Share Button

Archives

Posts Tagged ‘third-party writers’

Easy ways to boost visibility of your B2B marketing content

Friday March 8, 2013

Social Media Key Royalty Free Stock Image - Image: 23350976

 

No argument here with PR veteran Len Stein that it pays to be click-smart in a click-driven world. So what does this mean for B2B marketers tasked with creating content that sells?

Plenty. Because every company is now a publisher (as well as a merchant), marketing troops are the tip of the spear in this publish-or-perish era.  They’re charged with creating authentic content that speaks directly to the information needs of your market. As obvious as this might seem at first glance, it’s a deceptively simple prescription that all too often falls prey to what the company wants to say about itself rather than what a customer needs to hear or learn. It also calls for social media savvy that’s a must-have for your content team.

Successful marketing organizations push their content well beyond their target publications and media that now represent only one conduit among many in reaching hot prospects. Today, by proactively posting links on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and elsewhere, you encourage readers to relay these links among their followers and communities via the familiar share buttons prominent on their sites.  This “network effect” increases online visibility, in some cases by orders of magnitude.  And this dramatically improves your “connection rate” with the right readers in your market category. These simple techniques help your marketing team expand the presence of your content well after it goes live.

Put these steps on your check-off list each time you’ve updated your web site, built out a new micro-site, published a strategic white paper, generated a new series of case studies, posted new video, or earned feature-treatment in key media:

  • To drive optimum traffic, include keywords in every piece of content. Caveat: craft carefully to ensure you pass muster with new search algorithms — here’s where an expert outside writing service can contribute.
  • Never fail to use your blog to reference all your new content . Think of yourself as a columnist.
  • Promote links to your content across your communities and social media channels, including customer councils, Linked In groups and all relevant industry associations.
  • Encourage your customers not to hesitate re-tweeting links.  For example, most would be only too glad to give visibility to case studies that feature them.
  • See that your PR agency does all of the above vis-à-vis the communities in their own social-mediaspheres.

And continually ask yourself what more you can be doing to make your content larger than life in a click-driven world of look-alike, me-too content. What can you add to the list above?

Ridding the world of marketing crap

Thursday February 14, 2013

And good riddance

It’s not often that you sit through a webinar and come away with some real insights.  Fortunately, today’s webinar conducted by Mintigo on improved lead generation through “Content Intelligence” delivered — and hit on some important truisms facing marketers.

As a company that espouses the “power of relevant marketing”, Mintigo struck a chord.  Zeroing in on the content marketing deluge – i.e. “crap” – that is drowning customers and prospects, the Mintigo folks got to the heart of the matter: effective content cannot just entertain and inform, it must contain material that “authentically matters to the people you’re trying to reach”.

So how do you make this determination? It boils down to segmenting your content based on your prospects’ identifiable traits and self-proclaimed areas of interest.   “Content Intelligence” uses more personalized and relevant communication to clusters of targeted prospects based on big data analysis of multiple sources (think websites visited, news preferences, blogs read, social postings and more).  By extracting the needs and interests of prospects, you can segment them into interest groups, clusters and personas.

Make no mistake, this is hard work.  And Mintigo is the first to say so despite the fact they offer up what they declare to be the world’s first Customer Search Engine that automates a lot of the heavy lifting involved.

One of the key challenges of content marketing boils down to producing enough fresh content – and figuring out what topics to communicate – to continually engage targeted prospects with information that is highly relevant in order to trigger more click-throughs.  And this means that engaging the right content development shop to help fulfill this need is becoming one of the most strategic decisions facing marketing departments today.  The days of “spray and pray” marketing are history.  Welcome to the era of content intelligence.

Ten lessons from Apple on marketing content

Friday February 17, 2012

Apple Store Display

 

On the heels of Walter Isaacson’s officially approved bio of Steve Jobs comes Adam Lashinsky’s unauthorized take on Apple — including the unsettling extremes to which the company goes to keep a lid product announcements.

While Apple has always been a great role model for product marketers, the lessons proffered here should have come with a disclaimer. Something to the effect that “Your results may vary because Steve doesn’t run your outfit”.

Still, the way we see it, the spirit of these lessons is practical to creation of marketing content. No disclaimers necessary.  You can apply them immediately.

Apple is, and always has been, all about the way it dramatizes and communicates its brand. Specifically, the engaging craftsmanship of the content it presents to the marketplace in everything from its TV commercials to its product packaging. We can all take lessons:

1. Great content comes first. Long before the lines form outside its stores and well after, Apple floods the zone with its message. And study after study shows conclusive evidence that in today’s Web 2.0 world, where the buying process begins with search, those brands with superior content published most frequently are the first found and the most followed. Content drives interest, conversions, leads and financial success.

2. Publish and promote. The fact that you don’t have the budget for TV on Oscar night or the NCAA Tournament should not prevent you from creating content tailored to the interests and aspirations of your buyer.  Content that you make easily accessible and widely visible. Toward this end, make it standard procedure to re-purpose everything you generate: turn customer stories into press releases, competitive analyses into guest-articles (or blog posts) that describe industry trends, application notes into case studies.  Make all of it social on the sites where they share professional tips with peers and learn about best practices. Understand how you can make your solutions more relevant to what’s trending in your buyer’s communities.

3. Telling trumps selling. Too much marketing content screams “You gotta get this!” when it should inspire “This, I must have.” Just as the most successful B2B salespeople are seen as problem-solvers, make your content resonate with the kinds of issues and questions that beset your customers — real users.  People want to be informed, educated and engaged, not sold to. There is a fine line here but it’s distinct.  Assuming a third-party POV and advocating on your buyer’s behalf puts you in the right frame of mind. Avoid implying that you have all the answers, just the eagerness to look for them.

4.  One company, one voice. Everything you create should look and sound like it came from no other brand but yours.  In a me-too, look-alike online world of generic templates and “replicants”, strive to stand out by being out-standing.  You might fall short of “insanely great” but you can and should establish a tone that’s yours, based on the problem you solve and the way only you can solve it.  Apple mastered this technique early on and elevated it to a high art form in recent years. The “whole” of great marketing content always exceeds the sum of its parts.

5. People don’t read white papers and case studies. They read what interests them.  Strive to create the kind of content you want to see from your own vendors.  You’re writing to someone, not at them.  Just as a personal letter (remember those?) will always be opened first, so too is content that’s made more personal through examples of real-world applications.

6. Sometimes, less is more. Apple’s reputation for rejecting proposals for new products is a good model for all marketing initiatives, including new product material, literature and collateral.  The first question to ask is if this new idea can be integrated into an existing document or web page to make them more compelling and valuable.

7. Value expertise. Apple hires the best in their fields then laser-focuses them on their assigned tasks.  Third-party writing services create content for a living.  They have to do a better job.

8. Own your message. Crafting, controlling and repeating the message is “classic Apple”, Lashinsky says.  There’s a B2B PR lesson here.

9. Calculate the worth of the first impression you want to make. While we won’t pretend that Apple’s “spending whatever it takes” is consistent with your marketing budget realities, don’t lose sight of another reality: that your content is the first impression you make on prospective customers.  Apple hasn’t always had its Fort Knox-like resources. Each of its very first computers contained, at great cost to the company, added weight to make them seem more substantial. Whatever it is, if it bears your logo it becomes who you are. How important is it to your shareholders for their company to make a good impression on an important prospect?

10. Be known for “remarkable” content. Jobs’ boast of “insanely great” was, of course, aspirational but so is a lot of Web 2.0 parlance.  The lesson here: if you want more leads of higher quality you must attract more visitors who fit a target profile that will remain dynamic.  In other words: a moving target.  This target is attracted by content created to be compelling, engaging and always relevant.

What Sumo Logic’s splashy debut reminds us about creating great content

Tuesday January 31, 2012

The Big Black Microphone

 

Jerry Della Femina, legendary ad executive from the “Mad Men” era, insisted his copywriters gather seven times the amount of source information needed on any subject prior to penning one word of marketing material.  A half-century later, we can’t argue.

The time-honored approach paid off again this week in the splashy debut of our client Sumo Logic, a next-generation log management and analytics service competing in the red hot Big Data revolution.  What we generated on their behalf, starting from scratch, amounted to a full menu of short- and long-form content, from web copy to FAQs, datasheets, use cases, case studies and whitepapers.

Sumo Logic made its directive crystal clear: develop compelling content that drives web traffic and craft a story that positions the company as highly differentiated, innovative and above all else, relevant and believable.   To the client’s credit, they demanded high-value content that stands up to the pushing, shoving and “prove it” probes from devil’s advocates: customers, media and analysts alike.

So what’s the key lesson learned? It begins with gathering as much relevant secondary and background material as possible.  Then comes a layer of deep sourcing sessions or interviews with all the key people. Kudos to our client for their enthusiastic collaboration providing direct and extensive access to the CEO, CTO, co-founder and director of biz dev, and the executive sales liaison. It’s here where we extract the primary material.  In these sessions we want to come away with the “ore” that can be processed into high-grade ingots:  the specific, real-world examples of customer struggles and challenges.  We probe for as many viable use-cases as possible.

What we’ve learned over the years is that the stronger the reader identification with these use cases, the deeper the impression and the more compelling the read. Only when we’ve extracted all relevant details do we prepare a tight outline as the storyboard or blueprint of the final product. Each piece — web pages, case studies, whitepapers and more — is a specific chapter in the company story.

The Sumo Logic intro reminded us, again, how perspiration trumps inspiration when it comes to crafting really great marketing content. Content drives marketing and sales today as in no other time.  And somewhere, Jerry D. is smiling.

What’s your content-development process?  How do your mobilize for intros and product launches?

Questions most asked about using a writing service

Wednesday January 18, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions

 

1.  What’s the best way to get outside writers up to speed on our market and technology?

Seek domain experts as well as reliable referrals from people whose content you admire.  Domain specialists should already be up to speed on technological and market issues.  Then, provide them with as much source material as you can, especially with good examples of the kind of content you’re looking for in terms of voice and style.  If you have a style guide or a template to share with them, so much the better.  If possible, get writers who have real “news” credentials: people who’ve worked in business and technology journalism, or writers who can show a rich portfolio of the type of content you want.  Journalist instincts enable storytelling of your value proposition in the way customers and users will find most credible. You want writers who naturally share the reader’s POV.

2. How can the contractor ensure high quality content that stays within budget when deadlines are really tight?

Again, a good rule of thumb is to seek out writers who have a background as a reporter or editor. The best ones will have a reputation for “eating deadlines for lunch”.


3. We have a variety of writing projects that range from web copy to case studies, application notes, FAQs and white papers. Is it possible that all these skills exist in the same writer(s)?

The best writing services cover these specialties and work in collaborative teams under one roof, so to speak.  This ensures integrated content and project management efficiencies.  Seek out a reputable service with accomplishments on both sides of the desk – consulting to and in-house executive management at start-ups, mid-size enterprises and global brands. They should have experience in all flavors of content from web-based product publicity to corporate PR and issues management to advertising.  Such a service should understand the all-important context in which in each message must be presented, based on how it will be received and consumed.

4. What’s the most productive process for creating content and delivering successful outcomes?

As trite as it may sound, it’s critical to be prepared. On the client side, it’s useful to have a messaging “scaffold” prepared for your writing team that can succinctly answer the following:  1) What’s the target customer profile for this content? 2) What are the key market dynamics/requirements influencing the audience you’re targeting? 3) What are your compelling reasons-to-buy propositions? 4) What core benefits do you deliver? 5) What are your key differentiators? 6) How do you summarize your strategic advantages?

Your writing team should have a methodology for streamlining the content creation process.  This should include: 1) A clear scope of work and budgetary guidelines; (2) firm grasp of the project initiatives and associated deadlines; 3) a game plan for working with key client stakeholders; 5) recognition of the readership-per-project; 6) knowledge of audience concerns and needs; 7) compilation of proof points to substantiate claims and confirmation of the tone/voice for each project;  8) ability to storyboard findings; 9) development of tight outlines, first drafts and final revisions that always meet deadlines.

Customer-relevant content, kept fresh on your site, is currency in today’s marketplace.  It’s the primary way to get found in an increasingly in-bound world of B2B marketing.

Is blogging really dead?

Friday January 13, 2012

Mark Twain/samuel Clemens/eps

 

 

Declaring the death of a trend can get attention but it doesn’t make it true.  Take “blogging is dead”, or “dying”, as a prime example.

We recently came across a Mark Twain-like death”of blogs and the Web. ‪The supposition is based on the belief that blogs simply get drowned out by the avalanche of data choking would-be readers’ mailboxes, browsers, and social-media pages.  There is truth to the claim of data overload, of course, but it doesn’t nullify the positive impact of well-conceived blog content that serves the interests of readers and grows the number of the visitors you want coming to your site.

There’s certainly no data we’re aware of to suggest a declining number of blogs published on corporate web sites.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  It was projected last year that 43% of U.S. companies would be utilizing blogs for marketing in 2012 – compared to 16% in 2007.  So, yes, reports of the death of blogging are exaggerated.

The reason for its good health is easy to understand. Keeping web sites and blog content fresh and relevant to customer readership continues to be the simplest and quickest means of sustaining and enhancing your web presence.

It’s also a simple, quick way to build and substantiate thought leadership in your category whenever you can hold forth on topics of educational interest to your marketplace of customers, prospects and industry followers.

Branded blogs that thrive are those that evolve right along with the web itself. Just as corporate web sites are far more interactive today than their passive ancestors, today’s business blogs and market-savvy bloggers strive for two-way conversational engagement with readers.  They invite give and take.  This is in sharp contrast to their one-way communication soapbox predecessors.

Empirical evidence ties sales productivity, in the form of lower-cost lead generation, to a vendor’s blog activity.  Another reason why intelligently out-sourced blog content development to domain experts can represent such an intelligent (and measurable) investment in business development.  As long as they remain so useful, blogs won’t be disappearing any time soon.

Did your blog generate quality leads last year? What’s your process for coming up with new ideas to write about?  Do you solicit subject matter from customers? What’s your plan?

Why tech managers hate to write

Friday December 23, 2011

Angry Businessman

 

We were talking to a friend of ours at a mid-size tech firm the other day and the conversation turned to the  subject of web sites, content generation and writing.

“The stuff on our site is really stale,” he said. “We need a complete makeover, but there’s so much else going on right now we keep putting it off”.

I suggested he bring in an outside writer. “We’ve tried that”, he said. “It’s a pain. And not cheap.  Learning curve’s too steep.  Besides, we have the resources inside.  We’ll get it done.”

“So what’s the problem?” I asked.

“Procrastination, probably. And I hate to write. And we’re interrupt-driven to some extent”.

And there you have it. Vicious circle of allowing busy-ness to interfere with the business of generating fresh content. Combine this with a natural aversion to the keyboard, and procrastination prevails. Anecdotal evidence around the Valley suggests that many managers not only don’t like to write, they don’t like to even initiate writing projects that call for (gasp) coming face-to-face with new content that must be set in stone. Or, at least, put up on the web site.  Which is problematic in today’s in-bound marketing world where “content is king”.

Fact: writing is hard work but most everything we do everyday isn’t easy.  That’s why they call it “work”.
Fact: there are domain experts out there in all tech sectors for whom your learning curve should not be an issue. We won’t say they’re a dime a dozen, but they are available.
Fact: you know that marketing today is in-bound.  This means that the people you want coming to your site and lingering long enough to fill out a form can’t be pushed in anymore. They find out on their own who’s hot by talking to peers and searching online. In that order.
Fact: this means that the buzz you build is the gift that keeps on giving.
Fact: fresh and frequently re-freshed content draws search engines which propel your rank upwards which increases the chances that you’ll be found.
Fact: if your content is compelling it will be shared and the buzz machine will kick in.

Is getting that writing project off your back a New Year’s resolution for you?

There’s a small difference between the companies who really get it when it comes to in-bound, content marketing and the ones who muddle along with low-traffic web sites and so-called leads that are merely a collection of fast-aging business cards. Which one are you?

Six ways a good content creator can drive more of the traffic you want to your web site.

Tuesday December 13, 2011

Blog

 

Creating great content on your web site and keeping it fresh — and specific to your customer offerings — is key to higher, more effective market visibility.  Why?  Because fresh, compelling, customer-relevant content creates the links that elevate your ranking by the search engines.  The more relevant links you attract, the more you increase the traffic you want. This, in turn, generates more click-throughs, more trials, more orders.

So how to do this with so much else on your plate today? At Write Angle, we suggest doing as our colleagues over at HubSpot ceaselessly recommend: hire a creator of remarkable content, not some self-styled SEO ninja.  Start by identifying the most compelling storytellers in your domain. The ones who know your business and can write for the readers you want to attract.

SEO Scientist Dan Zarella , who is quick to distinguish himself from a “ninja”, unwrapped a new set of datapoints the other day. They underscore the notion that the online results we all crave come our way organically to the extent that we produce and publish more content more often.  And this means more blog posts that contain remarkable content.  “Re-markable” is defined as irresistibly share-able, re-Tweetable and forward-able links, all of which combine to enhance your search rankings.  Exactly what content creators are supposed to do.

Here are the key take-aways from the data:

1.   Blog posts are the simplest way to refresh your online content on the most frequent basis.

2.   Fresh content drives visits and traffic.

3.   You cannot post too frequently.

4.   Post the most topical material specific to your offerings that appeal to the current interest of your customers and prospects.  Avoid industry jargon and focus on words conveying timeliness and immediacy to your reader.

5.   The more targeted you make your content re #4 above, the greater your chance of being found.

6.   You are as much in the publishing business today as the business of your category.

Question: what’s happening right now in your customers’ world on which you have a provocative observation or thoughts worth sharing with them?  If you were a customer, what would you want to know? What would compel you to share it with your associates? What can you do to accelerate the sharing of these observations? When was the last time you published something that was conceived from the vantage of the visitors you want to attract to your site?

Ten tips for better result$ from your content in 2012

Tuesday December 6, 2011

Thinking Heads



Case studies, white papers, solutions briefs, web content and blogging aren’t ends in themselves but the means to productive ends: more site visits, inquiries, trials, orders and revenue.  To help prepare you for the new year,  we’ve compiled a Top Ten list of representative tips for results-driven writing that we published here in 2011.  We hope they can contribute to your marketing mission as much they have stood the test of time in our own practice.  And here’s to a happy, prosperous New Year from Write Angle!

1.  More site traffic might make you feel good, but upping the number of visitors who actually make decisions about purchases is the metric the CEO will look for.  Here are five ways to make web content attract the right visitors to your site.

2.  There are a lot of wrong ways to produce content and the snake oil of SEO is more widespread than ever today. Beware. Here are some guidelines intended to help you avoid the three biggest mistakes in content marketing.

3.  If your case studies aren’t lead generators, is the time you’re taking to produce them really worth it?  Make the most of your time by applying these three things that make your case studies drive quality leads.

4.  Ninjas, gurus and wizards belong in video games, not on your content team.  The Web site metrics your content must drive are achievable by regular folks doing the right things.

5.  Making the most of your resources will be no less important in the coming year, if not more so. To create quality content on time and on budget, it’s incumbent upon the internal team to know how to get the most out of your writing consultants.

6.  “Ready, fire, aim” has never been a winning sequence when it comes to marketing and selling.  Carefully consider and answer our five questions to ask BEFORE embarking on a content-creation effort.

7.  Too many marketers undertake a writing project with an objective of getting it approved rather than making it effective. The objective of any content is to be consumed.  It must be read and passed along.  At Write Angle, we call it market-alism: how to write copy that customers want to read.

8.  It’s essential to see the world through customers’ eyes and to not look at customers through the lens of your offerings. Here’s an insider’s guide to outside-in writing.

9.  You want readers to heed your calls to action. To do so, those readers must relate to the story you tell. So it’s no mystery that citing examples that speak to customers makes your content hard to ignore.

10. McAfee, a brand that aims to protect itself as zealously as it strives to safeguard its customers’ digital assets, shares our views on why guarding the brand is Job One for technology writers.

What are your New Year’s resolutions on improving your marketing content?  What did you learn in 2011 that you intend to practice in 2012?

Citing examples that speak to customers makes your content hard to ignore

Monday November 28, 2011

Products And Customers



It’s a given that domain expertise is required to create content that’s technically accurate. What makes the content compelling and gets readers to click-through, call, request a demo or take the next steps toward a purchase or trial is the ability to tell a great story. And a key component of any white paper, solution brief, application note or case study calls for representative, real-world examples that get the reader to think, “Hey, that’s me.”

Today’s information-overloaded customers are as short on time as they are on attention.

In a matter of seconds you must convey that your product or service is tailor made to solve immediately recognizable problems.

This means spotlighting real-world examples just as prominently as the features and corresponding benefits of your product. Technical “tutorials” mean little to a customer/reader without a clear, concise description of the real-world benefits your technology delivers.

Consider a security company whose technology detects anomalous conditions from log files.  Readers need context to better understand what this means.  By adding key examples of anomalous conditions, such as “knowing what systems were accessed by an unauthorized user, what data they touched and where they sent it”, provides readers with an immediately identifiable problem they are on the hook to address.  By putting your domain expertise in context, you stand a much better chance of resonating with your readers.

In the case of the security company cited above, use cases can take on immediacy and drama when compelling examples are woven into the narrative.  Take technologies designed for intrusion detection and Advanced Persistent Threats.  Plugging in a real world example to orient readers to a specific problem is a magnet for further investigation:  “Being alerted to a user who typically logs into one or two corporate systems between the hours of 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday through Friday and suddenly attempts to log into multiple systems at odd hours of the day, including weekends, is a strong indication of a potentially hacked or compromised account.” Suddenly, your benefit — the critical role your product played in determining the violation and making the process so much simpler and faster for security teams – now takes on a new, compelling dimension.

Always be articulating or alluding to the tangible benefit of your offering with examples that speak directly to your buyer. Your domain expertise is essential.  You can make it pay off even more by showing your equally expert appreciation of the practical problem your customer is trying to solve.

What’s your view of domain-expertise as criteria for content creators? How do you do “reality-checks” on your content?  How do you select writers? On a 10-point scale, how do your rate your content for customer-relevance?