Have you ever been to an all-you-can-eat buffet that had one of those flowing, towering chocolate fountains? Remember how it got your attention—how it kicked your sweet tooth into high gear and made you crave its creamy, chocolatey goodness?
If you’re like me you could barely make it through the main course because you were giddily anticipating how delicious that rich, sweet chocolate was going to taste on whatever you decided to pour it over.
How does this tasty image apply to your B2B content marketing and copywriting? There is a very important lesson to be learned from the metaphor of the chocolate fountain. Hang tight, though, and consider this first:
A lot of marketing content and copy rarely gets read. Much of it leaves a weak impression and is soon forgotten.
Is this happening to your B2B content? If so, what can you do about it? What steps can you take today to help ensure your content gets read more often and has a greater impact on your audience?
In today’s world, we are bombarded with marketing messages. Your prospects are overwhelmed with information. They’re not suffering from “too little to read.” Much of the content they encounter fails to grab and keep their attention because of this onslaught, and because so much of it is poorly written.
Following are some steps you can take to help your B2B content get noticed, read more often, be remembered and maybe even get shared.
First things first: your content has to get noticed! You can have the world’s greatest case study, white paper or blog entry, but if it doesn’t grab your intended audience’s attention, it won’t get read. So what can you do to make it more likely to get noticed?
This step is simple, but critical: you must have a compelling, eye-catching title or headline. Your title is the first thing your potential reader notices. Does it bore him? Does it leave him indifferent? Does it turn him off? Or does it arouse his curiosity and make him keenly interested in learning more?
How do you create a title that gets the results you want? Here’s what I recommend: a title that has a strong combination of curiosity and powerful benefits for the reader. This will make him want to click and find out more. It also communicates that he stands to benefit if he reads the content.
Remember this: your reader doesn’t care about your product or service per se. He doesn’t care about your company or industry awards, either. He cares about himself—about his needs and wants, and how you can help him realize them. When he’s deciding whether or not to read your content, he’s asking himself, “What’s in it for me?” If your title hints at one or more strong benefits for him, it’s much more likely to get read.
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Here are two sample titles:
Do you agree the first example is bland, boring and gives the potential reader little or no incentive to read further? Do you see how the second example leverages a strong combination of curiosity and very desirable benefits? Which one would make you more likely to keep reading?
The headline sets the stage for the reader’s expectations of what’s to come, but its main job is getting the first sentence read. The first sentence leads to the second sentence being read and so on, until your reader reaches the conclusion of your article and determines he is glad he took the time to read it.
You want readers to have an enjoyable, almost effortless reading experience leading to an almost automatic conversion—what we call in the copywriting world “the slippery slope.”
This is where our illustration of the chocolate fountain comes into play. You want your reader to view your content as tasty and sweet—something he enjoys consuming. You want his experience to be one of “effortless flow” like smooth, rich melted chocolate flowing down the side of that buffet table fountain.
As a B2B technology content marketing specialist and copywriter (and before that as an IT consultant and technology buyer) I’ve read a lot of marketing content. Honestly, the experience is usually about as pleasant as a root canal.
A lot of the content I see, especially in the B2B tech world, is painfully tedious to read and confusing. It’s often centered on the company and its brilliant, whiz-bang product—not the reader, his problem and the company’s solution (a major, but very common, mistake).
If your B2B content is a painful chore to read; if its primary focus is on you and your product; if it’s confusing and filled with vague, meaningless jargon the reader doesn’t relate to—what’s the likelihood it’s going to get read all the way through? Even more dismal, what’s the likelihood it’s going to get shared? More importantly, what’s the likelihood it’s going to persuade the reader to take that next step in the buying process? Even if readers make it all the way to the end, do you think they will remember much of it?
It’s critically important your content be easy to read. Short paragraphs and sentences will make your content much easier and more pleasant to read. It’ll be more persuasive too.
Also, use basic language. Avoid corporate/MBA-style catchphrase clichés. So much content language today costs companies billions of dollars in sales, I’m convinced.
Think about it. Does anyone really want to buy a “flexible, agile, scalable, best-of-breed, end-to-end solution”? I doubt it. But I see this kind of wording used in marketing content all the time. My advice: ditch it!
David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” said that “No one cares about your product except you.” He’s right, but many marketers violate this rule in their content. If you want your content to get read, if you want it to persuade your reader to take action, remember that quote.
Focus your message on the reader, his problem and your solution to that problem. To make your message even more persuasive, here’s another tip: learn to write conversationally. Write like you would talk if you were having a conversation with a friend at your neighborhood coffee shop. And write specifically to one person: your ideal client. Don’t write to a crowd.
Remember what we talked about earlier; there is a lot of content on the web. Much of it rarely, if ever, gets noticed. Some of it gets noticed, but is quickly forgotten. And a lot of it gets ignored. Don’t let this happen to you.
Follow the advice in this article and it’s much more likely your B2B copy and content will get noticed, read, enthusiastically shared and do the main thing you want it to do: help your company make more sales.
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