

The table below summarises common outcomes for report-oriented content marketing.

  • Vary in length and content. Start at three to five pages, but can easily turn into a 20-page technical documents.
  • Often used to support marketing campaign themes and brand positioning. E.g. “7 ways to reduce storage infrastructure costs”.
Guide or ebook
  • Longer format than a whitepaper report covering a range of topics relevant to the sponsor’s market.
  • The distribution can be electronic or print (if needed).
Printed book
  • A printed book in the traditional sense which is used to build thought leadership within an industry and beyond.
  • Usually co-authored by one of the founders of the company. See’s Behind the Cloud book by Marc Benioff as an example.

Successful publishing projects require diligent planning and a mandate as to why you want to do it in the first place – ebooks are no different.

In the next instalment I’ll discuss the key steps involved in producing an ebook for marketing.