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Publishing a Book as a Business Card

By Brent Sampson

Is your business card laminated or matte? What type of paper stock is used? What type of font and at what size? Is your business card full-color on one side (or both sides) or spot color? Is it entirely black/white? Does it feature your company logo at the top (left or right corner) or toward the bottom?

More important than the answers to these questions is realizing that for approximately as much effort as one expends designing and producing a business card, one can compile their information and publish a handbook about their business. With the advances in print-on-demand technology, one can then control the quantity and availability of the book to meet their specific needs. Presto!  A published book is now your business card of choice.

Of course, one wouldn’t suggest that a book replace your business cards entirely. Rather, the book becomes a supplement to your branding and promotion efforts. A business card still has its place and is certainly preferable in some instances. On the other hand, handing a potential customer or client your book at the end of a meeting, pitch or seminar immediately elevates you to a higher level. New customers or clients will look at you with a different perspective – as a published author, as an expert.

Don’t allow the concept of writing a book to scare you. Your book should not be a 1,000-page tome. In fact, approximately 100 pages would be the ideal length. Make the length congruous with the content. This is easy, because people also like Top 100 lists. For example, “101 Ways to Prepare Your Home For Sale,” by Jane Smith. One tip per page. One hundred and one pages. Done and done.

Imagine then, if your 30-second elevator speech sounded like this: “I’m Jane Smith and I recently published a book that can help you increase your profits by 30 percent when selling a piece of property. Would you like a free copy?”

Now doesn’t that sound much more compelling and memorable than “I’m Jane Smith. I’m a real estate agent. Here’s my business card.”

A book does a number of things that a business card cannot do.

  • A published book establishes your credibility in your field and can help to further establish your expertise. Consider this: If you had a house to sell and were deciding between two agents, one with a business card and the other with a published book, who would you choose, everything else being equal? Probably the published author.

  • People keep books, whereas many business cards reach the trashcan before the end of the day, or wind up lost in a digital rolodex. People place books on shelves, refer to them later, and even pack them in boxes when they move!

  • People share books with other people. Through no additional effort of your own, you become an expert to that secondary customer, too, rather than just a name and a number on a business card.

  • Receiving a free book is memorable. After all, the whole point of handing out business cards in the first place, and having an efficient and effective elevator speech, is to be remembered. How inclined are you to share the story about the time a real estate agent handed you her business card? Now, how inclined are you to share the story about the time you bumped into a published author in an elevator and she gave you a free copy of her book?

  • Books leverage marketing opportunities. One of the worst things about handing out business cards is you have to personally hand them out, which means the number of people receiving your card is directly related to the number of people you meet personally. This is neither an effective form of marketing, nor very efficient. By contrast, having a published book allows you to market your business to potentially millions of people you may never meet. The book does the marketing for you. All you have to do is make your book available for potential customers to find and buy on popular Web sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Google.

Publishing your book and distributing it through the Internet is easier than you might think. With the turn of the millennium came a seismic shift in the publishing industry, with the proliferation of self-publishing companies that help authors, entrepreneurs, experts, poets, business owners, and everyone else easily and affordably publish books for public sale. Nearly all of these companies can produce short-run paperback books for your personal use, and many of them can also include distribution through some of the world’s largest book wholesalers so that your book is listed on Web sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others, exactly like any other book.

Then, by using Internet marketing strategies, which many publishers will share with you, you can efficiently drive large numbers of potential customers to your publication, thereby removing the business card hurdle of having to personally “bump into someone” in order to hand them your business card. Instead, they type in “home for sale” into an Internet search engine, and your book appears among the listings (notice how you astutely put that key term into the title of your book, “101 Ways to Prepare Your Home For Sale.”). Don’t worry too much about making money from the sale of the book itself. The real profits come from making the book exceedingly affordable (more so than competitive books) and extremely informative, so the reader is compelled to contact you directly with additional (more profitable) business, like selling a home. The margin for a selling a home is much higher than the margin for selling a book. Don’t step over a dollar to pick up a penny.

Naturally, your contact information should be easy to find within your book, but it is important that the book contain valuable, helpful information, and be professional in its appearance and content. The first goal should be to share your knowledge and expertise so that readers are compelled to become paying customers. Equally important is the quality of the book itself. After all, rarely do professionals hand out business cards they designed and printed themselves from their home computer. So be sure to choose a publishing company that can provide important functions like professional editing, formatting and cover design. Like your business card, your published book needs to be a high-quality reflection of your professionalism and value.

Try it! You will be surprised and excited by how effective this new business marketing tactic is.

Read other articles and learn more about Brent Sampson.

[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis. Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and requirements.]

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