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What's The Difference Between An E-book And A Special Report?

Allen Taylor

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People who are unfamiliar with e-books generally ask, “What’s the difference between an e-book and a special report?”

The short answer is: Nothing really. The technical answer is: It’s all in the marketing.

No joke. An e-book is an e-book. What defines an e-book is the mode of delivery. It is electronic, also called digital. A special report can be delivered electronically just as well as it can be sent physically. When it is, it’s an e-book.

That said, allow me to explain why you might want to give your customers a FREE special report:

  • First, it’s free and people love free stuff.
  • Secondly, by giving them something of value – a free special report – you can ask for something of value in return. What you’ll ask for is their e-mail address so you can send them their special report. If they want the special report they’ll be more than willing to give you the e-mail address.

So what’s so important about the e-mail address? Future revenue.

That’s right. Once you get that address, you can use it over and over again to market your e-books and other digital products. Once a customer gives you that e-mail address you have permission to contact them again. You may want to be specific about ways you plan to contact the customer, however.

For instance, if you tell the customer that by giving you his e-mail address they are giving permission to send out periodical promotional material for other products and you opt them into your daily e-mail then you could be in trouble for sending spam. You don’t want that to happen. So be specific about what it is you plan to send your customers once you have their address and make sure they understand what they are getting into.

Now, what is a special report? Generally speaking, a special report is any report that provides useful and valuable information to the customer. You can charge for it or give it away for free, but it must be something of value. Giving out useless information is not only considered bad taste but you will likely not make many sales on your other products if you don’t provide value right up front. So make sure you are giving away something the customer can use.

A special report is also generally smaller than an e-book. Some people define an e-book as more than 50 pages and a special report as less than that. I don’t think it matters how you define the terms. A special report, from a marketing perspective, implies more value than “e-book. ” Therefore, call it a special report even if it’s a couple hundred pages.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you run a local florist shop. You have a website and, as a promotion, you decide to give away a free special report to encourage website visitors to opt in to your electronic newsletter. You write up a 50 page book on special occasions for which someone might send flowers and recommend what types of flowers to send for those special occasions. That would be a valuable special report, especially for someone like me is a dunce when it comes to those kinds of things. Make it a . pdf document and provide to your visitors who sign up for your weekly newsletter. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the reaction you get from your website visitors.

Allen Taylor is the owner of Taylor and Associates , a full-service content provider. He also manages a local small business directory in South Central Pennsylvania, ghostwrites e-books for a worldwide list of clients and manages several commercial blogs. Additionally, he edits and publishes The Content Letter, an e-zine that focuses on showing webmasters how to produce original content and manages .


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