Can the average local business owner really become the obvious choice for prospects without already being a well-known expert? Our guest today says, “YES!”

Donna Gunter is the CEO of the consulting firm, BizSmart Media. She’s also the host of Main Street Mavericks Radio and has contributed to a number of publications on the topics of authority marketing and personal branding, and she’s here to share her secrets with you today.

Episode highlights:

  • 0:43 – Writing a Books
  • 8:04 – The Path
  • 9:09 – The Job Started
  • 12:59 – Building a book
  • 19:21 – Media Darling

Learn more about this guest:

Podcast Episode Transcripts:

Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.

Joining us from Texas. Donna Gunter is an Amazon number one bestselling author that helps entrepreneurs and professionals leverage their knowledge and expertise to improve industry credibility and increase business. Thanks for jumping on Donna. Sure. I’m happy to be here. This is I’m going to, I’m looking forward to this conversation because this is an area that I’ve kind of been experimenting with myself  

I’ve been in business for 12 years, but I’m taking on more of the, you know, the leadership role lately and social proof. So I think you’re going to have a lot of good stuff that I’m going to pick up on as well. So it sounds like you’re big on encouraging business owners to write a book about their area of expertise.  

Is that kind of where you start with the people you work with is, is heading down a path of a book. Yeah, especially in the local business arena, people who’ve got brick and mortar businesses and they’re geographically limited. You know, they just serve their local area, their town, their city. It’s a novel concept for them to think about themselves being a book author.  

It’s not something that, you know, you started an insurance agency, you become a dentist, you become a chiropractor and you set out to do, but as. Everyone has grown wary of internet marketing include those industry. But I think the people on the, on the other end, you know, they’re tired of. Being bombarded with Facebook ads or YouTube ads or Instagram posts.  

And I’m seeing marketing turn. So that they’re generally marketing going back to the things that were all the rage 20 years ago. And that’s things that you can hold in your hand, you know, those direct mail pieces or junk mail as I lovingly refer to it as when you open up an envelope and you know, 15 pages fall out, that’s a 15 page sales letter.  

A book serves kind of the same purpose, um, in that it can help you market your business in a very tangible way. It sets you up immediately as being the expert because the authority and the sealed, because Hey, you know, you wrote the book on whatever the subject matter is. Nobody else, none of your other competitors will have that if you’re in a town of 50,000 and you’re one of 20 dentists, I can guarantee you that your 19 competitors don’t have a book.  

But they can showcase, you know, on teeth whitening or dentures or, you know, whatever your specialty is. So it’s a, it’s a really great way to set yourself apart and above anybody else in the business. And they’re still a little bit of all inspiration being a little star struck by an author. Um, not everybody can publish a book and you know, most of us are many people.  

Well, I think don’t know that self publishing has become so much easier. And the quality of the books produced in that process have become pretty much on par with a book that say Simon and Schuster are McMillan house, or, you know, any of the big publishing companies would. Publish. And so you can have that same amount of on inspiration as you know, Janet Evanovich or, um, David Bach, you know, and he is a big name fiction authors by giving a book out.  

To your prospects, to your current clients, your vendors, et cetera, and attract that a little bit of star struck newness that you’ve got the, the really one cool feature of a book that does not exist with any other piece of marketing material. That I’m aware of is that people don’t throw your book away.  

So, you know, you go to a networking event, you know, you come out with 15 business cards. Well, if you’re good, you know, and put those into your CRM system and you may follow up with them and you may have collected five brochures and two flyers at some event. And once you look at them, you typically toss them in the trash.  

But I think we’ve been schooled by society, by our parents, by teachers not to throw books away, books are a value. So they may not the person who gets your book may not need it, but, and it sits on a desktop. It sits in a bookshelf or they’ll pass along to somebody who needs it. They won’t actually throw it in the trash.  

Now I do make an exception. My husband is weird. He throws the books away mush, and I go fish them out of the trash, much as his sugar. And, you know, I passed them along to like the local library book sale or to Goodwill or something. Cause I cannot stand throwing a book away. But other than my husband, I don’t think anybody else is weird like that  

They’ll hang on to that book. So it’s going old school, you know, it’s, it’s one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book, you know, to have a book like this. So it’s kind of going back to some old school method to get you the visibility, the notoriety, the, the reach that you want. In a very unusual way in your local market.  

You know, you look at Oprah’s, you look at, um, you know, the big name celebrities who are coming out with their books while you can join them to some degree and be famous, you know, in your 20 mile radius area with your book, you know, it’s interesting. Um, I think it makes a lot of sense when people think about.  

Being a book author that you’re going for the broad reach and for national awareness. So it’s really interesting that your focus is on local, which actually makes a lot of sense. And I just don’t think it’s, um, what everybody initially thinks, but it’s, it sounds really smart because like you said, there’s the 19 other dentists.  

If you’re within 20 of them, Don’t have a book. So it just really accelerates you above your competition in a really easy way. That’s true. Damon. I know. And unlike those people who are going for that national international reach, they’re trying to sell lots of books. They’re trying to get on the New York bestseller, New York times, best sellers list or the USA today, the thoughtless local Joe Smith chiropractor.  

Doesn’t care about that because he’s actually not worried about selling books. If he’s smart, you’re not worried about selling books at all. I actually tell my clients that they make the most money by not selling a single solitary copy of their book. What they do need to do is make sure that it gets into as many hands as possible.  

And they need to really fully integrate the book into their current marketing activities to make that book work for them, as opposed to it being something that kind of it’s true. It’s by itself. And you think, Oh, this is something else I have to Mark it along with, you know, X, Y, Z product XYZ services that I normally.  

So, so if you’re a local business owner and you’re doing television advertising, radio advertising, have your face on the sides of buses or park benches, you’re taking out newspaper ads, advertisements have a call to action for people to pick up a copy of it book. Now you may want to give away a physical copy, which is great.  

We also create electronic copies, which are much more financially feasible. You know, if you’re, you don’t want to try to avoid yourself by giving away two or 3000 copies of your book up front. That might be a little financially devastating, but okay. Well financially overwhelming, but if you’re integrating that book into your advertising, You know, you don’t really know the ROI you get.  

If you take out a billboard ad, you know, she’s got smiley faces up there. So you’re a dentist and you’re selling teeth whitening. Well, people aren’t typically when you, if you do a good job, when they come in the office and ask, well, how did you hear about us? They’re probably not going to say, Oh, well, I saw you on the billboard on  as I was driving.  

To the grocery store. You’re not going to get that kind of response from them. But if the billboard says, get my book on teeth, whitening, go to this website or text this, text this number, and we’ll send you a free copy, maybe that physical or electronic. Um, and they get that book and they read it or at least look at it enough to figure out that you’re the expert that they want to hire to do their teeth whitening.  

Then you aren’t going to get that ROI that you’re craving as a business owner. Um, from your marketing efforts and will say, Oh, well, I picked up copy of your book, or I sent for a copy of your book. And I read, you know, in chapter session such that really stuck to me. And that’s why I’m here. And that’s what every business owner wants.  

They want to know that their marketing dollars are bringing feet in the door. They’re bringing bodies in the door, so to speak. Um, to buy their products and services, right? So you’ve mentioned a couple of types of local business owners. Is there an ideal industry? It sounds like you can apply this concept to a variety of industries.  

Are there some that are better or worse to go down this path? I think generally if you’re in a service field, like being a dentist, some type of doctor, um, some type of alternative medical person, a chiropractor, an accountant, an insurance agent. Uh, if, if you’re using, uh, business cards or flyers or brochures or your advertising and local media, as ways to attract people in the door, those are ideal.  

Um, people to create your own ideal business owners to write their own book. Now, boutiques and restaurants. I seen it happen on occasion. I don’t personally have any clients in either of those fields. I think that would be a much harder sell. Um, you know, I could see a restaurant owner, perhaps if they had like some type of restaurant owner training program that they developed some point down the road that being of value to them, or maybe even doing a book of their recipes, that they offer it as a fundraiser.  

But generally you need to be in a services industry for this to really work for you. So where do you start when you start working with a business owner, do you start by helping them pick a topic? Absolutely the, of, in a book that I help my clients write is a little different from the mainstream. It’s our short book.  

It’s a one problem. One solution book that’s 50 to 70 pages in length. And there’s a couple of reasons that I like to keep it short. One you’re only gonna, you’re not gonna write the world’s guides, everything because one nobody’s gonna read it. And two that typically takes a really long time to put together an edit and et cetera.  

That’s why people often have a start two to three years in advance of a drop date for a book. You know, if they’re dealing with a professional publisher, because they’re writing that, that guide to everything, that’s going to be 200, 250 pages in length. And as I kind of in before, people will have time to read that stuff.  

I’ve got books on my business, bookshelf that have sat there for the most part unread, except for that one or two chapters that answered the questions that I needed answered about a particular problem that I was dealing with at a point in time. And I didn’t return to read the rest of it. So when you create a shorter book, that’s only on one particular topic, you increase the likelihood that people will actually read through that because it’s designed to be read in one sitting.  

So say you’re on the morning commute on the train or the subway. You’re sitting out in the parking lot, waiting for a kid to get out of school. You’re at a ballet class waiting for your daughter. You know, it’s come from her, her ballet recital. It’s something that’s about the size of a large, your tablets or larger smartphones smartphone, I guess I should say our tablet.  

You can pull it up and buzz through in about 30 minutes. And so along those lines, when I start to work with my clients, I ask them to tell me about the most profitable products or services that they sell, or the ones that they enjoy delivering the most. Sometimes those two necessarily don’t meet. And then we talk about problems that they, that their customers have, um, that would cause them to visit this particular business owner, you know, to solve that issue.  

Um, once I have that information, then I craft a series of questions that I provide to the business owner, the business owner, uh, create some talking points about each of those issues. And then we get on the telephone and conduct a 45 to 60 minute interview. And so most of the work is taken away from the business owner.  

So it’s not, again, not something else that he has to figure out how to integrate, like you would, if you’re writing his own book. Um, Once I’ve got the interview complete, I’ll have it transcribed and then work doing a lot of copy editing on the transcript to put that into a book manuscripts. Uh, I check a little bit with the business owner around covers and have them eyeball the.  

Finished product before we have approved printed, then half his, his, uh, approval of the proof. And so in as little as 60 days, the business owner could have a finished one problem, one solution book in their hands with only about a three to four hour investment of their time. You know, I’ll tell you that I have experience with.  

Doing a similar process. So I sat on the idea of writing a book about SEO for years. And I finally said, I need a, you don’t need to do something about this, or just stop thinking about it. And so I hired somebody to that. I could basically puke all my ideas on and they could, you know, formalize it and it was the best thing ever.  

And it was the same thing that you just described where you go through the process of saying, you know, here’s. Here’s what I’m an expert on. Here’s the areas I can focus on. And she took it offline and got it all organized, came back and said, all right, here’s, here’s what we’re going to do with this. And it took years of procrastination.  

And within just a week or two, I had a streamlined process that I was going to follow up to build out this book. Yeah, absolutely. Um, it sounds like he, might’ve had a little bit more ghostwriting than what’s involved in the process I’d do with clients. I’m basically taking the language they use in their interview and just doing copy, editing on that and massaging that into chapters that I’ve already predesigned based on the interviews that I’ve done and the questions I’ve designed.  

But, yeah, so essentially it’s, it’s the same process of speaking their book. You know, most people hate writing, you know, unfortunately I’m not one of those, I’ve always loved writing, but I have realized in my adult years that I’m in the minority, uh, I don’t like videos. I’m odd in that respect too. You, everybody loves videos.  

That Donna and everybody hates writing except Donna, but I can use that to my advantage. Yeah. So business owners have to talk about their business all the time, whether they’re training the employees, they’re talking to prospects, they’re talking to customers, they’re talking to vendors and that’s something really easy for them to do because they are forced to do that all the time and all the roles, all the hats that they wear as a business owner.  

And so then just being prompted with certain questions that they have to answer things that they’ve probably talked about a bazillion times before, but doing it in a very organized way makes the process almost effortless for them. Right. Okay. So, so now we have the book written, walk us through the publishing and the marketing process what’s after, after you have your book all wrapped up.  

Well, once you have it wrapped up, then I work with Anne and we have it published. And we typically do that through Amazon’s Kindle direct publishing platform because they offer really high quality, really great printing at a really reasonable price. And the business owner can publish what are called author copies.  

So instead of looking at your books, that’s for sale on Amazon, say for 1399. You can actually go in the back door through the self publishing process and buy copies of your book for the wholesale cost. Pretty much wholesale from Amazon for about two bucks a book. Okay. And so that makes it then a much more reasonable marketing tool for you to use, to be able to give out because it’s comparable to what you might pay for say some personalized marketing items like pens or mouse pads, or no pads or something like that, that people give out at trade show.  

So you can give out your book and probably get a lot more return on your investment than you would from giving out mass mousepads and water bottles, or what have you. So you’ve got your book in hand, you you’ve ordered a, a stack of them to start to use in your marketing. Then I work with the business owner on how to integrate that book.  

And we, we typically already talked about this previously, but then we really get into detail about how to integrate that book into their current marketing activities. And so that, you know, that varies from business owner to business owner, depending upon whether or not they’re doing any kind of paid advertising.  

Whether or not, they do any type of email marketing, whether they do any type of video marketing. So we just try to take whatever they’re currently doing and integrate the call to action, to get the book into their current marketing strategies. But then there are other things that they can do with the book.  

As well, they can do things like mail out the book to their current clients or customers, to prospects, to vendors, to colleagues, business associates, networking partners, et cetera, with a little introductory letter saying, Hey, you know, it’s one less, you know, I’ve got this new book available. I’d appreciate it.  

If you pass this along to people. Yeah, especially if you’re sending it out to, to colleagues or vendors, to people who might, I need this, it serves as a wake up call for prospects. You know, they may not be rushing to your door to buy your product or service right away, but I guarantee you they’ll hang on to it.  

And you’ll be top of mind when they get to that point of wanting to buy your product or service. I also tell my customers, my clients, that they need to have a call to action within the book. Because that helps them build an email list. And if they don’t have, they don’t currently engage in email marketing.  

We have a whole long conversation about why they aren’t doing that because that’s so effective. But unlike the social media platforms, Instagram, Facebook, or even YouTube for that matter, any of that can go away and or changed substantially at any point in time. And so, you know, they’re nice little Instagram following where they may have 500,000 followers can just can disappear tomorrow, you know, at the drop of a hat and you know, any number of technical issues can happen.  

But if you’ve got a customer list or an email marketing list, that’s the gold in your business. That’s not something that anybody can take away from you. And so to continue to yeah. Build that list or to create it, if you’re not novice email marketing, have a call to action in your book of something that you’re giving away.  

It could be a video. It could be a worksheet. It could be a checklist. It’s something that enhances the content of your book that makes a person want to take the next step, or is just a naturally progressing next step that somebody might take after they read the content of your book and then have a landing page created on your website.  

Use an email marketing program, you know, where you collect the name and the email address, and then start marketing to those people. Start following up with those people with a auto responder system that you set up and then potentially with your regular broadcast, assuming that you’re emailing your list at least on a weekly basis, you know, at worst on a monthly basis so that they stay top of mind that you stay top of mind to them.  

Um, but she, that doesn’t happen unless you have that call to action in your book. And that’s a big mistake that a lot of people make is not having that call to action, because they haven’t seen that in the book. If you get a contract with penguin house or Simon and Schuster, they’re not gonna let you put that in your book.  

I mean, you’re lucky to get half page bio in a traditionally published book, but when you self publish and have this book and use it as a lead generation book, I mean, you basically do whatever you want to do with it. Now don’t encourage you to put 15 pages of ads in there. That’s not going to be a very effective for you, but you know, a one page call to action in the front and the back of the book for something that your target market would say, Oh yeah, that makes sense.  

I need that piece of information next and would make them excited to get that there’s something else. I was going to say that. Go for it. I was going to say that, uh, one of the things that people can do is become a media darling. And if you live in a smaller market, like I do, um, it’s fairly easy to get on the local news or the program that, that precedes the local news or local radio.  

It’s not really competitive. I know it’s more competitive in the Houston, the Dallas. San Francisco, the LA areas, but it’s not as competitive around here, but if they don’t know about you, they don’t know to call up on you. If they’re doing a segment on how to prevent summer skin rashes and your children and your dermatologist, or, you know, what’s new with braces and you know how to have a straighten your children’s teeth, you know, inexpensively.  

If you offer in the line, for example, so you send a copy of your book to the media, you know, all forms of media magazines, television, radio, newspapers, et cetera, was an introductory letter. And just like your colleagues, just like your clients, just like your prospects, they’re going to hang on to that book one, you become then the expert, because you’ve written a book about the subject and two, they’re going to hang on to the resource.  

And refer to it when they get to that point in time, where they’re doing a story on a topic that you can provide them some feedback on and are coming to the studio or get on the phone with them and talk about to help them get their story out and published. There’s a couple of things that you said that, that really stand out that I.  

I want our listeners to take advantage of that. So when you said that, I think it’s important for people to understand that your main objective in writing a book, at least in the context of this conversation, as you said, is to not sell copies. You, you want to use this as a tool to leverage your credibility and your authority and.  

I, I, I was going to ask you the cost per printing, but you already can answer that. Or you can print it for a couple bucks with Amazon, which is amazing because if you go and you print a book for two to five bucks, if you think about it, most businesses they’re, they’re wanting their car per lead to be below 50 bucks as a general example.  

Right? So if you can give away a book for two to five bucks, cause that’s 10 times cheaper. Then your goal. So that’s really cool. It’s 10 times more effective. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And then exactly, because even if you let’s say you do Facebook advertising and you get a lead for 50 bucks, you have to call that person.  

You have to follow up with that person where as a book, once they have it in their hand, usually they’re the one that is going to go. The other route is going to be on them. It’s going to reach out to you. So not only is it financially backed up, it’s going to be a little bit of a time saver as well. Yeah.  

And the cool thing about using a print on demand platform like Amazon is the fact that it’s print on demand long a long ago, when you self published a book, unless I’d love to go, I’m talking about 15 years ago, you had to order 500,000, 2000 copies of the book, which sat in your garage until you could get rid of them.  

You know, at some activity, some event giving them away, et cetera. Well, because Amazon has really pioneered the print on demand. You can order one copy at a time, 10 copies, 20 copies three. Well, you can’t order 3000. You’re limited to a thousand per order. But needless to say that no longer do you have to have boxes and boxes of books sitting in your garage or attic or your, your hallway closet.  

You can order them as you need them, which is even more, even more financially feasible as a marketing tool for somebody. Yeah. And the, and the other thing that you mentioned that stood out was when comparing self publishing versus traditional publishing, and I’ve experienced this myself as I shopped around my options between those two, one thing that I was really surprised about that you already highlighted is that the publishers wouldn’t really take advantage, allow you to take advantage.  

Um, For you to use the book as leverage as you saw fit. So for example, for me, I wanted to give away a free chapter or free download. And that book is kind of theirs and they don’t want that happening because it’s going to take away from the profits. So self publishing is really cool and the effect that as, as we’ve already highlighted, you can use it as a lead generation tool and do whatever you want with it.  

And most importantly, you hang onto your intellectual, no property. I’ve had clients who have gotten traditional publishing contracts. They’ve written a book for a publisher and they integrated, you know, what they’ve been doing for years in terms of consulting or training. And they integrated that information in the book and suddenly they no longer have the copyright to that, and they have to petition to be able to use it.  

The information they’ve been using forever. You know, to continue their consulting or training business, which I find just incredible sensitive, but it’s the reality traditional publishing. You know, if that happens to be your case, you know, where you’re in the more. Consultative education market. Um, you don’t lose your intellectual property rights because everything remains with you.  

It does, uh, it doesn’t, uh, you know, foresight that to a publisher, right? It sounds, sounds like a record deal where you sell your soul. Yes, exactly. Well, Donna, um, I want to give you an opportunity to put out your contact information or, um, you know, give out any, any sort of information you would give to our listeners today.  

And so they can follow up with you if they’re interested. Okay. Well, sure I have to walk my talk. And so in the same way, and that I tell my customers and my clients that they need to give away as many copies of their books as possible. I’m going to do that for your listeners. So if they’d like to download.  

A free copy of my newest book, and this will be a digital copy. The book’s name is make them choose you. Local business owners can double their business, get customers consistently and have more free time without being held hostage by expensive marketers. They can go to, standing for your learning from others.  

So that, and they can get a free copy of my newest book. Very cool. I appreciate that. Uh, Donna, last thing we surprise our guests with a random question generator. So let me push your back random question generator. Yours is yours is an easy one. What are you most thankful for this year?  

I am most thankful that, uh, I’ve got a great husband. Who’s incredibly supportive and, uh, supports my wild hair ideas, like writing books about business and letting me letting me do that to help others build their businesses. That is called. You need to work on his habit of, uh, throwing the miscellaneous copies garbage.  

Yes. Right? Yeah. I hide my books for him, so they don’t end up in the trash. Yeah. Well, Donna, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you very much. I’ve enjoyed being here. 

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Can the average local business owner become the obvious choice for prospects without already being a well-known expert? Our guest today says, “YES!”

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