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When authors think about book marketing, they tend to think about marketing their book.

That’s a piece of the puzzle, but for entrepreneurial authors, it’s usually not the best place to start. The best starting place is using their book to marketing themselves (or their product).

This is what our most successful do. They don’t start by trying to get people to buy copies of their book, or pay attention to the message even. They begin their marketing from the question:

How can I use this book to get the things I want—right now?

While there are hundreds of ways that writing an impactful book might benefit your business, these are the three specific strategies that we’ve found most effective to generate a direct, immediate ROI for new authors.

1) Help Your Referrers Provide Value

If your business has been serving clients for a number of years, there are happy customers out there who would love to refer you to their colleagues.

But are they doing it?

If not, it’s important to look at the three factors that tend to lead to referrals:

  • There’s a specific trigger that makes them think of you.
  • Referring you will make them look good.
  • They can refer you in a simple, frictionless way.

With a book (especially a book that solves a specific problem for a specific audience), you accomplish all three of these things. The book becomes a tool for them to conveniently talk about you. We’re all more comfortable recommending a book than a company.

For example, I often hear entrepreneurs complain about the inefficiency of their meetings as their companies scale. It would feel uncomfortable for me to respond by telling them to look into high-price coaching with Cameron Herold. However, I feel like I am providing value to them when I tell them to check out his book, Meetings Suck.

This strategy becomes even more effective when you leverage it intentionally, giving books away to key referrers to make it easy for them to gift copies to those who need them.

For example, when Dustan Woodhouse let us know that he knew dozens of mortgage brokers who should be writing books, we sent him a box with 40 copies of The Scribe Method. Instead of simply telling his colleagues about our book, he was able to give them a free copy. By sharing copies of the book with him, we could help Dustan provide value to his network, and refer us in the process.

Ask yourself: Who are the top 10-20 people who send clients my way? Are there past clients of mine who would talk about me if I gave them an easy way to do it?

2) Use Your Book for Cold Outreach

Many businesses thrive on cold outreach. Whether it’s through email, direct mail, or one-on-one cold calls, direct outreach is still an effective technique for generating clients.

However, direct outreach has changed. In many businesses, getting someone on the phone and trying to “sell” them no longer works. Instead, it’s far more effective to reach out by providing value, and begin the relationship from a place of giving.

If your business has a very precise target audience, and your book solves a problem they face, it’s a perfect opportunity to share the book with them directly.

For example, as we worked with Patti Temple Rocks on her book launch for her book, I’m Not Done, one of her goals was to do more speaking and consulting with companies in her city around age discrimination in the workplace. To accomplish this goal, we sent copies of the book and personalized letters to dozens of HR directors of companies she respects—which led to all kinds of opportunities for her.

In a best case scenario, this form of outreach opens business conversations. In a worst case scenario, you are sharing your book with an audience who needs it.

This same strategy can be used to reach out to media gatekeepers, meeting planners, or influencers with overlapping audiences.

Regardless of whether you are sending books to prospects, journalists, or celebrity crushes, the purpose is to give your book away freely, using it to open doors with people who the ideas in the book might benefit.

Ask yourself: Who would I love to connect with who might benefit from the ideas in my book? How can I get a copy of the book in their hands?

3) Use Your Book in Your Online Funnel

If you sell a product online using a funnel (a series of steps intended to deepen your relationship with prospective customers) you know that one of the most challenging steps is to get new prospects in the door.

We’ve seen authors use their books to improve their funnels in two ways:

First, there are authors like Robin Farmanfarmaian, who uses a workbook based on her book, The Thought Leader Formula,  as the main opt-in on her site. Other authors will use a book summary, a free chapter, or even the whole book in similar ways. The common thread is that these authors offer some portion of their book for free, in exchange for an email address.

The second strategy we’ve seen work effectively is the “Free Plus Shipping & Handling” offer. Rather than giving away a digital product for free, these offers ask readers to pay a low shipping and handling cost in exchange for the book. Usually, the author aims to break even (covering the cost of the book printing and shipping) from this fee, resulting in the email address of a new lead, which enters their funnel. You can see the Free Plus Shipping & Handling offer from Russell Brunson’s book, Expert Secrets, as an excellent example.

Ask yourself: Is there a portion of my online marketing efforts that could be made more effective by using my book (or some portion of my book) as a free piece of content?

How Can You Use Your Book to Support Your Business?

When I ask authors why they are writing their book, the vast majority tell me about the impact they want their book to create. They have a message to share, and their #1 goal is to help get that message to the people who need it.

This is the perfect mindset to have as you write your book. Everything should be focused on the reader and how you, as the author, can best serve his or her needs.

But I see too many authors who shy away from using their book to earn revenue because they feel that a business focus somehow contradicts their mission.

It doesn’t.

Once you’ve given your all to create the most valuable book you can, anything you do to spread the message further only serves your purpose. Whether it’s through driving referrals, building connections, or improving your online marketing efforts, using a book to drive direct revenue doesn’t trade off with your mission—it adds to it.