The Marketing Boutique

Content Marketing – What does it do? Reinforces brand leadership.

Content Marketing – Who can benefit? Your sales team, your brand, website optimization and competitive leadership – to mention a few!

Content Marketing – How does it help your salespeople? With proof of brand leadership and thereby, closing more deals and shortening the sales cycle.

Even before a prospective client begins the sales conversation with you, they need to feel confident that you can do the job. So that’s probably the primary role for content marketing – building confidence for your brand.

It’s probably why content marketing is getting press; it is the darling of marketing tactics. Moreover, why not? A well-written case study can generate qualified leads, build leadership and even close the sale.

Planning Your Content Marketing

Most of you know a landing page by its short, concise and to the point content, happy faces, and a single message. However, before designing a landing page, do check on current styles, some are short while others offer lots of ‘sales text’ to get your email address. Ever before you start your content marketing program, step back and review the sales process. If your sales process is consultative, but you plan on implementing an aggressive, content marketing program, your prospective leads will get confused by the different styles.

Before you begin the any content marketing campaign, make sure all marketing tactics align with each other, on and offline. Also, attach a goal to the campaign.

Quality, Exclusive Content

When the current conversation in the marketing world is questioning the value of providing free content., you may be thinking that content marketing has reached its limit. After all, can free content be part of a successful business model? Is providing valuable, free content good for business?

Yes!

Quality and freely available content is a great place to start to build your brand’s notoriety. As I’ve said before, content marketing provides the ability to develop your leadership and make the kind of brand image you want. It is yours, and no one owns it, which is an excellent reason to have your blog and not depend on Facebook’s other social media platforms.

The Process of Content Marketing

When designing Content Marketing specifically to build brand leadership, it usually looks like this:

  1. Keywords: Search & Assign
  2. Search for popular FAQ questions online
  3. List Influencers, media and industry leaders who need to engage with your content
  4. Assign whether there will be a visible thought-leader from your company – develop specific content just for thought-leadership
  5. Develop different pieces of content, such as a series of blog posts, videos, and templates
  6. Add an FAQ section on your site
  7. Write Gated Content based on the buyer’s buying process. This will include case studies, white papers and resources. Content designed to improve brand awareness, educate on products and services. Content that answers why you and why not the competition. And, content that is targeted for the decision phase.
  8. Develop Landing Pages, based on the number of gated content documents.
  9. Implement SEO best practices and Optimize web pages
  10. Marketing Automation / Sales Funnel
  11. Promote the content

Most people get stuck in content creation. But developing quality content is most likely in front of you. Ask your sales team what the major objections they receive, account managers which features are super sellers and trade associations on what’s trending in your industry are.

Gated Content, The Sales Funnel

Now that you’ve got an essential roadmap to develop your company’s brand leadership, you now need to set-up the back-end of the sales funnel. The back-end is as important as the content, so bring in the right people. Selecting the right email marketing platform, CRM and segmenting based on actions takes an expert – so hire one!

Case studies and annual reports are usually gated because they are reliable ways to claim brand proof and proof of sale. Written clearly, informative and centred around critical brand messages so that each marketing material can stand alone and support your marketing objectives.

A well-written, thought-out, researched-supported business case study offers you the power to build your brand by showcasing how you work, the processes and solutions involved as well as key brand differentiators.

Example of a Business Case Study

You, along with a substantial client, worked together to develop a new feature in your software. This new feature improved data implementation and faster acceptance of software.

Before you begin to write, set clear expectations on what you want to accomplish in writing this case study. You can use a questionnaire to conduct a successful interview with your client, and pinpoint the “money shot” for the Business Case Study and write it into a compelling story.

All that is left to do is promote your Business Case Study, proof of brand, the value-add document for your sales team.

What can a Business Case Study Do For Your Sales Process?

  1. Builds Brand Proof, Credibility Quickly
  2. Shorten Sales Cycle
  3. Advantage Over Competitors
  4. Establish Brand Positioning
  5. Effective Marketing and Sales Tools

Our Process In Developing The Content Marketing Program For Brand Leadership

  • Client briefing, Goal Setting, Timeline
  • Research or review background material, the purpose of the study
  • Interview Case Study Participant and Client
  • Outline, Draft and Write the case study, from 1K to 1.5K copy
  • Work with graphic artists and other specialized partners, if applicable
  • Create a campaign to promote your Business Case Studypplicable

Cecilia

How does one create quality content? Is it waiting for inspiration? You’ll find it easier to develop content when it’s planned out, based on strategy, brand messaging and trending topics. And, don’t forget the buyer’s emotions!

We’ll start with the basic of quality content development:

Read More

Everyone loves a good B2B case study. Case studies provide valuable insight into how your company work’s during a specific project. It also gives you the opportunity to show off your problem-solving skills. Trade magazines, popular industry blogs and your customers all enjoy reading about how you ‘saved the day’ for a particular client on a specific problem.

Case Study: Public Relations Tactic

This public relations tactic gets your product success stories into the editorial columns of print and electronic media. It also helps to build your brand leadership and increase the trust factor. Finally, it lets readers learn how you helped solve real-world problems.

Case Study: Lead Generation Tactic

We’ve written several case studies, and in addition to submitting it to trade magazines for possible PR exposure, case studies make excellent lead generation tactics. You’ll need a landing page, optimize the page and then promote it from time to time to give your landing page proper placement on search engines. A case study can produce more leads and newsletter subscriptions than a year’s work of blogging. So, don’t dismiss this opportunity.

Elements of a Good Case Study

You’re probably wondering what makes a compelling and interesting case study? Here are some guidelines for identifying PR-worthy customer case studies that can generate awareness, credibility and leads for you.

Tell a Story in Your B2B Case Study

Yes, every case study is a story and a great story begins with a great headline. When brainstorming on your headlines consider all elements, blog post title, newsletter and social media. Each medium may require editing the headline so don’t make it too long.

Before you decide, try the writer’s formula we use to create compelling headlines, which are as follows: ask “Who, What, When, Where, and How.”

Setting Up

  • Results – The most critical thing to show is that you did solve the problem. No grey areas here. A reliable B2B case study includes numbers, facts, images of the positive end-result you did for your customer.
  • Problem/solution – Case studies should start with the customer’s issue and how you solved it. You can also outline different solutions and offer proven reasoning as to why your company as the optimal solution. Write from the customer’s perspective. Do include why the customer selected you, this writing style enhances the credibility of the story.

Timing

  • Current project – A current case study is more valuable than one that is old. In reality, we’re all busy and sometimes spending time on writing is not a priority. The point that I like to stress with my clients is to write a case study that has value. However, the product must be installed and operating. Or the service needs to be used and that the customer is satisfied with the solution.

Make it Special

  • Unique project – When submitting your B2B case study to an editor, it needs to be attractive by way of the project that needs to be unique so that the publication’s audience wants to read the feature. From cutting-edge technology, changing in-house processes, the value of timing, understanding the competition, and how you used the data – these have higher news value. You can also review the editorial calendar to get a good idea of what is the focus and spin based on a particular topic to arouse the editor’s interest.

Creative Writing

  • Illustrate the expertise – Editors view case studies as suitable teaching devices for their readers. They do welcome case studies that educate as well as inform.
  • Photography – Make the effort to visit your client and take photos. Take more than you think and add variety. Vertical, horizontal views, with people and without people – all are necessary. If you can bring on a professional photographer to develop dramatic photos. With some drama in your photos, it will help get your story picked up by the trade magazines.
  • No advertorial – The focus of the story must remain on what happened. A case study is not an advertorial; it is a review of the facts, written engagingly.

Brand Building

  • Customer quotes – You’ll need your customer’s buy-in before you begin to write about the case study. You’ll also need a quote. Sell them the idea that you’ll be promoting their business, so its’ a win-win for both, you and your client. Case studies where the customer remains anonymous don’t carry as much weight and are harder to sell to a publication. Especially in today’s modern marketing, transparency is essential.
  • Support brand positioning – Leverage your brand leadership by including key messages. Also, include a brief company background and additional resources readers may be interested in sourcing.

Marketing Funnel

Now that you’ve written your first case study, its the time to promote your content. Create a landing page, set-up a dedicated email list and create a series of newsletters through marketing automation that relates to the case study. You may want to write a blog post as well as a press release and reach out to your trade magazines.

Need help identifying and developing B2B case studies for PR placement and sales support? Contact me at cecilia@themarketingboutique.net.

The Marketing Boutique is a business-to-business marketing communications agency. We specialize in providing strategic marketing communications thinking and implementation to marketers of industrial, technical and commercial products.

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ESSENTIAL Elements for Email Marketing Campaigns

Why bother knowing the essential elements for your email marketing campaigns? Here are some basic facts:

  • More than 50 percent of U.S. respondents check their personal email account more than 10 times a day, and it is by far their preferred way to receive updates from brands. -Hubspot
  • For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $32. -DMA, 2018
  • B2C marketers who leverage automation have seen conversion rates as high as 50%. – eMarketer

What these facts don’t highlight is the content. There are too many companies that use email technology to send out the usual message. Here’s a price promotion, buy now image, hey we’re at a trade show. Boring!

Email marketing is about the connection

Focusing on customer retention and business relationships are substantial investments for your business. Long-term business relationships help to keep your company stable during slow times, and one way is with your newsletter. Think of it as a compliment to your sales team activities and less expensive!

Focus on Customer Retention

It’s not always about price when it comes to creating loyalty. Open communications, customer support, and making a quality product are just some of the elements that help your customer to choose you over your competitor.

A newsletter or email marketing, however you want to call it, also helps in customer retention. Email marketing has been around for over ten years, and it still offers you the best dollar ROI and the most direct line of communication for turning leads into sales. So, don’t get lazy.

Facts About Email Marketing

  • Email marketing is used all around the world
  • Email marketing is personal, ability to tailor your message to the right audience
  • Everyone checks their emails
  • Gen Z likes newsletters & 73% of millennials identify email as their preferred means of business communication.
  • Social media and email marketing are best friends
  • 86% of business professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes (Hubspot)
  • Welcome emails are incredibly effective: on average, 320% more revenue is attributed to them on a per email basis than other promotional emails.

Provide value in every email campaign by investing in leadership thought articles, case studies and client testimonials. Create engaging headlines, and make it personal if the objective is to retain your customers. While email marketing is a business tactic, the content, headlines and calls-to-action need to sound – personal. Like, we’re talking one-on-one.

Learn Email Laws

Unfortunately, with all the spam emails we’re getting today, Canada and perhaps other counties too, have implemented email laws. Some Canadian businesses claim this law is anti-business and anti-competitive. I’ll leave that up to you to decide – just know one thing – if you are a Canadian business, you need to know this law. To start with, ensure your newsletter includes the following:

  • Easy to unsubscribe, the unsubscribe feature should be visible in your newsletter
  • Brief description of your company
  • Proof of their consent they did subscribe to your newsletter
  • Your subscribers do not need to tell you why they unsubscribing to unsubscribe.

Also, use email marketing technology wisely. Don’t buy lists. Instead, create high-value opt-ins, digital marketing campaigns, invest in social media and improve the SEO on your site to build your email list.

Creating Good Opt-Ins

Now that you’re going to build your list organically, you’ll need to create engaging opt-ins. If you’re starting your email marketing program, there’s no better time to create an Opt-In, combined with Facebook Ad to help build your list fast.

Other ideas to get your target audience to subscribe to your are:

  • Welcome gates: Personally hate these, I mean buy me drink first. You don’t need to listen to me after all these welcome gates are popular and they work! A full-screen, call-to-action appears when you visit a site. Usually, you can’t get to the content until to respond or click to subscribe or click on the no.
  • Facebook Ads: Do test different formats and offers. Case studies, cheat sheets, and other lead magnets do well to get people to subscribe to your newsletter. Before you begin, create a list for each value add and create a campaign around this segmented list.
  • Landing Pages: Invest in landing pages, and if you have the budget, invest in Facebook ads to promote the content offered on those landing pages. Hubspot recently highlighted that companies do better when they increase the number of landing pages to 15. That’s quite high, and it shows how competitive online has become. You’ll need content or an offer for each landing page. The point here is, each landing page needs to respond to a particular demographic, and thus, dedicated content and offer. Call it a niche strategy, digital marketing style!
  • About Us: Add a pop-up or a call-to-action on your About Us page. Abut us is a critical page, as it is the second more viewed page on any website.

Auto-Responder

Now that you’ve decided on what sales channel you’re going to develop, you’ll need to create a welcome message. There is nothing like being welcomed with more gifts, surprises and freebies. Impress your new subscriber with lots of value.

Make it Personal

Email as a communication channel is personal.

The Marketing Boutique

Because our guard is down when we are reading our emails, we tend to be more receptive as consumers.  As a result, email marketing is an intimate medium of communication. We as businesses, we should be more natural and warmer in our writing and tone in our newsletters and emails.

Conclusion

In the end, providing value is essential. Creating a definite benefit as to why your target audience needs to subscribe and delivering value in every email marketing campaign will build your email list. More importantly, taking all these steps will help with creating customer loyalty.

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How can we write relevant content that sells your product or service?

It’s been written that we have about 3 minutes to make a good impression when a visitor comes to our website. Our content needs to either engage, provoke or sell in three minutes.

Marketing versus sales content

But how do we get there? How do we create content that sells?

We first need to start by understanding the difference between marketing content and sales relevant content. Well, when we do a marketing piece, the goal is to establish awareness and interest, however, for sales writing, the goal is to sell the product or service.

What is the one trusted piece of content buyers like to read?

Time and time again, buyers like case studies. Buyers, especially in the B2B industries, they need to know who is buying from you. Case studies showcase how productivity was improved, facilities became profit centres and processes reduce staff overtime.

Forget sweeping, forceful statements like “disruption” or “truly innovative”, your buyer wants to know how other organisations used your product or service.

And, today with the growing popularity of platforms like Yelp, this is true for B2C companies as well. However, B2C companies don’t need to write up case studies, a testimonail, rating on a recent online purchase and a share on your favourite social meida platform will provide excellent results.

Write Well, Not Hype

Which brings me to my favorite topic, writing style. Writing well seems to have lost its way, in favour of sounding smart, witty or casual.

Writing well is transparent, helping the reader move along the from interest to a buyer. If your writing sounds like everyone else, change it. If it sounds too casual, with words like “gonna”, edit. Good writing is 20 % writing and 80% edit.

Sales becoming non-linear

As sales continue to become non-linear, content marketing will also evolve keeping pace with sales. It is important to track what is being read, and how people use your content.