Planning Your Ebook
In Part 1 of the Using Ebooks to Build a Brand, you learned what an ebook is. Now, it’s time to learn how to plan your brand ebook. While it might be tempting to sit down and start writing about a topic related to your brand and business or a topic you know well, doing so might not be the right strategy. What you want to write about might not be what your audience wants to read. Therefore, before you start writing, you need to take time to develop an ebook strategy and plan.
Reviewing Ebook Types
There is more than one type of ebook, and you need to decide which type you want to write. Much of that decision will depend on your branding goals and your audience’s wants and needs, as discussed later in this article, but first, let’s take a look at some of the most popular the types of brand ebooks you could write.
Brand ebooks can be educational and teach readers how to do something. The best educational ebooks for brands are written about a topic related to the brand and its associated products and services, not about the brand, products, or services themselves. For example, a brand associated with cleaning products, could create an ebook filled with 60-second household cleaning tips. These tips should not be a list of the brand’s product uses. Instead, it should be useful information that allows readers to associate the contents of the ebook with the brand and its products.
Furthermore, educational ebooks can be indirectly related to a brand. For example, the same brand could write an ebook about household germ health hazards, which can be tied to the brand’s promise and indirectly promote the brand. Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Using Ebooks to Build a Brand series to learn more about the dangers of self-promoting.
Ebooks can be written to motivate people to action or persuade them to think in a specific way. This is a popular type of ebook for non-profit organizations who want to rally their audiences to action. For brands, motivational ebooks are typically indirectly related to the branded products and services and work very well for raising brand awareness and recognition as well as building positive brand reputation buzz.
For example, a bottled water brand could write an ebook about environmental issues in an effort to motivate people to recycle plastic water bottles, conserve water, and so on. Having the brand name on a highly shareable ebook about an important topic that people feel strongly about can give the brand wider exposure and a great deal of positive publicity.
Analytical ebooks are based on real data but they’re far less data-intensive than white papers are. Colorful graphs and images, bulleted lists, and callouts are used to highlight important data points, so readers can find essential information quickly. This type of ebook is usually tied to the business or category of the brand.
For example, a cell phone brand could create an ebook about the shifting trends in consumer behavior related to content consumption, ecommerce, and socializing using tablet devices. An ebook could make this data interesting to consumers who haven’t purchased a tablet yet by making them feel like they’re missing out on something without specifically saying as much in the text. Analytical ebooks are also useful in providing information to suppliers, vendors, and business partners.
What do you want to get for your ebook efforts? If you don’t know what you want to get from your ebook, then don’t bother writing one. If you don’t take the time to set your primary goal for your ebook efforts,which should be tied directly to your brand strategy, then you run the risk of trying to chase too many carrots dangling at the end of multiple sticks. In Part 3 of this series, you’ll learn more about finding your ebook focus, but first, you need to conduct some market research to nail down your ebook’s topic.
Conducting Market Research
If you’re writing a brand ebook for content marketing purposes, meaning you want to build your brand and business directly and indirectly using your ebook, then it doesn’t matter what you want to write about or what topic you think is important. The only thing that matters is the topic that your target audience thinks is important, because that’s what will get them to read your ebook. Remember, brand-building is about creating perceptions and meeting expectations, so your ebook needs to fit into your overall branding strategy or it won’t deliver the results you need.
It’s essential that you survey your target audience to identify their wants, needs, and problems as they relate to your brand, business, and industry. Once you identify their main problem, you can solve it in your ebook. Suddenly, you have great tactics to market your ebook, too. For example, marketing copy could include a phrase like, “You asked for it and we’re delivering.” Alternately, if your ebook solves a problem they identified, you can promote the benefit of reading your ebook as a way to get a solution.
Ask your audience what information they want or need from you. Identify their problems. Listen to their stories. All of the data you collect through consumer research will be used as you write your ebook. Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Using Ebooks to Build a Brand series to learn more about it. If you missed Part 1 of the series, follow the preceding link to read it now.