For generations, the small and noble business card has led the way for businesses to make a first impression. The card’s design, production values, and finishes combine to communicate things like whether a brand is established, progressive, innovative or even irreverent. A great card inspires instant credibility, not only encouraging contact but also reinforcing a relationship by becoming a keepsake.
But while a business card serves as a great introduction to a brand, it may not have the lasting power it once did. With LinkedIn, email, and virtual address books, they’re likely to be tossed aside once the information on them is captured. And more importantly, in today’s knowledge economy many business owners are finding that a card doesn’t go far enough to establish authority and expertise. The best point of entry may, in fact, be something that can tell much more of a story—a book.
With a growing number of self-publishing and e-book tools available, developing and releasing a book has never been more accessible. And if a professional writer is hired to do the heavy lifting, it doesn’t even need to take too much time away from the rest of your business demands. (One stat often cited is that half of all books today are ghostwritten). We’ve ghostwritten and designed books for several business owners and we’ve discovered that, when done well, the result is more than just a vanity piece—it can be a clear articulation of your value to anyone who reads it.
For external stakeholders, a book that engages readers in your area of expertise instantly positions you as an authority. The investment of time and thought that goes into writing a book lets potential clients know that your experience and knowledge runs deep. And meanwhile, clearly outlining your unique process and philosophy allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition. Being an author gives you the final word on your subject, or at the very least enters you into the conversation.
For internal team members, a book provides invaluable insight into the history and future of your brand. It provides them with a guide to follow and a mantra to champion. Even for the author, the book provides insight—the process of working with a ghostwriter can be an extremely effective way of exploring your motivations and putting your thoughts in order.
So how do you translate your brand values into a great story? There’s a couple of approaches that we’ve seen lead to the best success. One is to present a clearly defined, compelling perspective relevant to your market. For this, the key is to draw out a few significant case studies that showcase how your solution helped others in ways that your target readership can identify with. And the second is to share the story of a dynamic founder or CEO who has overcome odds—personally or professionally—in a way that can inspire others. The focus here is on how you do business versus the business itself—how you raised venture capital, overcame failure, and built your team.
Every business has a story. A book is your vehicle to finally tell it, but it will also do much more than that—it can lead to speaking gigs, publicity, and ultimately land you contracts. It can become an important part of building your brand and establish first contact in a way that makes a truly impressive impression. Of course, this is not to say you should do away with your business card—after all, it makes a great bookmark.