How to Use an E-book to Promote Your Business

This step-by-step guide to using e-books is the fastest way to get your product or service noticed by thousands of online customers.

By Derek Gehl

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Of the 1 billion people who now use the internet worldwide, the vast majority are searching for information--they're seeking financial services, looking for medical information, checking real estate listings, chatting with newsgroups, researching products and services, and looking for information that'll answer their questions and solve their problems.

So what does that mean for you, the entrepreneur? It means that information is a hot product!

To profit from this overwhelming demand for information, one of the first things you'll need is an affordable and simple way to package and distribute information products securely online.

That's where e-books come in. E-books (electronic books) aren't only the perfect vehicle in which to package your valuable information product, they're also easy--and free--to deliver. Plus, once you've put in the initial time to create them, your costs to reproduce them are zero--so you keep 100 percent of the profits!

The important thing to note about e-books is they aren't just books. Unlike a paper book, which can only contain words and maybe the odd chart or illustration, an e-book can contain absolutely anything that can be delivered over the internet.

This means you can easily take any multimedia presentation--including audio and video files--that would work on a website and package it in an e-book.

In fact, there are literally dozens of ways for you to use e-books to increase sales, capture opt-ins, generate sales leads, and more. For example, with e-books you can:

  • Record a video presentation of your best salesperson pitching your product. A video sales pitch is a great way to reach a far wider audience because you can easily send it around the internet.
  • Create an interactive demonstration of how your product works. People love to be able to see how something works before they buy it, and if you capture the contact information of everyone who views your demonstration, you can easily follow up with those leads.
  • Create "preview" chapters--an incredibly powerful sales tool. You can let visitors to your site download your e-book and read one or two chapters, and then prompt them to "unlock" the rest of the e-book by paying for it. Once people prove to themselves that you're offering valuable information, they'll gladly pay to get the rest of it.
  • Increase your sales with free or paid trials of text, audio or video products. It's easy to sell "free trial" e-books that give readers full or partial access to your information for a limited time. If you collect each customer's credit card information at the beginning of the free trial, you can simply bill them after the trial period is up. And if a customer decides they don't want your product, you can simply shut off their e-book access from your own computer.
  • Compile audio or video interviews with industry experts. This makes for a highly marketable e-book that's fun and easy to create. Most people will agree to an interview if you approach them professionally and explain how they stand to benefit from the exposure of participating in your e-book.

E-books have come a long way from the simple electronic delivery of text-based documents. Just use your imagination and let e-books help you create and distribute professional-looking information products that'll wow your customers.

Use E-books to Create a "Viral" Marketing Campaign

Viral marketing is a strategy that encourages your customers to pass on, or spread, a marketing message to others. Like a virus, your message has the potential to spread exponentially throughout online communities.

With e-books, you now have a hot new way to take advantage of this powerful strategy to drive floods of qualified buyers to your website by giving away tons of valuable information--and encouraging readers to share it with their friends.

With viral e-books, word about your business can spread fast. For example, let's say you persuade 10 people to pass your e-book on to their friends, and those friends each share it with 10 of their friends, and so on. In no time at all you'll have thousands of people opening up and reading your valuable information.

And the greatest part is your e-book is landing right in the hands of your best potential customers, because readers of your e-book will only pass it on to friends they think will be interested in what you have to say.

It's also surprisingly easy to create a viral e-book. There are four basic steps you need to take:

1. Create a short report (10 to 30 pages) that solves a problem or shares valuable information about a hot topic for a specific group of people.

2. Turn your report into a professional-looking e-book.

3. Add a "viral button" to your e-book so any reader who likes your e-book can easily share it with friends by simply clicking the viral "send this e-book to a friend" button.

4. Give away free copies of your viral e-book and invite readers to share unlimited copies with their friends and colleagues. Watch as 1,000s of people share your viral e-book with friends... who share it with their friends... and so on!

Of course, right now you're probably wondering, "How does giving away free e-books translate into more sales?" For your viral e-book to be successful, you must create a free, information-rich product that's packed with value, then encourage people to download it, read it and share it with friends.

The secret is don't sell in the e-book.

In fact, don't even push readers to visit your website. Just be generous about the information you share to win the trust and respect of these hot sales leads. Then wait until a few days after they've had a chance to read your e-book and send a follow-up letter with an offer for your product. The key to making a viral campaign like this successful is being able to collect the contact information of each and every person who wants to open your e-book.

This means that every person who wants to access your viral e-book must be able to "register" it by providing you their first name, last name and e-mail address--so you can follow up with personalized e-mails that contain relevant product offers.

Final Thoughts
E-books have moved well beyond the simple electronic delivery of text-based documents. With e-books you can now package audio and video--not just text--in an attractive and easy-to-navigate publication, as well as harness the contagious power of viral marketing.

However, if you're going to use viral e-books as a marketing tool for your business, you can't approach writing them the same way you would approach writing an advertisement.

You must be generous with the information you share to win the trust and respect of your readers, which will entice them to pass on your e-book to friends. Then with the contact information you've collected, you can follow up with personalized e-mails that contain relevant product offers.

Derek Gehl

Derek Gehl is the CEO of the Internet Marketing Center, an internet marketing firm that has helped thousands of people learn to start and run their own online businesses. IMC hosts a new Search Marketing Lab Forum, where members have their strategy questions answered by search marketing specialists.

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