TMI – How Much is Too Much for B2B Marketing Collateral?

Marketing CollateralIt’s a fine line. You want to tell your prospects EVERYTHING as soon as you get their attention. They want only enough info to make a quick decision about taking the next step. So how do you keep from scaring them off and / or boring them to death and actually get them more interested in your product?

I could make a lot of comparisons to dating here, which would be totally relevant. But an even easier exercise is to ask yourself this two part question:

  1. What is the next step you can reasonably expect your prospect to take after reading this piece of collateral?
  2. What information will they need in order to take that next step?

Of course, answering these questions is not an easy matter. While you might like every prospect to call you begging to order your latest product from a single banner ad, that’s not very realistic. Unfortunately, a lot of companies expect a whole lot of bang for their buck. But that “bang” may be the sound of them shooting themselves in the foot.

In general, brochures, emails, product sheets, traditional and social media, and even your top level web pages are an invitation to find out more. While each of these are different length and styles, the main goal is to give the prospect just enough information to pique their interest and then provide them with clear instructions on how to find out more.

Case studies, white papers, technical specs and the like are the main course of decision-making. Your prospects will want to dig into as much info as you are willing to give them – and probably forward it and discuss it around the office – before they pick up the phone to talk to a live sales person.

Once they’ve done their own background research, the next step is to call a sales rep for more answers. So make sure your “deeper” collateral has appropriate calls to action and contact information.

If you try to jump the line on any of these steps you run the risk of looking unprofessional or worse – desperate. That can shut the prospect down and send them looking for a competitor who will give them the information they want – when they want it.

Web Copy, White Paper, Case Study, Blog…What I’m Working on Right Now

White papers, web copy, case studies, blogWhenever I get a call from a new client, they are very interested in what type of copywriting projects I usually work on. At cocktail parties (OK I don’t really go to cocktail parties, but you know what I mean) I get asked the same question. But like the weather in New England, the answer can depend on the hour.

Over the course of my 15+ years writing mostly B2B marketing communications, I have worked on just about every type of writing project there is. Of course, what I am working on tends to change with the times; 15 years ago I was less likely to be writing blogs and web copy, while today I am less likely to be writing direct mail pieces and physical sales letters, since these have almost completely morphed into email marketing.

To satisfy the curious, I thought I would share a list of the projects I have worked on this month.  While not totally representative, it should give the curious a peek into what types of copywriting and design I do.

This month I:

  • Finished up a 12 page web copywriting project for a Cloud-based search portal company
  • Created the design – in Microsoft Publisher – for a case study I wrote last month for a Cloud services vendor
  • Wrote over 100 “ghost blogs” and keyword optimized press releases for various attorneys and law firms across the US
  • Finished up several pieces of sales collateral (brochures, solution briefs, sales sheets) for the world’s largest IT company
  • Started creating a Power Point Presentation on writing copy for the web, which I will share with the marketing department of a billion-dollar corporation
  • Updated a LinkedIn profile and gave some social media tips to a busy executive
  • Wrote email newsletters for a law firm, a school supply company, and an internet sales distribution consultant
  • Met with a financial services client about creating a website for the firm’s new direction
  • Began updating a series of product manuals for a company that manufactures clean-air monitoring devices for materials processing plants worldwide
  • Went to lunch with one of the greatest professional copywriters of all time, Peter Bowerman, who was kind enough to meet some of his fellow professional copywriters for lunch one day during his vacation
  • Completed a few blog posts for, a marcom blog I started with 5 other professional marketers about a year ago.

Some months I do more web copy, other times I am totally immersed in creating a white paper, and still others I crank out sales kits and product sheets. But all in all, it was a pretty busy, fairly typical month for me.

If I can help you with a case study, blog, white paper, some web copy, or anything else, please don’t heistate to contact me!

Three Free (Or Dirt Cheap) Marketing Strategies You Can Put Into Place NOW

Cheap or Free Marketing StrategiesI don’t have to tell you that times are tough these days. We are all pretty tired of hearing it. It can be frustrating when management cuts the marketing budget during tough times, but sometimes that’s the reality. Whether you’re facing a slashed budget or rolling in the dough, there are three fairly easy and mostly free things you can add to your marketing efforts to drive more leads – even when times are tough. If you aren’t doing these already, it’s time to jump in.

Start a blog

Blogging gets people involved with your brand, gives you an opportunity to address customers on a more personal level, and gives some serious kick to your Google search rank. If you have never blogged it may seem intimidating to start one from scratch. Don’t worry, nothing could be easier.  There are nearly unlimited free resources available online for the beginning blogger.

Wage a PR campaign

Press releases have long been recognized as an excellent way to get free exposure for your brand. These days they can also help with your Google search ranking, providing both inbound links and juicy keywords. Make a plan for putting out press releases and stick to it. Once a week is great, but once a month is fine, too. Once you write the press release, you can release it using several online services, for example, PR Log lets you post press releases for free. ( Put together a list of local and national publications that deal with your industry, and email the story to the editors of those publications as well. Then be sure to post the release in the “news” section of your website.

Get social

Yes, I mean social media – Twitter, Facebook, Digg, LinkedIn and the rest. While it seems like social media has been hyped to death over the last few years, it is still growing as a great way to connect with prospects and customers. Not every social media outlet is going to be right for every company, so do your research and put your heart into the ones that make the most sense for your brand.

A shrinking budget is no excuse to be a shrinking violet; it is simply a call to put more effort into low cost and free lead generation. Who knows, maybe you’ll even stick with it once the economy turns around…

Have any great ideas for cheap and free marketing? Share ‘em here!