This week I'm joined by Betsey Vaughn again as we discuss two ideas for creating content. Using other people's expertise to add value to your potential customers and leveraging external changes like regulation or technology changes to be first to market and provide potential customers with the information they are looking for.
Transcript - Book More Show 014
Stuart: Hello everybody. Welcome to another Book More show. It's Stuart here with Betsey Vaughn again. Betsey, how are you doing?
Betsey: I'm great, Stuart. It's good to be here!
Stuart: Fantastic. Today is either going to be the start of something new or turn into a disaster, because this is the first outside broadcast of the show. I'm hoping that the environmental issues at this end hold out long enough for us to get through the show. If we start getting some firetrucks going past or it suddenly starts storming, then we might have to finish just a little early.
Betsey: Fantastic. Good luck with that.
Stuart: Thank you. Hopefully we'll be good. Today we're going to follow up on a conversation that we had a couple of weeks ago when we were talking about how to leverage either other people's knowledge or expertise or audience, basically just broader ways of writing a book and engaging your audience, rather than just, I've got some knowledge in my head that I want to share. Let's get it out on the page and get it in front of people. Does that sound like a good idea?
Betsey: Sounds like a plan to me. Let's get started!
Stuart: Perfect. First couple of examples that came up, I mentioned on the show I think the week before last. I was recording at a friend's house looking out over their nicely manicured lawn. I was using a couple of examples of leveraging a lawn care business, the knowledge from a lawn care business if you were a swimming pool manufacturer for example. Another couple of examples that we've got of existing 90-minute books, Orlando Montiel has a realtor book recently published that was interviewing a number of other experts.
Then I had mentioned I think again on that same show a couple of weeks ago, Chris Hill, who owns a luxury form of tourism company and they do a lot of retreats, like sales retreats for sales teams. They'll often go to Vegas as an example. They organize ethical volunteering, ethical travel, voluntarism type events where people will have a luxury component to it where they'll stay in nice places, but they run their events around building a school or installing some IT infrastructure, that type of thing. Chris's book then interviewed one of the managing directors of a company that they've worked with quite a few times just to talk about their experience.
I think the key thing to both of those is starting from this position of what is it that's the most valuable to your audience? I think as we were saying just offline, that when you identify what's the most pressing questions, what is the conversation that they're having already in their minds, the thoughts that they might be wanting to answer as they move towards your products or service. The answers to those questions don't necessarily need to come from you yourself. I think we were saying that you get, quite a few times when you're talking to people in the early stages or perhaps before they're on board, people will talk about, "Well, I just need a little bit more time to dial in what I'm thinking about or what I want to write about." Those types of questions seem to come up quite often.
Betsey: Right. Definitely. We hear that a lot. They need a little coaching or they have a broad idea but need to narrow it down.
Stuart: I think sometimes it's a bit of a mix between just a confidence thing of we could talk about this for weeks and weeks, or you could just do it and get it out there and then just refine it afterwards. I think as well is so often the times, because again, this mental model of people thinking about books as writing their own content, of putting their own expertise out there, I think it's a great opportunity for people to broaden that horizon, broaden that mindset slightly. Start thinking in terms of there are questions that the customers want answering, and who is the best person to answer those? What is the best answer? As long as it's, as we said before, as long as it's complimentary non-competing, well that's just it. I guess you could have one thread could be just to look at competing stuff.
It's always interesting, coming from the UK, you don't get as much direct competitive advertising as you do over here in the US. If for example it was a laundry detergent, you would have this laundry detergent is better than the three leading competitors. You wouldn't necessarily name them. Whereas over here you tend to see a lot more of Product A is better than Product B and actually calling out Product B as being inferior. Is that my imagination, or does that happen a lot?
Betsey: It does happen a lot. As you're saying it, I can actually picture some of those laundry detergents. Product A and the Product B, C, and D are horrible. My pants are going to be as white if I use those other products. Definitely. I'm thinking we do it across the board with a lot of things.
Stuart: I was listening to another podcast a couple years ago. It might have been the Freakonomics podcast, which is a good listen if people haven't checked that out. They were saying that one of the reasons that happens ... I think they were talking about in terms of political campaigns and the direct nature of the political comments about an opposition opponent. One of the reasons they were saying that it's actively encouraged in the US is to try and keep people honest and keep people having ... I was just chuckling to myself as I'm saying that, keeping people honest. Maybe I shouldn't have used a political campaign as an example.
Betsey: Right, exactly! That's what I was thinking.
Stuart: Keep them honest in the sense that if they know that they do too much wrong, someone is going to directly call them out rather than the UK is a little bit more subtle rather than direct. Just bringing that back into books, having that as an idea, having that as a specific strategy, may well work, so you could do for whatever your business or industry is, you could quite well write something that directly looks at competitors rather than slightly more sustly or obscurely looks at one subject rather than another subject. I'm going to probably advise against being ... Like I say, you don't want to get yourself sued by being too litigious.
Another thing is as well, keep it classy San Diego. You don't really want to write something that's just calling other people out for being terrible, but if there are legitimate differences, then again, dialing it back into this question of what's the most pressing questions that your potential audience, your potential customers are going to be asking? If it is writing properly that you do a direct comparison with another product and service even by name, then that is a perfectly valid thing to do. Bringing it all back together with the couple of examples that we talked about, we were talking about Chris and Orlando using the expertise of other people in order to answer some of the questions and write a book that is valuable to their audience by using someone else's expertise, their audience, their experience.
In the same way, calling out a competitor or writing something that does a lifelike comparison with one technology versus another technology, then that's definitely just as valid a thing to do. What we're really trying to get people to think about is rather than being concerned about, as you were saying, the calls that you get in the first place. Some people aren't quite ready to get started yet. Rather than that just being, I need all of this knowledge in my head to be able to get it out there, start from a position of, here's the question, the knowledge is out there. What is it that I can ask, you can ask, to give the most value to the readers and lead them, educate them, motivate them more on a journey towards making a buying decision with you a little bit further down the track.
I think we were trying to think, just before we started the call, of some other examples of people who had leveraged this knowledge out there rather than just using their own. It was interesting that out of the 200 or so books that we've got completed now and another 50 or 60 in the pipeline, there's actually not that many people who make the most of this approach. I think in part that's because of this mental model. People are very much thinking about it needs to be my knowledge. My name needs to be on the front of here. I need to set myself up as the authority, as the thought leader.
Then if you bridge that across into a different subject, if you bridge it across into blog posts or articles or information that people share in different ways, particularly if you come down as far as social media and Facebook posts and tweets, then the majority of things, or perhaps not the majority, but a lot of things that people post and re-tweet is actually just sharing other people's stuff. A lot of the social platforms are built more on sharing.
Betsey: Right. I was just thinking about that. When you go through how often you're seeing something that someone who's maybe let's say real estate, in that industry, quoting so many other people or sharing the information they've put out, that it's becoming more and more common. It's almost like there's not a whole lot of original material on social media. You know? It tends to come from other sources, from other people.
I think in the books, that people are scared to bring it up for fear of, my focus needs to be about me and my business. You know? Sometimes, maybe there's that fear that if I mention someone else, it'll draw attention to them. We have a client actually here at 90-Minute Books going through that right now, trying to decide does she bring in some outside information? Again, she said they could be potentially competitors of hers, so she's very hesitant to do it. She's still up in the air as far as that goes.
Stuart: I think it's interesting is that people get almost more prefatory about this type of thing. I think if you stripped off the labels of label of a blog post, label of a book, label of a tweet, label of a video, I think if you stripped off the labels of what the thing is and focused just on what its job of work is, it's to share information, to educate or motivate an audience to have a particular thought process or a particular mindset. Then it strips away the should I do this, or shouldn't I do that? You're just thinking about the outcome, and does it achieve the outcome?
I mean, we do it ourselves all the time, but it's very easy to have the context influence the outcome rather than thinking about the context in, is it achieving what I'm trying to achieve and not necessarily limiting yourself because you think this is a book, therefore it should look like this, or this is a blog post so it should look like this or have these elements to it. I think it's a bit of a double-edged sword. You definitely need to have an awareness of the context of a book, the person reading it is reading it with a sense of expectations in mind.
Page is typically laid out in a certain way that makes it easy to read. For example, you'd always write it from front to back, from start to finish, never from the back of the book forwards. It seems like an obvious thing to say but that context of how people use it. Or URLs. URLs are a great example, because so often we get ... Someone will send us something saying need to include this link in the book so people can get more information, and then it's a God awful link with 56 characters after a forward slash at the end. It's the type of thing that no one's ever going to type in to the phone that they've got with them as they're reading the book, because people forget about the context. They think there needs to be a link in there, therefore this should be the link.
Context I think is a bit of a double-edged sword. If you forget about it too much, then you can run into problems because it breaks down. It's not the most useful. Equally, we can become the victim of context and think about, we wouldn't do that because that wouldn't appear in a book, or we wouldn't write it that way because other people don't. It's very easy to fall foul on it on both sides, but I think there's opportunity to think about ... Again, going back to what's the job that we're trying to do? We're trying to engage people and educate them, motivate them towards taking this outcome. What is the bets information that you can provide to someone? Whether it's your information or whether it someone else's information, again within the confines or within the scope of don't just rip someone else off and plagiarize them and don't credit them.
There's definitely something to be said for being the curator of valuable information and referring to other people whilst giving them full credit because it adds to the conversation. You're still being seen as the thought leader, because you're bringing this information together rather than having to worry too much about, this piece absolutely isn't mine, and this piece absolutely isn't mine. As long as you're adding value and, I think, answering the question that the title promises to answer, and potentially providing people with a way of getting more information, then I think that's still adding value, still providing something useful. Then the context, the wrapper of it being in a book just amplifies that. It builds on that message. It adds a little bit more credibility, authority, all of those things that the book in its context adds that the same information in a different context might not add.
I think that we veered off a little bit there, but I think that example, that first example of using other people's authority, using other people's knowledge, this complimentary non-competing business is being able to do something for organizations, where they've just not got the opportunity to do themselves. At the end of the day, if you're listening to this, you're part of a relatively small subset of business owners who are thinking of writing a book in the first place, and you're thinking about writing it in the most effective way possible, the most efficient way possible, in order to quickly get it out there in a way that's fast and cost-effective.
Being able to do that for someone else, and again, the example I was using the other day of if you're an outdoor pool manufacturer and there's another company that you're aware of who aren't even thinking about doing this, who are lawn care landscaping, chances are someone that's thinking about installing a pool outside is going to need some landscaping done at the same time, and they might have questions based on that. Answering a question that services or resolves all of those issues by using someone else's knowledge is going to be not only good for your clients but also good for their clients. There's almost certainly going to be a crossover in terms of potential customers, and you're just adding value all the way down the chain by being the facilitator, the organizer of useful information in a way that other people just can't bring together because they're not listening to this. They're not thinking about it. They're seeing a book as a big publishing deal that they would never get and need months and months of work to get into place.
Stuart: One of the very early ones that we did was a yacht brokering one. We did some work with yacht insurance agent talking about ... It was when the super yacht industry- There's all sorts of reasons why people tend to stay with incumbent insurance providers. They never think to look around. The information that they need, the requirements they've got have changed over time, so quite often, people are stuck on bad deals just as they would be with house insurance. It's just obviously super yachts just add a few zeroes to the end of it. We wrote a book with those guys talking about the yacht insurance secrets. That was perfectly in tune with the audience. We were trying to engage people who were looking at buying and selling yachts.
For them, it was something that they could never have done by themselves. It's just not something that they weren't thinking of. As we shared that book with our customers, it's potentially customers for them as well, because this particular book had, I can't think if it was five or eight, but five or eight specific steps that you can take, or things that you need to check out there when you're coming to insure for the first time, or at the point of renewal, or if there was a significant change with the vessel. All of these tips that could really make for quite a substantial financial savings on the policy. We wrote that. Again, we're not yacht insurance guys. It's not our business, but it's very complimentary to the audience that we were looking to engage.
I think for every business out there, you might have an idea of your own book in mind, but really being able to leverage other people's knowledge in a way that's advantageous to them and to you and to the readers is really a win-win for everyone and almost creates an endless supply of knowledge. As we've said in the past, dialling these books in, being fast to get out there, cost-effective to get out there, answering a lot of different questions, these can all add up into a little army of books out there looking to engage individual audiences in a way that moves the conversation forward and makes it more likely that they'll raise their hand and engage with you, because you've already added value.
Betsey: Exactly. Very good.
Stuart: I keep forgetting about that. Should use that book as an example more often. I think it was probably the first one we did onto this particular example, so I think if I can find a copy of it for the show notes as well. The show notes, if people want to check out the show notes, we've got transcripts of all of the shows as well, so just head over to 90minutebooks.com/podcast and all of the episodes are listed there, and people can get into the transcript and any links to things that we mentioned will be across there as well.
Stuart: Let's move onto the second subject. Similar to the first, this episode we're really talking about leveraging other things in order to write a book. The reason we want to write a book is not to blow smoke up our own ... I don't know what the certain metaphor is. Not to blow smoke in our faces, but to get it out there and collect more leads. The way that we want to collect more leads is by engaging people who are likely to be potential customers, by answering a question for them. As we've said before, the choices are you could either write a very broad traditional and quite a traditional book, which might be comprehensive, cover a lot of topics, but the much more efficient way of doing it for our purposes, for the purposes of identifying an invisible audience and slowly over time educating and motivating them to make a buying decision with you, is to pick a single subject and answer that single subject as deeply as possible. Be the world's best answer on a relatively narrow subject.
Again, as a reminder, the reason we suggest people do that is because it's much easier to do for start. It's easier to stay on focus. You're not likely to find yourself in a trap of six months later, still finding yourself writing an endless loop of content as you're trying to get things finished off. There's much more chance that your book will answer the question promised in the title. If the title is something relatively specific, it's much easier to answer that question comprehensively and really then add value to the reader, and then provide them a way of finding out more information and digging deeper rather than trying to write one book that covers it all. Single target. Identify the single target market. Answer the question, or write a book that answers the question on that subject that engages that single target market, single audience as comprehensively as possible. Then provide them with more information.
We've just talked about using the expertise of others to help the audience. There's also another way of writing, which because of the speed and efficiency of doing this process, of writing a book quickly, you might be able to get some additional benefits where others would still be twiddling their thumbs and thinking about it. That's to use external factors, changes in external factors, that will cause questions to be raised in your audience's minds. To answer the question, to help them raise their hand as interested, to uncover invisible leads because of these things, these external things that have changed that you can leverage by being able to do it quickly.
That was a pretty long-winded way of putting it, but some examples would be things like regulatory changes, or technical changes, or political changes, or time-based changes. Things that happen that affect your industry or loosely affect your industry that you can write about, that you know your audience, your potential customers will have questions about. Therefore you being first to market, getting in there quickly, being the first to provide some useful information means that you'll be able to uncover a lot more of those invisible leads than if you were to wait for six, 12 months down the track. Then by that point, a lot of the questions have been answered already. You just lose that opportunity of some external change, some uncertainty in the marketplace giving reason for people to search-
Betsey: Right. Looking at current events, from that standpoint, if we're talking about now, publishing that book in six months, eight months, 12 months, it's gone. You've lost your audience and your relevance really to potentially that subject matter. If you're able to grab that right away and get that out in eight weeks or so, then that's a win-win.
Stuart: Exactly. I think you hit the nail on the head in terms of that timeliness. Being the first one out there or one of the first ones out there means that whilst there's a lot of questions being asked, while there's a lot of uncertainty, then the audience swells. I always remember, it's a silly example, but Dean was using it in one of the other podcasts a few weeks ago. What was the name of that lion that got killed by the dentist? Cecil or Cedric?
Stuart: Do you remember that?
Betsey: Cecil. Cecil the lion.
Stuart: Yeah, Cecil. If you go to Google Trends, you can do a time-based search of ... You can see a graph of search over time for that particular phrase. If you do the one for Cecil the lion, obviously it's 00000. Absolutely huge spike for about a week, and then pretty much down to just a little bit above zero, because obviously before that happened, no one even knew about or cared about Cecil the lion.
Stuart: On the day that it spiked, everyone wanted to know about it. Then afterwards, a few more people were aware of it, but it wasn't really in the minds of most people. Silly example. I wouldn't necessarily suggest writing a book about that event unless you were a wildlife conservation organization and then you might be able to leverage some of that traffic. The other things are, which will be more relevant to your business, and a lot of that traffic might just be transient. It might be people who aren't genuinely interested, but even within those people, within that swell of information, swell of requests rather, there are going to be some people who are your target market and who are interested. Because it's timely, because there's an external driver, meaning that people are taking a decision now, we're doing something now, then being able to capitalize on that and be the first to market, move quickly. The process, like we've talked about, is cost-effective compared with writing a traditional book. Then it would be, not foolish, but there's definitely a missed opportunity if you're not able to peak at the same time everyone else is peaking.
Perhaps a more sensible or relevant example is, I think it's regulatory changes. In the financial world, we've got a lot of financial books out there done by financial planners of varying types. As regulation changes, that makes a big difference. If Medicare regulations change, if IRA regulations change, coming to the end of the tax year, whatever the tax guidelines changing, all of these things are very timely and there's a swell of people of your audience, your potential audience, a swell of people looking at that particular time. Now because their process that we're describing is fast and cost-effective, then you could make a plan to write four books a year answering four particular questions, knowing that over the course of a year, four regulatory-based things are going to change. Then you can write the updates to it.
People can see a lot of the covers that we've done for people at the gallery on 90-Minute Books. There's a couple in there, for example, the 2016 Guide to California Social Security. If you were in California and you were doing something about your Social Security needs or requirements in 2016, just from the title, that book is going to be very on target, very specific to the conversation that's going to be going on in your mind. Likewise next year, the 2016 book in 2017 isn't going to seem as relevant because it's out of date. It doesn't take a genius to think about the changes that might be needed to update that for the next year. Then anyone that's looking for that information in 2017 would then be immediately interested in it.
There's a couple of time-based examples, like the Olympics are just starting today. As we record this, it's the fifth of August. The opening ceremony's this evening. If you were a chiropractor or osteopath or sports medicine person or physical therapist, all of these things that will be relevant to the Olympics because there will be athletes there who are using your technique or your product or service or think about things in the same way. All of these things are going to be of the moment. People are going to be looking at it, because they'll see the athletes on TV using the service or talking about their fitness program or their restoration regime that they use. All of these things are going to make it more relevant at the moment that people are going to be looking for something rather than the rest of the year when a subset of the most motivated will be looking at it, but not as many as now. That was the second thing I wanted to get people thinking about.
We talked about leveraging other people's expertise to begin with in a way that everyone wins, and second of all, is these external factors that make a difference as well. An external factor that makes something more timely today than it would be in six months time, and because the process that we're describing is quick and cost-effective, then you've got the opportunity to leverage that and make the most of it, where someone who's not thinking in this way might miss the opportunity because they're not open to the thought of creating a book that answers a very specific question knowing that that question, there's going to be a peak in interest of that question because of one of these external factors.
Betsey: Exactly. That's great.
Stuart: What do you think about that?
Betsey: I think the Olympics was a good example. Just now, I was looking at a book in front of me about non-surgical knee pain solutions just at that moment when you were speaking about that. It made me think about how true that is, that people are going to be talking about the injuries potentially, and treatments and fitness. Now is the time it should be out in the forefront versus-
Stuart: Absolutely. There's a conversation that people are having out there, and it's how could you tune yourself in to that conversation at the right time in order to help reveal those potentially invisible prospects and help make them visible? The bell's ringing in a clock tower here, so we started at half past, and it's just gone the hour. We should wrap up in a moment. That's the other way of thinking about it as well. We talked about how you can write something specific to a particular external factor or time-based factor. How you can write something that's around that trigger.
There's also the other option of how you advertise around that trigger as well. It's certainly the case that you might have a book already written that has a relatively generic title to capture the wider audience. Stick with the Social Security guide, one before it could just be the California Social Security Guide. You may not have written the 2016 guide, but you can also advertise in a specific way. We'll have to give that in a future show. It reminds me of there were also a couple other examples that fall into that as well.
Writing something as specific as possible is great, but if you haven't done that, then advertising something as specific as possible is also a good way of leveraging something that you've already done. The knee pain guide that you were just talking about there, the non-surgical guide to knee pain relief, that's a relatively generic title from a timely point of view, but you can bet your life that someone's going to have some knee pain in the Olympics. Depending on how famous or how much headlines that gathers ... I was just going to look to see who wrote that, but my screen's just locked up.
Betsey: Brian McCain.
Stuart: Oh, Brian. Yeah! Exactly. We were talking about that with Brian and Dr. Beckner, a colleague of his, having it written at one point, but then having it advertised in other ways. You can absolutely advertise based on a particular incident in the Olympics, if it were to happen, or you could advertise to a particular group of people or in a particular area or based off another topic that happens externally. The advertising can be very specific as well. It's not just the book that has to be very specific. At the risk of-
Betsey: Right. That's a good idea.
Stuart: I think it's definitely worth doing a show specific to that in the future just to remind people. The process of writing and getting it out there is a big job, and sometimes it's easy for them to take a breath and forget about the second stage, which is getting it in front of the right eyes at the right time and tailoring an advertising campaign to be able to do that, whether it's AdWords or Facebook or printed media, or putting the books on the shelf at reception. It's dialling that in as specific as possible is also the great way of getting the most bang for your book, because again, you're being specific.
Betsey: I think that's a great topic. I think that would be very beneficial to the listeners and our authors for sure.
Stuart: We definitely get a good few questions about it. That's going to be a good one. We'll definitely do that. Can you think you of anything that we haven't covered? Otherwise I think now is a good time to wrap.
Betsey: No, I think we covered it.
Stuart: Perfect. Well, that sounds good. If anyone's got any comments, the comments are all on the podcast episode, so head across to 90minutebooks.com/podcast and comment there. We keep an eye on those comments. If you want to email us about this or any upcoming show, then just shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you, or if we can answer the question in the show, we'll do that in an upcoming show. If you want to get started on your own 90-Minute Book, if some of these ideas have sewn a thought, as we mentioned, this really is the quickest and most straightforward of getting something out there, collecting leads, then just head across to 90minutebooks.com.
Do you know we got all the way through this episode and nothing interrupted the recording, nothing happened. It was fine. Just in the last two minutes, two squirrels just came running across, and they were about to jump up on the table, and that completely disconnected me. So sorry. Wait. Let's close briefly.
If you're ready to get started on your 90-Minute Book, as we've said, it's the quickest easiest way to get it out there collecting leads, then head across to 90minutebooks.com/start and that's the start page to get started there. Check out the gallery if you want to see some of the other titles at 90minutebooks.com/gallery. The menu option's at the top or just shoot us a message to hello@90minutebooks, and if you've got any questions, we'll be happy to answer them. Before these squirrels attack me or try to grab my nuts, then I'm going to go!
Betsey: All right. Sounds good! Thanks, Stuart.
Stuart: Thanks, Betsey. Thanks, everyone. We'll catch you next time.