Using Ebooks to Build a Brand – Part 3

Writing a Brand Ebook

Once you’ve established your brand ebook goals and you’ve conducted your initial market research to determine what your ebook should be about (as you learned in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series), it’s time to start writing. Most of the content, design, and production decisions you make for your ebook should be based on that market research, so gather your data and let’s get started.

market research brand ebook v2Choose Your Focus

Using your market research data and your ebook goals, identify the topic of your ebook. That topic should be very specific. Just as the most powerful brands are highly focused brands, the best ebooks are highly focused on a niche topic. Remember, you learned in Part 1 of this series that the best ebooks are between 20-30 pages with no more than 200 words per page. It might be tempting to try to cover every topic and provide all of your knowledge in a single ebook, but that’s a mistake.

A broad topic leads to information overload. It’s overwhelming to readers and leaves no space for you to expound on the most important topic for your audience. That means your primary brand message is lost in the clutter. Stay laser-focused and your 20 page ebook will be far more powerful than an unfocused 100 page document could be. Save all those words for follow-up ebooks or a longer, non-commercial ebook sold through iBooks or Amazon Kindle.

Tell Stories and Solve Problems

problem solution puzzleEbooks shouldn’t read like boring analytical reports, white papers, or promotional brochures. They should focus on being useful and meaningful with the readers’ needs always as the top priority.

The best ebooks tell stories. In other words, don’t just tell readers something in your ebook, make them feel something by bringing the topic to life as a story and show people that story through visual images. Tell a story about yourself, reference real people if you can, or use fictitious characters to demonstrate a point through a story. The key is to turn what could be boring information into a personable and enjoyable read. That means your ebook should communicate your brand persona and create a real brand experience for readers.

Stories are particularly effective in ebooks that aim to solve a problem for readers, but they can be incorporated into any type of ebook successfully. Get creative and think about how you can add a human element to your ebook topic by telling a story.

Avoid Self-promotion

A fundamental rule of content marketing and social media marketing is to avoid self-promotion. Typically, I advise that you apply the 80-20 rule of marketing to your social media and content marketing efforts. In other words, 80% or more of the content you publish or the time you spend on social media and content marketing activities should not be self-promotional while 20% or less may be self-promotional. Following this ratio provides a balance that most audiences will accept without feeling like the only reason you’re connected to them is so you can push your brand and sell stuff to them. If that’s what they think of you, then your social media and content marketing efforts will fail.

With that in mind, it’s critical that your ebooks are not self-promotional. Mentioning your brand or products in an ebook is acceptable as long as those mentions make up far less than 20% of the ebook’s content. People are very unforgiving of self-promotion in ebooks. Your ebook content shouldn’t read like a long marketing brochure. Instead, it should be useful and meaningful to your target audience. It should offer a new way for people to experience your brand promise.

Invest in Design

Remember, as you learned in Part 1 of the Using Ebooks to Build a Brand series, you should never write a white paper or type a Word document, simply save it in PDF format, and call it an ebook. The .pdf extension doesn’t make a document an ebook.

The best ebook authors understand that design plays a huge role in an ebook’s success. Therefore, invest in a great cover design and interior layout that truly reflects your brand position. You can hire a design agency or a freelance designer. The most important thing is that you work with someone who has experience designing ebooks with a portfolio that you can review.

Ebooks are very visual, and they’re often read online. Therefore, they must be designed for online viewing. They should be colorful, use a great deal of white space, use short paragraphs, and be image-heavy. If you don’t create a design that appeals to your target audience, they might not read your ebook, and that definitely won’t help you reach your goals.

If you missed previous parts of the Using Ebooks to Build a Brand series, follow the links below to read them now, and stay tuned for Part 4 coming soon:

Image: Legends Web Design, Andrzej Gdula

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com. She is also the Founder and Editor in Chief of WomenOnBusiness.com, an award-winning blog for business women.