If you’re trying to build your personal or professional brand—what’s the best way to do that? Basically, how can you stand out?
There are a lot of ways to do that, but one of the very best is pretty old school: write a book.
How does a writing a good book help build your brand and elevate your career? There are six different ways a book can help you:
1. Increase Visibility & Raise Profile: Books can increase visibility in any number of ways, like making it easier to gain media exposure or raise your profile in your niche.
2. Establish Authority & Credibility: Books help you establish authority and gain credibility within your field.
3. Get New Clients & Opportunities: Books can easily help generate new business and other opportunities across a variety of platforms and venues in multiple ways.
4. Speaking Invitations: A book is almost a necessity for becoming a paid speaker, or often, for getting booked for any public speaking at all.
5. Legacy: A book can cement your legacy and pass your knowledge and story on to others.
6. Create Impact: Probably the very best long term way to build your brand is to actually impact others, and there is no better way to scale your impact than to write a great book that really helps other people.
Let’s break down each of these and see exactly how they work.
1. A Book Increases Your Visibility and Raises Your Profile
Whenever any media want to comment on something, who do they go? The expert, right?
And how do they know someone is an expert?
The experts are the people who wrote the book on the subject.
A book is the #1 signal of expertise. Media want to talk to experts, and they judge expertise by who wrote the book on the subject.
Could you use more visibility in your field and media coverage? Write a book that establishes you as an expert, and media coverage will be 10x easier to get.
This is EXACTLY how Jonathan Siegel’s book got him so much coverage. He wrote a good book that detailed a lot of the fallacies of conventional wisdom in tech start-ups, and dozens of media outlets like Inc., Business Insider, and others wanted to cover him. He was already an expert in his field—he just needed a book to be the book to get him coverage.
The same thing with Stephan Aarstol. He wrote a book about the innovative culture at his company that allowed them to work 5 hour days, and the media could not get enough of him and his book. Now he’s all over the media, with articles in Inc., Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, CNN, CNBC, FOX News and others. Everyone in his world knows who he is.
I know you know this. How many times have you seen someone in your field get a lot of attention simply because they wrote a book?
Even if you know more than they do, they got the attention that you didn’t, because of their book.
2. A Book Establishes Your Authority and Credibility
A lot of people like to say that “a book is the new business card.”
That’s wrong. Everyone has a business card. You can go to Office Depot and get business cards.
But you can’t go to Office Depot and author a book. What I like to say instead is that a book is the new college degree.
It used to be, about forty years ago, only about 10 to 15% of people had college degrees. If you had one, it was a major signal of credibility and authority. It meant something.
But now that everyone (70%+) goes to college, it doesn’t signal as much. So what is a signal of credibility and authority now—one that’s reliable and difficult and rare?
A book shows you can commit to something and follow through. It shows you get things done.
And most importantly, it shows the world what you know. A book sets you up to be judged by your actual knowledge and work. It’s really easy to skirt by and still get a college degree. It’s really hard to manipulate your way into a good book.
Yes, being judged is risky, but that’s why a book is a valid credential: it is a risk.
By writing a book, you are in a place that most people are unwilling to go—being judged—and it usually requires a lot of work to get there. It requires you to prove you actually know something.
This is exactly what Bob Glazer did with his book. He wrote about a hard subject that has a lot of baggage (affiliate marketing) but wrote in a very open and vulnerable way, and shared his knowledge about his industry. He got tons of credibility and authority from both the media and clients because of how good his book was, how much of his “secrets” he shared, and how honest it was.
Same with John Ruhlin. He is a gifting expert and shared all of his best secrets in his book. As a result, the book not only took off, but John now does 20+ keynote speeches a year and has seen his company double in size.
Most people are not willing to take that risk. They’re afraid of sharing their knowledge or showing the world what they know.
This is why we are very upfront with our authors: you can’t just vomit out nonsense, call it a book, and reap the benefits.
To get credibility and authority from a book, you have to share valuable knowledge and ideas with your readers.
If you can do that, you will rocket past all your contemporaries who do not have a book, even if they are just as smart and accomplished as you are.
3. A Book Gets You New Clients and Opportunities
The #1 search engine is Google. YouTube is #2. Know what #3 is?
Even more relevant, it’s the #1 search engine for professionals (ranking even higher than LinkedIn).
When people look for a credible expert or authority, what’s the first thing they think about? Same as the media—everyone wants the person who literally “wrote the book” on the topic.
Having a great book lets people know exactly who you are and how you can help them, and it brings them right to you. It’s the best marketing tool you could ever use—not just to build your brand, but to actually attract clients.
Here’s a great example of how this works:
When we started Scribe, we got a lot of early traction, and quickly realized we had a rocketship we didn’t know how to fly. So what did I do? I went to Amazon to read books on how to scale a company.
Turns out, there aren’t a lot of great books out there about how to professionally manage and scale a fast-growing company. The best I could find was written by Cameron Herold (it’s called Double Double). The title isn’t so great, but the book itself is amazing. I read the book and thought, “This is genius, but I need more. I need this guy to coach me directly.”
I reached out to Cameron, and he’s now my executive coach and owns a piece of my company. That’s how valuable he’s been.
There are probably 500 other people out there who could have taught me the same things, but Cameron is the only one who had a great book that I could use to determine that he was the guy to teach me. His book was the best sales pitch. I had to see proof of his knowledge, and his book was it. It caused me to come to him.
Search creates inbound opportunities, but books also facilitate the best marketing there is: word of mouth.
When someone you trust tells you to use something, you listen and you use it. Anything that helps other people talk about you and your business is the best marketing tool possible.
A book enables word of mouth better than almost any other marketing.
This is because a book lets you put your story into people’s mouths, so when they talk about you, they’re literally just saying what you want them to say. If you have a good book, people repeat your terms, phrases, and ideas to other people.
If you can write a book that is valuable to a group of people, they will want to talk about your book at a cocktail party to someone else who shares that problem.
Why? Because it makes them look better. That’s how word of mouth works.
There are so many great examples of this. Melissa Gonzalez’s book created a topline sales gain of 33%, year over year, and Melissa estimates that 75% of her clients know about her book before they hire her, and over 30% have read it.
Because of this, Melissa has reversed her sales process. Now clients come in wanting to pitch Melissa on working with them.
Author Douglas Brackmann has had a similar experience:
“Since publishing, my world has become a lot bigger really quickly. I’m reaching people who I didn’t think I could reach, and that’s allowed me to be much more selective about who I work with. Lately, I’ve actually slowed down on the speaking and media because I can’t handle all the business—I don’t know what to do with all the phone calls.”
Same with financial planner Mark Baird, who explains the book-to-word-of-mouth referral chain very well:
“You speak, you talk about the book, you sell a few copies, and they refer you to more people. It’s a referral chain, and it’s been very gratifying. I don’t think it would have happened without the book.”
4. A Book Helps You Get on Stages
If you want to do any sort of public speaking, especially paid speaking, a book is a near necessity.
This is because a book is a basic credential for a speaker. A book is the way people know for sure you are qualified to speak to their group on your topic. And then once you get on stage, your brand changes.
This is what happened to Robin Farmanfarmaian. After writing her book on disruption in the medical space, she was booked to speak at over 50 conferences, including Singularity and TEDx. Not only that, but all of that speaking exploded her brand, and got her a new position at a medical start-up:
“The very first company, Invicta Medical, I jumped off stage and walked right into the founder. He’s seen me speak and we got to talking, and I was an advisor within the first couple meetings, and a vice president within a couple of months.”
For Lorenzo Gomez, his book had a profound impact on him, mainly through his speaking. His book details the struggles he went through going from a high school graduate to major tech CEO, and he was asked to speak to all kinds of audiences, including keynoting the commencement of the University of Texas-San Antonio:
“If I had known someone would ask me to give a commencement speech, I would have never written a book in the first place. I was terrified, and I’m still terrified just thinking about it, but it was one of the most gratifying moments of my life.”
5. A Book Helps Cement Your Legacy
All of these previous examples have something in common: by sharing the knowledge and experience of the author, they result in people seeing the author differently.
This is quite literally the definition of legacy.
Legacy is what you leave behind. It can be good, bad, or indifferent. And there is no better way for you to really cement what your legacy is—at least in business—than by writing a book.
This is what happened for Kirk Drake. Kirk is the foremost marketing and business consultant for credit unions, and his book got him all the benefits stated above. But it also did one more thing: it cemented his place in his industry.
This picture was snapped at the biggest credit union function of the year, when someone asked Kirk to sign their book and take a picture with them.
Of course Kirk does not have the type of fame or celebrity that would get him in People or TMZ, but he has something that is more important to him: a legacy in the field that he dedicated his life to and wants to make better.
(BTW—this is precisely why a niche book is better than a broad book: it helps you focus. There are many “marketing experts” but no “credit union marketing experts,” so Kirk was able to differentiate and brand himself quickly by dominating that single niche.)
The same is true for Shannon Miles. She co-founded the virtual assistant company Belay Solutions with her husband because she wanted to create another option for mothers and other types of women who wanted to have careers and work but wanted the flexibility to stay at home.
Her book, The Third Option, laid out her vision and helped define this role and space for women who want to take this “third option.” Her legacy as a woman who has helped women work the way they want is now secure:
6. A Book Creates a Real Impact on People
Even though I put this last, for many authors, this is the most important thing: how does their book actually impact the reader and change their life?
Look at some reviews from the books I’ve mentioned. From Driven, by Douglas Brackmann:
From The Third Option, by Shannon Miles:
From The Cilantro Diaries, by Lorenzo Gomez:
From The Five Hour Work Day, by Stephan Aarstol:
From The San Francisco Fallacy, by Jonathan Siegel:
There are literally thousands of these. Reviews from real readers who were deeply impacted by books.
Remember: the very best books are win-win.
When the author really works hard, puts their best knowledge and stories in their book, and commits to delivering real value to the reader, then both the reader and the author come out better off.
How a Book Builds Your Brand
It all sums up to this:
A book is a multi-purpose marketing tool with unique and special abilities to create attention for you, that you can use to build your brand and career in multiple ways.