7 Quick Tips for Successful B2B Offers
I’ve seen the results of many hundreds of B2B offers run in my Web Digest For Marketers newsletter. I see what works and what bombs. These offers are aimed at people like you, Internet Marketers who tend to be a skeptical and savvy bunch. The offers my advertisers typically run are for webinars or white papers on a topic that is of interest to their prospects and leads. Roughly 80% of your offer is tied up in the selection of content for your white paper or webinar. If the content isn’t appealing, no amount of gangbuster copywriting will make it a hot ticket. If you’ve got hot content in front of the right audience, at the right time, most of your heavy lifting is done. Having said that, you still want your copy to convey the timeliness, relevance and usefulness your PDF or webinar brings to the table. Most B2B advertisers I know plan their content offerings months and quarters in advance. This forecasting takes some predictive powers, which I will address below. Here now are my quick tips on how to fashion an offer and the content that offer heralds.
1. Choose the right content for your offer: Each year, I map out a few dozen topics that Web Digest For Marketers features. Below are a few places I look for ideas:
A. Click-through data on past issues of my newsletter: This gives me a sense of what people were interested in over the past year.
B. Search results from my website: WDFM.com is an authority or hub site that people visit to find best-of-breed tools and resources in 65 Internet Marketing categories. Seeing what visitors are looking for on my site gives me a direct read into what is relevant in real time.
C. Google Trends: This online service gives me insight into the rising and falling interest levels in various aspects of Internet Marketing. Take “content marketing,” for example. Seven months ago, this keyword phrase barely registered. Then, it blasted onto the scene, backed off a little but continues to trend upward.
D. Twitter Search: It’s helpful to see which of my articles and resources get retweeted and which ones don’t.
2. What would make you click? In the B2B marketplace, it’s much more likely that the seller shares many characteristics with his/her target audience. If a white paper doesn’t get you excited enough to take action, it’s likely it won’t make your target audience enthusiastic either.
3. S-p-e-l-l i-t o-u-t: In this give-it-to-me-quick-or-I-hit-“delete” world, you’ve got to telegraph the core value of your proposition immediately. Don’t force me through too many screens; fill out too many form fields, or go on forever about your wonderful offer. Tell me in bullets what I have to gain from paying further attention to you.
4. Don’t promise a white paper that’s just a warmed-over sales sheet: You have to make good on the promise in your offer. Asking a B2B prospect to click through and hand over contact info in exchange for a white paper that is nothing but a two-pager on the merits of your company will only alienate. If they can’t trust you at first contact, no amount of feel-good follow-up will get them back in the boat. You’re much better served by offering real inside intelligence from your own company or engaging the services of a well-known research firm that will lend credibility to you and your offering.
5. Offer what your competition isn’t offering: It is absolutely necessary to learn everything you can about what your competition offers. If they’re offering a long-form PDF on a given topic, think about going in the opposite direction so you can change the direction of the marketplace. For example, offer a resource guide or a meat-and-potatoes webinar or how-to piece on buying keywords for your particular industry.
6. Repeat after me: “I don’t know everything:” Over the years, some of my advertisers came up with offers that I didn’t think would perform well. They made me nervous. I typically express my concerns with the client when that happens. On two recent occasions, the clients went ahead anyway with the original creative. In both cases, those offers knocked the cover off the ball. Why? Because they stood out. Because they were different and whimsical. The lesson here is no audience can be perfectly understood. It is something of a moving target. In this fast-moving online environment where entire new channels grow up, dominate and sometimes vanish in a few short years, people are apt to change their predilections and sensibilities often.
7. Write the way you talk: Dozens of times over the years, I’ve helped advertisers rewrite an offer by simply asking them, “If you were just telling me right here what the value prop is, what would you say?” Nine times out of 10 what they answer with is what the new headline or lead to the copy becomes. In other words, try to make your offer copy speak to the reader. Too many copywriters and ad agencies turn out copy that addresses demographics instead of real people like you and me.