Reproduced with permission from Vertical Measures.
Abridged with the author’s permission from Marketing Interactions.
I’m starting to see customer retention, up-sell and cross-sell getting a bit more attention from B2B marketers these days. The challenge is that marketing to existing customers is a very different animal from marketing to new companies. A few reasons why:
- Their status quo is different
- They have a relationship with you
- Their expectations are higher
Your content strategy must shift in response.
A New Status Quo
Your customer’s situation is different because they’ve purchased your solution to their original problem. Therefore, everything you said to them prior to that purchase is now irrelevant.
But now that their original problem has been solved, how do you evolve your content strategy to improve customer satisfaction, extend relationships and expand accounts?
- Use and Rely Upon: After purchase, your content should help them embrace the new solution and address issues such as user adoption, reporting, and other things they need to know to get the value you originally promised.
- Gain More Value: Once the customer is using and relying upon the original solution, your goal is to help them find even more value than you promised. This could mean introducing new ideas that take them from their new status quo to a position of higher value—often by purchasing enhancements or additional solutions. Keep the sales pitch subtle. This is about thought leadership, education and expertise. Then cement that with case studies that focus on what your customers have achieved beyond solving the original problem.
- Renewal or Expansion: Given your goal, this is the late stage of the buying or renewal process. This is when marketers really need to focus on creating the content that account managers need to convince customers to stay. Talk to your account managers and really probe to understand what they’re hearing from existing customers.
The Customer Relationship
One thing to consider is how to segment customers not only based on what opportunities their new situations present, but by how much attention they get from their account managers. Often, for economical reasons, only the best/biggest accounts get a lot of attention. It’s marketing’s job to help the customers with limited account manager relationships feel the love. And that means creating content programs that they find valuable.
Many buyers say that a key factor in their decision to do business with a company rested, in part, on the value of the content and unbiased information provided during their buying process. Why wouldn’t the same be true of their renewal process? But, based on that previous buying process, their expectations are high. They expect evolution from what was a stellar engagement process during buying to a better one now that they’re customers.
And they should. Given the fact that markets change quickly and solutions evolve much faster, there will always be a new story to tell. The marketers who tell it first and best, putting an insightful spin on how their customers can reap even more value, will be the ones who help their company win more business.
Providing value to our customers does not stop with purchase. The story just changes. It’s up to us to help them connect the dots to find more value and new approaches to reaching their business objectives.
Ardath Albee is CEO and B2B Marketing Strategist for Marketing Interactions, Inc. Her book eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale is available from McGraw Hill.
As meeting coverage experts, we have seen more than our share of PowerPoint presentations, and as writers, editors, and designers we have created them and helped clients make them look as good as possible. We have also written in the past here about the limitations PowerPoint imposes and about some simple guidelines for using its strengths. But PowerPoint itself has seemed so ubiquitous that even when we chafed against it, we were resigned to it as the dominant presentation paradigm.
But now there is a new, Web-based presentation option in Prezi, a Hungarian company that has grown rapidly since its launch in 2009. It seems to us that Prezi offers several major advantages over traditional slide-based presentations, whether those be based in PowerPoint (as most are nowadays) or not.
First, and most important, any slideshow is necessarily organized linearly. You must click through the slides in a specific order. In a traditional speech you give a high-level summary first that outlines what you will talk about, then you touch on each element of that outline. Accordingly, PowerPoints are usually organized with a simple outline first, then major sections that correspond to the items on that outline. Every slide has an equal weight, from the most important to the least.
Prezi presentations, on the other hand, are organized spatially. All of the elements of your speech are organized on a single field, all at the same time. To go from major topic 1 to subtopic 1A you do not advance to the next slide, you zoom into the “1” area to find 1A, 1B, which have been living there in smaller type all along. You can zoom in and out without limit, which helps you convey immediately and intuitively what is important, high-level information and what is subsidiary detail. That is especially helpful when people share your presentation after your speech—or even independently of it, as seems to be more and more often the case.
Second, it seems to us that zooming in and out should help circumvent PowerPoint’s major limitation on the amount of information that can be conveyed in any one graph or table. One of Edward Tufte’s beefs with PowerPoint, for example, is that its slides effectively make it impossible to present complex graphics that show the relationships among many pieces of data. But if you can zoom in and out of a single graphic, you can allow it to be much more complex, and potentially provide your audience with a much more complete, nuanced view.
Third, Prezi’s interface seems to make it much easier and more intuitive to use a wider range of graphics than PowerPoint, and to orient those graphics and accompanying text in any direction. While theoretically it may be possible to create a PowerPoint slide with your text on an angle following the slope of a line on a graph, in practice it is quite difficult. In Prezi that sort of thing seems to be very easy.
There are some drawbacks to Prezi. For example, unlike PowerPoint, which you license once and can use forever, because Prezi is Web-based you must pay an ongoing subscription, at various pricing tiers depending on how heavily you use it. The basic pricing tier is free, however, so it is at least easy to check it out and see how you like it. Visit Prezi’s Learn page for tutorial videos that make it clearer how the product works. Below is an example they’re currently sharing on their website to give you an idea what is possible with it.
It’s a lot easier than you might think to add an ebook to your content marketing plan.
I can practically hear you thinking: “Whoa there, hang on! An ebook? I’m not an author.”
You don’t need to be. What we’re talking about here isn’t writing a work of fiction, we’re talking about creating a piece of content marketing that is:
- Useful to your target market
- Full of good information that you already have to hand
- So valuable to your audience that they’ll easily convert—this is no ‘freebie’
- Created once and revisited over and over again
Sound good to you? Let’s get started then.
What’s your ebook about?
The first thing you need to decide is what you’re going to write about. This might be easy for some of you, and it then again, it might not.
When we put together our 15 page ebook, we knew we wanted to give our readers some simple starting points for content marketing copywriting. The difficult part actually became cutting it down to size!
The important thing is to write about something super important to your audience.
One way to make it easy on yourself
If you’ve been blogging for a while and you have some really popular posts—or even just several posts and articles your audience finds really useful, you can do what many popular bloggers do—pull them all together to create a simple, authoritative ebook covering your topic in depth.
The advantage of this for you is that you simply need to gather the content, order it, and edit it into a single volume and you’ve got an ebook.
The advantage to your audience is that they get everything in one place—no hunting around on your site for the posts.
Even better, you can add material to your ebook that sweetens the deal for the reader and gives them exclusive information that’s not in your blog posts.
Write an ebook from scratch
Okay, not everyone has a wealth of articles and posts to pull from. Or, perhaps you’ve picked a topic that you’ve never written about before.
No worries. You could hire a copywriter to put it together for you.
If you want to tackle the writing yourself, there’s a great post over on Copyblogger on how to do this: How to Write a High-Quality eBook in 30 Days. It’s really quite a simple process.
Schedule in the time to put it all together and you’re on your way to sharing your ebook.
Publishing and distributing your ebook
Because we’re not talking about your next novel here, I’m not going to talk about publishing an ebook on Kindle and self-publishing, etc.
What we’ll look at is where you can use your ebook in your content marketing funnel.
Ebooks can be used as an incentive for signing up for a newsletter or email marketing. Prospects can always unsubscribe, lowering the barrier to signing up in the first place. But putting your ebook there as an incentive gives them a reason to share their email address beyond your promise of an informative newsletter.
You could also use your ebook as a value-add.
Let’s say you’re a legal firm and you get an inquiry through your phone line. Get reception to ask for an email address while they book the initial appointment. Then you can send the prospective client an ebook that covers the nature of their query BEFORE they come in to meet with you.
This puts you on good ground with your prospect/client and creates a bit of that magic ‘reciprocity.’ It leaves them feeling (hopefully) grateful that you’ve shared ‘something for nothing’ and have anticipated their needs.
Hopefully this leaves you feeling ready to create your own ebook. When you do, we’d love to read it.
Derryck Strachan is an SEO copywriter and managing director of Big Star Copywriting, a leading UK copywriting agency. They provide copywriting services, content marketing and training to clients across the UK and internationally.
Slightly expanded with the author’s permission from The Conversion Scientist.
We did some very interesting research at Conversion Sciences labs, and we love it when our deeply held beliefs get blown out of the water.
It’s happened again.
Most of us assume that if our pages are “engaging” to visitors, that they are more likely to convert to leads or sales. If they are engaged, they have more time to take action. If they are engaged, they will truly understand our value and become a lead or a customer.
Look at the following graph of three videos. These three different videos appeared on three otherwise identical landing pages. The graph is “Viewer Attention” as is recorded by YouTube. Basically, these graphs tell us how many visitors were still watching at any point in the video. It tells us how engaging a video is.
Clearly, we would expect whiteboard style video to be the highest converting video, since viewers are more engaged for the entire length of the video. We expect slides to be almost as successful. However, we expect plain old talking head videos to perform poorly.
Now take a look at the following graph. This is a graph of the conversion rates of the same videos.
This graph tells us that plain old talking head video is getting more visitors to click than our webinar-style slide-based video, even though it has significantly worse engagement.
Clearly, engagement doesn’t predict conversion in this case. Here, engagement is actually distraction. We did eye-tracking studies, and it turns out that too much motion and too many scene changes in a video—as you get with slides—draw the viewer’s attention away from the call to action on the page.
These findings lead to a few recommendations on how to use video for maximum effect:
- Use less motion if you use video on landing pages, and repeat your call to action in the video.
- Use more engaging styles of video—types with more motion, like whiteboards—to keep viewers’ attention long enough to explain complicated concepts.
- Place your calls to action near moving components on the page.
- Test your good, engaging videos to make sure that they actually increase your conversion rate.
Visit SearchEngineLand for a fuller summary of the results. (You’ll notice a slightly different graph. The one here represents our most recent findings.)
Over the last five years or so, pretty much everyone who does content-based or inbound marketing has come to include Facebook as part of their strategy. As of a year ago, one out of every eight minutes online was spent on Facebook, and businesses have come up with increasingly innovative, fun ways to engage their customers in personal, social interactions.
This has been worth it to marketers and self-promoters because Facebook has been a reliable part of a content-based marketing strategy. If you got someone to “Like” your page on Facebook, it meant that they were actively opting in to hearing the news and information you had to offer—and that, as importantly, they could now depend on hearing all that news and information when you offered it.
Building that audience takes time and resources. Many businesses have hired full-time staff or at least paid outside consultants to help them specifically with social media outreach. Nonprofit organizations, media websites, and brands post on Facebook multiple times per day in an effort to keep the audiences they have won engaged and interested.
But now Facebook itself seems to have changed the rules of the game. No longer will an organization’s Page automatically send updates to all of the users who have “Liked” it. Instead, as chronicled in a widely circulated post from Dangerous Minds, Facebook seems to have been slowly degrading organizations’ ability to reach their subscribers. As the NY Observer’s Ryan Holiday noted:
Facebook acknowledged it as recently as last week: messages now reach, on average, just 15 percent of an account’s fans.
The solution Facebook recently rolled out was to offer organizations the option to pay to have any individual story reach a greater percentage of fans. Dangerous Minds did the math for their own self-promotion:
At Dangerous Minds, we post anywhere from 10 to 16 items per day, fewer on the weekends. To reach 100% of our 50k+ Facebook fans they’d charge us $200 per post. That would cost us between $2000 and $3200 per day—but let’s go with the lower, easier to multiply number. We post seven days a week, that would be about $14,000 per week, $56,000 per month… a grand total of $672,000 for what we got for free before Facebook started turning the traffic spigot down in Spring of this year.
Obviously, this completely changes the calculus for an organization hoping to use social media marketing. Let’s say you’re a modest-sized business that has hired one full-time employee to do all of your social media marketing—that probably meant your entire social media budget was under $100,000. Now you are going to have to budget significant additional expenses to pursue the same strategy, accept a reach of 20 percent of what you had hoped for, or turn your attention to platforms that don’t charge you as much yet, like Twitter.
In any event, this development is going to force organizations of all kinds to seriously rethink their online marketing plans.
Slightly abridged with the author’s permission from Neuromarketing.
Can an initial rejection actually help you get the “yes” you really want? Surprisingly, if you create the right first and second requests, it can. Persuasion expert Robert Cialdini conducted a classic experiment that demonstrates the technique by soliciting volunteers to work with troubled kids.
When college students were asked to volunteer to spend two hours accompanying boys and girls from a juvenile detention facility on a trip to the zoo, fewer than one in five—a mere 16.7%—agreed to participate. Then one change was made to the solicitation and the positive responses jumped to 50%.
How did the experimenters boost the rate at which people volunteered so dramatically? They started by asking for a much larger time commitment—two hours per week for two years of unpaid volunteer effort in a juvenile detention facility. Needless to say, not a single student agreed to the lengthy stint of service. But, having rejected that request, they were more than three times as likely to agree to the two hour commitment.
Cialdini dubbed this the “door in face” technique since it involved an initial rejection. It reminds me, too, of the wildly successful Girl Scout cookie sales technique I described in Cookie Framing. In that case, the young lady asked for an outrageous donation amount, and then moderated her request to purchasing some cookies.
Several psychological factors may be at work here. Framing is one—the second request seems small, or even inconsequential, in scale compared to the first one. The main effect may be “concession reciprocity” —when the first request is moderated to a much smaller request, there’s a social expectation that the second party will give a little, too.
Get the Sequence Right
The boost in conversion occurred when the requests were made in a specific order. First, the large request was made and then was rejected. Only then was the second, much smaller request made. The experimenters tried offering both the large and small requests at the same time, and that produced only a small increase in signups: from 16.7% to 25%. So merely offering customers or donors two choices of greatly different magnitudes won’t be particularly effective. The requests must be sequential, and the first request must be rejected before offering the second option.
Business and Non-Profit Uses
It’s clear this technique can apply to non-profits seeking donations or commitments of time. That’s the situation Cialdini tested, and there’s an inherent motivation for most of us to help a worthy cause. But what about business use? Can a salesperson increase the chance of getting an order?
For this to be an effective business strategy, there has to be some level of motivation on the part of the buyer. The buyer must need the product, or one like it. If I have no interest in buying life insurance, backing off from a costly $5 million policy to a modest $50K policy isn’t likely to have any effect at all. A good relationship between the buyer and the salesperson will also help a lot—positive social factors are more likely to come into play if the buyer is favorably disposed toward the seller.
Of course, this isn’t just for salespeople—the buyer could demand major concessions from the seller in price and exclusivity, and after rejection make a much more modest request for expedited delivery on the next order.
The neuromarketing takeaway is that you shouldn’t fear rejection—it can actually pay to seek it!
Roger Dooley is a marketing speaker, the founder of Dooley Direct, a neuromarketing and digital marketing consultancy, and author of the blog Neuromarketing and the book Brainfluence (Wiley, November 2011). Twitter: @rogerdooley.
Seven years ago, the three guys at the heart of the Toronto-based The Basketball Jones—J.E. Skeets, Tas Melas, and Jason Doyle—started getting together once a week to record themselves talking about basketball. Over the coming years they slowly built a following until, after four years of doing it on their own, they got hired by the Canadian sports channel The Score, to do it as their day job. While it’s always difficult to get direct information about other people’s traffic, getting hired full-time is a pretty strong indication that you’ve grown a substantial audience.
Recently they spoke at the Blogs With Balls sports media conference about the rules they followed to get there. The whole thing is an enjoyable listen, but in case you have only a few minutes to spare here they are in brief:
- Be consistent. You keep an audience at least partly through habit, and any loss of consistency means weakening that habit. Once they began podcasting daily, on occasion that even meant having one of their hosts call up via Skype, badly hung over. To them it was worth it.
- Find ways to involve your audience. The Basketball Jones guys described ways they solicited listener content (like making fun of their basketball-related doodles on air), and stressed that they built their audience by responding to every Tweet and blog comment. Their audience felt like they had a relationship with these guys, and it paid off: a concerted email campaign from fans was part of what sealed the deal with The Score.
- Make your product as professional-sounding as possible. Or, when they began video podcasting, as professional-looking as possible. All other things being equal, listeners or viewers will stick with the show that sounds cleanest.
- Challenge yourself. When the show was successful once a week, they pushed it to every day. When it proved successful once a day as an audio podcast, they began doing a video version. This year they started doing the show live, streaming over the internet.
- Show your real personality. Audiences connect with people who seem real. Because they found themselves sitting around the office making puns out of the names of NBA players, for example, they made that a recurring segment on the show.
- Prepare thoroughly. It takes a lot of planning to sound natural on the mike. Having a structure in place to guide what you want to say gives you more freedom to speak normally and conversationally.
- Don’t be afraid to violate any rule. Sometimes these guidelines come into conflict. For example, for a whole season The Basketball Jones recorded over Skype, even though the audio quality wasn’t as good (violating rule #3), because it allowed them to put out a podcast every day.
Reprinted with the author’s permission from the Big Star Copywriting blog.
We often see briefs for a copywriter that ask us to make the copy ‘punchy.’
While this can be seen as a vague request by some, I tend to read it as the client asking for the copy to be better than average.
When you want to knock out your reader with words and write a piece with a punch, what do you do?
Here are a few tips.
1. Write your first draft in one pass
Momentum is in your corner when you’re trying to persuade. Get your thoughts to flow onto the page by writing the piece in one go.
I challenge you to sit down and, without hesitating, write a quick first draft that sets out your points with passion.
Forget what you learned in school. Start with your summary (conclusion) first and illustrate your point of view with supporting points in the body copy. This is the preferred style for time-starved online readers and it sets up clever combinations like Muhammad Ali.
2. Cut it down to size
Get the piece in shape by tightening your writing. A great copywriter will now take the passion and flow of the first draft and sharpen the points by getting rid of all the extraneous, unneeded, bloated copywriting.
- Seek and destroy all exclamation points – replace them with strong verbs. If you have to shout, you’ve already lost your reader.
- Burn adverbs – say what you mean; it’s not ‘very big’, it’s ‘enormous’; you fail this exercise if you can still find a ‘very’ in your draft.
- Mind the adjectives – if you took away all the adjectives in your writing, would it still be persuasive and passionate? If not, write it again.
- Rout out repetition – say it once with confidence; your readers will thank you.
- Stomp on redundancy – ‘free gift’ ‘please RSVP’ ‘past history’; there are hundreds of these verbal redundancies, get rid of them.
- Search for ‘so’ and delete it. Your point of view is more convincing without saying ‘so.’
3. Stop the solutions
Insurance solutions. Banking solutions. Video solutions. Noun solutions. Want a solution for boring? Tell us what it’s a ‘solution’ to.
State the problem that your product or service solves. It’s much more persuasive.
4. Read it back out loud
By now you should have a ‘punchy’ piece of copywriting.
Now read it back to yourself – out loud.
Your ear is the best editor you have. Use it to find any errors, gaps, clunky phrases and awkward stretches.
If you have come this far, well done. You’re on your way to punchier copywriting and a real knock-out career.
Steve Kellas is with Big Star Copywriting.
Abridged with the author’s permission from Post-Advertising.
I hate mustard.
Yet I’m a fan of Grey Poupon on Facebook.
If my wife sneaked mustard into a sandwich, I’d spit it out like a petulant child. But Grey Poupon took an approach to building a community on Facebook that was so unusual, so exclusive, that I had to become a fan (or at least try).
According to the brand’s Pinterest page, which also serves as its website, the mustard is “synonymous with all that is refined, exquisite and delicious.” So, like country clubs and gated communities, Grey Poupon’s Facebook page is not open to just anyone. No, it’s a “discerning Facebook Society that rewards those who spread good taste,” and you have to apply to become a member.
While brands are racing to expand their follower bases, buying Facebook ads and, in some sad cases, even buying fans, Grey Poupon is doing the opposite.
Any Facebook user can Like the page, but Grey Poupon features an in-page application that houses the Society of Good Taste—a “private club committed to upholding the pillars of good taste set by our mustard. Only applicants with the most discerning palates will be admitted.” The kicker is that if you don’t “cut the mustard,” so to speak, your Like will be rescinded. The algorithm looks at the movies you watch, the restaurants you frequent and your grammar.
It’s unique. It’s grabbing headlines. It’s being shared. It’s creating massive earned media—the kind that’s free and that continues to work for a brand.
The Grey Poupon Story
In every marketing endeavor, it’s important to ensure that the brand’s efforts are aligned with its story. Aside from this campaign’s uniqueness, what impressed me most was how the approach fit perfectly with the Grey Poupon brand story. Grey Poupon’s story platform revolves around an exclusive, elite culture. While all the other mustards are letting fans Like their pages at will, Grey Poupon will not. The mustard itself is a mass-consumed CPG product available at your local grocer, but its story makes you believe, even if only momentarily, that your Grey Poupon should be situated right next to the caviar and eaten before you head off to your croquet match.