In our Information Age, where scandals are exposed daily, trust is becoming the new currency. That’s why writing a book is more than a personal dream, it’s your key to building the trust you need to build your brand in a world of scandals.
It’s a long-established fact that writing long-form content — specifically writing a book — is a powerful tactic to building brand authority and awareness.
In writing a book, you establish yourself as an authority on that subject and open new platforms to you and your brand.
But you can do more than establish authority by writing a book. You can distinguish yourself as a trustworthy brand.
Books are trust-building tools.
Well-written books do far more than show your expertise on a subject, they create trust in the reader.
No one does this better than journalist and author Malcom Gladwell.
Why would anyone listen to a non-historian’s view of an American military research project in Saigon, 1965, who wasn’t there, and has no military or government background?
And why would anyone care about the insights into the AIDS epidemic by a guy who’s neither a doctor nor epidemiological researcher?
How is it that Gladwell can write in areas far afield of his personal expertise and earn the trust of millions of readers and podcast listeners? Because he’s written thought-provoking, story-driven books.
Gladwell’s first book, The Tipping Point, sold over 2.5 million copies. His second book, Blink, sold over 2 million. The third book, Outliers, sold more than 1.6 million.
His podcast, Revisionist History was number one on Apple’s iTunes most downloaded podcasts in the U.S.
Needless to say, very, very few people ever achieve this status without accomplishing something monumental, doing something infamous, or being born into influence.
Gladwell skipped all of these requirements. He chose instead to write long-form content.
On top of not being famous, or accomplishing anything superhuman, Gladwell has been hotly opposed by literary and scientific critics.
“[David and Goliath] is an entertaining book. But it teaches little of general import, for the morals of the stories it tells lack solid foundations in evidence and logic.” – Christopher Chabris, Psychology Professor
“…it is an axiom of Malcolm Gladwell’s method that a perfect anecdote proves a fatuous rule.” – The New Republic
You would think criticism this vehement would topple the guy who wrote the book on the 10,000-hour rule — especially since he’s not even a scientist. But it didn’t.
So why do people trust Malcolm’s voice on all of these subjects in spite of his detractors? I mean, you don’t write five New York Times bestsellers back to back without people trusting you!
There are lots of reasons, of course, but the one compelling reason for the brand authority now baked into the Malcolm Gladwell name is his use of long-form content like writing a book.
Build brand trust by writing a book.
You can use this same strategy to earn trust in a world of swindlers and snake oil salesmen by writing a book.
A fact-based, well-crafted, story-driven book.
Writing a book builds trust in the hearts of your readers because…
1. It gives you enough room to write stories that illustrate your point and warm hearts.
When we hear facts and stats, only one part of our brain is engaged. But when we hear stories, all the emotional, sensory, and empathetic parts of our brain light up too.
“If, in my story, I described the sharp smell of the pine forest high in the Andes where this family lives, your olfactory sensory areas of the brain would be active as though you were smelling the forest. If I described the mother driving over rutted muddy roads, with the vehicle careening from side to side, your motor cortex would be lighting up as though you were driving on a bumpy road. And if I started talking about the devastation the family felt when their young son died before he could get medical treatment, then the empathy areas of the brain would be active.” – Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D.
In fact, telling the story of a character releases oxytocin in your readers, which causes them to trust you. (Oxytocin is one of the primary hormones that bonds babies to their mothers.)
It’s almost imperceptible, but over the course of reading a well-structured, smartly-paced book, you begin to trust the author — even if you don’t agree with them.
A well-written thought leadership book will make even your harshest critics go, “She couldn’t be more wrong, but I like her.”
2. It gives you room to write out your best arguments and freshest ideas.
As a writer, there are so many times I wish my clients would let me go further into their thoughts, because they’re so revolutionary or helpful.
But a blog, web page or even an eBook is only good for so many words. Writing a book gives you the proper canvas for your fresh ideas to touch your reader.
3. It gives you room to interact with the opposing side.
Trust is built when an author talks candidly about opposing viewpoints, giving his or her argument for why they disagree.
When you do this in a blog post, it can come across as petty. Two sides are just throwing pot shots at each other.
But a book can build an elegant response to an opposing view — it’s the elegance and storytelling you use to develop your response that gains trust.
4. It gives you room to bring in others who agree with you.
Interviewing experts or leaders in your field for your book is the old school version of influencer marketing.
Writing a book gives you a solid excuse to reach out to visible experts, get their view, and present it alongside your own. Now, you’re not just building your own brand trust, you’re borrowing from theirs.
5. It gives you room to test, clarify, and craft language around your ideas.
Content channels like blog posts, newsletters, and even eBooks tend to be scattered, one-off arguments.
Short-form mediums do not demand any cohesion between one blog post and the next. Today, you can write a blog about the red-ruffed lemur and tomorrow you could expound on the plight of sea otters.
But in a book, you can weave together your ideas on endangered species across the ecological spectrum into the tapestry of your big, central idea.
When writing a book, you have to think through what you’re saying so that it’s coherent, cogent, and above all, clear. The mental exercise of writing a book alone will help you better articulate your views in other forms of content, earning you more trust across your marketing channels.
Set yourself apart from the crowd.
In a world full of scandals, you need to build massive trust in the hearts of your audience to differentiate yourself from the others in your industry who are falling out of favor with the public.
Trust is the new currency — and writing a book is one of the best ways to earn some for your brand or cause.