Unbeatable Business Card
MIVA Book Proposal
This document is simply a brief exploratory proposal to begin the discussion about how MIVA could benefit from publishing a book with the main objective of getting our message out there in a credible fashion.
Understand that to be successful, this should not be thought of simply as a marketing tactic. We recommend that we think at a more strategic level – with a book as only one tactic in an overall strategy of leveraging our message through different media. As we know, all marketing organizations need what is known as a “platform”, which basically is a launching pad for any marketing/communication strategy that has credibility as one of its objectives.
Benefits of the Book
Of course, many consulting firms and other organizations intuitively understand the value of establishing a platform that helps them expertize themselves and thus change the dynamic of their relationship with their potential clients. Books and other intellectual-property are sometimes referred to as “unbeatable business cards.” The concept is that - all things being equal – if two consultants make a pitch, the one who “wrote the book on the subject” will win the business. How could someone question your authority if you wrote the book on it?
So intellectual property can help you change the dynamic in any sales situation by attracting clients to you instead of having to go and beg for prospective clients to listen to your story. And you also get to leverage your message if you take advantage of the multiple media and the add-on tactic of producing intellectual property once and “publishing” it in multiple forms. The additional media could include: conference speeches, Webinars, books, ebooks, special reports, white papers, press release content, podcasts, blogs, and any number of other media.
For example, journalists writing often look for experts to add credibility to their stories, and this again creates a pull effect. Media outlets call us for comment as opposed to us going with cup in hand to ask for more press coverage. So again, the dynamic changes when you position yourself as a thought-leader.
One case in point - recently on the Today Show, they had an “expose” on how Google and Yahoo make money through advertising. Unfortunately, when they showed the montage of the logos of the challengers, MIVA wasn’t present, but rather Excite, Kanoodle, Dogpile and other search engines got their one second of fame. Now of course, we don’t position ourselves as a destination search site, and we can’t be in every article/TV program etc. given our limited resources. However, a book, leveraged into a platform of intellectual property with proper positioning, would change the dynamic.
Furthermore, as Peter Drucker says: “Good marketing renders sales unnecessary.” First of all, creating intellectual property forces sales and marketing to remain consistent and stay on message.
Secondly, instead of trying to cross-sell solutions, good marketing sucks prospects in – and then motivates them to “cross-buy.” Instead of us having to say, would you like fries with that hamburger, prospects are more likely to say, “I’ll take that bundled happy-meal of a MIVA feed, a BrandBar, and a Search Ring.”
Thirdly, instead of having salespeople – in this case, business development representatives, trying to pull in partners on a retail basis, this strategy could help us in attracting partners on a wholesale basis – as well as assist in providing credibility to the individual business development representative. Here’s a potential angle: “Let me quickly tell you our story, and I’ll leave you with this book if you are interested in understanding more – and when you are reading the book, feel free to contact me with any questions.”
The Importance of Proper Positioning
Proper positioning can’t be stressed enough. McKinsey is the classic model. They’ve honed the best practices in this subtle yet powerful form of marketing. They require their partners to position themselves as thought-leaders and trusted advisors by constantly creating intellectual property in the form of white papers, recorded Webinars, books and a constantly evolving multitude of media, including blogs and podcasts.
However, one must tread carefully. Although this intellectual-property strategy undoubtedly works, it must be executed correctly or it could backfire. Credibility is key. Often, marketers know enough to invest in intellectual-property creation; however, they stumble when it comes to positioning. They all too often write hard-sell, self-promotional pieces that may do more harm to their brands than good. You see this all too often with ego-driven individuals who write a book and slap their pictures on the cover. We will discuss some effective positioning strategies below.
One final caveat on the topic of positioning: given the current situation of our company, now might not be the ideal time to trumpet our advantage as the third-largest, independent network. It all depends on our true strategy, which may be in flux over the next several months. Or, it may be that now is the exact time to strike in order to add to the momentum of showing customers, partners, and the Street, what our true value should be.
1) Executive Buy-In
First and foremost, in order for this strategy to be effective, we must have executive buy-in at the highest levels. Again, given our situation, now might not be the right time to make this investment. However, if we want to establish a viable long-term marketing strategy, then we believe this – or something similar to this intellectual-property strategy – should at least be considered.
By leveraging our external network of subject-matter experts, such as Troy at Pay-Per-Click Analyst (Tiffany help me here with his last name and company name – wouldn’t mention him unless he is respected by upper management.), as well as internal market research resources, such as John Brock with his daily Intell newsletter, we do not anticipate the content-gathering phase to be extensive.
Actually, the writing phase would be even less time-consuming, especially if the previous phase is executed properly. This phase would be conducted in conjunction with the design phase.
The printing phase with today’s print-on-demand technology would consist of merely a matter of days. The distribution set-up phase, in which you make the book available through wholesalers and retailers such as Amazon and our own site, would be nearly instantaneous once the final book is ready for print, and this process is much less tedious than it was five years ago.
The marketing and content-leverage phases are ongoing. Too often, marketers think that the process is over when the book is done. Successful book marketers know, however, that, unless you are in it for the ego, it is the responsibility of the author, in this case, MIVA, to promote the book.
Most first-time authors are shocked when they discover that a typical budget from a large publishing house is approximately $10,000 at most, and this includes their staff time. Unless you are Colin Powell, that is, someone with star power, the expectation is that the author will taken on the lion’s share of the promotional efforts and even expenses. This fact, coupled with print-on-demand technologies and Internet distribution models for intellectual property, makes the traditional publishing route almost ludicrous nowadays. That said, traditional publishing is the way to go if you are a professor seeking tenure. In that case, you need an academic journal or a “credible” publishing house to accept your proposal, which, if accepted may be published a year from now and be edited to death and so wildly different that your original vision.
Should we decide to explore this opportunity further, we would be willing to provide actual timelines and time-resource estimates for these various phases.
Savvy publishers and marketers have discovered the many advantages of high-quality print-on-demand vis-à-vis typical long-run web presses and traditional book distribution strategies:
· Minimal inventory risk· Low upfront costs· Faster production turnaround · Much-higher-quality obtained through digital presses rather than on traditional web presses · Ability to take advantage of variable data printing technologies (VDP) that allow for multiple-language versions at minimal additional costs· Free instant US/UK distribution set-up – all significant wholesalers, Amazon, Barnes and Noble are arranged without cost as a standard service by POD vendors; European distribution platforms can be arranged for additional costs that we would have to research· Fast and simple e-book creation, which we could do ourselves with minimal cost and effort, but more importantly, POD vendors also provide near-instant distribution through top e-book outlets
The added advantage of book publicity is that like other types of publicity, the initial efforts could have a viral effect if executed properly. And if we position ourselves appropriately as independent trusted advisors – and thus as an independent alternative to the Google/Yahoo oligarchy, then the multiplier effect of controversy and competitive drama kicks in.
Truly, the marketing budget could be extensive or de minimus depending on our objectives. Most effective book marketing comes down to public relations activities, which, of course, have a pricetag in terms of employee time resources.
Again, if we decide to move to the next step in discussing this marketing option, we can be much more specific regarding costs once we understand our agreed-upon objectives.
Print-On-Demand Production Costs
Here are basic costs from LightningSource.com, a subsidiary of Ingram, the largest book wholesaler in the world:
For paperback, perfect-bound, 6” x 9”
108 pages plus - $0.90 per book + $0.015 per page (e.g., 150-page book = $3.15/copy
104 pages or less – flat $2.52/copy
Additional fee for full-color cover, which is not necessary – book can look professional with less than full-color cover (a.k.a. four-color) – three- or two-color are potential options. Additional cost TBD, depending on specs
Digital Setup Fee $95.00 (discount available due to existing publisher relationship)
Initial Order – discounted for 50 or more copies depending upon their promotions at time of printing
However, can order as few as one at a time, though not advisable given shipping costs