Everyone’s talking about the benefits of content marketing, but some small-business owners are achieving big results from taking it a step further and becoming published authors.
It’s not at all uncommon for entrepreneurs to have a burning desire to write a book—after all, entrepreneurs thrive on passion and they want to share it with the world. And now that digital publishing capabilities have dramatically lowered the barriers to entry, any small business can reap the benefits of consumers’ love of digital media.
Why Digital Publishing?
“Most small businesses have limited resources,” says Corey Post, Entrepreneur in Residence at The Startup Factory, a technology startup accelerator in Durham, North Carolina, and the founder of Content & Contests, a digital consulting firm. “So finding ways to break up and repurpose content can both allow them to do more with less time as well as give readers an opportunity to digest ideas using different mediums.” Post himself has written about repurposing content for the marketing company AWeber.
Content is the foundation for your online marketing campaigns, and in many cases, taking the leap into digital publishing is a natural step. There are hundreds of tools and resources that lessen the design and layout burden, and ease distribution of your publications, eliminating your publishing costs and making it simple for any small business to create a digital masterpiece.
A few of these digital publishing tools include:
- Inkling Habitat. There is no cost to use this program. but there are charges for custom implementation.
- Issuu. The program costs' range from free for a basic setup to $39 per month for the premium package. The company offers a free, 30-day trial.
- Joomag. This is a free interactive service for digital magazine publishing and hosting.
- Mag+. The design tools for this program are free; you'll get charged only when you decide to publish your app to the iTunes app store, Google Play or the Amazon Appstore.
- Woodwing. This Netherlands-based company charges approximately $227 per month for its creation tools and right around $487 per month for Adobe DPS (prices are listed on the site in euros). The prices exclude set-up costs.
Launching a digital publication helps many small-business owners establish themselves as thought leaders and generates exposure for their company. Once the brand becomes a recognizable authority in their industry, they often find it’s much easier to convert leads to paying customers.
That was the case for Donald Mazzella, COO and editorial director for Information Strategies Inc. Mazzella says his company launched Small Business Digest as a free publication to help heighten awareness of the company's brand by offering advice, guidance and tips to small-business leaders. The ideal reader of the publication is part of a company with 50 or fewer employees—72,000 opt-in subscribers is convincing evidence that it’s working. Mazzella reports that the company has successfully used this method to market Information Strategies’ services.
Even companies with long-standing brand recognition are breathing new life into their marketing initiatives through digital publishing. For instance, Lionel Trains, a 113-year-old model train company, recently launched its own digital publishing venture, Lionel Tracks. According to a press release issued by the company, “The new content hub tags information, photos and videos into categories including Culture, History, Hobbyist, Locomotives and Tech to appeal to train enthusiasts of all ages.”
Tony Bordon, head of digital media at Lionel Trains, is behind this new effort; the project was developed by RED Interactive. An early digital publishing success story, Lionel Tracks received 5,000 visits on the first day. The press release also notes, “In addition to offering fans of Lionel another way to engage with the brand, the Lionel Tracks content hub speaks to a larger marketing trend wherein brands are seeking further ways to expand their audience through multichannel storytelling.”
A digital publishing initiative doesn’t have to entail a massive development budget and a social network completely geared to your audience. While that’s an achievable dream if it’s your primary goal, most small businesses don’t have the budget for such a significant ancillary marketing tactic.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t implement a digital magazine that caters to the distinct interests of your target audience. You could also write a book and publish it on Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press. You might even create a book by repurposing the content you’ve already produced for other marketing channels.
If you're not comfortable attempting this on your own, you could always collaborate with niche writers and journalists, or even other industry leaders who also want to get some recognition for their expertise.
Whether it’s been your lifelong dream to become a published author or you simply want to enhance your company brand, these days there are few obstacles preventing you from reaching your goal.
Angela Stringfellow is a freelance writer, social media strategist and complete content marketing junkie obsessed with all things Web, the written word and marketing.
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