Tips for No-Pressure Content Writing

Sidebar:  I read the following article, titled “An Easy, No Pressure Way to Make Your Copy Sell More”, written by Roy Furr, a contributor at the AWAI.  He makes some solid points about the value of intelligent content marketing.  When we give our audience beneficial information, we create opportunities for mutually rewarding interactions.  So, let your readers know you took the time to research their needs and designed your piece just for them.  Read Roy’s helpful suggestions, and go try them!

Education is a powerful form of salesmanship!

Okay, okay … I’m going to have to explain a couple of things here. Because I’m not saying you could take any good high school teacher and put them out on the street and they’d be a star salesperson automatically. It takes a bit more than that.

But there is a way to sell more by taking an educational approach – if you have the right steps to follow.

And I’d like to give those to you today.

Probably a lot like you, I never really wanted to “sell hard.” And because I didn’t, I unintentionally shifted my approach to finding out what a prospect would want to know about my product and offer, and then simply shared that information with them.

In other words, I figured out what they’d want to know before they made the purchase, and then I told it to them.

And surprise! Prospects actually liked the approach – and would buy as a result!

Because I had thoroughly researched the answers to their buying questions and was upfront in presenting to them without any hard sell, they were happy to have a conversation with me that frequently resulted in a sale.

There was no pressure. No hype. I wasn’t seen as a huckster. Or a used car salesman.

I was just a guy who had some valuable information for my prospects … And a good offer to boot. I was happy to explain it all. And inevitably, I’d give them a chance to buy.

Now I apply the same approach in my sales copy, and it’s leading me to writing promotions that break clients’ sales records and earn me great royalties, too.

5 Places to Use Education in Copy to Boost Sales

So you get it. You can sell more, without hype or pressure, by adopting a more educational approach to selling. That’s good news. Now let me show you how to put that lesson into practice.

There are actually five places in your copy where you want to use education to increase sales. And here they are with a “how to” description for each:

1.   Educate about the problem.

Your prospect has problems. Tons of them! (Don’t we all?) And it’s your job to help them find the solution. (Wait! Before anybody throws a fit: I’m classifying unfulfilled needs, wants, and desires under “problem” here. So if your product fulfills a desire, it’s solving the “problem” of an unfulfilled desire.)

Your first educational goal in making the sale is to make clear what the problem is – and why it’s such a big problem.

So, for example, I used to sell newspapers. One problem that can be solved, or eased, by a newspaper subscription is the high cost of groceries. You could lead off in selling a newspaper by saying, “Did you know you’re paying too much for groceries? That’s right. In fact, the average resident of Lincoln, Nebraska, could save at least 10% off their weekly grocery bill while eating the same foods.”

Well now, that’s a problem that wasn’t at the front of my mind, but now that I’ve been educated that it’s a real and solvable problem, I’m sure interested!

2.   Educate about the solution.

Now it’s your job to educate the prospect that a solution exists and specifically what the solution is. Continuing with the newspaper example, you could reveal that using grocery coupons and specials could save the average local resident 10% or more off their grocery bill every week.

So you’d say … “That’s right. You could be paying 10% less every week for your groceries, and it’s easy, too. A recent Wednesday issue of the Lincoln Journal Star ran ads from five different local grocery store chains with an average total of $543.73 savings PER AD.

“Now sure, you’re not going to get every deal or use every coupon. But the average savings per item was actually 11%! So by simply reading the ads, using the coupons, and buying what you were going to buy anyway when and where it’s on sale, you can save more than 10% – $15-$20 or more per week – off your weekly grocery bill.”

(Note, I’m making up these figures, but I’m sure the average town newspaper has similar figures. Sure makes a $3.00/week newspaper subscription seem cheap, doesn’t it?!)

3.   Educate about your company and methods.

So you’ve presented the problem and the solution – educating the prospect about the benefits they’ll receive by following along with your solution. Now it’s time to demonstrate your credibility in providing the solution by educating about your company, methods, and anything else that proves you are best equipped to solve their problem.

Continuing the newspaper example, using stats from Wikipedia … “The Journal Star is uniquely equipped to bring you Lincoln’s best grocery deals, along with everything else you care about that’s going on around the capital city. Serving over 80,000 households every week, we’re the leading newspaper in the city and have relationships with the community going back decades. Whether it’s grocery deals or local news, you can count on us to bring it to you in the comfort of your home.”

4.   Educate about your product.

The more complex your product, the more valuable it is to educate your prospect about it. I recently watched a 90-minute DVD before I bought a home beer brewing setup. I was happy to sit down and be educated as part of the sales process.

While a newspaper may be fairly straightforward and well understood, it may be worth educating about what sections it contains (besides the ads in this example), who it features, and especially about delivery services offered.

5.   Educate about your offer.

After you have gotten your prospect excited about your product, it’s your responsibility to educate them as to how they can get it. This is where you have to put on your salesperson’s cap, but don’t worry because you don’t have to sell hard. Simply describe the terms of your offer in a clear, direct, and easy-to-understand way that makes it hard to say no. And don’t forget to include a guarantee or risk-free trial period.

So your newspaper sales pitch may conclude with, “You can take 21 days to try our home delivery service at no risk. Just say ‘Yes’ today and we’ll start your delivery 7 days a week. We’ll also send you a bill due 21 days after your subscription starts. If you’re not completely satisfied – and haven’t saved at least double your subscription price off your weekly grocery bill – you can simply write CANCEL across your bill and send it back. Otherwise, send in your payment and you can enjoy our daily delivery service for just $3.00 per week for the next 13 weeks. We make it risk free to try so it’s easy for you to say ‘Yes’ today.”

Try this on the next piece of sales copy you write. Instead of upping the over-the-top promises and using far too much hyperbole, up the education factor. Make sure you take your reader through the natural educational points outlined above. And see what kind of sales results it generates.

  

Endnote:  This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) The Golden Thread, a free newsletter that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on the best wealth careers, lifestyle careers and work-at-home careers available. For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/.

 

  

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009-2011.

 

Adopting a Buyer-Focused Marketing Model

 It is no longer a secret that successful marketing needs content that serves the needs of a clear target  audience — content that is informative, timely, and sharply focused on the buyer’s agenda/journey.

There is a lot of information out there on how to develop and implement such a buyer-focused marketing strategy.  I recently attended a webinar given by Lauren Goldstein, the VP of Strategic Planning at Babcock & Jenkins, where she addressed some of the issues involved in creating/adopting a buyer-centric strategy.  I like the four steps she identified and thought I’d share them with you.

According to Lauren, a buyer-centric model prioritizes the buyer’s business challenges and the questions they need answered to make a purchase.  It is a move away from marketing strategies that focus on the seller’s priorities and sales pitch.  Specifically, she provides insights into these components:

 – Comprehending why audience insight is crucial

– Ensuring you know your buyer

– Gaining insight into key stages and content requirements of the buyer’s journey

– Planning a content strategy and roadmap

CLICK HERE for the video of the webinar.  It is 45 minutes long, but I’m sure you’d learn a thing or two to benefit  your content marketing efforts.

A New Online White Paper Class

LEARN HOW TO CREATE HIGHLY ENGAGING WHITE PAPERS THAT GENERATE LEADS AND DRIVE NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES.

If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines and considering adding this highly influential business information medium to your marketing arsenal, here’s your chance.

There’s a new online class designed to teach writers how to plan, build, and enhance white papers.

 

It’s called White Paper 101 – A Step-by-Step Approach to Creating Highly Engaging White Papers.

 

Jonathan Kantor, a white paper marketing professional who has spent the last two decades producing exceptional commercial white papers, put the program together.

This three-part course will walk you through each step in the white paper development process, from strategizing and planning your white paper project, to writing and developing your white paper content, and sprucing up your white paper with visual enhancements that attract reader attention and deliver bottom-line messages.

Whether you work for a business or are self-employed, this class will take your white paper marketing skills to the next level.  By attending this class, you will:

  • Discover how to create highly engaging white papers that generates countless numbers of leads for your business.
  • Learn new strategies that clearly differentiate your white paper from the plethora of “me-too” text-only white papers currently in the marketplace.
  • Understand the principals of format and design that attracts reader attention
  • Leverage social media tools to read new readers and build your lead generation database
  • Ask questions of Jonathan Kantor, one of today’s leading white paper experts
  • And much more!

 

WHEN:  June 15th, 16th, and 17th.  Noon Pacific/2pm Central/3pm Eastern

Each class will be one hour in duration, with 45 minutes of content presentation and 15 minutes for Q&A.

CLICK HERE to find out more.

 

Here’s a gist of what to expect:

June 15th – Planning Your White Paper (First Session)

  • The Importance of Contracts and Agreements
  • Preparing/Accumulating/Organizing Raw Data
  • Organizing Research Information Sources
  • Finding the Right Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
  • Effectively using Planning and Preparation Tools
  • Creating Outlines to Streamline the Production Process

June 16th – Building Your White Paper (Second Session)

  • Understanding and designing content for the new “Skim Reader”
  • Developing a 6 page White Paper: Page by Page:
  • Creating ‘Call to Action’ statements that create higher quality leads

June 17th – Enhancing Your White Paper (Third Session)

  • Integrating Visual Elements to Gain Reader Attention
  • Crafting a Highly Effective White Paper Design
  • Repurposing Your White Paper Design for Online Promotion
  • How to Use Graphic Enhancements that Simplify Complex Messages
  • Creating an Effective White Paper Landing Page
  • Using Social Media to Promote Your White Paper
  • And lot’s more!

SIGN UP TODAY!

 

What’s the cost of this program?

The cost for the three-day class is only $297.

Please Note: This price offer of $297 is good until June 11th at midnight (PDT) or when the first 100 people are registered, whichever comes first.  After that, the price goes up to $397, so act now!

 

BONUSES:

 

With your confirmed registration, you’ll also receive this additional package of freebies valued at over $497!  Here’s a list of the items carefully selected for your bonus package:

1/2 hour phone consultation with Jonathan to review your completed white paper project (a $200 dollar value alone!)

– eBook: “Crafting White Paper 2.0: Designing Information for Today’s Time and Attention Challenged Business Reader” (167 pages).

– eBook: The Best of the White Paper Pundit Blog: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques. (70 pages)

– eBook: Creating Next Generation White Papers (30 pages)

– eBook: Low Cost White Paper Marketing (16 pages)

– eBook: 3 Way Panel Discussion with Mike Stelzner, Jonathan Kantor, and Gordon Graham (33 pages)

 

Also, you’ll get:

– Unlimited Access to Video Recordings of the Session Presentations.

– All Presentation Slides

– Written Transcripts of the Sessions

CLICK HERE TO SAVE YOUR SEAT FOR THIS EVENT.

 

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009-2010.

3 Things That Don’t Belong In A White Paper

How is it that as writers we start out with the right subject matter and focus (squarely on our target audience), but somehow (sometimes) end up with content that serves only our egos (a.k.a. off target)?

As a white paper writer, I’ve asked myself that question more times than I care to admit.

Speaking as someone who’d been there and done that, I can truthfully say that a common thread in my less-than desirable outcomes is failure to keep an eye (unwaveringly) on the primary purpose of my content.

In other words, I lost sight of the right answer to the question: Why am I writing this stuff?

White papers are stellar marketing tools used primarily (though not exclusively) in the B2B arena.  Companies that sponsor white papers use them to inform and educate their prospects, while building rapport and credibility.  For these reasons, effective white papers are distinctive marketing publications.

Successful white paper writers know this and apply the necessary discipline to develop persuasive content with superior marketing appeal.  To achieve that goal, it is imperative that the interests of the intended audience drive each project.

In addition to maintaining a clear focus on the target readers, it is important to omit anything that might act as a “turn off” to the audience.  The truth is, there’s no shortage of potential distractions.  This article discusses three distractions that don’t belong in a well-written white paper.

  1. Hyperbole

We recognize it when we see it and know it when we use it.  Hype is exaggeration.  While rhetorical language may sometimes help us make a dramatic point, an unbridled use may undermine the information value of a white paper.

How?  The simple reason is that by definition, hype often stretches the truth and lack full proof.  However, truth and proof are two essentials that enhance the marketing appeal of white papers, particularly white papers that target tech audiences.

So, if hype is a no-no, what helps?  Fortunately, what helps is also simple.  It requires straightforward and factual language that addresses the interests of, and proposes options for the target audience.

The good news is that factual language often is the best way (successful way) to provide useful information, to connect with the reader, and to encourage specific response from her.

2.      Sales Talk

For many (prospective) buyers, a sales pitch conjures up the image of a loud person wielding a high-volume megaphone.  Not a welcoming picture.  It is definitely not the type of image you’d want associated with your marketing effort.

Intrusive sales language has the potential to turn an otherwise informative white paper into a direct mail copy.

If no sales pitch, what helps?  What helps is a more subtle pitch that works from the point of view of the prospective buyer.

One way to create a powerful stealth-style pitch is to include a list (a pseudo- guide) of what to look for in a solution/provider in the white paper.  It is effective because it provides actionable tips that anticipate the needs of a prospect in the buying process.

Without overtly asking for it, the guide has the potential to pull prospects back to your solution when they are ready to buy.  Meanwhile, it reinforces your credibility as a provider.

No megaphone necessary.  Instead, amplify the benefits a prospect might reasonably expect from using your product/service, and make it easy for her to reach the purchase point.

3.      Glitz and Fluff

Viewed in the context of traditional marketing publications (brochure, magazines, etc), white papers are not glamorous.  Slick, colorful, and flashy packaging are typically unnecessary in white paper production.

This is good news.

It means that the cost of producing white papers is concentrated on developing the proven characteristics of effective white papers, namely informative, persuasive, and targeted content.

While glitz looks at exterior packaging, fluff tends to obsess about space – the filling-up of pages.  The downside is that fluff, such as unsubstantiated factoids, does not facilitate the pre-sale affinity-building process.  Fluff does little or nothing to enhance the education value of a white paper.  More importantly, savvy readers/prospects see right through fluff and are not impressed by it.

Leaving out fluff is consistent with creating white papers of desirable length (typically 6-10 pages), with right focus (that respects the time constraint of readers), and tight narrative (appropriate to the profile of the target audience).

No major production required; just good planning and diligent follow-through.

Conclusion

It’s easy for ego and distractions to get in the way of good marketing content.

If your goal is to use informative, credible, and viral white papers as part of your marketing program, leave out distracting hype, overt sales pitch, and unnecessary fluff.  Keep the focus on connecting with the reader, not turning her off.

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009-2010.

10 Ways to Make More Money As A Freelance Writer

bullhornWe’re all looking for ways to improve the revenue streams from our writing business.  Who better to learn from than writers who’ve made it in the business?  This article highlights success tips from top authors like Peter Bowerman, Michael A. Stelzner, and Steve Slaunwhite.

These successful writers share one common trait — they market themselves using very easy-to-implement tactics.  They all say demand for writers is skyrocketing.

Here’s how Mike Stelzner, one of America’s top-paid freelance writers, puts it:

“Never before in the history of words has the demand for freelance writers been so high.  Yet I constantly hear from copywriters, journalists, technical writers and copyeditors that ‘marketing’ is a four-letter word.”

According to a recent Junta42 study, 6 in 10 businesses are spending more for content production.  The need for case studies, ebooks, newsletters, articles, websites, white papers and press releases is growing at an unprecedented rate.

To land more work from higher-paying clients, Stelzner and nine other top-billing freelancers suggest the following easy-to-employ tactics:

Success Tip #1:  Stop Billing by the Hour:

“Pricing projects by a fixed fee, not by the hour, increases your chances of landing the job.  Don’t say, ‘My fee to write your e-newsletter is $75 per hour.  ‘Say, ‘My fee to write your e-newsletter is $800”. – Steve Slaunwhite, author of Start & Run a Copywriting Business.

Success Tip #2:  Write About Your Target Industry:

“Identify some of the biggest names in your target industry.  Interview a few of them, create a great article and shop it to a few major online or offline publications.  The free press will help you gain exposure and be read by an audience of prospective clients.  Plus, the experts will be happy to help you again in the future”. – Michael A. Stelzner, author of Writing White Papers.

Success Tip #3:  Stay Top of Mind by Keeping in Touch With Clients:

“It doesn’t matter how good a job you did for a client before.  When even a little time has passed, if you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind.  Pick a way to stay in touch-by phone, personal email, newsletters or social media.  Doing so may even remind clients they need to get started on a project–and they’ll call you”. – Casey Hibbard, author of Stories That Sell.

Success Tip #4:  Leverage Social Media Marketing:

“In this age of Google and social media, your prospects are even more distracted, cynical about sales messages and rightly motivated by their own self-interest. Make your promotional content brief, attractive and to the point.  Always offer significant value before asking for anything.  When making a request, frame the action as a way for the prospect to get even more benefits”. – Chris Garrett, content marketer and co-author of ProBlogger.

Success Tip #5: Ask for Referrals From People You Know:

“Whether or not you’re new to freelance copywriting, approaching people you already know about your freelance business, such as previous employers, is always the best place to start prospecting.  These folks know and trust you.  Even if they can’t hire you, they’re usually more than willing to introduce you to those who can”. – Ed Gandia, author of Stop Wishing and Start Earning.

 

 Wishing you much success!

How to Write Compelling White Papers with Essentials of Winning Business Proposals

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When I was a corporate consultant, I participated in the preparation of responses to numerous Requests for Proposals (RFPs).  Anyone who’s gone through that process knows that you can’t take anything for granted – if you are competing to win.  The more intense the competition, the greater the pressure to deliver a winning proposal.

Looking back, I see a clear pattern to the outcomes of my team’s proposal writing efforts.  Without a doubt, all of the projects we won through the RFP process resulted from proposals that satisfactorily answered the questions of interest to the clients.  While anxious to demonstrate our qualifications, we ensured that our primary focus was on the clients’ needs and expectations.  By contrast, we lost projects through the RFP process when we failed to address the clients’ concerns or when we misread their expectations.

Writing a persuasive and effective business white paper is not so different from writing a winning proposal in the RFP process.  In both cases, you are asking prospects to buy your idea, product, or service.  Success in both endeavors involves the ability to deliver on a set of criteria.  In this article, we identify three essentials of successful proposals, which can be used to develop compelling business white papers.

1.  Understand what the client wants.  This requires reading and re-reading the RFP documents.  Even if the project is on a familiar topic and your area of expertise, it is crucial that you “see it” (as it were) from the prospective client’s point of view.  Failure to do so might lead to a misplaced focus in the proposal or misinterpretation of the client’s expectation.  The equivalent of this essential in the arena of white paper writing is a thorough market research of the target market and an in-depth needs assessment of the client.

  • The market research provides the crucial information on the sponsoring company’s intended use of the white paper, including  characteristics of the target market and clear reader profile.
  • The needs assessment provides crucial information of what the sponsoring company hopes to achieve with the marketing strategy.

Both types of information will help you write the white paper specific to the objective.  It allows you to differentiate market drivers and solutions in ways that fit business segments and problems.

2.  Watch the language.  One of the unspoken rules of responding to RFPs is the one  about the right language.  The problem is what is the right language?  Based on my experience, there is no universally right language.  It is safe to say that the prospective client defines the right language.  Factors, such as the client’s subject-matter expertise, the technicality of the project, and the intended use of the final report, help define the language of a proposal.

In the arena of white paper writing, determining the appropriate tone has all of the same considerations.  A persuasive business white paper uses the tone that matches the subject-matter expertise of the target reader, the phase of the complex sales cycle, and the expectations of the ultimate decision-maker.  It is a tall order, but one that can be greatly facilitated by good market research and competitive intelligence.

3.  Credibility counts.  This essential is important because a proposal is only one aspect of the winning game.  The credentials and performance of the project team must match the requirements of the job.  It is ill advised to exaggerate claims or inflate qualifications in proposals.  The same holds true for business white papers.  As lead generation tools, these special reports are essentially door openers in complex sale processes that typically last many months.  The credibility of the sponsoring company is vital from the initiation of the lead to the conclusion of the sale and beyond.  The company must deliver on the claims and promises made in the white paper.

Conclusion

Companies develop white papers because they are powerful tools for generating leads.  Success in achieving the marketing objective is significantly enhanced by adopting a few winning essentials, including an undivided focus on the target reader’s interests, an appropriate tone, and the credibility of the sponsoring company.

 

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009.

Planning your business growth strategically

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I’m still essentially old school when it comes to information gathering and processing.

I like to take my time with the process, assess the sources, and drill down on leads.  But my process seems to be at odds with the speed, multiplicity of expert opinions, and the vast amount of information transmitted daily in the various social media.  It is like a race constantly gearing up momentum.

Books are different.  I like books.

You don’t have to chase constantly after the latest and the best because a good book represents an authoritative and consolidated information source.  It is a focal point.  You can take your time to absorb the information and selectively assess and acquire the knowledge therein.

My current subject of interest is how to develop effective strategies for marketing in the B2B arena.  I am looking for proven and adaptable plans that have solid long-term perspectives.  I am looking  for practical tips, which I can put to good use as I grow my business.

The good news is that there are several reputable authors, who have first hand, time tested wisdom to impact on seekers like me.  In this article, I would like to recommend Sun Tzu: Strategies for Marketing – 12 Essential Principles for Winning the War for Customers by Gerald Michaelson and Steven Michaelson.

This book is gold.  It is intelligent without being arrogant.  The authors clearly understand that in marketing, we deal in “probabilities rather than certainties”.  This point seems to be lost in most of the popular declarations we read about in social media these days.  The truth is nothing is really as certain as some “experts” will have us believe.

Based on ancient military wisdom crystallized in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Michaelson & Michaelson lay out 12 vital principles of marketing, which have solid basis in fact and experience.  Here are three of my favorite principles:

  1. Honor the customer:   This should come as no surprise to successful sellers.  The operative mantra is that selling is not about you, it is about the customer.  Focus on the customer’s needs.  Here’s how the authors put it:

You grow your margins over time by finding a group of customers whom you want to serve, and who want to be served by you.  If you are loyal in serving their needs, they will be loyal to you.  And you will be able to charge a fair price in any economic climate.  The act of buying starts with a customer need.  The customer is the force that drives your business

 

2.  Organize intelligence:  Good information drives good business decisions.  There is no substitute for thorough and ongoing market research.  Cohesive knowledge is developed through understanding trends and projections.  To quote the authors:

 The antidote for uncertainty is relevant information.  The problem is sifting through the data prior to an incident to determine which information is critical for taking the correct preventive course of action.

 

 3.  Concentration of resources:  As any economist will tell you, productive resources are scarce.  Consequently, they should be allocated with the best outcome in mind.  This applies to tangible resources (like people, tools, and credit) and intangibles like time, strategies, and reputation.  Specialization is economical – in the best possible way.  According to the authors:

 Two simple rules govern concentration of resources: 1) it is an error to attempt to concentrate everywhere; the result is no concentration.  2) the more tightly focused your concentration, the more sure you are to have winning superiority.

 Read all about these time-tested principles in this well-written book.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009.