These 12 Things Sharpen Your Marketing and Boost Your Business—Permanently
Top marketers use persuasive marketing to wow and woo prospects, boost revenue, crush rivals and elevate brand appeal. See how they cleverly use white papers, case studies and special reports to achieve their goals.
Tip: Outsource the production of white papers, special reports, position papers and case studies—or delegate these tasks to a separate, independent department in your company, usually within the Corporate Communications, Research & Development, or Operational Research units.
Strategic Benefit: You save time and money, inject efficiency and impartiality in the process, and benefit from the experience and skill set of an outside group. You still retain control over the content and editorial proclivity of the final paper, because in-house teams will review it and fix inaccuracies and incompleteness before ultimate publication.
Tip: Formulate a strategy for writing and publishing your white paper, special report, case study or position paper. Remember the most important elements in your paper: your target audience, the topic you’ll cover, clarity and conciseness, the main problems your target audience cares about, and the way your product or service will fix these problem.
Strategic Benefit: You lure readers—and, in the process, potential customers—by clearly demonstrating that your product or service provides the perfect corrective tools for the problems identified. You also display expertise and authoritativeness on a particular problem by presenting argumentation and presentation of evidence about the problem, says Sagan Medvec, Co-Founder and Creative Director of The Small Business Design Center, a web design and social media consulting company.
Tip: Select a relevant topic and use productive brainstormingtechniques to zero in on the key questions, keeping an eye on why these questions matter—both to your company and your prospects, readers and followers.
Strategic Benefit: You gain editorial focus and save time and resources by delineating the conceptual scope of your paper or report.
Tip: Choose a title that resonates—sharp, attention-grabbing and relevant. Do so at the end, after writing and finalizing the report or paper. Remember, shorter titles outperform longer ones.
Strategic Benefit: Your white paper or special report aims to draw attention, generate sales leads, create positive press and crystallize your opinion on a topic that is near and dear to your heart—so make sure people read it. To create an effective, eye-catching title, make it a promise and inject therein a significant emotional hue (“success,” “happiness,” “cost reduction,” “financial gain,” etc.). Use popular keywords, numbers (for example, 5 mistakes or 8 reasons) and active and strong verbs, such as “grow,” “reduce,” “speed,”“eliminate,” “enhance” and “attract.”
Tip: Involve your IT people early on in the reporting process, so that they can explore everything from platform compatibility to content embedding.
Strategic Benefit: You get insights in the post-writing phase of the white paper or special report, especially when it comes to designing the report; testing its compatibility with various content-publication formats; ensuring responsive reporting; and embedding things like audio content, videos, graphs and charts in the final report.
Remember that in a YouTube era, your content can live on in video format and produce additional good press for your company or yourself. Based on Bit.ly research, corporate content’s half-life depends on the platform on which it is shared, varying from Twitter (2.8 hours) and Facebook (3.2 hours) to email/IM clients (3.4 hours) and YouTube (7.4 hours).
Tip: Think proactively about the mobile market.
Strategic Benefit: Depending on your readers, consumers and other target publics, you may not feel the need to publish your periodic report on handheld devices. However, doing so may be disadvantageous given the growing number of users who view content online and share it via mobile platforms.
Tip: Produce a well-rounded, compelling white paper, position paper, special report or case study. Make sure the narrative points to key trends in your industry, why readers should care about those trends, pending problems and the existing solutions, and why your solution should be attractive to readers and potential customers.
Strategic Benefit: Your paper or report will serve to polish your brand, establish authority on a topic, lure prospects and defend your stance on an important issue. You expand your readership by producing content that clearly lists the benefits of using your solution (the “why”) after explaining the problem (the “what”).
Tip: Reformat your paper or report for social-media “standards,” using eye-catching tidbits to attract users and promote the paper’s or report’s sharing power and virality .
Strategic Benefit: The more your white paper, case study or position paper is shared, the more PR rewards you reap. Remember, you choose the paper or report content, so whatever is shared can only benefit you. Draw readers to your paper or report with summaries, links and sharing options across platforms as diverse as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and emails. A joint study by ShareThis, Starcom MediaVest and Rubinson Partners found that the clickthrough rates were as follows: Facebook (38%), email (17%), Twitter (10%) and other link types (34%).
Tip: Explore low-cost yet efficient archiving and retrieval options.
Strategic Benefit: By opting for a secure, reliable and cost-effective storage solution, you take efficient steps to comply with relevant legislation and industry edicts. You also can tap into prior-year data when developing future papers and reports, as well as use previous information to feed content to other platforms, including your website and blogs.
Tip: Make sure your paper or report abides by relevant regulation—and don’t forget that PDF-formatted and “good old” paper reports still matter in some cases.
Strategic Benefit: You avoid government- or citizen-led litigation that could emerge if you or your company writes on, defends or promotes content that is considered unlawful.
Tip: Track what readers of your white paper or special report are talking about, and why they are talking about it.
Strategic Benefit: You get valuable insight about keywords or phrases generating buzz around your corporate or personal brand, and can use the feedback to improve future communication. You can use internally developed tracking tools—such as traffic, clickthrough rates or number of downloads—or features provided by third parties like Facebook.
For example, the giant social network has recently unveiled two tools—Public Feed API and Keywords Insights API—that will help users display real-time feeds of public posts featuring certain words, as well as anonymous results by location, age and gender.