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Scientific Technology Marketing Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

Here’s How to Captivate Readers With An Exciting Story Lead

Ever listen to the band KISS? 

I’m not a huge fan myself. While I do listen to one or two classics on the regular, I could never really get into them. And before you ask, no I never painted my face white either.

But here’s the thing. It doesn’t really matter what you think of KISS, you have to agree they’re still one of the most entertaining acts in the business. They were never boring. Instead, they always entertained and captivated their audience. In other words, those four dudes knew how to put on a show. 


Sadly, many marketers don’t know how to “put on a show” 

They don’t know how to engage their audience (and keep them engaged). And so they write boring content. This is a serious problem, considering the #1 rule in marketing is “never be boring”. Otherwise your readers will stop reading. And poof! They’ll disappear, never to be seen again. 


The lead needs to draw your reader into the copy

And just so we’re on the same page here, when I say “lead”, I’m talking about the first paragraph or two. It’s literally the first thing your prospect reads after the headline. 


A story lead uses a story (duh!) to draw your ideal customer into the copy

The first few paragraphs tell a story, which then slip slides into the main sales argument. It’s a terrific choice for a lead because people are wired to respond to stories (if they’re told well). We just can’t help ourselves. 


A story lead is different to other leads in a couple of ways

First of all, it’s entertaining because it’s telling a story. And entertaining means NOT boring. As already mentioned, people love stories and they’re a great way to grab attention. Second, a story is a roundabout or indirect way of leading your reader into the sales pitch. Instead of presenting an offer, or making a promise, (which is usually expected because it’s what a lot of sales copy does), a story is often unrelated to the product or service… at least in the beginning. 


This arouses curiosity… 

Because the reader is wondering where you’re going with the story. He or she is wondering how the story will end and what your point is. They may also wonder what the story has to do with the product or service. 

You have to understand that there’s always an element of tension in any sales process. You want the prospect to buy (or to take the next step). But the prospect has her defences up and doesn’t want to be sold. A story gets around this problem by sneaking past your prospect’s defences and gently guiding her towards the sale. 

OK then. So how do you actually write a great story lead?


Well, here are three points to remember:

First, it doesn’t need to be long. Often, brevity is your friend. Second, unless the story is about how your product or service was created (which can work as long as it’s exciting), it doesn’t necessarily have to relate to what you’re selling. Third, if it’s not related, then you need to smoothly connect back to the main sales argument of the letter. See how I did this in the story above about KISS? 


Of course, you don’t ALWAYS have to use a story lead

You might be thinking, “eh… do I HAVE to use a story lead or can I do something else?” 

Yes, there are other ways to start your marketing piece. These include highlighting a problem, making a strong promise, or helping your reader picture himself enjoying a clear benefit. Highlighting a problem is particularly effective because just as our brains are wired to respond to stories, they’re also wired to look out for problems. This is why mentioning a big problem in the headline and/or lead can work wonders for capturing your reader’s attention. 

But storytelling is a skill worth developing anyway, because it’ll make your marketing content much more engaging and interesting.  


Writing a story lead doesn’t have to be hard

But it does take practice. And it’s worth the effort because stories can captivate readers in a way that other leads can’t. They can guide your prospect into the sales copy with their defences down, since they want to know how the story ends and how it relates to your product. 

Tell a good story, and your marketing will stand head and shoulders above the competition (even if it’s not as entertaining as a KISS concert).

How to Connect With Your Audience Through Your Marketing…

… So You Build Deep, Lasting Relationships With Them 

What do the third law of Hammurabi’s Code, the 10 Commandments, and U.S. Code Title 18, Section 1001 all have in common?

They all prohibit lying. 

And so begins one episode of Overheard at National Geographic, a terrific podcast that delves into various scientific topics. This particular episode explored why kids lie… and why science actually says it’s a good thing that children lie to their parents and teachers. Apparently, lying is how certain developments take place during childhood, and how kids forge important relationships. 


Relationships are just as important in marketing

But it’s much harder to forge these relationships in the current online climate. Hyped up promotions, dubious claims, and false assertions abound online. Not to mention news and information that’s censored by big tech. All of this has eroded trust. 

We’re swamped under an ever-growing pile of email, social media content, ads, and marketing messages. It’s more, more, more, with no end in sight. 

This is why personalization and relationship building are more important than ever.


This article will cover three ways to build these relationships

These are:

1. Understanding your audience to the best of your ability.

2. Using direct mail to complement your online marketing efforts.

3. Being consistent and staying in front of your audience. 


Let’s jump right in with the first one… 

… which is the underlying strategy by which you should approach all your marketing efforts. Understanding your audience as much as you can is so critical to success, any advice I share with you won’t be helpful unless you get a handle on it. Remember: you CAN’T understand your market enough. It’s that important. 


The best way to do this is to get on the phone with your current customers 

Ask them what their most pain-in-the-neck problem is. The more specific, the better. You can also hang out in forums, do surveys, and research your market online. But the best way is definitely one-on-one over the phone. 

After a while, you’ll see patterns and trends relating to your market’s problems… which in turn will give you insights into how you can better serve them. This will also help you empathize with them, and communicate in a way that’s more personal. 


What happens when you can empathize with your prospects and customers? 

Well, you begin to understand their problems more thoroughly. And you can then start creating content that zeroes in on one of these problems and solves it for them. Yes, just one. Not two, three, or ten. Just one. Your content is going to solve one very specific problem. 

This is not easy, by the way. It often takes a lot of research and thinking to distill something down to a single problem that you can solve quickly. But that’s the challenge here.

Anyway… let’s move onto the second idea.


That idea is to use direct mail to complement your online marketing

Physical mail is ideal for creating and building relationships with people, including your customers. Why? Well, because it’s personal. It’s similar to the way we communicated in the past. People would send handwritten letters in the mail, and this was often the only way of reaching someone.  These letters were one-to-one forms of communication, addressed to someone specific, and signed by the writer. And since it was written to one individual, the letter was personal. 

And don’t forget, people like tangible items they can hold. A physical letter mailed to someone means much more than a tweet, and email, or a social media message. 


In fact, here’s something you can test to make it even more personal:

Try handwriting the address. 

I once got chocolate in the mail from a guy called Sean D’Souza. I’ve always been a big fan of Sean’s, but after getting that scrumptious New Zealand chocolate from him, I’m now a die hard advocate. If you haven’t heard of Sean D’Souza, or his company Psychotactics, then please (www.psychotactics.com) take a look at his website. Sean’s stuff is basically a masterclass in personalized marketing and customer retention. 


OK back to the chocolate… 

The package it came in had a handwritten address on the front of the envelope. Sean and Renuka (his wife) didn’t do what most people would have done and printed a label on the envelope (and most people wouldn’t send chocolate anyway). Nope, they hand-wrote the address to give the package that extra human touch. And they do this with clients all over the world. 

Right… on to the third part. 


Have you ever heard the saying, “marketing is a process, not an event”? 

I think I heard Dan Kennedy say this first. This is solid advice you should follow every time you do any kind of marketing. Never ever send just one letter or one email. Never write just one blog post. You need to follow up with additional personalized content to help solidify the bond you’re trying to create with your customer. And also to give them more opportunities to take you up on your offer. 


This might sound obvious… 

…but many marketers don’t bother to engage their audience beyond one or two attempts. 

I’ve received Christmas greetings and New Years wishes from companies whose email lists I’ve opted into. This is all well and good, but these emails are literally the only contact I get from these people all year long. Sometimes I even forget that I’m on their list. I’d actually take these good wishes seriously if they bothered to engage me outside of end-of-year marketing efforts.

Now… a common objection usually crops up at this point. 


“But won’t this take much longer? I’m already swamped”

Ah I can already hear the wheels in your head turning. You’re thinking that personalizing your marketing is a lot more effort… and that it’ll take ages. This is an objection I hear all the time from marketing executives. 

And it’s a fair point. But think of it this way: the effort you put into personalized marketing and relationship building will pay off in the long run. After all, you’re forging a deeper bond with your prospects and customers. And you’re going for quality over quantity here. So it might mean reaching fewer people in the beginning, but putting more effort into connecting with these people. Take it seriously. 


Ok so what have you learned?

Building relationships is harder than ever. So you’ve got your work cut out for you when planning your marketing. But you can make things easier by doing three things:

1. Understanding your audience to the best of your ability. Having meaningful conversations with individuals over the phone (or in person) is the best way.

2. Using direct mail to complement your online marketing efforts. It’s a much more personal medium

3. Being consistent and staying in front of your audience. Relationship building is a process, not an event. 

Finally, make sure you check out the Overheard at National Geographic podcast. You’ll learn something… and it’s better than wasting your time on Facebook anyway :).


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Is Your Marketing Putting Your Audience to Sleep?

I vividly remember having to sit through drab, boring seminars during my time as a wet-behind-the-ears PhD student. 

If you’ve ever attended some of the research presentations at scientific conferences, you can probably relate to this. If you haven’t, take a break from the tradeshow exhibit and wander on over to the talks at your next conference (pandemic pending, of course) – session after session of long-winded seminars where the presenter seems determined to bore the audience to tears.


Of course, they’re not all like this 

Some talks can be interesting, engaging, and informative. However, we can all agree that scientists aren’t the best at creating excitement or engagement during a talk.

I should know, I’m one of them! And yes, I’m a little guilty of giving boring talks myself.

When I would give a scientific talk, I would normally launch into a detailed presentation of results and data… without showing why this was important or why the audience should listen to me. I got a lot of yawns and folded arms, particularly in the front row. A lot of people would be texting or doing something else with their phones. Ouch!


I eventually figured out my mistake

I needed to open with why my talk mattered and why the audience should spend the next 15 to 20 minutes listening to me. I needed to provide valuable information and share a story that appealed to the audience.


So what does this have to do with marketing scientific technology? 

Well, as a marketer responsible for promoting this technology, the burden falls on you to get your message across. There is still a need to convey your story to an audience. Technical people get bored just like everyone else, and if they can’t relate to your presentation, they switch off. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. Technical buyers want and need to see technical information. This stuff is important because they want to know if your solution solves their problem. But this is more important at the end of the sales cycle when a technical evaluation of several options needs to be made.  


Don’t drown your potential customers in technical data too early 

This will just turn them off. Lead generation and awareness at the beginning is better achieved with a combination of technical copywriting and persuasive storytelling.

And just to be clear, the persuasion I’m talking about is not the exaggerated hype and persuasion that you see in consumer copy. We’re not trying to play on emotional triggers here. You don’t need to convince a technical or business buyer that they need a solution.


But you do need to tell them why they need YOUR solution

It is possible to blend technical details with subtle persuasion in such a way that gets your message across… and shows how you can solve your prospects’ problems.


An example of this is a white paper

Sadly, many scientific tech companies see a white paper as an opportunity to regurgitate a pile of research data they’ve collected. Then, they throw it up on their website and call it a day. But those who do this are leaving opportunity, leads, and revenue on the table.

Instead, a white paper should be seen as an opportunity to present a solution to a business or technical problem. As an added bonus, it can position your company as a provider of valuable information for those looking for it. The benefits of this alone should be enough to convince you to incorporate a story-driven approach to your marketing.


But I’m selling complex scientific products. Will this work?

This is a common objection – probably the most common, actually. If you’re wondering if storytelling will work when you’re selling complex technology, you can rest easy. In fact, I’d argue that scientific products need a story even more than non-scientific products. 

Remember, scientists are people too (duh, right?). They have their own problems, needs, desires, and stories in their heads about why they do what they do. It’s your job to understand these needs and these stories. And then use this info in your communications, so you can speak to them in a way that really captures their attention.  


Nothing captivates an audience like a great story

It doesn’t matter what industry you work in. To quote a recent Zoominfo article, “It can help your prospects and customers see your company as more than just a faceless corporate entity building complex products–instead, a collection of real people solving real-world problems”.

So remember this when crafting your next marketing campaign. Leave the deep, technical information for later in your sales cycle. And try not to fall asleep at your next scientific conference :).


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How to Boost Response Using Multiple Calls-to-Action… Without Turning Off Your Customer

I’ve never been a fan of going to church. 

But growing up in Ireland (a Catholic country) there was pressure to attend a weekly service, particularly in my parents generation. My Nan used to encourage Dad to take myself and my two brothers to mass every Sunday. And boy did we hate it. 

We still do. Going to church in any capacity is a huge turn off for me. But I also know people who go to mass every Sunday like their lives depended on it. It’s interesting to learn what turns some people on or off. This obviously changes from person to person. Some people like going to church. And others (like me) can’t stand it. 

But there’s one thing that IS consistent: most people are turned off by pushy and hyped-up marketing. So how do you sell without coming across as pushy? 


That’s what this article will show you

Specifically, you’ll learn how you can use multiple calls-to-action throughout your copy. And do so without turning off your customer. 


You already know what a call-to-action is

But I’ll mention it anyway just so you and I are on the same page. You need to tell your reader to take the next step after reading your marketing content (whatever that next step is). And the call-to-action (CTA) is how you do it. Usually (but not always), the CTA comes at the end, after you’ve given your reader all the details. It’s where you present your offer and tell people to take advantage of it while they still can. 


But you shouldn’t have just one CTA

Instead, you can have several woven throughout the copy, offering your reader different ways to respond. You see, if you just present a single CTA at the end that sells your product or service, plenty of readers simply won’t respond because it’s not the right time for them. 

Dan Kennedy calls this “threshold resistance” in his book No B.S. Direct Marketing. A direct purchase offer has a very high resistance since you’re asking someone to take out their wallet and give you money. 


On the other hand, a lead-generation offer is much easier to say yes to…

… since it’s typically giving away free information in exchange for contact details (for example). And it’s not going to turn off your prospects because instead of paying you money, you’re giving them the option to get free information and learn more. That way, they can make an informed buying decision when they’re ready. 

Now, there’s still resistance because there’s opportunity cost involved. But it’s low compared to a direct purchase offer. So people who can’t buy your product or service will often still take you up on your lead gen offer. 


This means you can have multiple CTAs 

This involves a hybrid approach where you’re using both a lead gen offer and direct purchase offer in the same promotion. And you’ll have a CTA for both. But you shouldn’t stop there. You can include offers of varying resistance levels, and have a CTA for each one. These CTAs should be clear and direct the reader to take a very specific next step. The more reasons you give them to respond, the better the chance of them responding. 


You can also get them to respond with an editorial CTA

This directs them to another piece of content to read, watch, or listen to. So if they’re reading a blog post, you can embed links that direct them to another blog post related to the same topic. Ideally, you should track this. 


But with all of these CTAs, won’t you confuse your reader?

This is a common objection. The thinking is that if there are many offers and next steps, your reader is more likely to get flustered or confused… and not do anything at all. Right? Well, this is where balance is needed. I’m not saying you should pack your promotion with offers and CTAs right, left, and center. That won’t do anybody any good. And yes, in this case, your reader is likely to get overwhelmed and not do anything at all. 


Instead, have a max of 3 offers or CTAs in your content

These could be a high-threshold direct purchase offer, as well as a medium threshold lead generation offer (like an opt-in to download a white paper) and low threshold editorial next step (that directs them to another piece of content). This way, you’re giving your reader the chance to buy from you, or get free information in different ways so they can learn more. Now you’re not going to turn them off or confuse them with too many offers. 


The point is to use more than one offer and CTA

So you give your reader more than one way to respond. Which, in turn, increases the likelihood that they’ll actually take the next step. 

So if you’re not already doing this, then you should at least test it. But don’t go overboard. Include 3 offers (and CTAs) at the most, and make sure they vary in terms of high, medium, and low threshold resistance.

This will help you sell more of your products or services without being pushy. Now… if only going to Sunday Mass was this easy :).


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The “Jamie Oliver” Guide to Motivating Scientific Buyers: 5 Steps for Moving People Through Your Sales Cycle to a Buying Decision

I recently bought a Jamie Oliver cookbook, called “5 Ingredients.”

And I’ve been using it for the past few weeks to whip up some pretty decent meals (if I say so myself). 

As the title suggests, the whole point of the book is that each recipe only has 5 ingredients. Which makes it ideal for cooking newbs like myself. The last dish I made was a creamy mushroom chicken that tasted surprisingly delicious given that it was my first time making it.

But that’s what a great recipe is supposed to do, right? It’s supposed to help you create an enjoyable meal as easily and as quickly as possible. 


Well… you can motivate scientific buyers the same way

No, not with chicken. But with a great marketing “recipe”. 

An example of a great “recipe” is what’s known as “the motivating sequence” in some copywriting circles. And it can be used in any piece of marketing content you put out to guide people through that content to the end. And motivate them to take the next step in your sales cycle. This recipe grabs your prospect’s attention and entices them to keep reading so they take that next step. 

So what does this motivating sequence consist of?


It has five basic steps. 

These are:

-Gain attention

-Highlight the problem or need

-Position your solution

-Prove what you’re saying is true

-Ask your reader to take the next step (call-to-action).

Hmmm, it’s already starting to look like a delicious recipe… also with only five ingredients. So… let’s start with the first ingredient (er… step) in our motivating sequence. (I promise, no more food analogies from here on).


The first step is gaining attention

You gain attention through your headline… which can be the first few seconds of a video, the title of a white paper, an email subject line, the headline in an ad, etc.  

It goes without saying that your headline needs to entice people to read the rest of the copy. Otherwise you’ve just wasted your time. So you need to write good headlines. 


And the fastest way to write a great headline is to include a benefit 

This might be to save time, improve productivity, save money, get things done faster, comply with regulations more easily, improve sales, get published faster, etc. You could also highlight a problem in your headline. This works because the human brain is wired to respond to problems. 

Want an example of a “benefit-oriented” headline? How about this white paper title:

Increasing Solar Cell Conversion Efficiency using Silicon Thin Film Technology: A Resource Guide for Solar Quality Control Managers

Get it? Ok then… let’s move onto the second step.


…which is to highlight the problem 

The first two steps (headline and problem) often blend together. What I mean here is a well-written lead (the opening sentence or paragraph of your copy), like a great headline, will also gain the attention of your readers. 

And like the headline, you need to spend a lot of time writing the lead. One of the best ways to write a great lead is to focus on the main problem that your solution helps to solve. 


Of course, there are other ways to write a compelling lead

But my advice is to focus on the problem. This is the easiest way to do it and it’s guaranteed to get your reader nodding along and interested in learning more. And if you decide to open your copy with another technique, make sure you still highlight the problem after the opening paragraph.

Now what was step 3 again? Oh yeah..


Step 3 is positioning your solution

Now is the time to introduce your solution as the best way to solve your prospect’s problem (which you highlighted in step 2). Specifically, you want to tell your readers what your solution is, how it works, the features and benefits, and its advantages when compared to the competition. 

The best way to give the features and benefits is to provide a list of bullet points. Now, scientific buyers respond best to features… so it’s vital that you include all the features in your copy. Don’t leave anything out. 


But, here’s a big mistake that’s often made… 

That mistake is forgetting about the benefits. State the feature first and then state the benefit your reader gets because of this feature. Sometimes called the “what… so what” technique or the “cause and effect” technique, this ensures your reader gets all the info required. 


Ok nearly there… onto step 4

Scientific buyers are a skeptical bunch – more skeptical than your average buyer. It comes with the job. So you need to back up what you’re saying with proof… and lots of it. There are various ways of doing this through what some copywriters call ‘belief builders’. 

These might be testimonials, verifiable facts, hard specifics, case studies, customer quotations, product reviews from third parties, credentials, proven track record, academic papers etc.


Testimonials from previous customers are probably the best way to show proof 

But depending on what content type you’re writing, you can include other forms. In a white paper (where you have more room), you could include one or two case studies of how the technology solved a very specific problem for someone else.

And finally…


Step number 5 is telling them what to do next

A call-to-action tells your readers what they need to do after reading or watching your marketing content. You don’t want to go to the trouble of creating a marketing piece, only to have your readers do nothing at the end. 

Now, there are bad calls-to-action and good calls-to-action. An effective call-to-action is made up of 3 parts: the how, the why, and the what. Simply put, the call-to-action tells scientific buyers exactly what you want them to do, how they should do it, and why they should do it.


Here’s an example:

“Visit www.ABCSolar.com/solution right now for your FREE copy of the white paper:

Increasing Solar Cell Conversion Efficiency using Silicon Thin Film Technology: A Resource Guide for Solar Quality Control Managers

You’ll learn about a remarkably cost-effective solar-cell technology that is saving companies in your industry 10% on their annual energy costs.”


Let’s bring this all together with a quick example:

Your headline gains the attention of your prospects (step 1). After clicking on the headline, the prospect is taken to a landing page. This explains the problem and the difficulties it imposes.  This is highlighting the problem (step 2). 

The landing page then offers a free white paper explaining how a particular technology solves the problem. This is positioning a solution (step 3). The skepticism of the reader is overcome when they read the testimonials given by your previous customers. This is the proof (step 4). The end of the page asks the reader to fill out a form and download the white paper. This is the call-to-action (step 5) that has them take the next step.

And guess what? The white paper itself will follow the exact same sequence. 


You see how this whole thing works?

The five steps to writing any piece of persuasive content that moves your reader to take action are:

-Gain attention

-Highlight the problem

-Position your solution

-Proove what you’re saying is true

-Ask your reader to take the next step

The motivating sequence is just like a great recipe – guaranteed to give you a terrific result every time. Jamie Oliver would be proud.

The #1 Way to Create a Successful and Profitable Marketing Campaign

Shinise is a word in Japanese that refers to a long lasting company… a company that’s weathered countless storms and has been around for ages. 

In fact, there’s a statistic floating around that says 90% of all companies around the world that are over 100 years old are Japanese (hat tip to Paul Jarvis and his book Company of One for that stat). How do these companies last so long? They do so by focusing on better customer service rather than growing and increasing the number of customers they serve. In other words… quality over quantity. This is the ONE thing all these businesses have in common. 

Having a ONE thing to focus on is an amazing advantage. It allows you to forget about stuff that bogs you down, and instead zero in on what’s most important.


Of course, figuring out this one thing can be challenging 

And actually sticking to that one thing (and not getting sidetracked) is even harder. But for marketing, I believe this ONE thing is understanding your audience to the best of your ability. This is the #1 way to create successful marketing that helps you build lasting relationships with your customers. 


And the first step is understanding these customers in the first place

You can’t understand your people enough. Writing personalized forms of communication means first knowing your audience to the best of your ability. You need to become familiar with their desires, motivations, challenges, and worldviews if you want any chance of speaking to them in their language. 


You can start by actually engaging with your audience

Don’t let communication be a one-way street. Many businesses don’t bother to engage their audience. At all. They don’t respond to questions, or talk to their prospects and customers… except when they’re trying to drum up business. You need to do better. 

I’ve received Christmas greetings and New Years wishes from companies whose email lists I’ve opted into. This is all well and good, but these emails are literally the only contact I get from these people all year long. Sometimes I even forget that I’m on their list. I’d actually take these good wishes seriously if they bothered to engage me outside of end-of-year marketing efforts. 


So that’s the first thing: you need to engage

Technology and tools have made this easier than ever before. You can use social media apps like Facebook messenger, Twitter, and Instagram to ask your audience direct questions. Drift can help you talk to customers as they browse your website. And surveys can give you much-needed feedback on a larger scale. 

But the best thing you can do is to hop on the phone and have a conversation. Schedule regular phone calls with prospects and customers so you can fully understand what they love or dislike about your product.


The next thing you can do is create a more detailed buyer persona

Or as Sean D’Souza calls it: a target profile. I like how Sean (in his book, The Brain Audit) distinguishes between target audience and target profile. The big difference is that the target profile outlines a single buyer… not a group of buyers. The reason you want to do this is because your understanding and targeting will be much more accurate when you zero in on a single individual.


Want an example?

Well, to use Sean’s example in The Brain Audit, let’s say you’ve got three women sitting in a cafe. They’re all in their 30’s, live in the same neighbourhood, went to the same school, and they all have 2.2 kids. And they all wear jeans. On paper, they all seem alike, right?

This is called a target audience. Now, if you’re selling jeans to women, you might think it’s easy peasy once you know the demographics of the audience. But there’s a catch… 

Each of these women may be buying your jeans to solve a different problem. One might be buying for comfort, another might be buying to look good, and another might be buying simply because she likes the colour.


A target profile hones in on a single person and a single problem

Instead of focusing on an audience, you focus instead on a single person who is dealing with a specific problem. Instead of “women who buy jeans”, your target profile might be “Karen, who buys jeans to look good”. 


Usually, this is where a common objection crops up…

You might be thinking that marketing to one person is a terrible idea… business suicide even. But let’s say you decide to focus on just one person: Karen, who buys jeans to look good. 

How many Karens are out there? The answer is that there are tons and tons of women out there just like Karen who have the same problem. And they all buy jeans for the same reason. By focusing your copy and marketing on just a single person (and therefore a single problem), you actually speak clearly to many people who are looking to solve the exact same issue. For more info on this, I recommend The Brain Audit (www.psychotactics.com).


In summary, your ONE thing needs to be understanding your audience

And to understand them to the best of your ability. This is an ongoing process that doesn’t really end. Engaging with your audience, and honing in on a target profile can help you connect with (and get to know) your prospects and customers. Do this, and you’ll go a long way to turning your business into one that can weather any storm. Just like all those Japanese companies that are over 100 years old.  

How to Use Powerful “How To” Articles to Attract Qualified Scientific Customers

Bees are crucial for helping plants reproduce. 

To make a seed, a flower needs to be pollinated. And pollen from one flower is carried to another flower through bees. This process of transporting pollen can’t happen without the bee. So… flowers and plants have to encourage these tiny insects to visit them and take their pollen.

How do they do this? Through attraction of course :). Flowers have colourful petals and an attractive scent, and some flowers also reward the bees with a sugary substance called nectar. It’s this attraction that draws insects like bees to the flower itself… which, of course, starts the whole pollination process. 


Attracting customers is just as important for scientific technology

No, you’re not going to do it with pollen. But you can do this with valuable content marketing… such as “how to” articles. 


Never underestimate the power of sharing helpful articles

They can have a significant impact on your marketing results.

Why? Because using “How to” articles, is pull marketing, not push. Scientific customers are drawn to you, rather than you pushing your firm’s brochures and sales literature on them. And one of the best features of these articles is how they help you leverage your marketing and sales efforts. Instead of making sales calls and meeting with prospects one-on-one, your article reaches tens, hundreds or thousands of people.


Let’s take an example… 

I did some work a while ago with a company selling high-performance scientific imaging cameras, as well as microscopy and spectroscopy systems.

I was asked to write a series of articles aimed at neuroscientists working in the field of optogenetics. One of the articles highlighted 7 key questions to ask when choosing imaging equipment for this type of research (almost like a mini special report or white paper). The article itself opened up with a quick introduction to the field of optogenetics:

Progress in technology, new scientific discoveries and even the birth of new fields are made possible, not only by the inquisitive minds of scientists, but also by the tools and technology at their disposal. 

But at the same time, research is often limited by this same technology.”


Notice that the article doesn’t start off by giving tons of boring technical info Instead, it engages readers by introducing the bigger picture, and also by stating a problem. This motivates the prospect to read on by giving real-world implications of the technology in question. This sets up the rest of the article, and effortlessly leads into the 7 questions. 


A final point: the article was advertised on www.photonics.com

You can read the introduction paragraph. But because the article is gated, any potential customers need to submit their contact information before they can read the full piece. 

You should do this whenever possible, because collecting contact information in exchange for an article, report, white paper etc. allows you to keep in touch regularly and build your audience of scientific prospects.


Here’s another example…

I wrote an article promoting a company and their line of liquid analysers (used to analyze hydrocarbons in water). The article was just over 900 words long and talked about how toxic CHCs in water samples are extremely hazardous to human health. It also mentioned how governments are looking for fast and affordable ways of measuring water pollution levels. 

The article was all about how FTIR spectroscopy is the ideal tool for analyzing these pollution levels. It then went onto position the company as the ideal provider.  


Again, the article opens by stating a problem 

It then moves on and gives the ideal solution to that problem, along with presenting a case study. This is a version of what’s known in copywriting circles as the “motivating sequence”. It motivates your reader to continue down through the article, all the way to the end.


There’s also a call-the-action (CTA) at the end of this article 

Having a CTA at the end of every marketing piece you put out is ideal, because it invites your reader to take the next step, and move further along your sales cycle. Sadly, many scientific equipment manufacturers don’t include a CTA in any of their literature.


So how do you write useful ‘how to’ articles that attract scientific customers?

The key with using ‘how to’ articles is to give your readers some genuinely useful ideas and tips that they can easily put into action. Just pick a common problem your ideal customers might have and explain how to solve that problem.  

For instance, a problem that some research scientists might have is choosing the right instrument for their specific needs. This is a legitimate concern, with so many options to choose from. And with all the information published every day, it can get overwhelming! So why not write an article on how to easily select the right instrument for a certain type of research? 

Use plain English – make it simple and easy to understand. And offer an easy next step for people to take if they’re interested in finding out more about your company and what you offer. 


To quickly summarise…

Articles can help your marketing and sales efforts by attracting scientific customers to your solutions. And a well-written article can become a valuable marketing asset for months (even years) to come. But make sure you’re engaging your readers and helping them solve genuine problems. 

And leave the pollen for the plants :). 


Your next step…Struggling to keep up with your marketing education. There are so many resources out there and not enough time to read them. Who wants to subscribe to another email newsletter, right? Well, Selling Science is designed to save you time, not take up more of it. Each month, you’ll get the best hand-picked marketing resources for scientific technology delivered straight to your inbox. Enter your details below, and click Subscribe.

3 Ways to Write a Time-Consuming White Paper When You Have No Time

Sergei Rachmaninov was one of the greatest pianist-composers of his time. 

An incredible piano virtuoso, he fled Russia with his family during the revolution and settled in New York City. Abram Chasins recounts (in his book Speaking of Pianists) how he showed up for a piano lesson with Rachmaninov one day and heard him practicing. Standing outside Rachmaninov’s door, Chasins was shocked to hear him practice Chopin’s etude in thirds at such a slow pace it was barely recognisable.

This ultra-slow practicing of music is a common way to improve playing ability. And it’s an amazing technique for serious pianists who have the time to put in the work. 


But as a marketing director, time is often not on your side 

You have deadlines looming constantly, and often need content created yesterday. So what do you do if you need something like a white paper created ASAP? 


In this article, you’ll learn three ways to create a white paper fast

These three methods are:

1 -Repurpose from a webinar 

2-Create a white paper foundation first 

3-Transcribe from subject matter expert interviews

Let’s begin with method number #1…


Repurposing saves you a LOT of time and money

This is the first thing you can do to create a white paper fast. Instead of writing one from scratch, which can take weeks, you can take a webinar and repurpose the slides and audio into a white paper. 

For the audio, you can use a transcription service to get it converted into text. You’ll then need to have someone run through the text and clean it up. Next, format the text so it flows naturally from one section to another. These sections will depend on the kind of white paper you need. But a typical white paper used for lead generation at the top of the funnel will have Introduction, Problem, Previous Solutions, New and Better Solution, Conclusion, and Call-to-Action sections. 


The second idea is to use a Foundation

The foundation for your white paper is your plan or outline. Planning out a white paper first is always a great idea for several reasons: 

– It gets all project stakeholders on board and in agreement before writing the full piece

– It helps streamline your thinking

– It saves time when you write. Time management experts say that every minute planning saves 10 minutes in execution

– It ensures you get your full paper off the ground with minimum hassle

– It helps your white paper achieve its goal

A useful foundation for your white paper will outline the business goal, the target audience, SEO keywords, potential titles, a list of official reviewers, where the paper fits in the sales cycle, the call-to-action, the timeline, and sources for research. 

So that’s the first two techniques. What’s the third?


The third idea is to transcribe SME interviews

According to a recent article in MarketingProfs, there are several things you can do to extract great content from your subject matter experts (SMEs). 

First, your SMEs are likely involved in calls, interviews, and conversations regularly. So why not take advantage of this? 


Take a recent interview or call that your SME was on

And use a transcription service to convert the audio into text. Have someone run through the text and see if there’s anything you can use for a white paper. Obviously, you’ll want to use a call or interview that was specifically related to the subject matter of the white paper you want to write. Or you can jump on a future call the SME has scheduled. Beforehand, make sure you confirm with everyone that it’s OK to have the call recorded and transcribed. 

Finally, you could interview the SME yourself and make sure they’re aware that the content will be transcribed and used for a white paper. 

Now… two common objections tend to pop up at this point.


The first is, “won’t outlining a plan for my white paper take even more time?”

Yes, this is true. Planning your white paper first will take a little more time. But it will actually save you time in the long run. When you have a plan, you can get all project stakeholders in agreement before writing the full piece. So there won’t be any surprises for anyone when the draft is finished, saving you time-consuming and costly revisions. And as mentioned above, every minute planning saves ten minutes in execution. 


Which brings us onto the second objection…

You might be thinking that using these “quick fix” ideas to create a white paper fast will result in lower quality. But this doesn’t have to happen. Here, we’re talking about using shortcuts to gather the material for the paper. But the material itself should still be high quality. You usually won’t have to worry about this if you’re gathering data from SMEs or transcribing a webinar.


Time is our most valuable resource these days

And as a corporate marketer, your time is precious since you’re always up the walls. But you can save a lot of time when creating content like white papers by using one or more of the ideas above. These include:

1 – Repurposing from a webinar

2 – Using a Foundation or plan first

3 – Transcribing from SME interviews

Practicing ultra-slowly might have worked for Sergei Rachmaninov, but you probably don’t have time to slow down your writing. Use one of the above methods instead :). 


Your next step…

Struggling to keep up with your marketing education. There are so many resources out there and not enough time to read them. Who wants to subscribe to another email newsletter, right?

Well, Selling Science is designed to save you time, not take up more of it. Each month, you’ll get the best hand-picked marketing resources for scientific technology delivered straight to your inbox. Enter your email address below, and click Subscribe.

Struggling to Create Content? Here’s How You Can Repurpose Your White Papers To Save Time And Money

The story of the crock pot is famous in American culinary history. 

Invented by Irving Naxon, it was originally called the Naxon Beanery before Rival Manufacturing bought it and renamed it the crock pot. 

Inspired by stories of the old country (Lithuania) from his mother, Irving wanted to create a heating element that would surround a standard pot in the same way an oven would have. More importantly, he wanted to find a low-cost, low-electricity solution that would save people time and money. 

It’s safe to say he succeeded. Today, the crock pot is central to American cooking, helping people to cook efficiently and cost effectively. To Irving, having a low cost solution that saved people time and money when cooking was important. And saving time and money is no less important with your marketing content, including white papers. 


This is where content repurposing comes in handy

Getting more mileage from your marketing simply means taking something like a white paper (which you’ve already created), and then repurposing it into other forms of content.

This gives each piece of marketing you create more mileage. A useful way to think of it is one-to-ten marketing, or taking one form of content (like a white paper) and turning it into 10 separate pieces. 


Creating fresh content that engages your readers consistently is critical

It’s the machine that keeps your sales cycle full of prospects, leads, and customers. But let’s face it, it takes a lot of effort and it’s often hard to find the time and resources to do it regularly. This is where you can use repurposing.

Instead of creating a brand new piece of marketing content, you can just take something you or your team has already created, and repurpose it. This takes much less time and effort than coming up with new material. 


So take this quick example: 

You’ve got a list of white papers your team has written up in the last 2-3 years. Why not take one of those white papers and create a series of blog posts. The content has already been written, you just have to format the material for your blog. Can you see why this is a smart thing to do?

A problem-solution white paper could be turned into four blog posts. Each of these posts would cover a different section of the white paper: the introduction, the problem, what’s been done before to solve that problem (and failed), and the new and better solution.


You should repurpose your marketing content as often as you can

As much as possible. It makes sense doesn’t it? Because you’re getting a lot more mileage out of your marketing. You’re not creating a white paper or article or webinar, promoting it once, and then throwing it up on your website to be forgotten about. 

No, you’re taking that same white paper, turning it into a slide deck, and uploading the slides to SlideShare. Or getting it transcribed and then using the transcription to create a blog post or email newsletter series. 


So repurpose all the time 

And the best time to start is now. You need the practice anyway :). Here’s what you need to do: take a piece of educational content (it doesn’t have to be a white paper), and brainstorm 10 ways you can promote and repurpose it to give it more mileage. 

Do it right now. You might be able to get 3-4 blog posts out of it, promote it in your company newsletter, take quotes from the paper and post them on social media throughout the week, or turn the paper into a basic infographic. Arrgh, so many choices. 


This practice will save you time and money

Think of it this way: creating a brand new blog post series might involve hiring an outside copywriter to write the content. That’s going to cost you money. It’ll also cost you time since you’ve got to spend hours trying to find the right person for the job. Getting an article placed in a magazine or advertising on Facebook? Same deal. 

Even if you do everything internally, it’ll still cost you time. And don’t forget about opportunity cost. The effort it takes to create a fresh piece of content will use up time and resources. These resources could be used elsewhere.

But when you repurpose your content, you stand to get more output (more leads and sales) for the same input, because you’re basically reusing the same material.


Hold on… won’t my audience get sick of seeing the same content over and over again?

Yeah I get it. This is a concern for a lot of marketers. They wonder if their audience will tire of seeing the same material all over the place. 

The answer? Probably not. Most people can’t remember what they read yesterday, let alone a piece of content from a white paper you created in the past. 

And don’t forget about repetition. When your market sees your content over and over again, it helps them get a deeper understanding of the material and how it can help them. So you’re actually doing them a favour by repurposing. And it helps keep you top of mind. So don’t worry. Your audience isn’t going to start complaining when they see the same material multiple times. 


To summarise, you need to make repurposing a habit

Slicing and dicing your white paper (and other marketing) into various different forms will save you time and money. And make your life a LOT easier in the long run. So you may as well get started on it ASAP. Take a white paper you’ve created recently, and brainstorm 10 ways to repurpose it. Then you’ll be able to claim your content is the “crock pot” of marketing :). Irving Naxon would be proud!


Your next step…

Struggling to keep up with your marketing education. There are so many resources out there and not enough time to read them. Who wants to subscribe to another email newsletter, right?

Well, Selling Science is designed to save you time, not take up more of it. Each month, you’ll get the best hand-picked marketing resources for scientific technology delivered straight to your inbox. Enter your email address below, and click Subscribe.

Don’t Write White Papers That Make You Cringe: How To Create A Winning Report Every Time

Bob Gale co-wrote Back To The Future

He appeared on a podcast recently and explained the one thing he regrets about that movie to this day. It has to do with the special effects they used when Marty McFly sang Johnny B Goode on stage. 

Marty starts to fade out of existence. And there’s a hole in his hand which doesn’t gel with the rest of the effects. It just looks weird. Gale said they didn’t have time to fix it, and it still makes him cringe every time he watches the movie. Great Scott!


Don’t let that happen to your next white paper

You don’t want to cringe every time you think about it. Instead, you want to be able to create a winning white paper every time you sit down to write. Yep, every time. Want a sure way to do that? You need to plan the thing first. And this starts with asking (and answering) the right questions.


These questions can make or break your white paper

No joke. Unless you take the time to plan your white paper and think about it strategically (by asking these questions), you’re doomed from the start. 

White papers are one of the toughest marketing pieces to create. One of the reasons why is that there are usually several stakeholders in the project – people who have to review and sign off on it. And unless these individuals all agree on the content and direction of the project, you can look forward to costly, time-consuming, and unnecessary revisions. 


Yes, they can be tough, but…

By answering the following questions, you’ll ensure you’re in the best possible position to create a great white paper from the get-go. 

And make no mistake, these questions are critical. So let’s start with Question #1.


What’s your objective for the white paper?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself and your marketing team: what’s the objective? What are you trying to achieve?

The most important thing to remember is that a white paper can do one thing, maybe two things… but it can’t do everything. One of the easiest ways to make sure your white paper bombs is to try and write it for many different purposes.


Here are some common objectives a white paper can be used for:

-To support a product launch

-To use as a technical evaluation guide

-To nurture prospects through the sales process by keeping them engaged

-To get attention using a provocative approach to some issue

-To generate leads

-To build recognition 

-To educate your market

So figure out what you want to use your white paper for. Remember, try and narrow this down to a single objective.

Right… onto Question #2.


Who is the target audience?

Probably the most important decision you need to make for any marketing communications piece (not just white papers) is the target audience. Who will be reading your white paper?

Obviously this is easy if you only market to one specific target audience. But if you have several different audiences in mind, you need to narrow this down to one. We’ve already mentioned that it’s critical to decide on a single objective for a white paper. This holds true for the audience too.


A white paper with a single objective, written for ONE audience works best

Knowing this critical piece of information is necessary to get the style and language of the paper right. It’ll also help you determine how easily you’ll be able to understand the audience.

For instance, if you assume the white paper you’re writing is for electron microscopy facility managers, but it’s actually meant for (and going to be read by) end-user scientists, then the language, style and content is going to be off. 

Which leads us on to Question #3…


What is the topic?

The topic of the white paper will depend on the objective. And it’ll determine the specific content of the piece. For example if you want to write a white paper to generate leads, your topic might be about a new and better solution to a specific problem in your industry. 

But if your objective is to support a product launch, then your white paper will cover the features and benefits of a specific product. And depending on the topic, your white paper may be longer or shorter.

And speaking of length…


How long does the paper need to be?

This is Question #4… and it’s the easiest question to answer. The length of your white paper will largely depend on who you are writing to (which is another reason why deciding on the target audience is so important).

The sweet spot for most white papers is around 6-8 pages. This is typical if you’re writing to a business audience like C-level executives – people who want the high-level overview of how a technology solves a specific problem.

If you’re writing to a technical audience (like engineers or scientists) looking to evaluate a product at the bottom of the sales funnel, then a longer white paper might be needed (maybe 10-12 pages). 


What happens if we have multiple audiences?

Do you need to write a separate white paper for each? This is a common objection… and ideally, you would want a separate paper for each audience. 

But it’s possible to write for two audiences in a single white paper. Simply include sections that specifically address the needs of the second audience. You can do this using side-bars, boxes, or leave a section at the end of the paper for this second group. The main body of the piece should still speak to just one audience though. And while it’s probably OK to include content for two different kinds of reader, I wouldn’t include three or four. Two is enough.


To summarise…

Taking the time to plan your white paper and going through these questions will pay off in the long run. A well-written white paper will continue to give back for many months and sometimes even years after it was written. 

Incorporating these questions into your planning process will help set your white paper apart from all the so-so examples out there in the wild. So you won’t have to cringe the way Bob Gale cringes every time he watches Back to the Future :). 


Your next step…

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