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Favor Facts over Frills in B2B Copywriting

Platitudes and empty promises go over like lead balloons in the B2B world, where people expect results. While emotion can often play a key role in turning prospects into leads – after all, the customer has to like you – B2B customers are visiting your site with an objective. Too much fluff can end up burying the sale. Effective copywriting delivers a message that lets customers know exactly how to meet their goals and compels them to take action.

Image c/o masstransmit.com

Here are tips for persuasive B2B copywriting without the frills.

Know Your Audience

The tone, style, language and vocabulary you use depend heavily on the people who are using your site. You may have a typical clientele, but you must still narrow your audience down to the actual person who is making the online search, ending up at your website and taking action. This person could be a business owner, a product manager, a VP of marketing, a buyer, a salesperson or an assistant. Identify your users and write content that speaks to them. Using the word “you” helps you further communicate directly to your readers.

Headlines, Bullets and Menus

These areas of text may have the smallest amount of content, but they play an important role and require powerful language. Strong headlines are brief and to the point – don’t waste space with language that leaves readers wondering what the page is about. Use bullets to outline the benefits of your products or services, making it easier for users to find what they’re looking for without having to comb through heavy text. The content on your site’s menu bars must navigate users to where they should be on the site; if they get lost, they’re likely to give up and move on.

Ask Questions

Asking your users questions helps them identify their needs and even discover challenges they weren’t aware of. Just be sure to provide solutions. For example, a marketing agency that provides digital display advertising services might ask “What Makes an Ad Effective?” in its headline. This gets readers wondering if their current advertising campaign is as effective as it could be, and compels them to read on for the answer.

Call to Actions

One of the main goals of a B2B website is to convert leads into sales. A successful call to action creates a sense of urgency and value that triggers an immediate response from the user. Vague call to actions, such as “Buy now” or “Click here” lack the detail required for an appropriate response – buy what now? Click here for what? Write call to actions that have a clear, concise message: “Sign up now for a 30-day free trial!” or “Contact us today to make an appointment!”

Case Studies and Testimonials

Rather than make promises and guarantees that aren’t for certain, tell your readers about true success stories. Testimonials help to build your company’s credibility. With case studies, you can highlight specific challenges and how you worked to meet them – proving to your readers that you have the resources and expertise to walk the walk.

Do you have any other tips for B2B copywriting that really works?

Author:

Jacqui MacKenzie is a writer for Straight North, one of the leading Web development companies in Chicago that specializes in Internet marketing, social media and SEO. She writes for a wide range of clients, including audiologist website providers and companies that help book a tee time online. Check out the Straight North blog! @ straightnorth

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Amazon Self-Publishing for Beginners

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

With all the new blogs and recent news articles urging writers to publish their eBooks on Kindle, the topic is probably one you’re at least familiar with by now. As most people know, Amazon has leveled the playing field for authors by making the process of publishing eBooks as simple as a few mouse clicks and a couple of file uploads.

Before the recent self-publishing revolution began, the difficult part was getting your book in the hands of readers to begin with. However, that’s the exact same challenge that independent authors face when publishing for the Kindle as well. It turns out that making your book available is much easier than getting people to actually buy it or be interested in reading it!

This low entry bar also creates a new challenge for debut Kindle authors – since anyone and everyone can now publish whatever they want, that’s exactly what is happening. The result? A fair amount of low quality eBooks and a highly competitive environment for unknown authors.

Learning to Stand Out in the Crowd

So how do you stand out in such a crowded and popular new marketplace that is open to anyone? What does it take to attract the type of author publicity that helps build a brand and sell more eBooks?

Here are a few eBook marketing ideas that have proven effective for many debut authors using Kindle to publish:

  1. Write and distribute a press release after you’ve launched your eBook. If you are not familiar with press release writing, outsource it and consider paying for distribution. Include quotes, contact information and hook in readers with a strong headline. Remember, you have a tiny window of time to capture the interest of readers who are likely skimming headlines and you must find a clever way to set your story apart from all the others. The main idea of a press release for your book is to generate curiosity and get people excited about the story you have to tell.
  2. Encourage book reviews. This is probably the most obvious way to promote books or anything else, for that matter. It’s probably the first one that comes to mind as well. Alas, it is also going to be the hardest form of promotion to land as a debut author. Don’t let that get you down though. Reach out to book review bloggers, fans from social media or anyone else who might be willing to share their thoughts on Amazon or elsewhere on the web!
  3. Start living and breathing social media life into your author platform. Just remember that you are not limited to Twitter and Facebook. Find the communities centered around readers and books. GoodReads is a great example and it offers tons of innovative ways to share and promote your writing. Get started by setting up an author profile and adding your eBooks. Next, experiment with groups, quotes and book giveaway contests. There isn’t a better online community for finding passionate readers.

These fundamental tips should give new authors a viable starting point. As with any type of marketing, your ultimate goal should be to determine who your target audience is and find out the best ways in which to engage them and turn them into loyal readers.

Author:

AshlyLorenzana is a freelance writer, published author and passionate blogger who lives in the Portland, OR area. Her interests include social media, online marketing and digital publishing. You can follow her on Twitter @ashlorenzana

Sources:

  1. 9 WaystoUseSocialMediatoLaunchABook
  2. PromotingYourBookOnlineThroughSocialNetworking: GoodReads.com
  3. AnatomyofaSuccessfulPressReleaseforBookPromotion

 

Four Secrets Every Freelance Writer Should Know

Finding the right balance between writing what you want and writing for a living can be a difficult challenge for freelance writers. There may not be a good target market for the style and subject you would prefer to write about, but there is an endless supply of work for social media, technology and business experts, online. Here are four ways you can increase your chances of finding the right balance and earning enough money.

1.     Finding the right publisher

You can choose to write material and seek a publisher to sell your work to, or you can agree to write what a publisher requires. The two sets of work are often miles apart in subject choice unless you are one of the lucky writers who happens to live in an online social networking and SEO world.

However good your own work is, if you cannot find a suitable publisher, you will not be paid for your work. Your research hours may have reduced your pay per hour too far. Also, you need to consider the constant flow of rejections and your underlying stress levels.

If you are given an assignment you must complete on time or preferably, sooner, so you can guarantee payment. Of course, it must meet the brief offered and be suitable work for the personality with the check book.

2.     Finding jobs that pay enough

The jobs are out there and you need to find out how to locate them if you want to earn enough to extend your standard of living, at the very least.

Often the work offered by organizations will be mind-numbingly boring, but there is enough of it to ensure you can pay your bills. There isn’t always sufficient work in the area of your expertise, so you will spend time online researching the subject so you can write as an authority, taking care not to copy work directly from another source.

3.    The competition is fierce

You are not the only writer out there who has found they can work from home to avoid long car chases and the endless office politics that prevented real work at the office.

You are in competition with many countries where English isn’t the first language, but they can write for figures you wouldn’t dream of taking for a job. Just because others will work for the price of an expensive coffee each day, it doesn’t mean you should try to compete. You need to fight with your skills to not only write to the brief, but to ensure you meet all deadlines and are easy to work with.

4.   The editor is not always right

Editors vary in how they wish to see a finished product. If you write for several editors you will need to remember and apply each individual’s choice of style and composition. Otherwise, you run the risk of your work being returned for a re-write.

Even when editors are wrong in their choices, you must still apply to their terms and not fight an editor over your preferred alternative to writing sentences, paragraphs or layout. If they prefer short sentences while you maintain that long sentences make for better English, you will lose out in the long term. You might win the battle, but you won’t win the war which means they won’t offer you further work if you become a nightmare to work with.

Author:

Tim Brookes is the Managing Director of Storage Concepts a UK-based mezzanine floor & suspended ceiling company @storageUK

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How to Budget for Marketing

Whatever it is, the budget you put in place for your marketing for the year ahead will shape the results you achieve. Now is the ideal time to define your marketing approach and the budget that will support it. In a recent Toluna survey of businesses, 40% of businesses surveyed stated that they did not feel that their marketing budget met all their marketing needs.

In tougher times, the marketing budget is often the first thing that is cut. Yet it is commonly known that companies which consistently market themselves in a recession perform better than those that don’t. So:

  • How can companies budget better to create the results they want?
  • What can companies do to budget effectively for the year ahead?

Fit your strategy around your target market

Strategy is everything in marketing.  But a separate strategy for your marketing and your sales approach will not deliver the best Return On Investment (ROI). Now is the best time to review your marketing approach in 2011 and identify what worked – and what didn’t. Then, apply this important data to your overall sales and marketing strategy. Which markets are you trying to reach? Which audiences do you want to grow in the coming year? Match this with your marketing approach and plan your marketing spends in careful stages, so that each part of the plan flows from one stage to another. Use inbound marketing technology to track the behaviour of your target markets and ensure that you are using the most appropriate marketing channels to reach them.  This will help you get more from your budget in 2012.

Track your ROI on marketing spend

Your marketing data from the past year will provide a valuable insight into what will work over the next 12 months. So carefully track the ROI you’ve gained this year and identify the activities that have created the best results.

Be ruthless in assessing what is paying you back and what is proving to be a drain on your resources

Would these areas work better with a different approach, perhaps using inbound marketing to accelerate results and make them more profitable? You can also use inbound marketing technology to closely assess and analyse the exact payback from each area of your marketing plan – and feed this knowledge into the year ahead. Put a plan in place for tracking your ROI. Inbound marketing allows you to do this continuously and consistently, letting you to adapt and refresh your marketing activities accordingly.

Create a cross-channel marketing budget

Are you currently using all the appropriate marketing channels? Did your approaches in 2011 feed across the different channels to maximise results – or did you only focus on a couple of areas?

Recent research suggests that companies using social media or “collaborative Web 2.0 technologies” are achieving higher profits. (Source: McKinsey)

Are you one of the companies missing out on a better marketing ROI by neglecting or misusing social media and other technologies?

By using inbound marketing you can connect up all your marketing channels much more effectively, making it easier to retain any potential customers – whatever stage of buying cycle they are at. You can create a cross-channel presence that reduces the cost of building a receptive and responsive brand profile. This approach also makes it much easier to budget for the year ahead. It gives you a core strategy which then feeds out across all the channels – bringing you a better ROI for 2012.

Adapt and update

While it is important to develop a clear strategy to get the best from your marketing budget, it is also important to continuously review and analyse your results. More conventional marketing approaches have traditionally made it quite hard to view the results as you go along. But new inbound marketing technology allows you to view the impact of every single aspect of your marketing approach – as it’s happening. Use this invaluable and on-going insight to adapt your strategy and ensure you make the most of your budget throughout 2012.

What is the secret to budgeting right for marketing in the year ahead?

Everybody wants to make their marketing budget work harder. So how can you ensure you do this in the months to come? Focus on your target market and what they’re doing. By using inbound marketing technology you can get closer to buyer behaviour and demand. You can use this insight to create more meaningful connections by building relationships across all the different marketing channels. This enables you to accelerate the relationships you build with your prospects. Instead of waiting for months to view the results, you can see who’s responding – and adapt your strategy to meet the demand there and then.  This ensures that your marketing spend is continuously matched with where it is most effective and that it feeds right back into your company’s sales and marketing strategy. Create your strategy, use advanced inbound marketing approaches to maximise your marketing impact and assess its impact while it’s live. Keep it consistent and targeted and you can look forward to a better ROI on your marketing budget in 2012.

Author: Sookie Shuen is the community manager at Tomorrow People, a leading UK inbound marketing consultancy. You can read more of Sookie’s content on inbound marketing by subscribing to the Zoober Inbound Marketing blog here. You can also find her on Google+ and Twitter.

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