Case study: Ghostwriting a best-selling book

A book is more than just a couple hundred pages that you might sell for twenty bucks on Amazon. Writing a book SHOULD BE on your list of things to do to grow your business. It’s a document that helps to position you as an expert in your field. It has the potential to provide ongoing income for you — just sweat through the hard work of writing it once and then you’ll earn ongoing income from it for as long as you sell it. A book is also a marketing tool; it constantly promotes you even when you’re sleeping. Books open doors — to new business opportunities, new marketing opportunities, speaking engagements, clients, and more.

As a former ghostwriter (I really don’t do ghostwriting at all anymore) I had the privilege of working with a few clients on their books. They’d tell me what they wanted to write about, I’d put together a table of contents and a project plan (to keep the project moving forward because it’s SO easy to let your book falter) and then I’d write the content for them. Unlike some ghostwriters who write almost all the content exclusively, I tried to adopt a more collaborative approach with my clients because I felt that it better captured their brand and “voice”, and it ensured that I didn’t too long on a rabbit-trail digression that wasn’t helping the client.

Some books I wrote for some clients turned out okay. We were both happy with the end result but the books didn’t deliver all that was hoped. But for one client, with whom I wrote nearly half a dozen books, they all became Amazon best-sellers, achieving #1 seller status in different Amazon categories.

So what was the difference between some of my clients whose books were okay and my one client whose books all became best-sellers?

Here are a few things that helped my best-selling-book client do so well:

  • We wrote good-sized print books (250+ pages) of high quality, high value information
  • We created a website to help promote the book
  • We cross-sold the book on my client’s other channels (his site plus in the backs of other books)
  • We wrote sales letters and autoresponders to help generate sales

These all helped; they all played a part… and I would love to point entirely to myself as the most significant reason that these books did so well. However, what really made a huge difference was that my client had a HUGE audience with whom he had nurtured a very deep and trusting relationship.

Whenever we wrote something, he put it on Amazon and his readers would rush out and buy it. (That might sound bad but don’t worry, I made sure we wrote GREAT content!).

Although I played a part, it was really my client’s relationship with his list that made all the difference, turning a great product into an in-demand product.

So what should you do if you’re a business owner who aspires to write a book and use it as a tool for your business? I think your first priority should be to build an audience and nurture a relationship with them.

The 5 steps to identify your sales funnel… This is the starting point of a more profitable business!

I frequently assert that your sales funnel is the most important asset in your business. It’s the structure around which you build your business, it’s the pathway that prospective buyers follow on their way to giving you money, and it’s a strategic tool you can use to grow your business.

The starting point for you to master your sales funnel and take control of your business is to draw out your sales funnel. Draw it out, add notes to yourself, and the document becomes the useful tool you can refer to daily in your business to help you make decisions and work on your business.

Here’s how to draw out your sales funnel…

1. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET MARKET

You need a narrowly defined target market — one that is large enough to to market to, has enough money to pay you for your product or service, but small enough that you can establish yourself as an expert. (Note: “Everyone” is NOT your target market). Take some time to research your target market and learn about them. When researching, dig beyond the point where your target market’s needs intersect with your solution. Learn everything you can about your target market and you’ll uncover new ways to market to them and new opportunities to add value. To get you started, use this tool I created: 55 questions to answer when defining your sales funnel’s target market.

2. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET MARKET’S MINDSETS

People buy a product or service to solve a problem or fulfill a need. They never rush out and buy the very first solution the millisecond they discover their problem or need. There’s a progression in their thinking:

  1. At first they discover their problem or need.
  2. Then they realize they have to do something about it.
  3. Then they seek out some solutions.
  4. Then they weigh those their solution options.
  5. Then they decide whether the solutions are worth the cost.
  6. Then they buy.

Those steps I’ve just outlined are an over-simplification of the “evolution of mindsets” that people go through before buying from you. For small purchases (like an impulse item in a grocery store check-out line), these evolutions are measured in seconds. For major purchases (like a house), these evolutions are measured in weeks, months, or sometimes even years. After researching your target market, write out the mindset evolutions that they are most likely going through. (Use the list above as a starting point but then make adjustments according to your knowledge of your target market).

3. OUTLINE THE ACTIVITIES

Once you know what your target market is thinking on their way to buying from you, you can craft marketing and sales messages around those thought processes with the goal of moving them from one step to the next. Activities are comprised of two things: The message you want to communicate and the action you want your target market to take.

Pro tip: Don’t try to get your target market to move from their current mindset to the point of sale. Just get them to move to the next mindset in their mindset evolution.

4. DEPLOY TO CHANNELS

Once you know who your target market is, you know where they like to spend their time and attention. Once you know what mindsets they have, you know what it takes to sell to them. Now you can use this information to put your sales funnel to work. Create marketing and sales messages (see Outline the Activities, above), and then put those messages in the channels (media) where your target market will notice them.

5. ADD PAYGATES AND DELIVERY

Your entire sales funnel “points” to a sale. And that can look very different from one business to another. Some businesses charge up-front and then deliver the product or service; some businesses deliver first and then charge. And there are other paygate/delivery configurations as well. (Check out my blog post Sales funnel paygates for more information and for a list of other blog posts on this topic). Select a paygate and delivery model that will encourage the most purchases from your customers but will also ensure consistent cash flow and manageable accounts receivables for you.

A FEW CLOSING THOUGHTS

This really simple step-by-step method to crafting your sales funnel is useful for new and existing businesses that need to optimize performance and improve profitability. It’s also just a starting point. Check out some of my other blog posts about sales funnels.

9 reasons why you need to become THE expert in your field

Each new level you ascend in your business may be the best you’ve ever achieved… but as you reach the summit of that particular level, your new vantage points reveals that there is still a bigger mountain — with a higher summit — just ahead of you.

In this blog post, I want to talk about the highest summit you can achieve — the expert status — and why you need to scale THAT summit as quickly as possible to make a difference in your business.

When I say “expert status” I don’t just mean that you know more than most other people. I’m talking “category of one” expert status. You’re not just AN expert in something. You’re THE expert in something.

And if I had to start my biz all over again, I’d do whatever I could to achieve this category-of-one expert status as quickly as humanly possible.

Here’s why you’ll want to become an expert in your category:

1. Experts are automatically credible

If you’re sitting in a seminar and a speaker is introduced as the world’s leading expert in [whatever], you will pay attention even if you aren’t familiar with the speaker. Expertise is credible. (If you’re faking it, it will be revealed soon enough so may I should say “true expertise has long-last credibility”).

2. Experts get paid first

Hat tip to copywriter John Carlton for this one. John Carlton says that experts get paid first, everyone else gets paid last. This is great advice and if you run a business (especially a service-based business) this should be the only reason you need to become an expert because getting paid first means no accounts receivables!

3. Experts get paid more

Don’t misunderstand me: Experts deliver more to get paid more. However, in my experience, the amount they get paid for what they deliver is proportionately higher than what non-experts get paid. You might say that experts don’t necessarily deliver a higher volume but higher value to get paid what they charge.

4. Experts are sought after

Most businesses spend a good chunk of their day searching for clients. With experts, it’s the other way around: Prospective clients are the ones seeking out the experts. The experts are in a position of power in the transaction, deciding who they will work with.

5. Experts have a long waiting list

Some businesses might find themselves temporarily booked up so that if they have to turn a customer away, that customer will simply go somewhere else. But a well-positioned expert has a long line of people who are eagerly waiting for the expert’s next availability and will wait as long as necessary for that expert.

6. Experts provide recommendations

When a business delivers its product or service, there is sometimes an unspoken question hanging in the air as if the business asks the client: “Is this what you were looking for?” or “Will this work for you?”. On the other hand, an expert makes recommendations and has the confidence that his or her recommendations will deliver exactly the solution that the client needs.

7. Experts are quoted by others

The insight and thought-leadership of experts is frequently quoted by other people — both by the expert’s target market and by the people who are still scaling that summit of expertise but have not achieved full expert status yet.

8. Experts have names that sell

When someone is still climbing the foothills of business, simply trying to go from “good enough” to “pretty good”, their name doesn’t necessarily hold much cache. The customers those businesses acquire might not care who they work with. But an expert’s name sells. Clients of an expert will not only pay more for the expert but they’ll boast to their peers that they worked with the expert. They’ll “borrow” some of the expert’s name credibility because it has significant value.

9. Experts are self-fulfilling

I added this one just before publishing this post. It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately and I haven’t been able to fully articulate it yet… but I’ll try: Experts are self-fulfilling in that what they say is true. If an expert says something, it becomes true (even if it wasn’t true before) because their stating it makes it so, and because their audience may unwittingly participate in making it true.

One insanely simple way to research niche markets for your business

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that their target market is everybody. It’s not uncommon to hear an enthusiastic founder proclaiming that anyone can and will buy their product. But not product is attractive to all the billions of people – young and old, male and female – who live on earth.

A business cannot be all things to all people so successful businesses identify one or more narrowly defined “niches” that they will target with their marketing. Identifying a niche to become your target market is an essential early step toward increasing the effectiveness of your marketing and the profitability of your sales.

So how do you research your target market to determine how you can help them the most? The best place to start is with good old-fashioned magazines! Magazines are the ultimate niche market research tool. Magazines serve a narrowly-defined market – a niche – and you can piggyback off of their hard work to make your business more successful.

If your niche is a consumer market, search online or in your friendly neighborhood magazine store to find at least one magazine in your niche. If your niche is a business market, search online and in industry associations for trade journals.

If you don’t find a lot of magazines serving that niche, you either have a small very small niche or you have not defined your market closely enough. Proceed with caution! If you find a lot of magazines serving that niche, it’s a signal that you are entering a highly competitive market.

Get copies of current and back issues of as many titles that serve your niche market as possible.
Now the fun begins!

  1. Design. Look at how each magazine is designed. Examine the fonts, colors, and images then consider how these elements and their layout would attract and engage the target market.
  2. Headlines. Look on each cover to see what the headlines are. The bigger the headline, the more important the story will be to the target market. As well, look in the table of contents at the feature stories (not the columns). From these clues, “reverse engineer” the problems that your target market faces on a regular basis, and (if possible) sort them into order from the ones mentioned most frequently to the ones mentioned least frequently.
  3. Staff qualifications. Who are the writers, editors, and staff of the magazine? They may not exactly reflect the target market (i.e. a children’s magazine wouldn’t have children on staff) but it’s very likely that many of the staff have a background related to the target market (so an editor at an economic magazine should have a background in economics). Review any writer bios and staff information to see what they bring to the role of “expert”.
  4. Advertisements. Look at the advertisements in each magazine. What product or service are they selling? What headlines to they use to capture the fickle attention of the reader? Pay particular attention to advertisements that appear more than once.
  5. Feature articles. Read each feature article to get a sense of how these magazines communicate with the readers. Is it peer-to-peer? Is it as a trusted advisor/mentor? Do they use a narrative format? What is the reader expected to do or know at the end of each article?
  6. Next, turn to the columns – those back-half-of-the-magazine columns that are often built around a theme. What is the Columns. theme of the column? How in-depth is each column? What kind of problem, need, or question is the column hoping to solve on a regular basis?

After thoroughly reviewing each magazine and making notes, you should have a pretty good idea of what your target market is like and what kinds of things attract their attention and engage their interest. From there, you should have enough information to start building your marketing to reach them effectively. Of course you would never copy verbatim (plagiarize) the headlines and articles from the magazines but instead you would use the information you gained from each magazine to form a clear picture in your mind of what your target market thinks about and responds to.

Then go out and build your own business as if you were writing a magazine to solve some very specific problems for your target market.

Financial advisor article published at Agent eNews: Develop an expert status that attracts your target market

I’m co-writing a series of articles for financial professionals, along with my colleague Rosemary Smyth, an international coach to financial advisors.

One of our articles was posted at the Agent eNews. The article explains the importance of an expert status in differentiating advisors from their many competitors.

Check out the article at the link below:

Develop an expert status that attracts your target market