How to Write an E-Book That Generates Leads

I was speaking to a client the other day who joked, “E-books are the new white papers.” He was kidding, of course. He knows all too well there are significant differences between e-books and white papers, and even e-books and free reports. That being said, there’s no ignoring e-books. They are all the rage these days, especially in lead-generation where they are working particularly well. So how do you write one of these things? The first step is to come up with a topic. People read e-books offered by companies because they want a quick education on something specific. They want to learn how to solve a problem, complete a task, make the right decision, deal with a difficult situation, improve sales performance, reduce costs, and so forth. And your topic needs to reflect that expectation. When I’m working with a client on an e-book, the first question I ask is, “What’s the most pressing problem your prospects have that your product or service can solve – or at least make better?” That typically leads to some focused brainstorming and then, finally, a topic. Your best topic – if you’re fortunate enough to come up with several – is one that involves a problem, need, goal or want that is a high priority for your prospects. You want the e-book to be content a prospect will eagerly fill out a landing page form to get his hands on. For example, a complaint I hear from clients who write their own marketing copy is that the process is slow and painful. As one client put it, “It’s like a visit...