How To Make a B2B Marketing eBook: The Analog Processes for Creating an Impressive Digital Design
It has been duly noted that eBooks are an effective, low-cost way to broadcast B2B marketing content. I have been making them for several years, and I believe I have brought something to the format that was not readily available back when I first started making them. Excuse me, my horn just tooted. eBooks should take written content and create something that is easy to digest and visually engaging with fresh creative imagery and typography.
It seems obvious as a designer’s duty demands you approach every job in this manner. Not all who make eBooks are designers, nor are all designers top-notch copywriters. It’s a symbiotic relationship of creative forces we share with our cohorts when the end goal is to make great B2B content. I developed a process early on that has worked for me when preparing, creating and completing an eBook. My process includes eight steps that get me from concept to finished product effectively and efficiently. No DVDs to purchase, no need to buy anything. I am going to give you these steps for FREE!
Step 1: Who is presenting this?
If you are creating an eBook for a client, it’s best that you become versed in their brand guidelines. Consider who they are, and who this eBook is intended to reachand to what effect. These are important details to heed before going completely Lisa Frank with their branded collateral. It has been my experience that when a corporate B2B client asks for
whimsy, be prepared to have a few conservative options along with your creative concepts, as they may want to return to something closer to their core identity.
Step 2: Take draft home and read it when there are no expectations of your time
Are you the sort of person who leisurely opens your paperback at work between meetings and crucial deadlines? When your spouse needs your support getting children fed, bathed, and put to bed, do you find this is a great time to pore through articles between chortles at the comics from The New Yorker? NO. You do not. If you do, you may want to review many of the marital and career self-help eBooks available.
Find the time to read between the demands of your life and work. It is so important to take some time to understand what has been written, especially if you did not write the content yourself.
Step 3: Take notes, outline the copy architecture, start thinking about how to build a creative narrative
Doodle your ideas in the margins of the page for imaging that may bring the key points to life. Create the breaks for new pages, callouts, and space for key visuals. If you are going to be using stock photography, start a light box, download composite images or jot the image numbers in an organized manner respective to where it will be used.
This process is oft times a dream killer. You have this incredible idea based on one passage you read, immediately bringing to mind the perfect image that will nail the concept to the wall with a railroad spike. Unfortunately the image is too standalone, too overpowering, or not supported by enough available photography or illustration to pull it into a broader theme. [sigh…] Chin up, kid! We marketing creatives are not paid to sit around in our underwear, reading B2B marketing content, with frowns through gulps of boxed wine! Well, not all… Never mind, we are right to feel bummed sometimes, but get over it.
Step 4: Copy first, images next
Drop the text into your multi-page layout as you believe it should be placed. Does it flow organically as the eye would be engaged to read it? Do you have pages too long with copy while others are starved for any content? Spend some time getting this right, and the rest will fall into place quickly.
Type should hook the viewer foremost. You are promoting B2B marketing content, not the imagery. Even when the image spans a full spread, the hook has to be the type that supports it.
Step 5: Imaging done well
Ask yourself, “How does this image push what I am saying on this page? How is it supporting the other images throughout the eBook? Viewers are reading this end-to-end, so you must have continuity and visually stimulating imagery, where applicable, to tell the story.
You are going to run up against frustrating content that has no easy-to-find imagery available. This is where abstract is the most effective means to advance the visual narrative. If you cannot find any other means to illustrate the content, consider borrowing text from somewhere else to call out relevant content on your page. You’re in a box, man. Time to start earning your paycheck as an outside-the-box thinker.
Step 6: Less is more/Less needs more
Typography done well is beautiful. We possess a written language, when composed and presented in as clean a format as possible needs no images. There are multiple opportunities to create a visual dialogue with type alone. There will be those instances when a small block of copy does not work as a separate page. Could it be incorporated as a callout box or sidebar on another page? Figure it out.
Step 7: He-Man, the straw man, and the other one
Depending upon your relationship with your client, you know how much or less they require in a presentation of concepts. You know which concept to present first, second, or third. Just be sure to have ready what they asked for, then show what you suggest is the best solution. Be ready to defend your concept.
Step 8: Push it!
Once your B2B Marketing eBook design is approved and you have built the final design that will become a PDF download, flip book or otherwise—push it! [music cue, Maestro!] Help your client tell their story by sharing through your appropriate social media channels.
You can see one of the eBooks I created this past year for our client iProspect, in our Portfolio. As B2B marketing creatives, it’s important [–Forrest Gump voice–] we and content strategists goes together like peas and carrots. I would like to hear your story. Share your own eBook tips in the comments section below.