The next chapter of my book on how to use a book for lead generation!
Now that you’ve actually gone through the process of creating your book and getting your first stack of copies printed, the real fun can start.
Here’s where you turn that stack of books sitting on your desk or shelf into a steady flow of pre-qualified, pre-educated, pre-sold sales leads for your product or service.
We roughly mapped this process out in the previous chapter titled It’s Time To Build A Sales Leads Factory. But now that you have your book in hand, it’s time to get busy.
While there are a few ways to build this funnel (and each have their advantages, in part based on what your offer is, and who you’re advertising to), I’m going to present what I consider to be the basic “free book funnel” template for you to follow.
Here’s how to set up a powerful funnel and selling system around your book…
First, you need to identify your target market, and how to reach them.
Really, this should have happened very early in the process of creating the book — or be something you knew before you even decided to create an automated lead generation and selling system.
Where can you reach your prospects? What media do they all consume? Is there a trigger point in their online activities that identify them as a prospect?
For example, there are a lot of service businesses that thrived in the Yellow Pages and now in search advertising, that are based on being there “on demand.” By identifying the search terms they use or the categories they look up in a directory like the Yellow Pages (including online), you know you can find them there.
For other businesses, your audience may not be as easy to find based on a specific event. In this case, you need to look at commonalities or defining characteristics you can target. Is there a magazine or trade journal they all read? Is there a common “like” on Facebook? Is there a website or set of websites they frequent? Are they on a specific direct mail mailing list?
Targeting capabilities in advertising are only increasing, and if you’re clear about who you want to reach, you can almost inevitably find a way to reach them.
If you are currently buying media (online or offline), you’ll be able to work your book promotion into your current advertising efforts.
If you’re not yet buying media, I recommend doing some online pay per click advertising as a good starting point. It’s very direct and immediate, costs can be contained in early testing, and for most markets it is extremely scalable when you have a success.
Next, put an ad in front of your target market, offering your free book by going to a website.
Alternately, you could ask them to call, or respond in some other way. But I like websites for a variety of reasons, and nearly every demographic and market you’d want to target today has at least some level of web access.
The web address should be simple. Preferably buy a unique domain name and set up a unique website only for this free book offer.
Your goal here is to make it clear and easy for them to respond.
The ad itself is really easy to create — for almost any media. You offer a free book. If your book title and cover are compelling, that’s basically all you really need to show. Maybe a line or two making it clear why someone would want the book.
Then, you tell them to respond by going to your website.
On the website, you offer the free book, just pay shipping.
Here is where you’re first asking your prospect to raise their hand, and actually give you their information. Including, if you follow my recommendation to charge shipping, their payment info.
Here are some ideas for what you want to convey on the page.
— The core problem-solution premise of your book. If someone has the problem and they want it solved, your book offers a direct solution to it.
— What it is, and what it isn’t. These are often two ways to present the same information, but being crystal clear on both sides helps the right prospect decide that it’s right for them.
— Who it’s for, and who it’s not for. This is an opportunity to screen prospects. A good sales process will disqualify bad prospects as much as it qualifies good prospects. Being clear about who is a fit for the book (and eventually, your product or service — but you don’t say that yet) will lead to better results down the line.
— Testimonials and success stories. Anyone who has followed the advice in the book (whether from you directly or the book itself) or who offers a general endorsement of you can be included here. Amazon reviews, if relevant, are smart to include here. Also, remember that testimonials are better if they’re specific and outcome-oriented, and media such as photos or videos is usually beneficial.
— Content teases. There is a definite art to this, and a skilled copywriter should be considered. You want to tease the content the reader will get out of the book, without giving away too much. The idea is to promise a benefit and pique curiosity that must be satisfied through requesting the book.
— Value anchoring. If the book is for sale elsewhere for a higher price, say so. If you can buy it today for $12.95 on Amazon.com but through your site it’s free with $4.99 shipping and handling, that makes it an even more compelling deal.
— Urgency enhancers. It’s very legitimate with a physical item such as a book to state that limited quantities are available. Even if you could get 500 more printed tomorrow, it’s totally legitimate to say that when the current copies are gone, there will be a delay in fulfillment. Since this almost always helps conversion, you should include it.
What you do NOT want to do here is to sell anything except the book. While it’s okay to present basic credibility-builders for the author, you do not want to pitch your company or your products or services. This is all about getting the book in their hands, and getting them into your sales funnel.
You also need to be clear about your book offer and what they should expect when they respond. Explain what they’re actually paying today, if they have to pay for shipping and handling. Assuming there’s no future charges or future obligation, tell them that.
Since you’re probably adding them to an email follow-up series, also let them know you’re going to share additional valuable tips and information with them.
Finally, you should make the actual payment or request for the book as easy as possible. There are a few ways to do this, but a very simple and direct check-out process almost always increases conversions.
Special note: You want to get your book into your prospects’ hands ASAP.
Once someone has submitted their order for their book, the clock is ticking. Even if they only paid shipping and handling, they’re still excited and want that book as fast as you can get it to them.
We’ve been spoiled, as consumers, by things like Amazon Prime and other fast shipping services. Your prospects are no exception.
So as soon as these book orders come in, you want to be getting them to your fulfillment house or shipping them yourself as soon as possible.
Because this is also a critical part of the rest of your sales process, you have a vested interest in getting that book to them fast. The faster they have the book, the better they’ll feel about you, and the more advantageous that is for you closing the sale in the future.
Once they pay for the free book, you also start a series of follow up communications.
At the most basic level, you want a series of autoresponder emails set up to go out, starting as soon as they request the book. (This can easily be accomplished by nearly every major marketing email service provider on the market today.)
While the total length of this email series can vary dramatically based on your sales cycle and marketing objectives, I’ll include a few recommendations for what can go into a basic follow up series.
First off, you want to send a “Thank you and welcome” email. That can literally be the subject line. The idea is exactly what it sounds like. You want to thank them for requesting the book, and welcome them to your email communications. Here you want to reiterate that you’ll be sending additional tips and information in the coming weeks, and to look out for your emails.
In this first email, I like to also include the download links to the ebooks (.mobi, .epub, and .pdf files). While I’m a strong advocate of making sure they get a print book in their hands for selling purposes, this fends off the most impatient readers who want it now. This can be a surprise bonus, or something you mentioned on the page when they requested the book.
Remember that in most cases, the book will take a minimum of 3 to 5 business days to get to your prospect. And so as you write this first email and the ones following it, consider whether or not they have the book in their hands yet. This makes your first emails a great place to give away some content that will only make them more hungry for the rest of the book.
After the first email, my recommendation is to structure a follow-up series of at least 10 emails that go out over the coming days and weeks.
In terms of timing of an automated series like this, you can do every day for the first week or two, as long as that is made clear early. Yes, many people have the gut reaction that daily email is too frequent, but in general more frequent emails lead to higher sales. And early in the relationship, when it’s new and fresh, people tend to accept and even like more email than they would further down the road. Accept that some people will unsubscribe, and that’s the cost of the additional sales that more frequent emails generate.
During these emails, you have a few objectives.
— First, you want to develop a relationship with the prospective customer. For this, that personal “Thank you and welcome” email is a good start. As is a note to establish their expectations for your future communication — either in that first email or the one following it. Another way to develop your relationship is by giving the reader unexpected freebies — either more content related to the book, or perhaps relevant additional tools and resources.
(Side note: depending on your company’s email marketing strategies, you may also choose to add these prospects to your regular email newsletter. In addition to any product news you include in those, you should also include news about the people in your business because this is a very effective way to establish a positive relationship with customers and prospects.)
— Second, you want to encourage consumption of the content of the book. Because you built this book to be an effective selling tool, you want to make sure that prospects are getting the content in whatever way you can get them to consume it. For this, I recommend including things like passages from the book and even entire chapters in your email. Also, sending “missing” chapters with additional content is a great way to drive them back toward the message of the book. You can also offer the book’s content in other media, including audio book format, redelivered as a webinar, or whatever makes the most sense for you. One more way to encourage consumption is by sharing success stories and testimonials of folks who’ve followed your advice — there’s no better selling tool to get someone to read your book than the success story of someone who read it, applied it, and got the desired results.
— Finally, you want to drive prospects to move forward. We discussed building an offer for a sales consultation into your book. This most likely has an application and appointment scheduling component built in. In addition to including this in your book, you want to integrate it into the follow up communications your prospects get. In the earliest emails, this might only be a brief mention. In later emails, you can send an exclusive email specifically written just to get them to go to the application. In addition to these direct calls to action, you can reinforce other parts of the selling process in your emails. First and foremost, it’s worth clarifying your offer, and making clear the results you generate for your clients. Also, a short email can be a very effective tool for communicating who is and isn’t a good fit for your offer. All of these are very relevant messages to send to get the right prospects to take the next step.
One more thing about follow up.
In general, multiple media is better. The reason I recommend a physical book is that prospects that receive something they can hold in their hand tend to turn into higher value customers than prospects who are only engaged online. This is true for just about every business, in every market.
While the internet and its automation tools allow you to create a completely hands-off follow-up system that happens through 1s and 0s while you sleep, relying solely on this might be doing yourself a disservice.
You are better off, if at all possible, creating a more sophisticated follow-up sequence that combines direct mail follow up with email, hitting your prospects through multiple media at once.
And so, in addition to a series of daily emails that go out…
— Perhaps your prospect also receives a package insert with their book, that encourages consumption, points them to the offer in the book, and makes it clear that you have a more in-depth solution in the form of your product or services.
— If they haven’t moved forward with the sales team within the first week, perhaps an additional letter goes out through the mail that retells your sales story with the call to action being to go through your application process.
— Following that, you can send another letter, and another. It’s worth remembering that in many cases, prospects can take weeks or months after doing their initial research on a purchase before they finally follow through. Being in front of them consistently throughout this decision-making period will significantly increase the likelihood that they choose you.
Next, we’ll look at how to actually put these leads in contact with your sales team.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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