The Savvy B2B Marketing Blog picked up on an interesting recent study which suggested that if your company is producing authoritative publications such as white papers (and you should be), then the cover is critical. Unfortunately for me, their reward for getting in first means that they got the obvious headline, Prospects DO Judge Your White Paper by its Cover. It would appear that you’ll get a significant increase in readership if you add details to the front cover explaining who the publication targets and what buying stage it’s aimed at. That’s probably not a huge surprise, but it’s probably something most of us don’t do. In addition, if you link to different parts of the content, the links shouldn’t be to chapter headings, but to parts of the document which address specific needs, goals and issues. I wonder if the principle could also be applied to other publications, such as catalogues and brochures? Is there everything to gain in terms of getting the reader’s interest by highlighting that this publication is for them? Fairly obvious really, but I’m going slap my forehead and say “D’oh!” anyway.
There’s a nice article called What Marketers Can Learn from Storytellers on Savvy B2B Marketing. I’ve been doing a course this year on video marketing, and it’s been made quite apparent that the “story” a video tells will make or break the presentation. But the same applies to a piece of persuasive writing too. You need surprise! You need inspiration! And you need dramatic tension too…
Case studies. Application notes. User stories. Whatever you call them, they ought to be somewhere in your marketing arsenal. If you’re using an external PR company, they’re probably on at you all the time to do these. Why? Because they can just pass it on to some tech writer for £500 (been there, done that) and sell it on to you at a nice markup. If you use a small PR company or a freelance writer, they’ll probably be less enthusiastic, for the same reason you don’t like to do them yourself. When case studies get detailed, the customers start getting cold feet, and they’re not much fun to do.
However, I was intrigued by B2B Marketing Case Studies: Is Shorter Better? on Savvy B2B Marketing. In the past, the case study was often written with magazines in mind. That meant 1,000 words or more. Now that we’re all publishing straight to market instead, the case study is more likely to be for your own website. And online, a much shorter format might be more appropriate.
Now, supposing your case study only needs to be 250 words (the length of this article). That’s something which the salesman who dealt with the application could write. Or which you could write from a brief conversation with him. It’ll also be a lot easier to get customer approval.
So, if the case study production line at your company has dried up, perhaps it’s time to restart it.
Whilst working on a website rebuild for a small industrial distributor last week, I looked at the sites belonging to half a dozen of their competitors. To be honest, although I was familiar with the market sector and the technology, these competitors were quite niche ones, and I’d only ever heard of one of them. This meant that like many website visitors, I made snap judgments about the companies from just a few seconds reading a product page. I’m not sure whether the companies which struck me as looking competent, approachable and trustworthy were indeed the ones which are most competent, approachable and trustworthy, but that’s the way customers make decisions.
I’ve just read Is Your B2B Website Inspiring Trust? on Savvy B2B Marketing, which makes a great attempt at identifying the elements that make a website give the desired impression at a glance. The article lists eight things to look at, to which I’d add “Is the website talking to me?” and “Would it deal with a customer of my size/in my location/with my requirements?”
If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, put up a page from your website and ask those ten questions about it. If you’ve got a bit longer, see how your competitors fare.
Last month I discussed the concept of a “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) page, and quoted the observation that if those questions really are FREQUENTLY ASKED, why the heck isnt your regular copy answering your visitors questions?
However, although the majority of business to business websites I visit don’t have an FAQs page, that’s not because they answer them all in the copy. It’s because they’ve never even thought about them and considered putting them on the company website. So, curiously, the first step to removing the FAQs page – and addressing your visitors’ questions before they’re asked – is to create an FAQs page in the first place.
Frequently Asked Questions, and their answers, turn out to be great traffic generators from the search engines, because they address problems in the everyday language used by customers and prospects. This, and other reasons for having an FAQs page, are discussed in 5 Reasons to Include FAQs in Your Content Marketing Strategy on Savvy B2B Marketing. The whole exercise of asking what it really is that your prospects need to know is always a revealing one.