Recently, Apple released "iBooks Author," aimed at the textbook market. This software allows writers to create interactive textbooks that can be read on the iPad. The textbooks can have photo galleries, movies, quizzes, and a host of other interactive features. While this is certainly interesting for book authors, it is equally interesting for you. Why? If you are selling a book you need to do it via iTunes. But if you are giving it away for free, you can distribute it yourself. That means you can write and freely distribute interactive versions of your catalog, company overview, whitepapers, and anything else you can think of.
The underlying irony of this article is not lost on me. The web started off as a way for companies to put their brochures online. Only later did it evolve into something interactive, dynamic, and e-commerce-enabled. As websites got more sophisticated, however, a gap was left in the consumer experience. People like narratives, and brochures/catalogs represented a way for them to understand your company in a linear fashion. Ten years ago I wrote a five-part series of articles called "Your Website as a Narrative," which explained how to make your site tell a story, instead of simply being a free-for-all of pages.
By creating marketing materials in this iBook format, you can achieve a few things:
New Customers Interactions and Reach
iBooks live offline. This means they are available to the user when he is on the train going to work in the morning, when he is not around Wi-Fi, or when his Internet access speeds are slow. They also live on a shelf in iBooks, which the user will always see when he wants to read a book. Your brand is constantly in front of him if he reads a lot.
The iBooks format is new and no one (to my knowledge) is taking advantage of it yet for corporate uses. Be among the first and you will surely get press for it. This is especially true if you really take the time to make it highly interactive instead of just publishing your existing PDFs in this new format.
Unlike traditional print, iBooks can hyperlink directly to your site, include an emailing functionality, and are completely trackable. It is easy for you to see how many clicks are coming through your iBook collateral.
Getting Back to the Narrative
A book is linear by definition. Use this reality to get back to basics. You have the ability to put your brand, products, and services in context for the reader in a way that combines the best qualities of print with the interactive nature of digital.
The iBooks platform is free to use, so there is no real cost of entry except for the staff whom you already pay to create collateral. This is a great new format to test out, and I encourage you to think about what in your world would make for a great iBook. Maybe it's a series of "expert tips" on various subjects. Maybe it's an introduction to your brand, or maybe it's a product catalog complete with photo galleries and videos.
Whatever the case may be, experiment with the format and let your creativity run wild for a bit. You might just produce something that takes your brand reach to the next level.
Until next time…
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Jack Aaronson, CEO of The Aaronson Group and corporate lecturer, is a sought-after expert on enhanced user experiences, customer conversion, retention, and loyalty. If only a small percentage of people who arrive at your home page transact with your company (and even fewer return to transact again), Jack and his company can help. He also publishes a newsletter about multichannel marketing, personalization, user experience, and other related issues. He has keynoted most major marketing conferences around the world and regularly speaks at Shop.org and other major industry shows. You can learn more about Jack through his LinkedIn profile.
December 12, 2013
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