The Five Criteria for Creating an Effective Bookmercial

By Victor Cheng

A Bookmercial can be a powerful pre-sales tool for several reasons. First, it's a unique form of marketing that most companies do not use. Unlike telemarketing, email marketing, junk mail and other widely used (and abused) forms of marketing that prospects have learned to ignore, a book is different and unique.

Second, prospects perceive books to be more credible than brochures, websites, billboards, magazine ads, and commercials, so your message is more likely to be considered with an open mind.

Finally, prospects have been trained from kindergarten to recognize that the people who write books are the experts--the authority figures. Given the choice between being perceived as the chief sales person of your company or the leading expert and authority figure in your field, it goes without saying that being the expert is much more desirable.

While most people who first discover the Bookmercial book concept we invented in 2007 are tempted to stick their brochure inside of a book format, I'll be the first to tell you that does not work.

Your prospects can smell a sales pitch from a mile away. When it comes to marketing and pre-selling products and services through a Bookmercial there is both an artistry and a science to it.

In a moment, I'll outline several key criteria we look for in client situations that would be conducive to producing an effective Bookmercial. It doesn't work for every company, nor does it work for every client situation. However, if your company is in the so-called "sweet spot" for a Bookmercial, it can be a powerful credibility building and revenue generating marketing tool.

The Five Criteria

1) Market Uniqueness. The first thing we look for in a client situation is whether or not the client offers its clients anything unique or special. Typically this involves a product or service that is unique in the marketplace. More commonly, it is developing a more specialized version of an existing product or service that has been tailored to a unique type of customer that has been previously ignored

When you have something unique to offer the marketplace, a Bookmercial can powerfully communicate and explain that difference in a way that is difficult to do in a 30 second commercial, a 4 minute cold call, or a 1 page email. Sometimes offerings that are unique are unique and different in deep and meaningful ways--something that requires a bit of an explanation to convey.

This is where a Bookmercial can excel.

What a Bookmercial can NOT do is manufacture market uniqueness where none exists. A Bookmercial that does not ultimately present a unique solution to its reader is one that can't be effective. Uniqueness is critical to getting a Bookmercial to be effective.

2) Solve A Problem Prospects Want Solved. Do your products and services solve a problem that your prospects care deeply about? It is impossible to sell prospects a solution to a problem that they fundamentally do not want solved. Note there is a difference between a prospect caring about a problem versus being aware of a problem. It is possible for prospects to have low awareness of a problem, but still care about it once it is brought to their attention.

For example, in the last home I lived in I spent a considerable sum of money to have the home seismically reinforced. For quite some time I wasn't aware the foundation of my home was not up to the modern day earthquake proofing standards. However, once I became aware of the problem, I very much wanted to fix it.

A Bookmercial can make your prospects significantly more aware of their problems, but a Bookmercial can not make them care about a problem they fundamentally have no interest in solving (whether they are aware of it or not).

Phrased differently, you want to make sure the benefit of solving the problem is something prospects care a lot about--even if they aren't aware of their problems or don't fully appreciate how their problems are connected to the outcome they desire. In the earthquake bracing example, I fundamentally care a lot about making sure my family is safe even though initially I had no awareness about earthquake bracing and whether or not it was relevant to me. If I didn't care about safety, then no amount of marketing would have caused me to upgrade my home.

3) Be A Genuine Expert. A big part of the value of a Bookmercial is that it positions the author as an obvious and credible expert in the industry. In many cases, our CEO clients have become THE expert in their industries--most often because they were the first to publish a book on their highly specialized area of expertise. When we work with clients, it is important that they are actually genuine experts in their fields.

With a Bookmercial, we can work with a genuine expert to have him or her be perceived as the leading expert in the field. Unfortunately, we can not take someone who does know much and do the same. A Bookmercial is about helping marketplace perceptions catch up with what is already true.

In our experiments, creating a Bookmercial for someone who is not an expert just backfires. It sets high expectations among a client's marketplace that the client can't meet.

4) Clear Objectives. Publishing a Bookmercial, or any book for that matter, is a nice ego boost (the autographs, people asking to take a photo with you), but it is critical that a Bookmercial be designed around specific objectives and outcomes. One of the first things we do with our Bookmercial clients on a new project is to tell them to forget about the book. We usually say,"Tell us your vision of how life or business is different AFTER the book."

The book is largely irrelevant. It is just a means to an end--a method of achieving an outcome that you want. All of our Bookmercial projects are custom designed to solve specific marketing challenges.

Client objectives have included:

- Establishing one's self as the #1 thought leader in a focused market segment

- Targeting an under-served customer segment with a new type of solution they haven't see before

- Being able to access demographically specialized radio talk shows that have previously been unreachable

- Increasing revenues from retail partners who aren't as good at selling our product as we are

- Increasing the market's awareness of a very serious problem they will want to solve, but don't yet realize they have

- Publishing a book to establish credibility as an expert and to leverage that perception into publishing articles in the industry's trade journal

- Pre-conditioning prospects to perceive sales force as value-added consultants instead of "salespeople"


5) Prospect's Purchasing Process is Research Oriented. A Bookmercial excels as a sales tool when selling complicated, confusing, high-priced products and services. It's largely overkill and not useful for selling low price, impulse purchase type items. You don't need a Bookmercial to sell toilet paper. You might need a Bookmercial to sell toilet paper manufacturing equipment that costs $1 million.

The more research and information intensive the buying process is for the buyer, the more likely a Bookmercial will be effective because a Bookmercial is not really a brochure for your business. Instead, think of it as the best buyer's guide in your industry that happens to feature your products and services as case studies and examples. The goal with a Bookmercial is to publish the single most useful pre-purchase research tool in your industry. When all the prosepcts are coming to your Bookmercial to "learn what it is they know they don't know," your company ends up being the first one they consider. I make the analogy that it's like the retail store Target rerouting all of Wal-Mart's traffic through the Target parking lot first.

When the prospects come to you first (primarily for knowledge, research, and guidance), the majority also opt to go with your company when it comes time to look for products and services

We've found that when a prospecitve client meets these five criteria, they fall within the "sweet spot" for a Bookmercial.