Truth is, when I started I didn’t realize a business book could have such far-reaching benefits.
Carol Abrahamson’s one-person business was 3 years old when she decided to write a book so her market would know she existed and to differentiate herself from others who offered similar services. Little did she know it would change her business beyond her wildest dreams!
Because it was truly synergistic with my business, my first book turned into a stellar home run.
In the 1980s, the experts in Carol’s profession believed there were only three types of audiences worth addressing. But over the years she had learned the three were not homogeneous groups and that instead there were 21 audiences of note — each with markedly different goals, needs and predictable behaviors.
How did she learn that? She’d been a daily Wall Street Journal reader since the 1970s, and that paper frequently incorporated facts and tidbits about many of the 21 in its stories. Eager to use some of the WSJ‘s facts to help her consulting clients and prospects better understand their actual operating environment, she soon realized she could create a meaningful book from those clippings.
As the only marketing tactic she employed besides networking and distributing a small brochure, she created a 200-page book with hundreds of bulleted facts that profiled the 21. It dispelled many myths her profession had been built on since the 1930s and revealed a completely new view of the realities and dynamics surrounding corporate America’s most important potential stakeholders. Mailed with a cover letter as a gift to 250 of her target market CEOs, she hoped it looked important enough to get through the mail-screening secretaries to the executives she wanted to reach.
The results were truly astounding — spectacular even — and doors started opening that I never could have imagined. I suddenly had visibility and prestige that made me someone everyone wanted to know and work with.
Numerous results followed within a few years. Like a snowball rolling down a hill, their momentum and significance increased mightily over that time:
• A steady stream of calls for Carol’s opinion and commentary from local and national newspaper and magazine reporters.
• Opportunities to guest-lecture for what became 10 years at Stanford’s and Santa Clara University’s graduate business schools. And an invitation to design and teach a series of San Jose State continuing ed classes that tested the viability of developing a new professional certificate program.
• Invitations to speak at various professional associations’ chapter meetings and conferences.
• A chance to become the local chapter president of her profession’s national association.
• Prospects she’d never met who needed nothing more than a brief phone conversation about how she could help before becoming clients.
• Clients so eager to work with her that they fully prepaid for her consulting program more than a year in advance in order to be on her radar screen while they waited for the expected events that would trigger the beginning of the work.
• Projects all paid at her going rate, without a single client requesting a discount or a special deal.
• Sought after by visiting East-Coast dignitaries from the major international organizations in her field and invited to speak to her primary target market at their local and regional meetings for a decade.
• A project partnership with one of the world’s largest accounting firms to teach an all-day seminar in 17 U.S. cities as part of the firm’s business development effort.
• A 6-figure annual insurance premium discount for her clients by one of the largest insurance companies because Carol’s training reduced their lawsuit risk. (Many new CFO prospects hoped she had time to work with them so they could get the discount.)
• Due to her reputation as the go-to top authority in her field, invitations from over 20 PR and communications agencies to be their on-call senior expert. (She worked with many of them simultaneously.) They presented her as part of their team when they pitched prospects, and several paid her to train their staff about her field’s basics.
I became the darling of my industry, whose name and reputation thousands of people I’d never met knew, largely because I’d written a leading-edge book.
All told, Carol’s $10,000 investment in 250 book copies led to over 100 new corporate clients and a consulting business that went from less than $100,000 in annual revenues to bringing in 3, 4 and 5 times that — over $2 million total — during a handful of years. For a decade the mailed-to CEOs called her, introducing themselves and inviting her to meet with them. They had kept her book because it looked impressive (though she was sure none of them had read a single page of it) and for the day when they might need her help. Typically there was no one else they considered working with because they perceived her to be so much better than the competition.
As a footnote to the story, that book also became the launchpad for a series of seven books that provided further insight into the 21 audiences. The series totaled 1600 pages and sold in five countries for $249.00 per book/$1740.00 for the series. Plus it became the foundation of the curriculum for a corporate training school Carol opened that became another high-profit revenue stream for many years.