Anne Handley said 'Everybody Writes' and sadly it's true. Pity it's mostly unoriginal, recycled nonsense that no-one wants to read. Do you want to write like everyone else - or be the rare one who influences your audiences? Here's how to write the 6 content types that most influence buyers of high tech.
That’s the title of Anne Handley’s (Marketing Profs) latest best seller. It’s true, but that's the problem: your competitors are bombarding your potential buyers with irrelevant or recycled content, and buyers are pulling up the drawbridge on everyone.
Buyers just want to know how your technology will solve their problems, not how clever it is - or how clever you are. It's not about you. It's only about them.
Earn trust. Don't just expect it
Buyers don’t have time to waste; they value their time. They want relevant, succinct, direct content that respects their time and is written in their language. Content that doesn’t follow these rules, will end up on the scrap heap.
Because so few write well, your writing matters more than ever. Your message needs to be strong enough to cut through the noise, relevant enough to engage your audience, and credible enough to earn its trust. If it doesn't, you won't even get to first base.
Don’t just write. Influence
Your goal is to become the rare trusted one who is welcomed in, not shut out. Once you're known as a trusted source of quality content, then you can influence. If you never manage to earn this trust, you could be out in the cold with competitors for a long time.
Earning trust is really worth the effort and it's not hard to do. Write To Influence, our latest ebook, will show you how - and a whole lot more.
The magnificent 6
These are the 5 resources that have the most influence on buyers of technology, according to the (sadly last ever) B2B Technology Content Survey by Eccolo Media, which surveyed those who actually bought technology - not those who market it. These are they guys who told Eccolo what they read, when in the buying cycle, and which ones influenced their decisions.
We've added a sixth, the Marketing Email because, without it, your 5 top content types could still end up in the 'deleted' folder.
- White Papers that gain trust and build credibility
- Product Brochures that showcase your strengths
- Case Studies that give insights not found elsewhere
- Best Practice Guides that provide credible industry benchmarks
- Feature Comparisons that sum up your competitive advantage
- Marketing Emails that make sure all your content is read.
Gain trust and build credibility
Both take time, but if you follow some simple rules, it will take a lot less:
- Remember it's about your readers, not about your product, technology or company. Put yourself in their shoes, always.
- Deliver what you promise. If your email offers a White Paper, make sure it is one (and not like the one below)
- Do your homework. Show that you know your subject, and back it up with relevant quotes and references from respected sources
- Deliver value: Be clear, specific and to-the-point in your content, and keep each piece short. Show that you respect readers' time
- Make reading your content a joy - like driving a new luxury car on a smooth road. Make your readers want to keep going, not looking for the first exit
- Avoid blandness, political correctness and me-too positions. Be bold, original and take a stance and be sure you can support it.
One thing's for sure: if you don’t deliver what you promise, you’ll see more 'unsubscribes' and that means game over, forever. It's too easy to do this. Everybody is doing it. Be different; be effective. It's not hard.
How not to do it
Last week, I received an email from an IT company offering a 'White Paper' download. Hardly rare, but this paper was: it broke just about every rule. It's almost everything 'not to do':
This 'White Paper' comprised 29 pages, and it included:
- A long and tedious history lesson - who cares?
- An introduction to the technology - so it was a Brochure, right?
- A guide to how to use the technology - so was it a Best Practice Guide or an Application Brief?
- 2 full customer Case Studies - oh, now I'm really confused.
Which part was the 'White Paper'? I couldn't find any that met the rules.
Who has time to read 30 pages, anyway (unless it's a Gartner Magic Quadrant and you're just become a leader). Apart from the structure and content issues, at no time was there any incentive to read on. It was bland, self-serving and boring.
How to recover from disaster
Each of three content types crammed into this (so-called) 'White Paper' is consumed at a different stage in the Buyer's Journey. Any reader would have been totally confused (or annoyed) to find all 3 ingredients in one indigestible lump, if anyone read it.
More than this, this ugly hybrid could easily have been split into 4 distinct content types (including a White Paper); each short, punchy and with a clearly different purpose. They could also have been delivered when readers want them, instead of in one large amorphous mess.
Not only would this have been effective, it would have been less expensive with much higher ROI. Howcome the marketing manager didn't know this?
In Write To Influence, we don't show you how not to write. We show you how to write well and with ease.
Match content to the Buyer’s Journey
It's critical to know what readers expect from each content type. Mostly it's as simple as delivering on the promise: if it says 'Best Practice Guide'
that means proven benchmarks for performance, validated by third parties - not a brochure or a case study by another name.
But it's not just what and how to write, but when buyers want it.
Write To Influence shows you when each content type is consumed, combining data from Eccolo's survey with the Buyer's Journey for High Tech. It also shows the differences between the 6 types and what the reader expects from each.
What you'll get from Write To Influence
You won't get '10 tips to write brilliantly in 10 minutes ' - but in that time, you will change your mind about how you create marketing content.
Write to Influence is essential reading for marketers of High Tech who want to cut through, win trust and influence your buyers. It's a quick-to-read, step-by-step guide, that you'll want to keep close at hand and consult often.
In Write to Influence, we answer 5 questions about each of the 6 content types:
- What is this content type?
- What does the reader expect?
- Why bother with it?
- Why do most of this type fail (like the above example)?
- How can you make yours exceptional - so it influences, not just informs?
We show you step-by-step how to create each content type - and we link to completed examples. What could be easier than that?
Follow this or any of the links to choose Write To Influence for your industry. I hope it will change how you think and write, forever.
By the way, if you'd like to know more about marketing high tech products and services, check out Marketing High Technology: Why Hype & Art aren't enough in High Tech markets.
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