Eagan businessman’s marketing strategy: self-publishing a book

Tom Salonek didn’t set out to write a book — he just wanted to capture a few business and leadership principles to share with customers and employees of Intertech, the Eagan-based software development and training company he founded 20 years ago and built into a $10 million business.

Tom Salonek
Courtesy of Intertech
Tom Salonek

But as Salonek started writing, he realized that the ideas developed at Intertech might be helpful to others. So instead of a few handout sheets, he wound up with a self-published volume titled, “Building a Winning Business: 70 Takeaways for Creating a Company That Will Remain Strong During Good and Bad Economic Times.”

And now that he’s written the book, he’s discovered that being an author has some unexpected advantages. Although he’s happy when people buy the volume, the book may serve an even greater purpose as a marketing tool for Intertech and Salonek himself.

It makes a good impression on new and existing clients when the company CEO hands them a copy of a book he’s written. New employees at Intertech also get a copy when they join the company.

“The IT consulting space is pretty crowded. So this book is a point of difference for us,” Salonek said. “It’s about credibility. This lays out and shares the playbook that we use in our firm: Here’s how we’re different from other groups that might be out there.

“I don’t have delusions of paying my lease using this book,” he said. “I’m really using the book to market myself and the company.”

But he won’t complain if you buy it at Amazon.com, where it’s gotten excellent reviews. It’s also available on the e-readers Kindle and Nook.

Self-publishing once was derided as “vanity press.” But the revolution in digital technology has made it a much more appealing alternative for someone with a message to deliver. Salonek used an Amazon service called CreateSpace. Kindle and Nook offer their own electronic publishing platforms.

Salonek figures it cost him only about $3 per copy to produce the book, which retails on Amazon for $9.90. He promotes it digitally as well, through his company’s website and his own blog. He’s also made a number of appearances on business radio programs to discuss the topics his book covers, and has been a guest blogger on numerous business sites.

Salonek said that producing a book was a lot more work than he expected. But he sounds ready to add another volume to the shelf: “I kind of have a bulleted draft of another business book on building a winning sales team,” he said.

And although most online reviews of his effort have been kind, there have been a couple of slams — as is inevitably the case in the rough-and-tumble world of digital discussions.

“When that first slam came in,” Salonek said, “a friend called me and said: ‘OK — now you’re a real author.'”

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