Thought Leadership · Marketing Strategy

Does writing a book really add credibility to your company or product?

Mamie Stewart Founder & CEO at Meeteor, Speaker, Change-maker

June 12th, 2015

I'm considering writing a book that explains my product / company philosophy and practices. The content of the book directly relates to our product and would be valuable on its own or as a companion to our product. I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on the following:
(1) Does having written a book add credibility to the business / product / founder?
(2) As a B-2-B software company targeting managers and business people, does the publisher of the book matter? 
(3) Is a book better / worse / different (in terms of credibility or thought leadership) compared to having a blog?
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Mike Moyer

June 12th, 2015

I think content, no matter what the format, matters. Books, blogs, videos, infographics, spreadsheets, whitepapers, etc. 

In my case I've written a number of books. Slicing Pie is a book about equity splits. It has given me a global platform for software sales, legal contract sales and speaking events. Pitch Ninja is a book about presentation skills and Trade Show Samurai is a book about capturing leads at trade shows. These books don't sell as well, but they give me credibility and are a nice complement to speaking events. I've written other books too for different purposes. 

Most of my books are self-published, but I have traditional publishing deals too. Traditional publishers can help you get into bookstores, if that matters. But traditional publishers take much longer to get to market and offer much lower royalties. The biggest drawback is that you can't change the book later on. I often do updates and revisions to my books. I can only do this for self-published titles. Sometimes I create special versions of the book. I'm in Australia now and I did a special Australian cover.

I've never had anyone let me know that the publisher matters.

-Mike

Wayne Carrigan Marketing Alchemist and Business Leader

June 12th, 2015

While the short answer is yes, this is not the reason to write a book.

And, don't write a book., write THE BOOK - one that people want (or need) to read.  Share insights or methods that are unique and move your industry forward.  This kind of book not only adds credibility, but opens the doors to an abundance of opportunities.   

A great example of this is Chris Goward's book on Conversion Optimization called You Should Test That!  http://www.youshouldtestthat.com/ 

Michael Barnathan

June 12th, 2015

I can't say whether it's "better", but a book certainly does take a lot more time and effort to get out than a blog.

Ben Yennie Co-Founder/VP Biz-Dev ProductionNext, Founder of Producer Foundry, Author, Speaker, and Producer's Rep

June 12th, 2015

I wrote a book on the American Film Market to help boost my Producer's Representation business, and not only was it a credibility boost, but it's also improved my relationship with distributors, and increased my the quantity and caliber of my clients in a very significant way. I self published, and marketed the hell out of the book. it's in more than 100 bookstores (including some Barnes and Nobles) and it's being used as a text book in 10 film schools. Writing the book was a fairly major time sink, but it's paid dividends in a really significant way. That said, mine was a very specialized book that didn't really exist even though it needed to, so that might be different than your book on B2B software. A LOT more credibility comes from writing a book than a blog, but the blog is generally better for viral engagement and engaging with your customers via social media. Personally, I do a weekly blog, bi weekly podcast, and I'm about to release my second book which will be given away for free as a mailing list incentive. The second book is just a collection of blogs though, so it wasn't that taxing to create. Having a good publisher will help, but you'll still have to do a lot of the marketing yourself, and they'll take 90% of all sales. So it really depends on your goals. The simple act of having written a book increases your credibility in a tangible way, even if it is self published. Most people know it's easy to get your book on amazon, but getting it in Barnes and Nobles is another story and people view that differently. Although that too is surprisingly easy. If you decide to go the self publishing route, there are some ways to streamline the process I could advise on. Hope that helps

Robb Vaules Western Region Marketing Director

June 12th, 2015

Yes, I believe writing a book can help. I do believe how it is published does have some bearing on its legitimacy overall. If your book is through a major publisher, it is going to hold more weight then something that might be self-published. That’s not to say that is self-published book doesn’t contain excellent information, but you have to realize the majority of people aren’t going to read more than the first chapter of your book, and its cachet with them lies in how it was brought to market.

In 1999, I was working for a software development consultancy in Minnesota. The president of that group was asked by Oracle Corporation to write one of their books, specifically on web-enabled databases. This was a big thing at the time, in very few companies have the competency level that we did. Any time that we went out to pitch business, we dropped off a copy of our book on the desk of the CEO for CIO of the company. We had no expectations that the book was going to be read, but it was a lot better than dropping off a few sheets of sales lit in a folder.  We didn’t win every pitch, but for the Midwest we would consistently put in shootouts with companies much larger than ourselves, including some of the big accounting firms.

Assess the situation, see what your publishing options are, and then make that decision. 

Katherine Sears Chief Marketing Officer, Booktrope

June 15th, 2015

Hello Founders! As the name of my company probably implies, I am involved in the book business. Most people call us a hybrid publisher, meaning, we are not traditional, nor are we self-publishing. We don't accept all books, nor do we charge fees, so are not a self-publishing business. On the other hand, we do not focus on bookstores, and our books are created without massive in house staff, so we are not traditional either. If you are curious, you can find out more about us on our website www.booktrope.com 

That said, this post is not about us, but to offer my input on this issue. My focus is on marketing, and I wrote a book on this topic titled "How to Market a Book". Having a book that doesn't sell, and doesn't get any traction will not help your image. If you are going to write a book, no matter how you publish it, you must be committed to making it successful for it have any impact and achieve your goal of improving your credibility. As you might imagine, marketing a book is not a slam dunk, nor is it an instantaneous effort. It takes time, and a plan. If you have that time, and a plan, it can add to your ability to be taken seriously as an expert. If you do not, and it sits on Amazon with 1 lonely review, or worse, poor reviews, you could actually do yourself a dis-service as it could make you look less successful. 

My advice, if you do write a book, make sure it is high quality in all respects (from cover to interior layout) and market it like you would any other part of your business. 

Happy to answer questions if anyone has them! 

Tatsuya Nakagawa VP at Castagra Products (Industrial Coatings)

June 12th, 2015

From my experience, if the book is related to a scalable business, then it's totally worth it. A book generally has more credibility than a blog and a good publisher that "gets' your concept will greatly improve the final product and distribution.


Vijay MD Founder Chefalytics, Co-owner Bite Catering Couture, Independent consultant (ex-McKinsey)

June 12th, 2015

I'm doing the same.  I've heard from others that it's not necessarily that useful in getting leads, but that it's a terrific tool to be able to close deals and then have something that becomes a reference for the project team (ie you pass the book out and can point them to a few pages in the middle).

If you're selling in a way that credibility as an author helps, I've heard this can really help in the sales process in framing you as an expert.

Book is better than a blog in that it pulls together thoughts into one consistent narrative.  People I've talked to have in some cases used an editor to pull the book together from the blog (not mutually exclusive).

I haven't heard that anyone cares about the publisher...I have heard that free is perceived differently than putting a price tag on it.  Doing an experiment personally using softcover to write the book (free online) and then selling via amazon with workbooks and other add-ons.

Anand Ramachandran Founder & CEO at IdeaGPS

June 15th, 2015

I wrote and self-published a book about 10 yrs ago called Getting Clarity on how to conquer information overload.  While it never generated a huge financial return, mostly due to limited marketing, it did win me a number of speaking engagements.  These talks and panel discussions then led to additional consulting business and other opportunities.  I handed out copies to prospective clients as thank you gifts.  In one case, I was able to get a broader relationship into a key account as a result.

I think credibility is a personal attribute.  If YOU have credibility, prospects may be more willing to listen to you.  If the book is just about your product or company, I think you lose the personal touch..

In10city Nation Owner, In10city Pte Ltd

June 16th, 2015

@Anand , the main problem we face as new entrants to authoring/ publishing is that, the format of a book is outdated, as people overly used to newspaper/ magazine/ movies / tv, and tied up with work whole day, do not have time nor the patience to sit through a book which is a course.  So future books too must be laid out as newspaper/ magazine format, where they are able to latch on to key areas of the book in a single glance which will aid in their purchase and also easy to carry around and read during their commute to work.