How AI Has Completely Changed My Approach to Book Writing

Marketing

In January of this year I publicly declared I was going to write a novel. I was going to share my progress online for everybody to see.

Then about two months after that, I declared I was going to write a nonfiction book. I decided to write a business book as my new calling card for a new business I was launching.

I started sharing my progress in public.

And then AI came with a vengeance.

I was like a deer in the headlights. I had to adapt.

I read a book that introduced me to AI voice-to-text transcription book-writing.

So I started implementing that method.

So far so good.

And then I discovered Zachariah Stratford’s AI Book Challenge.

I joined the challenge, took part in Zach’s mastermind, and started using that method.

At the same time, I discovered Dennis Yu’s content factory method, which recommends using a conference talk or webinar to multiple content pieces (including a book) process.

I threw it all into a pot and made a stew, and what is emerging is a unique process I’m calling the StartupBook method.

What is the StartupBook method?

Before I get into the StartupBook method, I want to share what I see are three trends converging to shake things up in marketing and business.

1. The AI Earthquake

I must mention the obvious: AI. ChatGPT being the most visible AI application, together with the avalanche of other AI tools (Jasper.ai was the first AI writing tool that came out around 2000-01).

AI is changing….everything.

The obvious benefits:

  • Ideation in seconds
  • Copywriting at scale
  • Writing good decent content (and in some cases really good content) with detailed prompts
  • Doing more with less

One of the AI writing applications I’m really getting excited about is Content At Scale, co-founded by Austin-based content marketing superstar Julia McCoy.

And more.

2. Category Design

The way to compete in today’s saturated market environment is not to compete.

Let me explain.

Category design, as encapsulated by the Category Pirates (Christopher Lochhead, Eddie Yoon, and Nicolas Cole) in various books, including The Category Design ToolkitThe Marketer’s Guide to Category Design, Snow Leopard, and their latest, The 22 Laws of Category Design, is an idea whereby you don’t compete with competitors in a competitive existing category.

As Chris Lochead so eloquently put it, “Be different, not better.”

You invent a new category in which your company is the dominant player.

Think Clari and the new Revenue Management category. Or Salesforce and the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) category they started in the early 2000s.

3. Internet marketing gurus getting into real world businesses

The final trend, one I find fascinating, is the migration of digital marketing gurus from the internet to real-world, physical businesses.

Derek Halpern, one of the most successful internet marketing bros of the 2nd decade of the 2000s, and a prolific content and course creator, left the internet marketing world to co-found Truvani, a clean ingredients supplement brand.

Truvani is an example of a new category of CPG company (consumer packaged goods) I’ve identified as a CPG 2.0 company:

  • Companies with an altruistic mission
  • They focus on the environment
  • They use clean ingredients
  • They have a hybrid business model (DTC as well as traditional retail sales)
  • They’re innovative
  • They are digital marketing-savvy

Codie Sanchez is another example. Through her YouTube channel, and on TikTok and Instagram, she teaches Native Digitals how to buy “boring businesses” (think laundromats or HVAC companies) and then supercharge them with digital technology and modern marketing techniques.

The StartupBook Category

So I decided to get into the act by combining these three trends to create my own category.

Here’s a breakdown of the StartupBook category:

I focus on one little aspect of category design

Here’s a brief primer on category design: by designing a new category, you don’t compete with others. You become the leader of a category of one (your company).

If you’re successful in promoting the category and making it a thing, you capture 76% of the category economics (marketshare, category value, revenue), leaving competitors to fight it out for the remaining 24%.

But how do you design a category? I recommend reading The 22 Laws of Category Design by the Category Pirates.

But in a nutshell, you:

  1. Identify a unique problem experienced by a niche market segment. The problem they’re experiencing is currently not being satisfied by existing products or services.
  2. Focus on the Superconsumers within this target niche market. These are like your early adopters, the enthusiasts who are just as visionary as you. They’ll buy everything you sell, tell their friends and neighbors about you, and serve as your informal marketing army
  3. Innovate in your marketing, your product, and your business model.
  4. Use “languaging” to define the new category sort of like what HubSpot did when they made “inbound marketing” and “attract, convert, close, deslight” part of the everyday B2B marketing lexicon.

This is a gross oversimplification, but I think you get the gist.

The Information War, the Air War, and the Ground War

Now, where does the StartupBook category come in?

One of the ideas promoted by the Category Pirates in their books is the concept of the Information War, the Air War, and the Ground War.

  • The Information War is the content you create that establishes the languaging, frameworks, processes and standards of your new category. This can come in the form of books, blog posts, social shares, videos, keynote addresses, podcasts, and more. In other words, this is your category thought leadership. The information war creates the conversation pieces your Superconsumers can use to evangelize the category.
  • The Air War are the marketing campaigns you use, leveraging the content created in the information war section. This is the newsletter you write, your Twitter threads (or Thread Threads), your advertising, your regular weekly podcast, your PR campaign, and more. In the information war and air war, you don’t really market your company, you market the category. This is what all great category kings and queens do to promote their category. Their companies are happy beneficiaries of the subsequent growth of the category.
  • The Ground War is the tactical blocking and tackling that gets the message across on a one on one basis. It’s how you apply the content from the information war to the actual sales strategy. These are the lead magnets, conversion forms, and sales collateral your sales force uses.

StartupBook comes into category design as part of the information war as well as the air war, and it could be used in the ground war.

  • Write your category design book as the cornerstone content in the information war. With your category design book, you include all the points your Superconsumers (and eventually the broader market) will come to understand as the vocabulary (the “languaging), the framework, the standards, and the processes of your new category. For example, in the book ‘Inbound Marketing,’ HubSpot co-founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan described how to carry out an inbound marketing strategy. They used languaging to describe all the parts of the inbound marketing process. Hundreds of thousands of inbound marketing agencies use this vocabulary today!
  • Your category design book as part of the air war. Company founders and consultants are familiar with the standard way of using books as glorified business cards. They use a book as a way to increase their authority and prestige in the market, and as a way to get podcast interviews, conference speaking opportunities and as grist for the social media mill. But with a category design book, now company representatives can use their books as a way to evangelize the new category in podcasts, conferences, and marketing campaigns.
  • Your category design book as part of the ground war. Your company can use your category design book as a lead generation tool as an ABM-style gift, or as a lead magnet to give away at conferences or to use in advertising.

The great thing about your category design book is that it sets you up as an educator, and not as somebody who is cynically using a book to sell their products or services.

Though I loved The One Book Millions Method by Mike Shreve, it was so obvious it was a commercial come-on that I had to purposefully look past that initial icky feeling so I could get to the learnings from the book.

But a category design book doesn’t have that emotional baggage. You’re educating your market about the category, about a new way of solving a problem that didn’t exist before.

As the author of a StartupBook (my term for a category design book) you come across as the hero.

Conclusion

I recommend reading The 22 Laws of Category Design and subscribing to the Category Pirates newsletter.

And I want to leave you with some homework: think about how you could approach an acute pain your target market is experiencing in a unique way.

But add an additional element: think about what the new Native Digitals would want as a solution.

Native Digitals, as Chris Locchead describes them, are the new generation of millennials and centennials that grew up with technology, and don’t know a world without cell phones and the internet.

  • Their world is the digital world, and the real world is the “conceptual” world.
  • They buy everything with an app or online.
  • They prefer socializing on TikTok or Instagram instead of in person.
  • They were the first ones to protest return-to-the-office mandates.

How could you create a new category with Native Digitals as your target market? (These generations are taking over, and will soon make the majority of purchasing decisions).

Then report back to me with your ideas!

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