Content offers in the form of eBooks are a powerful low-cost tool for small businesses to display their industry expertise, engage leads and build a social media presence. The trick is to come up with consistently engaging topics. The good news is that you, as a small business owner in tune with customer needs and industry trends, are perfectly positioned to brainstorm dozens of compelling ideas. The bad news? Well, in this case, there actually isn't any bad news. (Unless your team doesn't want to actually write the ebooks. Then you'll need to outsource that task.)
Either way, eBooks are a "must-have" resource in your inbound marketing toolkit, and to make the task a bit easier, today we'd like to provide some brainstorming ideas for creating eBooks. Here are just a few:
Case studies and success stories. This is a very compelling type of eBook for potential clients. It puts visitors in the shoes of the satisfied customer. That said, there is a specific format you need to follow here, albeit an incredibly simple one. First, clearly articulate the customer "problem" so readers can identify with it. For example, "Last month, a middle school teacher from Concord name Joe came in with his wife. They were expecting their first child and needed to find a larger vehicle. They were also concerned with fuel costs, so in addition to safety, fuel efficiency was a huge issue for them." There, in three sentences, you've summarized the concerns of perhaps 75 percent of your target audience. Next, simply spell out the rest of the story in a clear, conversational fashion. Lastly, make sure to include numbers like dollars saved.
Blog posts are a springboard. You can quickly determine which blog posts generate the most traction among your readership and social media followers. Armed with this information, you can safely assume a larger piece on the topic can generate some interest. For example, let's say you posted a blog linking to this article, talking about how demand for U.S. solar power increased 41 percent last year, driven by record growth in residential projects. You addressed the basics in a 200-word post; now take it a step further, talk about how residential solar panels can reduce heating and cooling bills, refer to examples of how customers made the transition to solar and examine how the price of solar panels influenced this development.
Offer a checklist. An eBook can also include a very brief piece of content like a checklist. What's important here is that the final deliverable is useful to the customer. Let's take something like a "Home Energy Savings Checklist." This stuff is very easy to compile and as a bonus, it serves the dual purpose of not explicitly selling a product like residential solar panels. The takeaway here: keep it informative and occasionally non-commercial.
Build a connection with an infographic. In a similar vein, customers appreciate a sense of connection and identification. When you come across any kind of data, whether internal sales numbers or data in articles, ask yourself if it can be converted into an infographic. Something as simple as a breakdown of the best-selling models at your dealership can be of interest to people looking for a new car. Provide some additional commentary and presto — you have an eBook.
Remember your cheat sheet for blogging. We previously posted some tips for conquering writer's block when it comes to blogging and the same ideas apply for eBooks: provide unique commentary, mine social media, dig for news, create your own news with surveys — the list goes on.
One last thing. Don't be intimidated by the term "eBooks." We're not talking "War and Peace" here. As we've hopefully illustrated, creating eBooks isn't exactly rocket science. What matters isn't the length but its ability to address specific customer concerns and convert readers into engaged leads.