“Why am I doing this?”
The year was 2013, and I wanted to save my marketing agency from imminent bankruptcy. I had recently started writing for Forbes as a contributor and I needed to figure out some sort of magic formula to get the most out of my articles.
The reaction I wanted from my ideal audience (people who were interested in hiring a marketing agency) was for them to contact my agency. If they didn’t reach out, I had no other way to contact them, and there was no chance they would hire us, and I needed clients, urgently.
A few years later, once my agency was on firmer footing, my focus turned to the long term. Without long-term clients, I couldn’t grow my agency to match my vision. That’s when I decided to write my first book, Chief Marketing Officers at Work, which established me (and be extension, my agency) as a trusted resources for marketing leaders. However, I didn’t just want CMOs to read my book and say, “Nice book! And the author seems like a guy I could trust!” I wanted CMOs to read it and say, “I need to get in touch with this guy’s agency and hire them to run our marketing.”
What about you?
What do you want your audience to do when they read your book? Most of us want something more concrete than good feelings from our readers. We want them to do something. This is called a “call to action” or CTA. Possibilities of what you want your audience to do upon reading your book might include:
- Contact you
- Visit your website
- Join your email list
- Purchase your product or service
- Recommend your book to a friend
- Buy your book for a friend
- Buy your next book
- Review your book on Amazon
- Add quotes from your book to Goodreads
- Memorize parts of it
- Read it again
- Apply it in their lives
It’s important to get clear and specific about what you want your audience to do because it will impact how you write your book. For example, if you want people to remember your book and recommend it to lots of other people, you might make it short, like Exactly What to Say by Phil M. Jones (I read it four times in two days because it was good, and super short), or you might make it really, really practical like Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland (even though it wasn’t a short book I read it four times in a row over a three-day period, then bought copies for everyone in my company and forced them to read it).
If you want someone to visit your website or contact you, include your URL and contact information in your book. If you want them to memorize parts of it, share quotes from it, and tell friends about it, make it easily quotable and make it so your readers look smart when they quote it.
What do you want your ideal audience to do when they read your book? What are some CTAs? List as many as you can think of.
Once you have large brainstorm list of CTAs, let’s narrow it down. What are the top five CTAs for your book? Circle or bold them.
Next, choose your top CTA.
Underneath your top CTA, list other CTAs that will support your top CTA. For example, if “contact us” is your top CTA, then “visit our website” might be a supporting CTA.
Finally, what can you do to encourage each CTA? Create a column to the right of your top CTA and its supporting CTAs, write “Actions” at the top, and then write actions to the right of each supporting CTA. If “visit our website” is a supporting CTA, you might put “Include URL on back cover, in my bio, and in the introduction,” as actions.
You may want to create a spreadsheet and do this with all of your top five CTAs, and perhaps more. You’ll then have a simple checklist you can use to make sure your book contains your most important CTAs which will lead to the results motivating you to write this book.
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