Within every industry, there is a select group of executives who always seem to be in the spotlight. These leaders regularly speak at industry events and are consistently interviewed in well-known industry publications. You may even be envious of their spotlight—but it’s not the spotlight they’re after, it’s the branding.
While these leaders, some may even call them thought leaders, possess a wide variety of characteristics that make them likeable and successful, they share one, significant strength: the ability to brand themselves.
The good news is: you can—and should—do this too.
One way to do this: write an ebook. This gives you space the share your own unique perspectives, insights and experience, and is a great asset for your business as well. Not to mention, eBooks are easily digestible, visually appealing and can be given away for free or gated to drive leads or email subscribers. Think of it as a whitepaper, but better, and just as easy to write and put together. With 10 pages or less, you can create a valuable, thought-leadership eBook that impresses and adds value to your brand.
Here’s what you need to know about building your brand with an eBook. Use these tips to leverage your strengths, differentiate yourself from your competition, and put your industry expertise on display.
1. Choose the Right Topic
Deciding the topic for your eBook is probably the most difficult—and most important—step in the process. There are a number of aspects to consider, including: "Think about what you’re passionate about and what content would help your target audience. You also need an original edge. The best eBooks share a personal story or experiences. Why? A personal story is engaging, builds authority and creates empathy with the reader," according to the FounderU guide, 8 Steps to Create and Sell an Ebook.
If you choose a topic that’s already been well-documented, you risk being passed over by potential media outlets and industry bloggers. To find an idea that your audience is interested in, start with your blog analytics: “A great way to gauge what your audience responds to is to look at which of your blog posts and social media updates currently get the most comments or shares,” suggests FounderU experts. Finally, research the most popular topics to see who’s already written about them and find an angle that’s unique to you.
2. Keep It “On Brand”
Your leadership brand should be reflected in everything you do, from the way you dress to the way you conduct meetings and communicate with your team. This should also come through in your eBook. As it’s being created, pay close attention to tone, design and overall layout and style of your eBook. For example, if want to be known as innovative in the tech space, your eBook might be interactive or connect with your own branded app, using new cutting-edge technology. If you don’t yet know how to articulate your leadership brand, check out this guide from Center for Creative Leadership to start brainstorming.
3. Collaborate with Necessary Professionals
Developing isn’t challenging (you can create it right in Google Slides (tutorial here!), but with the right people on your side, it’ll be more successful than if you’d done everything yourself. The most important people to work with: a copy editor and a designer, both of whom will help you polish the look, flow and grammatical details of every page. This may not sound important, but it’s critical to maintaining a professional brand: “Simply put, sloppiness can essentially damage your credibility. Polish your work a few times at every stage along the way to smooth out the rough edges,” says Eunice David, of Adhere Creative. David continues, “Proofreading isn't limited to grammar, typos, and misspelled words; you must also consider the flow of your content. Make sure that the voice of your content sounds authentic and appropriate for your audience.”
4. Develop a Distribution and Promotion Strategy
The saying, “If you build it, they will come,” does not apply here. Develop an actionable distribution and promotion strategy for your eBook, which could include social media, email marketing and pay-per-click. Start with the platforms where your brand is already well-represented, like the social platforms where you get the most engagement or the email lists that drive the most clicks. Influencers should be an important part of your promotion strategy as well. Send preview copies to well-known bloggers and writers in your industry and set up a promotion strategy for anyone that reviews the book. Note that influencers should get their copy a few weeks before release to give them time to read the eBook and craft their post about it.
Pro tip: If you want to take it to the next level, check out this strategy for getting to #1 on Amazon (based on personal experience) from Noah Kagan or O’Dork.
5. Measure Your Success
Track and measure the success of your eBook based on KPIs that you set when you started. Perhaps your goal was to generate 30 links from reputable publications or increase your website traffic by a certain percentage. Track on a monthly or quarterly basis and use your findings to increase promotion, find more influencers or even write a second eBook.
Build an eBook, Build Your Brand
Your brand conveys your individuality and communicates the value you offer as a leader. It can also act as a marketing tool for your business—the more people know your brand, the more they’ll know your business.
Building a strong leadership brand, however, doesn’t happen overnight. Create an eBook using these five steps to take the next big step toward getting recognition within your industry and otherwise. Soon, you’ll be on the stage with people you once admired wondering how you got there.