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posted: 2/13/2012 6:00 AM

Format changes, but books are still good sales tools

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E-books have changed the marketing dynamic entrepreneurs enjoyed when they handed their book to a prospect or followed up a meeting with a handwritten note that said, for example, "There's more on how you might approach selling on page 43 of my enclosed book. Enjoy reading!"

But that doesn't mean the book a business owner might write is no longer a good marketing tool. There simply are new delivery options.

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Russ Riendeau, senior partner at East Wing Group Inc., a Barrington search firm, has written, published and essentially given away six traditional books on topics that fit his search persona. His next effort, under way, will be an audio book.

Although Riendeau says audio books are cheaper to produce and distribute than print versions, he knows "I can't autograph (an audio book) and I'll lose people who love the tactile feel of turning the page." But there are audiobook positives for Riendeau, too.

"An audio book lets me interact with customers a little differently," he says. "They hear my voice. They can get a sense of my personality and my sense of humor. I can add inflections in the dialogue, add some music and drop the name of my firm in where it is important."

As for handouts to prospects or leave-behinds at podium presentations, Riendeau thinks a "four-color postcard with the cover on the front and content information on the back" will work.

Mount Prospect sales consultant Stacia Skinner went the e-book route last year with her first book, "Sell Now!," cowritten with Brandon Yusuf Toropov. Her second, "Leapfrog to H.E.R.B. (the Highest Executive Responsible for Buying)" will be a self-published traditional book.

HERB is scheduled to appear in the Spring.

"We were asked by Adams Media to do Sell Now!," says Skinner, president of Creative Training Solutions Ltd. "They wanted someone who could help companies with sales during difficult times."

Adams Media is an Avon, MA-based unit of F+W Media Inc., New York. The connection with Adams came through Toropov, a self-described "wordsmith, literary midwife" in Charlotte, NC.

Toropov, who is working with Skinner on HERB, might be a name to remember. He helps potential authors, such as business owners, who have an idea but little time or book expertise "put the pieces of a book together."

Adams Media has asked Skinner to do a second book, which she likely will, but Skinner's loyalties are divided between e- and traditional books. "When I give someone a book, do they ever throw it away?" she asks rhetorically. "Do people keep e-books?"

Skinner knows, however, that a book in any format "really gives you credibility. I'm not looking at being a best seller. A book helps convince people I know what I'm talking about."

• Jim Kendall welcomes comments at JKendall@121MarketingResources.com.

2012 121 Marketing Resources Inc.

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