Category: B2B Marketing

Writing Case Studies

Case studies have an advantage over other marketing collateral you might create: they involve a third party proving your message for you. If done correctly, they’re the ultimate credibility builder and deserve to be prominently placed on your website and your other marketing materials.

Case studies are, in essence, customer success stories. So you should write them like any other story. They should have a beginning, middle, and end. The featured client should have a clearly-defined business problem, with obstacles recognizable to your audience. And your company is the hero that swoops in and saves the day.

Keep case studies as simple – and as short – as possible. No more than 750 words is ideal. Use pull quotes, bullet lists, and section headers to make it easier to scan. Instead of stock photos or clipart, ask the client for images that highlight their product or service.

Even if the focus is technical solutions, case studies can still be engaging and compelling – it’s all in the presentation. Charts showing data are great, but don’t go overboard. Ultimately, there should be just enough information to tell the story clearly and succinctly.

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We send out a newsletter to nurture our prospects and retain our current customers. What else should we be sending?

A newsletter can be a great way to stay top-of-mind of your prospects and customers on a consistent basis, but it shouldn't be the only way you reach out to your audience. Nurturing is a long term process with a more personal approach.

In between newsletters, try:

  • Sending one-to-one emails -- whether you're sharing an article or just checking in, personal messages are a quick way to let a customer know that they're on your mind.
  • Making a phone call to ask if there’s anything else you can help them with. Many customers probably expect a phone call only when there’s a problem or when you’re trying to sell them something. It's an unexpected way to delight a current client.
  • Asking their opinion on a new product, service, or feature. This can be done informally or in a more structured way, such as giving them a short survey. Customers like having a say in these matters -- they are, after all, the ones who will be using the product/service -- and you will gain valuable insight.
  • Sending a gift – a book, like the latest business bestseller, is a great example. It's another way of giving the customer value without asking for anything in return.

And just saying thanks every once in a while goes a long way.

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Tips on Generating Ideas for Your Company Blog

A blog is not only great for SEO purposes, but it's also an excellent forum to offer educational, compelling information in a more low key manner than traditional marketing. Above all, it’s a great way to add credibility to your organization.

However, writing posts on a consistent basis requires a certain amount of time, energy, and ideas. How do you find topics to blog about?

Scour the internet and social media to find out what people are talking about and what questions they're asking about your industry. On Twitter, people may be discussing a recent article or piece of news. In LinkedIn groups, people might be asking for help with a specific problem. Find other blogs in your field and subscribe to their RSS feed -- this will give you a good idea of what topics are compelling for the reader.

Beyond social media, think about the questions your clients and prospects ask you on a regular basis. Create a list of topics and start writing. Build a catalogue of “evergreen” posts and couple that with occasional timely posts reacting to an article, current event, or a piece of industry news.

Posts don't have to be long – aim for 150 to 200 words – and they don't have to be every day. The important thing is to be consistent. If you start off posting once a week, commit to that schedule. Before long, you’ll have a compelling company blog that demonstrates your company’s expertise.

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Do White Papers Belong Behind a Sign-Up Form?

You’re offering a white paper or another type of download on your website. It’s full of valuable, compelling information, and most of your prospects would be happy to read it. Should you put this piece of content behind a sign-up form, in which the prospect is forced to give you their email address?

In general, the answer is no.

On a certain level, it makes sense: you’re providing something of value, and in return, shouldn’t you get to add a name to your list of prospective customers?

Here’s the key: you’re providing this content to demonstrate that you know your stuff. It adds credibility to your organization, and it may lead to the prospect becoming a customer.

You don’t want to place an obstacle in front of a prospect getting something that makes you look good.

If you want a prospect's email in order to send them your newsletter, always ask their permission first. And if that white paper is high quality, it'll be that much more likely that the prospect seeks out your newsletter, your expertise, or your services.

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Rules for Email Marketing Bliss

According to the Direct Marketing Association, every dollar spent on email marketing -- this number is an average -- generates $43.62 in revenue. That might seem like an absurdly high return, but it's highly likely that marketers who get those types of results follow specific guidelines and best practices. Below, some rules to set up your email campaigns for this kind of success.

Talk like a person

Remember: we're communicating with people. Stay away from "marketing speak" -- use language that is familiar and personal, like you're having a conversation at a party.

Campaigns mean long-term

Marketers often try to say everything at once. There's a lot to accomplish: educating your prospect on your company, demonstrating your company's subject matter expertise, and showing the value of your products or services.

With a campaign, you have the opportunity to convey important points over a long term period. Create an Action Plan for a full year; give yourself the time to create a strong a lasting impression.

Customize messages by segment

When it comes to segmenting your lists, the formula is simple -- PITS. Product, Industry, Title, and Sales Pipeline. Different products/services require custom messages to a targeted prospect list, as do different vertical industries.

You don't want to send the same message to the CEO and the CIO. Research has shown that people with different positions within companies react differently to specific words, phrases, and messages.

Segmenting lists allows you to optimize your email marketing efforts and deliver the right messages to the right people.

From who?

Don't overlook the "From" field. People receive hundreds of emails a a day and the messages they pay most attention to are those that are from a familiar name.


Keep your graphics to a minimum and stay away from canned templates. It's inexpensive to brand your own custom look and feel. If you do like graphics, put them at the bottom of your message as part of your signature block.

Subject Best Practices

Keep the subject short, personal, honest, familiar, and specific.

Create a smooth landing

Every email campaign should also include a landing page that reflects its messaging, through consistent branding and copy.


Get in the habit of testing. Experiment with different copy, subject lines, landing pages, and offers. Important tip -- when testing, always change one thing at a time.


Learn the rules against spam and follow them. It's much more effective to send your messages to a small, targeted list of people you know than a large list of purchased prospects. Personal emails to people you know are never spam.

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Building Compelling Offers

Learning opportunities. Gifts. Promotions. Incentives. These are all examples of offers -- those items that compel prospects to pay attention to you. Offers should be a core piece of every marketing campaign. Yet, as marketers, we often struggle to find compelling pieces or consider them an afterthought.

Bring these items front and center by taking the time to build up a strong offer sheet. This way, you'll have a substantial selection of pieces that can be used throughout your campaigns, on your website, and in sales calls.

Start by creating an inventory of your current assets. Make sure you identify separate offers for different stages of the sales cycle: for earlier in the sales cycle, learning opportunities (such as educational articles) offer your prospect something that can keep them engaged and open to your messaging. For later in the sales cycle, consider offers that aid in the decision-making process -- trial offers and assessments, as well as pricing and financial incentives.


  • Create high value offers for the highest value prospects. For example, send your best prospects that hot new business bestseller.
  • Focus on educational timesavers: how-to guides, articles, and survey responses.
  • Hire a freelance writer to create pieces for you. Consider creating a back-catalogue of content that you can use over the course of long term period.
  • Put value behind your service offers. For example, a free assessment is generally perceived as a sales call, and therefore wouldn't necessarily qualify as an effective offer.
  • Avoid gifts and trinkets as a call to action. Real prospects generally won't take an action to win a chance at a free iPod or other item. Instead, use these items at trade shows, raffles, or events.
  • Buy offers when you don't have them. Sources like Harvard Business Review have white papers and articles available for download.

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No More Accidental Referrals

Referrals are often the best source of new business. But like all other marketing activities, gathering referrals is most effective when you have a plan of action. Here are some proven ways to help develop your customer referral strategy:

Make it personal

When asking for referrals, you're talking to people that you already know well. They might be friends; they might be clients. In any case, it's a personal connection. And maintaining that connection is what counts.

When you ask for a referral, you're asking someone to give you something of personal value -- a relationship that they have with someone else. Their reputation is on the line when they recommend your business.

This means that every point of your referral strategy needs to reflect that personal approach. Instead of sending an email, consider the impact of mailing a handwritten thank you card. If you're sending a gift, think about what's meaningful to the recipient -- whether it's a round of golf, a book you both talked about, or a bottle of wine for an enthusiast.

One size doesn't fit all

A key part of developing your referral plan is targeting your referral sources. These sources can include family and friends, clients, influencers, and other networking groups:

Family and Friends:

These are built-in referrals who are happy to help because they want to see your success and appreciate the recognition. Help them out by specifying what you're looking for. A lead or a direct introduction? Is there a certain industry, job title, or size of company you're targeting?

Also, keep your request simple -- don't ask your cousin for the names and contact information of the procurement officers in the region's top 150 companies. Instead, he may have access to a professional organization's directory or a list of recent conference attendees to share.

Finally, remember that your business-building efforts are not a top priority for friends and family, so gently remind them within a week or two of your request. Then be sure to thank them with a personal gift -- a Starbucks gift card perhaps, or an invitation to a nice dinner. Nothing extravagant, just heartfelt.


Customers can be your greatest source of referrals, but they first need to be treated as your valued customer. Once the sale is made, you can't coast. The bottom line is your customers want information from you that helps them do their jobs better and increases their return on investment. If you provide them with what they want, they'll be happy to help you out.

Just like with your friends and family, don't overlook the personal touch with your clients. One-on-one communications with phone calls and emails work wonders. For key customers, you may wish to invite them to lunch or dinner to get to know them better. If they're not local, an investment in a personal visit once or twice a year is well worth it.


Who are the leaders in your industry or community that can take your business to the next level? These influencers want to be seen as trusted providers with their clients and a source of valuable information. Include these people in your marketing efforts and offer to collaborate on whitepapers, events, or provide special discounts to their employees or clients.


Who do you already partner with? Your accountant, attorney, IT provider? Partners are a solid source of referrals since they know that you'll do the same for them. They're confident in your professional ability and gain tremendous business value from maintaining a solid network of referral-worthy providers.

Other Sources:

What other networking groups do you belong to? Professional organizations, charity committees, church, school connections, and even former clients. But you need to tread carefully here -- it's more about giving than getting.

Build a library

A library of ready-made referral materials will make it easier to ask for referrals and thank people.

As part of your referral library, create a:

  • A referral elevator pitch
  • A "thank you for your business" letter or email template
  • A "thank you for your referral" letter or email template
  • A "request for referral" letter or email template

Narrow your focus

Not everyone you know or do business with will be a referral source. Narrow your focus to the most likely candidates. These can include companies and individuals that have given previous referrals, your company's best fans, and those key influencers who you've identified.

Give more referrals

This is where the concept of paying it forward really comes into play. If you give more referrals yourself, you'll find people are more likely to refer potential customers back to you. Often people will make referrals that aren't quite right for your business. Why not pass these opportunities onto others in your network that you know will be a better fit?

Created a targeted list

Who are your top fifty targets? Share the list with your best referrers -- including friends and family -- who do they know?

Make it easy

Make it easy for your referrers. Even better than business cards, provide a card with your contact information plus your value proposition. Places like or are cost effective websites that can make your card special.

Always close the loop

The secret to maintaining good referrals is no secret at all. Send a thank you note to the referrer as well as an update and a status report.

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Tips for Driving Event Attendance

When you put on an event, how do you make sure people show up? These days it's not enough to simply send a message to your mailing list. Here are some ideas for driving event attendance that go beyond the traditional.

Make it valuable

All the demand generation tips in the world won't do anything unless the event is compelling. Have good, informational content and consider bringing in guest speakers with industry/business expertise. Worried about resources? One powerful event is far more valuable than ten "okay" seminars. Put quality over quantity when you consider your event plan.

Create a demand generation plan

Before you even create the event, consider your demand generation efforts. You need to use multiple touches via multiple vehicles to get the audience you want. Give yourself enough time to market the event. Allow eight weeks for a live event and six weeks for a webinar.

Make registration simple

Don't ask for too much information. Include the RSVP process in your demand generation plan. Make sure you confirm attendance and expect a 30% no show.

Use the local media

If you're driving a larger event to a more “horizontal” market, consider your local business publication. Most will have some type of event calendar where you can place your event.

Go vertical

Work with industry associations that target the same audience. Consider opportunities from “paid for” listings to stories on their websites. See if they'll “sponsor” the event. Their names add credibility and with the right event, you're bringing value to their markets. Offer them the opportunity to sign up people at the event or to send people more info afterward.

Use your auto signature

Create a strong auto signature. Include the value prop for attending the event and distribute it to everyone in your firm for their use.

Use your website

Specifically, your home page. If the event is not important enough for you to feature on your home page and have its own landing page, it's probably not important enough to attend.

Use your blog and social networks

Blogs and other social media are a great way to build excitement for an event. Provide some tips or information that you'll share at the event as teasers. Using an expert speaker? Have the person guest blog for a post or two on the topics that will be discussed and feed those posts to your landing page.

Business card or postcard invites

Create business card or postcard size invites that you and your employees can leave behind with prospects, distribute at shows, tuck into mailings, etc.

Join forces with your business networks

Your accountant, lawyer or other business partners can help you drive events. Ask them to include your event in their newsletters or other client communications and provide them with invites too.

Don't forget the reminders

Remind people via voicemail and email a few days before (and the day of in the case of webinars) to help decrease drop-off rates. Keep your expectations reasonable. Depending on the location of your event, your drop-off rates could be as high as 60%.

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Turning Cold Lists into Hot Leads

How many times has your company purchased a list, only to find the leads cold and the contact information out of date? Here are some tips on translating purchased lists into sales opportunities, and making the most of the contact resources you already have.

Purchased lists are not qualified leads

When you purchase a list, you're purchasing suspected leads at best. Be prepared to have your inside sales team call each and every contact from a purchased list to verify the contact information and to qualify the lead.

You already own your best list

Your best bet for leads is to focus on updating the contacts you already have. Does your sales team need a boost to make it happen? Consider a friendly competition and rewarding the "Data Master" of the quarter.

Research your market before you buy

What titles, industries, or company sizes have purchased your products/services in the past? Is your market large enough to support your goals? Is your market too large for your budget?

Use the law of attraction

As an alternative to purchasing new contacts, attract prospects to your website through social networking, SEO, or PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns and then use a marketing automation solution to identify their contact information and gauge their level of interest once they're on your website.

Don't forget about external sources

To append your existing data, check out LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Associations, and news sources. These are all useful tools to help your sales team update lists and qualify leads. Incorporate all your contact data into a CRM system to keep all information organized and to make it super easy to track leads throughout your sales cycle.

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How to Convert Visitors to Customers - Landing Page Tips

A landing page is a one-page extension of your website. You might use it to promote an offer, sell your service, or ask for an appointment. And often, you have just a few seconds to convert your visitor into a customer. Here are some tips on creating effective landing pages.

Looks matter

Your landing page should convey the same style, feel, and tone of your website -- but it's not your full site. Lose the clutter and use fewer graphics. Make sure your call to action is the main focus of your page.

Keep it clean

To encourage your visitors to respond to your offer, deliver a message that is clear, concise, and to the point. Use bullet lists and short blocks of copy.

Headlines are key

Headlines are the first (and sometimes only) thing your visitor reads. Use simple, direct headlines that are aligned with your audience's goals.

Test and test again

Test your landing page with a small focus group. Don't be afraid to ask for honest feedback.

Consider including value add-ons in your calls to action

Different people are drawn to different offers. Try, for example, adding a white paper with your free trial. Your visitors will appreciate having options.

Use testimonials to build trust

Adding a simple testimonial to your landing page adds instant credibility. A sentence or two about why your customer is happy is all you need.

Grammar and spelling

Spelling errors and grammatical mistakes can take away from the professionalism of your company. If you're not a writer or editor, find someone who is.

Only ask for what you need

Only ask for basic contact information -- name, email, company, phone number. Save the rest for a private conversation.

Content rules

Think carefully about who will be visiting your page and write your copy for that demographic. Speak to their problems and concerns, then show that you have a solution just for them. Keep the most important stuff at the top of the page.

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