How Writing a Book is an Effective Marketing Tool – Andrew Griffiths
Updated on February 8th, 2013
“You have to meet Andrew Griffiths!”
It turns out Andrew Griffiths is Australia’s best selling business author, from Cairns and quite a character!
Andrew Griffiths is a small business author, professional presenter and advisor. Here is his interview on how writing a book is an effective marketing strategy.
How did you end up writing a book?
For me it was interesting. I’m not one of those people who started out wanting to be a writer. I know a lot of people that’s their dream in life.
My route was a little bit different. I had a small business marketing firm basically at this stage and I found a lot of my clients had similar kinds of issues. They’d come in, they needed advice and they didn’t normally have any money and they couldn’t afford a consultant to give them advice to steer them through whatever challenges they were facing. Over a period of time I developed a whole pile of fact sheets so people could ring me and say:
“Hey Andrew I’m having trouble marketing my business or I need more clients or I need to make a brochure, or I need to do a website”, or whatever it may be.
I can could just fax them (back in the days when we used to fax) I could just fax them through the information sheets. And I found that one day I had about fifty of these fact sheets up on the wall actually in this kind of display case. And if I thought, Ah well maybe I could write another fifty and then I’d have one hundred and if I put them all together in one little space, maybe I could have a book “101 Ways to Market Your Business.”
And I really liked the idea. I spoke to a few friends in the marketing game and they said:
“It’s a ridiculous idea, so don’t do it.”
And of course I did it.
I was a little bit lucky too because right at the time when I had put that together, there was a lack of Australian business writers, and particularly in the small business space. There were a lot of American writers, a lot of English writers who had great stuff but the Australian business market wanted Australians to be telling them how to run a business or to be giving them advice.
So my first book came out with Allen & Unwin and I was still amazed that I actually got a book published. And it was really successful and they said:
“Have you got another one? Do you want to write about something else?”
So I literally worked my way through marketing, sales, customer service, advertising, general business advice in the ‘101 Series’. Now it’s sold in fifty countries around the world. Translated into everything from Indian to Chinese, Nigerian, Russian, you know bizarre…well bizarre for me! But it also shows that small business around the world have the same issues and challenges, it doesn’t matter where they are. They’re still struggling on how to market or how to use the online world or whatever it might be.
How important is it for businesses to be writing content?
It depends on the business, of course, but I think that these days people want information, that to me is the real commodity out there these days and we often undervalue our own information, and what we know: our expertise. And businesses should be producing as much information as they can but they shouldn’t necessarily be giving it away.
We’re entering a period where there are opportunities for businesses to actually increase their revenue stream by maybe selling some information as opposed to just giving it away. What’s important right now is you’ve got to take out what’s in your own mind, your own experiences, your own expertise and it’s great if you can actually get that out of your head and into an environment where more people can access it–whether it’s paid or whether it’s free, depends on what you’re doing.
I think we’re living in that Age of Information so people are looking for it and hunting for it, and if they like what you’ve got to say they are more likely to do business with you, so it’s a great promotional tool.
What impact has writing had on your career?
Writing really has changed my life. One hundred percent, one thousand percent, in reality. Before I wrote I was a commercial diver by trade. So that in its own right says that was a pretty major change. I got into marketing through a strange set of circumstances that seems to happen in life when you have a change in direction. I was working for a large Japanese company as their sales manager at a global level, so I was in that corporate world for quite some time but my passion was really small business.
I love small business and I love helping small business owners. I think writing my own book helped me to become more of a household name and helped me reach tens, hundreds of thousands of small business owners.
And a lot of the time I don’t think we value our own knowledge. And all of a sudden when you write a book and have people want to buy it or people want to publish it for starters and then people want to take your knowledge onboard, you think, Wow! Maybe I do know what I’m talking about. It’s almost as surprising for me as it is for other people. So then you progress into writing, so then you progress into talking at conferences and offering advice to people: franchise groups, small business groups, magazines. So for me in many ways it defined me as a small business guy, or ‘The Small Business Guy’ in Australia. Now I talk at conferences around the world, my books are sold all over the place. I get an opportunity, I think, to help tens of thousands of business owners every year. So that to me is the greatest reward I can have.
It has had a profound effect on my life, is the simple answer to a short question.
How have you used the web to leverage your message?
For me, the internet has been a great opportunity for me to become more of an accepted name as a small business expert, from that point of view, otherwise it’s pretty hard. Even if you write books, if that’s the only environment where people get to know you they’ve really got to buy your book, and if they don’t buy it, then they don’t necessarily hear about you. I’ve found that the internet has been really helpful for me to build my own brand. All my keynote speaking jobs and things like that, my training workshops all come through the internet, which would be really hard, I think otherwise, to get that kind of work and on a global level. So I travel around the planet presenting on small business and you wouldn’t get that kind of reach, that kind of video accessibility for people to actually be able to see you online, see if you’ve got the right kind of fit for their group, for their organisation.
I think it’s a way for me to disseminate lots and lots of information that I get: my current observations about what’s happening in the world of business right here, right now and offer that advice to people. To be able to say, Hey, if you’re struggling and feeling isolated, don’t worry, you’re not the only person. There are lots of other people feeling isolated, so it’s a way for me to reach out and I guess connect to my fan base, my readers, my followers, from that point of view.
How do you help business owners overcome their fear of social media?
It’s such a good question and it’s something that I encounter a lot. There are obviously so many people who are in that transition zone and often they’re a little bit older, I think, too. They’ve been in business and they’ve got an amazing wealth of expertise, but they’re struggling to embrace the new world of online social media, things like that, which is a real challenge for them. It’s like “teaching old dogs new tricks.” And whenever I’m presenting in a room where there are lots of people with grey hair (I’ve got my share coming through) but they are struggling to from that traditional business model to a more modern model of embracing online.
So, for me, you can’t go in there and nag them to death and tell them “You’ve got to do this” and guilt them into it. And yell at them and say, “You’ve got to Tweet. You’ve got to go on Facebook.” It doesn’t really mean anything, so you have to go back a step and give it some meaning. You’ve either got to show them that if you don’t do this kind of stuff, well, you’re going to be missing out in the future. But even go one step further and say, well okay, “How do you do business now? How have you built a successful business?” Most of the time it’s through building relationships, offering great quality products, being a good corporate citizen, whatever it might be.
And I say, okay, how do we find the online equivalent of all of this? Being a great corporate citizen–the online environment is a perfect way to tell people what you do as a great corporate citizen. So then how do we actually transition them through on that part? They can relate to that with “Oh, yeah, we like to tell people we do good in the community”. Let’s do a video, go online and show people what you’re doing.
What about networking? Well, you normally go to a social function, meet people, slap them on the back and have a cold beer. Well how can you do that in the online space? Let’s look at things like Facebook, let’s look at things like Twitter and understand that all it is is an electronic version of backslapping, having a beer and a cocktail frankfurt. But it’s more instantaneous and much, much broader.
I find that once you show them some examples of those kind of things and show them some success stories of other businesses that perhaps struggled to embrace the online environment but have and there’s been a big pay-off, then they tend to go, “Alright, now I get it.” And they are wonderful. I love nothing better. I’ve got a client of mine who’s eighty-five years old, a manufacturer and this lady does all this incredible stuff and she just loves the online environment. It took her fifteen years to really get it in many ways, but now she’s a Twitterer, a Facebooker, any kind of social media and she’s built a great business. She says she loves it because she spends nothing on advertising and marketing these days because it’s basically a free environment for her.
How can people find out more about you?
My main website is www.andrewgriffiths.com.au. On Twitter it’s twitter.com/agauthor. That’s easy to find me, but you can get it all through my website. I write a blog there and a couple of other blogs starting up soon. So just do a Google search and you’ll find me. It’s the easiest thing in the world; I’ll come up number one. It shows my belief in the online world.