Selling over 500,000 copies of an informational tips booklet, '110 Ideas for Organizing Your Business Life,' and earning a quarter of a million dollars in process is not at all where I thought I would end up when I started writing a tips booklet in 1991. Putting it bluntly, I was broke. I was desperate. I was trying to use booklet as a marketing tool to breathe some new life -- any life -- into my speaking and consulting business. Not only did that happen, but process spurred an entire new business along way. And I did it without spending a penny on advertising. Or PR people. And, '110 Ideas' is now in three languages, other booklet and guide formats, and an audio tape program.
August 1994 was magical turning point: I went online, signing up with CompuServe, solely for purpose of marketing my business. Little did I know what doors I was opening. I was like a kid in a candy store, roaming around forums, reading postings, and chatting with people online. I saw opportunities to market everywhere I looked.
The third day online, I exchanged email with a man in Milan, Italy, who has a marketing company. I read his post in a forum. I asked who his client base was. When he said small business and vendors to small business, I told him I had something he might find useful. I asked his permission to send him a sample of my tips booklet. Eighteen months later, he wired me several thousand dollars for royalties on first sale of Italian version of my booklet. We had struck a deal for him to translate, edit, produce, and market my booklet contents in Italy. The first sale was 105,000 copies to a magazine. To this day, we have communicated solely by email, fax, earth mail, and electronic funds transfer. I have no idea what Italian version says, although my former hairdresser said it's a great translation. What I do know is that deal was a good one.
I am currently talking with others to translate my publication into other languages,again from connections made online, connections I doubt would have happened any other way. Those connections happened by others seeing posts I placed, and by my responding to things I saw posted. Another language happened after Italian version. It is now also in Spanish...all from online contacts.
The results I've had come from my using a buffet of basic online formats:
Email * Submit articles and queries to online and hardcopy publications * Send promotional information to media and prospects * Answer questions from prospects and clients * Process orders directly
Seminars * In real time * Post in forums * Participate in others' seminars
Listservs and Discussion Boards * My own discussion board * Initiate postings * Responses
Web site * My own web site * Linked to others * Articles posted to other people's sites
Online newsletters * Write an article * Be written about
This happened much same way I networked offline. To get online seminar and conference bookings, I developed a presence and relationships with decision makers of those areas. They are always looking for interesting programming for their audience. My story about writing and marketing booklets for cash has been an interesting one for audiences in several online forums.