Online Booklet Results

By: Paulette Ensign

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 the 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 the booklet as a marketing tool to
breathe some new life -- any life -- into my speaking and consulting
business. Not only did that happen, but the process spurred an entire new
business along the 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 the magical turning point: I went online, signing up with
CompuServe, solely for the 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 the forums, reading the 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 the first sale of the 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 the Italian
version says, although my former hairdresser said it's a great translation.
What I do know is that the 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 the 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 the same way I networked offline. To get online seminar
and conference bookings, I developed a presence and relationships with the
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.

I posted questions seeking suggestions to all kinds of additional
opportunities. 'Does anyone know who, how, where...?' That brought many new
connections, one after the other. In some cases, it also brought new ideas
I hadn't considered. Asking for information or suggestions is one of the
best-accepted forms of marketing yourself online. It's a more benign way of
publicizing yourself that a blantant sales approach.

Reading the postings in the forums, newsgroups, listservs, discussion
boards, and anywhere else is like mining for gold. Responding to other
people's posts allows for a soft sell of your own products and services
while being helpful and providing solutions to their concerns. I often
gently make reference to my publications or services. You'd be amazed how
often that generates at least an inquiry, if not a direct sale. It might
seem to take a little longer. It is a very effective way to go much
further, though. Referrals come when and from where you least expect them,
I have noticed.

Online newsletters are like hard-copy newsletters. The two differences I am
finding are that online newsletters appear more willing to accept articles
and that the decision-making process on acceptance seems faster. The online
newsletters often have a larger subscriber base than many hard copy
newsletters. For me, this has also been like trying to eat only one potato
chip. The emergence of online newsletters is huge. Finding one generally
leads to more.

I view my technological capability. savvy, understanding, and certainly
equipment at the lower end of the scale. In spite of this, my results have

> Direct sales of my booklet, audio tape, and manuals (about 150,000
booklets solely through online efforts)

> Translations into two languages.

> Speaking engagements around the country and the world

> Consulting clients, served by phone, fax, and online

> Interviews in other media (in print, online, radio and television)

> Saving time and money in communications (greatly satisfying that instant
gratification urge)

> Writing assignments (small, medium and large assignments)

> Reseller relationships to distribute my products throughout the world
Consider this: I have never taken a business course. (I used to be a music
teacher.) I did the copy and original design on a primitive computer with
no hard drive (it's amazing what you can do with floppy disks). Every day
brings new possibilities and opportunities to this booklet journey. I have
had a web site for a few years now, and, like every web siteArticle Submission, it is forever
evolving. The latest addition has been an e-booklet catalog which sells
other people's booklets as digitally as fully automated downloads.

I can hardly imagine what results will show up next!

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