Do you have a complicated, complex, and seemingly impossible topic that you want to address in a marketing eBook?
It can’t be much more complicated than the more than 2,000-page Affordable Care Act.
Nate Purpura and team undertook a big challenge when constructing their 23-page eBook, 5 Steps to Understanding Obamacare: To simplify and humanize a gargantuan law so the average American Joe could grasp the state of his national healthcare.
“It was quite the beast,” Purpura said.
How @natepurp1 simply, clearly explained the 2k-page Affordable Care Act in a 23-page eBook
Purpura expects there are only a handful of people to ever read the entire Affordable Care Act bill. But 35,000 people and counting have downloaded and read his eBook on the same topic.
Why? Because it’s clear, concise, and sticks to the essential parts of the bill that impact readers—and it does it very, very well.
Purpura is the easy winner of our Master of Data Illustration. (Click to see it!)
How eHealthInsurance.com Mastered the eBook
Purpura, of eHealthInsurance.com, says the trick to making complex data into effective graphic illustrations starts with a very deep understanding your buyer. You need to go beyond knowing your buyer in terms of buyer persona (demographics, geography, job title, and pain points), and dive intimately into:
- His/her general understanding of your topic,
- The societal and cultural understanding of your topic, and
- The relative reading-level of your readers.
In other words, design something that’s culturally and intellectually hitting the mark. Get intimate. Know their personal preferences. Don’t just get in their shoes, know their orthotics.
It’s not easy, of course, but Purpura offered a three-step approach to simplifying complex ideas and illustrating complicated data.
1. Tackle the Project in Chunks
Purpura’s first piece of advice is to tackle larger, more complex topics in chunks. Deconstruct complicated ideas into simpler parts, and start by explaining those pieces in layman’s terms that your buyers will understand. By tackling the project in smaller components, you have an opportunity to explain the nuanced parts of larger ideas in a manageable way.
2. Create Individual Assets for Each Chunk
Now that you have broken out individual concepts, build stand-alone assets for each of these ideas. Consider how each chunk of information could become a stand-alone asset, while also contributing to the overall theme of the eBook. In this way, your content team is actually producing several content assets that can be used in the promotion and distribution of your eBook once it goes live. For instance, if you build out one smaller section of information into an infographic, you can then later publish that infographic across your blog and social outlets to drive customers to the larger asset.
For example, Purpura and his design team created several infographics, charts, and illustrations clarifying particular aspects of the health care bill. This allowed readers to focus on certain sections, one at a time.
Similarly, we broke the Masters of the eBook into more focused topics that serve as excellent chapters:
- The table of contents
Develop 5-10 stand-alone sections, and then repurpose them by aggregating them into an eBook.
3. Test Your Content
If you end up building your marketing eBook in this way—as a sum of its elements, as opposed to a singular narrative—don’t forget to read the final asset for continuity, readability, and consistency of tone throughout the publication. It’s easy for readers to get bucked if the style and tone is too turbulent.
For instance, Purpura enrolled “test readers” to review the book at various stages of its completion to ensure the readability of the information. The test readers also provided feedback to writers and designers to make sure concepts were clearly written, and offered new ways to cut non-essentials and further illustrate complicated topics.
“The biggest rule of thumb is that it has to be simple.” @natepurp1 on eBooks
These observations were instrumental, resulting in tighter copy and comprehensible illustrations, Purpura says.
“The biggest rule of thumb is that it has to be simple,” Purpura said. “Not because people are dumb, but their attention span is short.”
If you do this well, some of the nerdiest parts of a complicated subject will be your best eBook material.