Trade Shows & Content Marketing: How to Combine

Trade shows are still vital for B2B lead generation, even with the recent Trade Shows onslaught of marketing automation. And aside from a client meeting, they’re the best channel for delivering your content marketing into the right hands.

Until I researched the topic last week, I honestly thought the effectiveness of trade shows had faded.

I haven’t participated in an event since 2009, but I was curious to see the state of the industry.  Here are a few stats that caught my eye:

  • 92% of trade show attendees come to see and learn about what’s new in products and services
  • 46% of trade show attendees are in executive or upper management
  • 81% of trade show attendees have buying authority

The last statistic about the purchasing clout of attendees certainly reinforces a show’s value, and I have to admit I was surprised the buying power stat is over eighty percent.

What Content Should You Bring?

Content and designDetermining what content to take to a trade show is not different from developing marketing for any other channel. It starts with the customer. Who will be attending the show from your target audience?

If you serve only a single business sector, then problem solved. However, if your business services multiple sectors, then only select white papers, case studies, videos and webinars that best fit the attendee’s niche, so he doesn’t have to waste time looking for content that’s relevant to him. Too much content can confuse and frustrate an attendee.

Do Product Brochures Still Matter?

Today, white papers and case studies occupy the spotlight in B2B content marketing.  Do brochures have any role to play?

For the tech sector, the answer is “Yes.”

In fact, they’re a top choice among content assets when technology companies are considering a purchase. Have a look below at the results from the 2015 B2B Technology Content Survey.

2015 B2B Technology Content Survey
Top results from the 2015 B2B Technology Content Survey.


Print vs. Digital

USB Flash Drives
USB flash drives are a top promotional tool at trade shows.


Digital certainly has some advantages over print, but it makes its biggest impact only if you exploit digital’s main strength: interactivity.

While it’s unlikely they have the budget to add multimedia elements to every white paper, case study, and brochure, SMEs could likely afford to produce one interactive piece for a trade show.

My vote for a multimedia makeover would be the product brochure.

Why?

  • You can promote your product as dynamically as possible, and brochures are the document format of choice for displaying what you sell.
  • Audio and visuals in  e-brochures are excellent substitutes for text and photos found in print brochures. On the other hand, white papers and case studies are text heavy and less visually oriented.
  • You can easily customize e-brochure content, so it’s relevant to the target audience attending the trade show.

Flash drives are a popular choice for content distribution at trade shows since USB ports are widely available.  

On the downside, not every attendee feels comfortable inserting a USB drive into her computer due to security threats.  To alleviate some of the anxiety, trade show experts recommend you don’t leave your supply of USB flash drives publicly accessible. Instead, you or your staff should personally give the flash to each attendee.

With all the bells and whistles you can add to electronic documents, should you even bother bringing print material?

Before making a decision, consider some of print’s advantages. 

Whereas flash drives look the same, print documents can capture an attendee’s attention quickly with the content’s headline and graphics.

A study on reading comprehension published last year indicates printed text engages the brain more thoroughly.  Researchers discovered:

“88% of respondents indicated that they understood, retained or used information better when they read print on paper compared to lower percentages (64% and less) when reading on electronic devices.”

 “80% stated a clear preference for reading print on paper for complicated materials in contrast to only 13% preferring to read complicated materials on a computer screen. Mobiles and smartphones were preferred by only 3% for reading complicated materials.”

If you sell highly complex products, seriously assess what content might be better suited for print, such as data sheets and technical briefs.

QR Codes: Worth the Effort?

A trend among exhibitors over the last few years is printing quick response codes on their marketing documents.  

Quick Response Code
Printed QR codes can direct attendees to a landing page or other online resource.


Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to this approach. Not everyone knows about QR codes.

Five years ago, they were hailed as the next big thing in marketing. However, their popularity never caught fire in North America, and their use seems to be on the decline.  Attendees also need a QR code reader installed on their smartphone to engage with an exhibitor code.

If you decide to go QR, always develop an incentive for attendees to engage with your codes.

In an article published by EXHIBITOR magazine, live event experts Tim Patterson and Kristin Veach said there are two rules for QR code use:

  1. Codes must serve a specific purpose that is well communicated.
  2. The QR code’s landing page must be optimized for smartphones.

My view is QR codes are not worth the effort. Instead, print a short, memorable URL. Always provide strong, benefit-oriented copy on why attendees should visit the web address.

Conclusion

Despite their expense, trade shows still offer B2B marketers key benefits in the 21st century, such as focused lead generation, personal access to decision makers, and promoting buzz about new products and services.

When it comes to developing and distributing content for trade shows, my best recommendation is not to complicate access to your content for attendees.  The more steps they have to take, the less likely they are to view it.

Sources:

 CEIR: The Spend Decision: Analyzing How Exhibits Fit Into The Overall Marketing Budget-http://www.tsnn.com/news-blogs/16-powerful-stats-value-trade-shows#sthash.LlZNpRyg.dpuf

 CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face –http://www.tsnn.com/news-blogs/16-powerful-stats-value-trade-shows#sthash.LlZNpRyg.dpuf

Cracking the Code – published by EXHIBITOR http://www.exhibitoronline.com/topics/article.asp?ID=1496

Print is NOT Dead: 5 Reasons Why Print is Important for Marketers –http://www.hubcast.com/print-is-not-dead-5-reasons-why-print-is-important-for-marketers/

The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens –http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/

Two Sides releases results of new U.S. survey. Reading from Paper or Reading from Screens. What do Consumers Prefer? – http://www.twosidesna.org/US/Two-Sides-releases-results-of-new-US.-survey.—Reading-from-Paper-or-Reading-from-Screens.–What-do-Consumers-Prefer

2015 B2B Technology Content Survey – Eccolo Media – http://eccolomedia.com/what-content-has-the-most-clout/

Graphic Credits:

USB Image and Content Design Tablet by Stuart Miles, courtesy of  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

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Why You Need to Recycle Your Content on Social Media

Social Media ChannelsOnly minutes to a few hours. According to research, that’s the lifespan range of social media posts.

When you’re trying to promote content like your white paper, blog post or video, the brief existence of social media updates doesn’t bode well for connecting with your target audience.

The best strategy is promoting the content on your social accounts more than once. But when you post the same text pitching your content repeatedly, it appears spammy.  What’s the solution?

In this post, I give examples from my own business on how to promote the same content multiple times without looking repetitious.

Here’s my first tweet promoting my blog entry Content Marketing: Make Small Changes for Big Results:

Content_Marketing

Then I used the following techniques to expose the same blog post on my social media channels. Try them yourself and see what response you get.

(1) Change the headline: You might choose one of the subheadlines in your blog post or come up with something new.

What headlines work best? That’s a topic of debate.

The science of writing headlines fills entire books, so I can’t get into a detailed analysis in a single blog post.  If you need headline help, check out the Resources section at the end of this entry.

In my experience, I’ve found How-to, question, and benefit-driven headings work best. Of course, the ultimate strategy to settle the argument is to measure the response.

This is my second tweet, with a new headline:

Content_Marketing_Overload

The basis of the headline is from the first paragraph of my blog post. I identify a problem (content overload), reframe the problem as a question, and entice readers to click on the link to discover the solution.

(2) Include a graphic or photo:  They’re great for boosting your blog post’s visibility.

In my third tweet, I chose a graphic from my post and altered the headline slightly from my previous tweet:

Content_Commoditization

(3) Produce a quote card: A variation on the graphic approach, a quote card contains a key piece of text from the promoted content.  A helpful tip, controversial declaration, or curiosity-invoking statements are a few ideas on what you could place on your card.

I use PowerPoint to create the graphic and then use the Save as Picture function to convert it into a jpeg file.

Below is my quote card, this time posted on LinkedIn:

Content_Marketing_Quote_Card

(4) Include social proof: With this technique, you tie your promoted content with a third-party statistic that supports it.  This indicates authority in what you’re sharing.

You don’t have to limit yourself to text.  If this stat appears in an infographic, crop the image around the stat and post it.

In this tweet, I included a statistic from a Demand Metrics survey and wrote text to create curiosity about the data.

Content_Marketing_Social_Proof

(5) Piggyback your content: Here’s where you comment on someone else’s post that discusses similar issues to your content.

In my example, I discussed interactive content in my blog post, so I remarked on the same topic on Twitter and included the link to my entry. The disadvantage of this technique is your viewer could choose the other person’s link, so you may see fewer clickthroughs.

Content_Marketing_Piggyback

Conclusion

Review your past material.  Do you have content that’s still relevant today? If yes, then implement some of above techniques and redeploy it as part of your promotional strategy.  This is also a better way to top up your social media channels than curating other people’s messages.

Have you discovered other methods to promote the same content without appearing repetitious? Share your tips in the comment section.

Resources:

Master This Copywriting Formula to Dominate Any Social Media Platform 

How to Write Headlines That Work 

30+ Ultimate Headline Formulas for Tweets, Posts, and Emails 

David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

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Is a Content Brief Vital for Content Marketing Projects?

Before I answer, let me ask you a question.   Content Brief

Have you ever worked on a complex content project with a marketing team and one of the members said, “Oh, I thought you were going to take care of that”?
I heard it more than a few times early in my career.


It’s especially heart sinking to hear when you’re approaching a deadline, and the forgotten task is key to the content’s success.

This confusion happens because the project didn’t have a plan on who was responsible for each of the details.

Before I describe a content brief, let me answer my question about the need for a brief. No, not every piece content needs it because…well…it could be too brief. For example, a content plan for a blog entry might be overkill; it’s probably better to use an outline (see below). But for long content, a brief is ideal.

Content_Brief

The difference between an outline and a brief

I define an outline as a planning document for an individual, such as a writer, designer, or project manager. It’s useful for simple, short content or

breaking down a large project into smaller chunks. But an outline is not for circulation to other team members.

A brief is more detailed. It specifies the purpose, format and audience, as well as the goals for the content produced. Unlike an outline, a brief is for distribution to all the content team, so each person knows his responsibilities.

What should a content brief contain?

The complexity of the content project will determine what you include in your brief. 

At a minimum, a content brief should have the following information:

Team Leader: The person who is steering the project. This could be a project manager, marketing director, or even a contractor. This person should also be responsible for revising the brief if necessary. While the team leader may be evident to company employees, outside vendors and contractors may not know the person in charge. It’s good to include the team leader’s contact information for those outside the company.

Content Team: A list of the people (staff, contractors) involved in the content creation and production.  As with the leader, include contact information for team members and who is responsible for what.

Title of Content: You’re completing this document at the start of a content project. At this point, it’s fine to use a placeholder title if you haven’t finalized the official name.

Description: A brief summary of the content and the form it will take (pdf, web page, video). 

Main Objective: Establish what you want the customer to learn after consuming the content and the next step you want him to take.

Target Audience:  Define whether this content is for customers, prospects, or both. Drill down further if you serve multiple markets and include a summary from relevant buyer personas that form the content’s primary audience.

Measurement: List methods to track the response to the content once it’s released.

Graphics: The photos and graphics used in the content, including file names.  Don’t forget about additional graphics you may need for content promotion (see below).

(TIP: Freedigitalphotos.net has a nice variety of pictures. You can purchase them outright or give the photographer or designer credit free use).

Promotion: This activity doesn’t get enough attention from content producers.Promotion What’s the point of creating content if your audience never knows about it? List the methods you’ll employ to promote the content, such as a news release, an announcement on the company blog, and posts on social media channels.

Proofreading: Ideally, the team leader and one other person should proof the content before distribution (preferably not the writer, who has read the text too often to see it fresh). You may want to outsource this task to a professional proofreader. Be careful:  getting too many people involved in the process can produce confusion.

Corporate / Legal Sign Off: Some content may require review by your company’s attorney or legal department. Be sure to keep your legal advisor in the loop on the content timeline. Ask how much time she requires reviewing content and include ample time to make any required revisions.

Deadline: Date of project completion. Not every project has a hard deadline to meet, but I believe it’s still better to list a particular date rather than a vague description like “early next month.” The latter slows momentum and distracts team members from completing project tasks.

Conclusion

After two decades in marketing, I have worked on projects with and without a content brief.  I can tell you a brief delivers a smoother process for every person involved.  It takes a bit of time to plug in the details, but a brief provides a host of benefits, including keeping your team focused, reducing miscommunication (and blame!) and achieving deadlines.

In fact, I can even save you time producing a brief. Copy and paste the categories above into Word and save.  Now you have a content brief template for your next project.

Sign image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

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Content Marketing: Make Small Changes for Big Results

Content MarketingProspects are swimming in content today — from you and your competitors.

The flood of popularity for content marketing makes it harder each month to stand out from everyone else.

How do you avoid content commoditization? You can use a number of techniques to burn your light brighter than the competition and do it without significant expense.  Most of the tips I suggest in this post don’t require much in upfront costs, just some additional time for brainstorming and production.

Let’s dig into the ways to add value to your content.

Make their job easier

In an average workday, prospects and customers have limited time to consume content.  They often have a computer folder loaded with marketing material they need to read and evaluate.  A vital method to differentiate your company is developing content that’s interactive or quickly absorbed.

While there’s nothing wrong with producing white papers and case studies, also create checklists, cheat sheets, and templates that can reduce and simplify a customer’s workload.

My favorite is templates. You can develop them as content calendars, customer questionnaires, buyer personas, and many other useful tools.

Content Sharing
HubSpot produced a PowerPoint template that lets you add snappy graphics for your content sharing.
Social Media Swipe File
Digital Marketer developed this swipe file of headlines for social media.
Quick Reference
At the end of a white paper for the heavy equipment market, this quick reference table delivers important load material info with an easy, at-a-glance format.


Where to next?

Your content marketing shouldn’t exist in a silo. If you have similar content that may benefit them, tell your prospects and customers where to find it. You often see this in books, with a Further Reading list.  Or online articles, with hyperlinks to related topics.

If you create a SlideShare presentation, do you have additional info on the subject? Then include a link to it.

SlideShare
At the end of a SlideShare presentation, I included a link to my blog entry with more details on the topic.


Adjust your company biography to fit the content

When you read B2B marketing documents like white papers, you see at the end of each document a brief biography of the company that produced the content. 

These bios contain the same text from one document to the next.  They include information about years in business, products and services, and, if a public company, stock market information. 

Sure, it’s easier to cut and paste this section into every document, but you’re wasting an opportunity to position your company. Instead, remind your prospects in the bio section how you solve problems discussed in content they’ve just consumed.

Create customized content

Before the Internet, you had few options to personalize marketing, other than writing your prospect’s name in the salutation of a letter.

The evolution of web analytics has gone far beyond names. It can now analyze a customer’s behavior on your website and other marketing channels, which allows you to develop content that is personal and relevant. In fact, Demand Metric reports, “78% of CMOs think custom content is the future of marketing.”

Custom Content
It may require extra time and resources from your marketing department, but personalization’s positive impact on ROI can pay for itself.


Your company’s reward is better engagement and increased revenue. For example, HubSpot remarks, “personalized calls-to-action result in a 42% higher conversion rate than calls-to-action that are the same for all visitors.”

Here’s another vital reason to personalize content. Google co-authored a study last year that revealed 46 percent of B2B buyers conducting research on future purchases are millennials. This generation expects content tailored to their specific needs and interests. They’re resistant to the mass communication model of marketing.

Conclusion

Even small changes to your content marketing can boost engagement and relevancy. With so much information racing through the Internet pipe every day, it requires nimbleness to adjust content so it distinguishes you from the competition.

Have you discovered other ways to make your content unique in your business sector? Please share them in the comments section.

Free-Content-Audit-Template

Additional Resources:

The Marketer’s Guide to Getting Started With Content Personalization

Content Marketing Personalization: When and How to Use It

The Talking Billboard: Introduction to Personalized Digital Advertising

 

Word cloud image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

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4 Common Mistakes in B2B Marketing

So what do B2B companies get wrong when they charge into the marketing ID-100267774arena?

In this post, we’ll look at four of the frequent missteps we marketers make, including producing content we think customers want, relying only on inbound marketing, and why focusing too heavily on lead generation can be costly.

Also, you’ll discover the surprising statistic on how much cash companies allocate to their marketing departments.

Let’s start with the biggest blunder:

1) Never test and measure marketing campaigns

One of the biggest puzzles I find is what marketers say they want versus the action they take to achieve that want.  Possibly the greatest contradiction is a majority of  B2B marketers claim they wish to measure the response to their campaigns, but only one-third measure and calculate their return on investment.  Even when they track their initiatives, a surprising number of marketing departments never share the information with the executive level.

Why aren’t marketers persistent on measurement activity?

Financial resources appear to be a prominent factor. Recent stats show nearly 70 percent of B2B organizations allot five percent or less of revenue on marketing.

Hmmm. This is troubling. I suspect it’s because of an enduring mindset that marketing is an expense and not an investment in driving growth. 

This lack of tracking leaves marketers confused about what works and what doesn’t. When asked by Webmarketing123 which promotional channel was their primary revenue generator, 32 percent of B2B marketers answered, “Not sure.” Yikes!

2) Never try print marketing

Digital marketing is so pervasive that it seems to marketers as the only game in town. But print has advantages. 

For one, there’s less of it than there used to be, so while your email competes with others for a customer’s attention, sending marketing material through snail mail helps you stand out from other companies. 

Most companies post their white papers and case studies as pdfs on their website. Instead, why not carefully select a few high-quality prospects and send them a printed copy of your content marketing pieces?

Today’s printing technology has made it possible to create personalized marketing documents and produce in smaller quantities than previously available with traditional offset printing.

Print can deliver a good return on investment. The Direct Marketing Association conducted research that reveals that direct mail ROI outperforms digital marketing.

Studies also suggest you can boost the impact of your digital campaigns by including complementary direct mail.  Research shows elevated open rates and increases in average sale orders than using online marketing alone.

In Direct Marketing News, Richard Rushing, senior director of digital strategy at agency Epsilon remarked, “Brands with a compelling message or offer that link direct mail and digital can expect a 10 to 30 percent uplift in conversion when combining the two channels.”

Here’s a new print approach to try.  The website Minibuk  lets you produce 3.5″ by 5″ booklets. They’re small enough to mail in a business envelope or carry easily for distribution at trade shows.  Your booklet can contain text and graphics of a presentation, webinar, case study, special report or just about any other type of marketing content. 

 3) Too little focus on customer retention

 You may have heard the business maxim that 80 percent of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers. But is this true? Yes, according to research conducted by marketing firm Gartner Group. The statistic proves the importance of keeping your customers happy to prevent defection to your competitors.

However, as you can see on the B2B Marketer’s Accountability chart below, customer retention doesn’t get as much focus as lead generation. This stat is mystifying considering marketing to current customers is significantly cheaper than acquiring new customers.  And according to Marketing Metrics, “The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.”

B2B_Marketers_Accountability
Customer retention ranks near the bottom among B2B marketers in medium-size companies.


Even marketers give themselves poor grades in this area: 70 percent rated their retention activities as either “average, poor, or needs improvement.”

To boost retention, you should audit your current content marketing assets. As well as creating content for customers, look at what you have that you could repurpose.  What could you use to upsell, cross-sell, or keep your company top of mind? How about sending customers case studies that introduce products and services they have yet to purchase?

4) Producing content for marketing channels your prospects rarely use.

A major mistake in content marketing is relying too heavily on what your competitors create. Unless you have a spy working in a competitor’s firm, you don’t know for sure which of their content is successful. While every industry has best practices, nothing beats testing the waters with your prospects before producing a load of content in a channel they don’t access.

Wrong_Marketing_Channel
Choosing the wrong marketing channel for distributing content can waste valuable time and resources.*


For example, buyers from diverse business sectors may have different preferences on content formats.  A study published by Eccolo Media on B2B influencers and decision-makers in the tech sector revealed:

 “More than half of respondents (57%) said they had looked at product brochures/data sheets from B2B technology vendors in the past six months, the most engagement with any content type.”

This may be surprising considering all the attention that digital marketing receives, but when you put tech prospects under the microscope, it makes sense.  Where a consumer might rely on a friend’s product recommendation in a social media post, a technology buyer requires in-depth details datasheets provide, particularly if they need to ensure compatibility with current corporate systems.

Conclusion

Marketing is complex, more so than many people realize — even marketers.  It has to appeal to both logic and emotions of your prospect and customers. That’s no easy task.  For a B2B marketer, you have the added burden of trying to persuade both influencers and decision makers. You’re unlikely to hit the bull’s-eye every time.

Making mistakes shouldn’t embarrass you, as they’re crucial to helping you see what appeals to your target audience and what doesn’t. Mistakes can serve as the best marketing intelligence you could ever hope to uncover!

References:

*[Infographic] Why are B2B Content Strategies Important? – CMO Council.  

Stop sign image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

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Could All this Happen to Marketing in 2014?

Blown-Away-Predict-2014 copyIt’s that time when we marketers ponder about our objectives and strategies for the New Year. After two decades of experience in the industry, I haven’t seen marketing communications splinter into so many different channels, especially in the social media space.

But having more channels doesn’t necessarily make things easier for marketers.

The Business Marketing Association and Forrester Inc noted anxiety among marketers in research presented at the BMA’s annual conference this year. Their study found that, “97% of b2b marketers are doing things they have never done before as part of marketing, and 34% of senior marketers feel ‘overwhelmed’ by change.”

If you feel snowed under and unsure about your marketing direction, have a look at some of the trends and predictions for the New Year. It might deliver the right guidance on where to aim your marketing arrows in 2014 – or at least give you a little time to prepare.

Social Media:

Social Media Trends for 2014 

Content Marketing:

Top 7 Content Marketing Trends that Will Dominate 2014 

Digital Marketing:

Digital Marketing Techniques That Will Be in Vogue in 2014 

Search Engine Marketing & Pay Per Click:

Will It Be an SEO or PPC Year for Marketers? 

Direct Marketing:

Winterberry Group’s 2014 Predictions

For my own forecasting, I predict a cooling of social media’s cool factor. Its popularity won’t sink, but companies will achieve a better understanding of where social media excels and where it doesn’t. It’s inevitable that this marketing channel would start to mature, like all others before it.

I expect to see the fast emergence of new players within social media, giving pioneers like Facebook and Twitter a run for their money. Mobile marketing will become more integrated into ecommerce and content marketing.

What about you? Where do you think marketing is headed in 2014? Please share your thoughts.

David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

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Why Your Ezine Needs a Face

Ezines, or e-newsletters, are ranked number 3 in popularity for content IMG_0788channels as published in the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends. In the realm of email content, the ezine is still the main player.

Ideally, you should associate your ezine with the face of your brand. This could be the CEO, other C-level executive, or, for smaller organizations, the company owner. Whomever you choose, he or she should be the consistent voice of your ezine.

Why Does It Matter?

Socialmedia Today published results of a survey that revealed…

“68.7% of respondents believe that C-suite social media engagement enhances the perception that a brand is honest and trustworthy, and 83.9% believe that CEO social media engagement is an effective tool to increase brand loyalty.”

While ezines don’t fall under the social media umbrella, the research shows that content with a face likely delivers improved customer engagement and response. The ezine is a more personal marketing channel than social media, so it provides a great opportunity to apply this persona branding technique.

Real World Examples

I helped a client develop a successful monthly ezine that followed this approach — combining useful content, a low key sales approach, and a personal point of view. His product was aimed at health-conscious consumers, but you could adopt this format for a variety of products in the B2B or B2C sector.

The first item to appear in my client’s ezine was an article about a specific health topic, usually a vitamin, mineral or herb. There was no direct selling of a product in the article, just interesting and valuable information, such as this excerpt on the importance of probiotics: 

EXAMPLE – 1A

Probiotic-Article

After the article my client would comment about its content and often included another piece of interesting information or little-known benefit. He would then casually introduce his health product… 

EXAMPLE – 1B

Probiotic-Email-Sales

Here’s another article from a different edition of the ezine: 

EXAMPLE – 2A

Coenzyme-article

And here’s his follow-up text:

EXAMPLE-2B

Coenzyme-Sales-Copy
Why did he have success with this style of ezine? His readers appreciated the fact that he was providing useful information up front rather than an immediate sales pitch. The tone is personal, from one health-conscious person to another, and the product benefits are delivered in a matter-of-fact way.
Additional Resource:

 

David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

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A Simple Technique for Flushing Out Hype in Content Marketing

As I mentioned in my previous posting on unique selling propositionsB2B content marketing generally has a low tolerance for hype. Expanding a bit further on this theme, I have a writing technique I use sometimes to flush out text that might be too sales oriented. It may seem a bit unorthodox, but I do find it works…PenTarget - David Coyne Communications

Write your ideal customer a letter, as if you were writing to a friend.

This doesn’t mean that your completed marketing piece has to be a letter. But writing content in the personal letter form reduces hyperbole in your text that you might find in more sales oriented marketing material. 

Assign your imaginary customer a first name, and start with the standard salutation “Dear [FIRST NAME].” (Spending time first developing a buyer persona can focus your picture of your ideal customer even more strongly. Here’s an example from Hubspot.)

Try the letter technique for the early drafts of your marketing content to see if it keeps your tone genuine.

David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

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Unique Selling Proposition – “Revealing” Better Option than “Telling” in Content Marketing


How does your product differ from your competitors? Could you name at least three differences off the top of your head? Many companies struggle to clearly identify their product’s unique selling proposition (USP).

A recent online article published by Marketing Profs indicates how costly this problem can be. The article quoted a survey by Corporate Visions that revealed “68% of respondents ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ their inability to create clear competitive differentiation was the main reason for unwanted discounting.”

     Devoting time to drill down to your product’s USP may pay off in many ways, including maintaining profitable pricing. But with the sales-neutral tone of today’s B2B content marketing, it can be tough to get across your USP without sounding like a sales pitch.

So what is the solution?

One method you can try is having your customer reveal your USP rather than you telling it.  Or course, you don’t want to put words into your customer’s mouth. That would be unethical and inauthentic.

 Mining Your Customer’s Thoughts for Support of Your USP

 Well-crafted customer questionnaires are a great way to extract USP nuggets.  (Just make sure your customer agrees to have his comments published in your content marketing projects.)

Here are examples of USP themed questions you might use…

 What differences have you noticed in [product name] compared to similar products you’ve used before?

 What is the most useful benefit of [product]?

Why didn’t you purchase from the following companies?

Why would you purchase your next product from us?

Avoid multiple choice responses to your questions as these don’t really provide enough insight.  (View other possible questions at Survey Monkey)

 After compiling them, you can quote your customer’s USP related answers in your content marketing, such as case studies.

 One More Tip…

 When you create a case study or similar content marketing, you should quote your customer directly rather than explaining it from your point of view. Quotes make writing look active and present tense and they attract the reader’s eyes.

 Instead of writing…

 Ken Wells, General Manager of Axis Equipment, has reported a 75 percent reduction in downtime since installing (product name) three months ago. He said he’s never had that type of success with any other product.

 Write…

 “Since installing (product) three months ago, we’ve seen equipment downtime reduced by 75 percent,” says Ken Wells, General Manager of Axis Equipment. “We’ve never had that type of success with any other product.”

David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

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