Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: May 2013

I Blog Therefore I Am

Reading the tweet stream of a new follower, I ran across an interesting article from @goforbiz101 entitled Blogging is Dead – But Long Live the Blogosphere.

They make some valid points. Here’s my favorite quote:

Heck, most people blogging today are consultants being told by consultants to blog (and even those consultants learned that from other consultants).

That might be true. Most of the people I follow use Twitter as not much more than a syndication service for their blogs. (BTW, it works really well for that!)

Valid points aside, there are a number of reasons I still blog. One of my motivators is that there is another Melissa Paulik.

Yes, it’s true. In fact, there may be even more than one more out there. One in particular lives in the general vicinity of where I grew up.  We even look similar – blonde hair, blue eyes, that sort of thing.

I’ve never met her. I’m sure she’s a nice person – at least she hasn’t done anything online to tarnish our name. But she’s not me.

Blogging ensures that MY persona is online so that when a potential client Googles me, enough of me will show up to counter balance her persona. Hopefully, they can tell the difference.

At the end of the day, we’re all a dime a dozen whether we share our name with someone else or a hundred someone elses. (I always felt bad for the Jim Smiths of the world.) Blogging is one more way to say. “Hey, I’m here!”

For those of you who blog, what’s your primary motivation*?


*My doppelganger isn’t my primary motivation. Just one of many.
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7 Tips for Creating Compelling White Papers

White papers are a unique animal in the content marketing stable. They can be highly useful at every stage of the sales cycle. They can help introduce prospects to your business and fill your funnel with fresh opportunities. They can help prospects frame a challenge or a possible solution. They can even dig deeply into technical questions or offer potential ROI scenarios.

Side note: While white papers can be helpful at every stage of the sales cycle, as content marketers, we need to be sure we aren't focus only on one stage. Too often, marketers focus more on the awareness phase (especially when they are measured on leads generated) and less on later stages of the sales cycle.

That said, if you’re thinking of creating a white paper, or having someone else (like me) create it for you, here are 6 tips that can help you produce a compelling piece.

1/ White papers don’t have to be white. Scratch that. Perhaps it’s better to say they shouldn’t be white. Gone are the days when you can have your engineers knock one out in Microsoft Word in an afternoon. To get noticed, today’s white papers need to be as aesthetically pleasing as they are educational.

2/ Use your messaging as a guide, but leave your product at the door. Your messaging says a lot (or at least it should) about what matters most to your prospects. Like all collateral, the white paper should be guided by your messaging. I love it when clients have formal messaging because it tells me how to portray them in the right light with their audience. However, break in too early with a product message and your prospects starts to feel like they are "being sold."

3/ Title is critical! Journalists know this. That’s why they create titles that draw you in whether you’re perusing search engine results or standing in line at the supermarket. X tips for doing whatever works exceptionally well for pieces that are a bit lighter, like this post, but they also work well for heavier topics. Here’s an example from the solar energy industry written for energy executives that does this well.

4/ Use headers. Many executives tell me they skim the headers of a white paper to judge whether it's worth reading. I notice myself doing the same thing when reading a longer article or blog post. Make sure you use headers that tell a compelling story. Long blocks of text are also harder to read, so using headers keeps your reader engaged.

5/ Your product manager may not be the best author. As a former product manager, I hate to disparage these hard-working folks. However, too many PMs, especially those managing highly technical products, get so lost in the bits and bytes that they forget how to speak to anyone who isn’t an engineer. If your target audience sits in the executive suite, you will want a writer who can bridge the gap between product features and the business case.

6/ They don’t have to be long. A lot of my clients come to me with a set number of pages in mind. While that helps with estimating, remember that a white paper can easily be as few as two pages. On the other hand, it may be as many as six or eight if the subject warrants it. These days, shorter can be better, but I still recommend a mix of lengths. 

7/ Include plenty of whitespace.  While the paper may not be white, you want to include plenty of whitespace to increase readability. You may not need as much whitespace as a well-designed product brochure, but nor should you cram every little nook and cranny with content. Images are also good (necessary) for breaking up content and keeping the reader focused.

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