The First Impression

Ultimately, your brand is the perception your audience or your market has about you.

jim howard
view of floating open book from stacked books in library

Your book will leave an indelible impression on the reader; you want that impression to be a positive one. As you create your book, there are some things you must think about to make sure the impact you leave is the best one possible.

What Is Branding?

Branding is, in essence, the process of establishing your identity. Think about your brand as a personality:

  • What would it look like?
  • What would it feel like?
  • What would it sound like?
  • How would it act?
  • What would it do?
  • How would it communicate?

As you build your brand’s personality around your book, think about all the elements that define your business:

  • How does your business look?
  • What is your logo?
  • What is you color scheme?
  • How does your business communicate?
  • How do you deliver information?
  • What kind of information do you provide?
  • How does the information sound?
  • What kind of products or services does your business offer?

With a book, you can absolutely spell out your unique identity, but more important than establishing your identity, branding is about the act of controlling perception. Ultimately, your brand is the perception your audience or your market has about you.

You can say whatever you like about yourself. You can say you’re great. You can say you’ve got the best information and customer support, but if your audience doesn’t believe it, it’s not true. Your brand is based on what your audience “believes” to be true, not what is true, not what you say is true. That’s perception.

With a book, you can shape and control audience perception. You can get your information to a prospect early. If he reads the book and thinks it delivers solid content and has a striking cover design, he will know you’re all about quality.

A book can also help you control how you position yourself. In essence, what you’re doing is using a book to establish your identity and control the perception your prospect forms about you or your business.

The Importance of Branding

Branding helps you capture valuable real estate in the reader’s mind.

Think about how you can anchor your unique thoughts or themes in the content of the book. When a client or someone in your market reads it, the content triggers something in her brain, and she automatically thinks about you.

Maybe the thought is driven by a need: “I need the services of this author because I read his book, and he told me he could help me do exactly what I’m striving for.”

When thinking about sporting goods, most people think Nike. When you think cinnamon rolls, most people think Cinnabon. Those brands have become linked to their area of expertise, making their name almost interchangeable with what they do best. That’s what you need to do with your brand.

When you start dominating the mind space of your market, then you know your brand is working.

A book can help you do that. It ensures you become synonymous with your area of expertise. Becoming an author and writing a great book will act as a strong brand message. You will have around two hundred pages to let people know what you do, how you can help, and why you are the right person to work with.

Use Your Book as a Business Card

As I mentioned earlier, a book is a superior business card because it stands out. It’s bigger than any standard business card and can make a more lasting impact because it establishes a positive first impression.

Think about this scenario. You’re going into an office building on a cold call; your competitor is walking out of that same office building, and he’s given your potential client his business card.

You walk in behind him and hand that same prospect a book. Who’s going to have the bigger impact? Who’s going to be more impressive? I’ll give you a hint: the person who wrote the book on the subject.

Your prospect will keep a book longer than any other business card. One of the things that’s true with me is, if I’m at an event and you walk up and give me a business card, most likely, that business card is going into my pocket. When I get back to the hotel room, the business card is going into my computer bag.

When I come home, the business card is probably going to get cleaned out of my computer bag and stuck in one of two places: my top drawer with the rest of the business cards or in the trash. Fast forward to when I can’t find anything in my desk and need to clean it out. The business cards I put in my top drawer will eventually end up in the trash also.

With a book, it’s a whole different story.

If you hand me a book at an event, chances are, I’m going to carry that book home with me. If I haven’t read it on the plane ride home, it’s not going to sit in my drawer. Instead, it will sit on my desk because I’m going to want to read it, or at least glance through it.

person picking white and red book on bookshelf

If I don’t read it and decide to clean the office, instead of throwing it away, I will place it on the bookshelf. If six months down the road I come to acknowledge I need information on your topic, I’ll look up, see the book on my bookshelf, pull it down, and look through it. If the book is full of helpful information, who am I going to call? You.

So the book will last a whole lot longer than a business card, and it has more potential to make an impact.

The other great thing about using a book as a business card is that it gets passed around.

When was the last time you received a business card so great, so impactful, that at first glance you immediately said, “I’ve got to show this business card to somebody else. I’ve got to give this to a friend because he could use this business card”? It sounds funny, and, of course, it never happens.

A book, however, may very well be passed along. If you read and enjoy a book and get timely information from it, you’re likely to either give that book to someone you know or, better yet, buy that person a book of her own so you don’t have to give her your copy.

So, how can you make your book a compelling business card?

Hook Them with Content

You want to hook your readers with worthwhile content; you cannot just slap a book together and hope for the best. If you don’t take the time to write irresistible content, the book’s not going to have the impact you desire.

If your book is, for lack of a better term, full of crap, then you make a crappy first impression. You don’t want that. You want to guard yourself against disappointing content. You want to fill the book with captivating content so when people read it, it validates that you’re the person they need to work with.

Invest in Professional Design

To make a solid first impression, your book also needs an attractive cover design and a professional layout.

Use care and do it right. Don’t rush to press with a solid-color cover and some block lettering. It shouldn’t look like you created your book in Word and then printed it at an office supply store. You’ve got to have a high-quality, specially designed cover.

When someone opens the book, the contents should have the same top-quality appearance. It needs to look like a professionally designed book. Without a great design, you could elicit a negative reaction, and that feeling is likely one the person will not easily forget.

Provide Author Bio and Contact Information

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received manuscripts from authors or looked through books and realized there’s no contact information, no author bio at the back. How can someone find you, get to know you, like you, or trust you if he doesn’t have your information?

One of the biggest reasons for writing a book is to prospect for new clients. Make sure you include an author bio and contact to prospect for new clients. Make sure you include an author bio and contact information.

Give Readers Something They Can Use

A business card will provide your name, phone number, and contact information—and that’s about it. With a book, you can also deliver content, so give your readers valuable information. If you can help them right away, a reader is more likely to say, “I need to contact this person because I need to work with him.”

Aim to Complete  a No-Pressure Sale

If the book is written correctly, you’re going to provide worthwhile content, and by the end of the book, readers will realize they need more from you.

When we wrote Branded for Success, it was done in such a way that, in the last chapter, we subtly plugged the upcoming Branded Weekend.

For this Branded Weekend, we would bring in three to four entrepreneurs, CEOs, and small business owners to our house. They would stay and work with us through a weekend, and their brand would be built before they left. Throughout the weekend, the entire branding process was talked about.

To invite readers to respond and register, our contact information was listed at the end of the book.

Since the reader already had trust in us and understood a bit about the topic for the weekend, the book created an easy, no-pressure sale for us. No ordinary business card can do that.

Take all of this into account as you start to build out your book. Write it in such a way that it makes a phenomenal business card. Use it to build your list, convert prospects into clients, and solidify in your market’s mind that you are the go-to person in your field of expertise.

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Jim Howard

With over 30 years in commercial print, branding and publishing, Jim Howard has dedicated much of his life to helping entrepreneurs, CEOs and business owners move ahead in their business. Follow him at,

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