In this episode of Online Marketing & Communication podcast (176), I talk through some of our thinking, approach and implementation of the Essential Guide to Marketing a School Online ebook we recently put out.
Although businesses regularly release ebooks, I think it’s very rare that you get an insight into the whole writing and marketing process. Businesses typically just put the ebook out there and focus on promoting it. Of course, I get this.
With the Moondog podcast, however, I try to give you transferable skills that you can takeaway and implement for your business. Hence this episode and post.
I wrote the ebook over a couple of weeks whilst down in France this summer. I tried to give myself a couple of hours each day and wrote in rapid bursts, following a structure that I’d set out beforehand.
The content planning followed the kind of marketing strategies that we’ve implemented with school marketing projects, but I also allowed room to include things that you don’t always get to implement with a client. To put it another way, I sat back and thought of the idea way a school marketing campaign would work. It’s always a question of resources and implementation.
I wrote the ebook in Scrivener, which is a useful writing tool as it allows you to work with outlines and write each chapter or section separately.
I’ve used Scrivener a lot in the past but most of my writing is done in Ulysses or Google Docs these days. I prefer Ulysses if I need a clean writing environment; I use Google Docs for shorter, single pieces (like the draft of this blog post) and if I need to share the doc with another Moondog or customer.
The benefit of Scrivener for writing the ebook was that it enabled me to move sections around. I could get a very quick overview of the content and, as I read through and worked with structure, I found better ways to organise the information.
It was only when I came to export the doc to share with Jenn, who copy-edited and worked with me on refining the content (she’s one of the best writers I’ve ever worked with), that I realised the limitations of Scrivener. It works well when exporting to PDF but the export to RTF and then importing into Docs was a nightmare. I literally had to go through and reformat the whole thing. Now this might be because I’m not a super experienced user of Scrivener anymore; but it really slowed the whole process down. I lost a good morning to formatting.
In Docs, Jenn was able to provide feedback and copy and pretty quickly we had a finished book.
We wanted to get the ebook out in time for the new school term – after all, it gives a really clear insight into how a school would go about marketing itself online. Trouble was, we were so busy with a couple of project launches that we ran out of design time for Juanjo to put things together. He was off on his annual two week holiday.
Jenn and I discussed the merits (and risks) involved of putting out the ebook entirely designed by ourselves, but decided we would do this as we felt that the content was more important than the design itself.
I think spent a good few days messing around with Pages, Keynote, Powerpoint and anything else I could get my hands on to format the book. In the end I settled on iBooks and that was fine. Until I exported!
iBooks was nice to lay things out in and the design options were really easy to use; but when I’d finished I realised you couldn’t delete the Table of Contents. In the end, I did this with a PDF editor but wasn’t happy.
So I ended up redoing it in Powerpoint.
Yet again, more time wasted.
Landing pages for promoting an ebook
Once we’d agreed on the design, edited the typos and were ready to go, we built a landing page to promote the ebook using Unbounce. This is one of our favourite tools for clients and Moondog. It enables you to build excellent squeeze pages for promotional campaigns. It also plugs and plays nicely with ActiveCampaign, our CRM and marketing automation tool.
It would have been better to have Juanjo available to code a custom template but Jenn and I were pretty happy with what we managed to put together for both the desktop and mobile version. Unbounce is a good solution for companies looking to bootstrap their marketing; however, you’re always going to benefit from using a professional designer. This experience reminded me personally of this.
As a caveat to Unbounce, I would have liked to have used LeadPages, as there was a template that I thought might work better but unfortunately it didn’t allow the same level of customisation. LeadPages is a good product that is maturing, but it just didn’t work for this campaign. Nevertheless, we do use it. The newsletter sign-up we use for the Friday Moon Mail is built with LeadPages.
The point to takeaway here, though, is not knowing the strengths and weaknesses of a platform can really slow you don. Again, there was more time lost piddling about.
Finally, after testing, writing the copy for the promotional campaigns, finding lists of key influencers on BuzzSumo, writing adverts for LinkedIn we were ready to go and put the ebook down the pipes.
Trying to overdeliver our How to Guide to Marketing for Schools
The one thing we did that I felt was a really good move was to record an audio version of the ebook.
As you’ll gather, I’m happy podcasting and have a pretty good recording set-up. So I spent a Friday morning recording the book. It turned out at just over one hour long, but given that our target audience were educational managers, who are extremely busy, it felt that giving them something to put on their smart phone and listen to in the gym, walking the dog or commuting was a good move.
As marketers, we need to be aware that leads and prospects use different kinds of content. I always prefer audio as I’m on the go continually, and I figured our buyer personas would be in a similar situation.
All this and more
So to get a thorough overview of the process and some of our deeper strategic thinking, please do check out the podcast.
I hope this inspires you to try and ebook campaign for your business. It takes longer than you’d think and, there are always going to be mistakes. We saw immediately that the professionally designed version we put out once Juanjo got back was way more pleasing. But the feedback from initial subscribers was very positive so I wouldn’t let design hold us back in future. Nevertheless, a well-designed ebook is always going to sit more easily with me.