Most email marketers focus on getting the right message to the right people at the right time—all solid starting points, but the best content marketers know the message also has to be delivered in the format your audience wants to consume.
So what do you need to produce the “right message” in the right format?
- Never underestimate the strength of a good direct response, b-to-b writer. Whether they come from direct mail or radio, the person must have the ability to empathetically think about the buyer's path. They need to be able to plan for “if” they [do this], “then” we [do that]. Just because they are great writers doesn't mean greatness is required to be effective in b-to-b. Find someone without a big ego who wants to build effective campaigns. You don't care about winning awards, you care about winning business.
- Creative and design need to be effective, not necessarily works of art. Some of the most effective emails I ever produced were plain text. You need a mix—your audience expects some level of quality, but focus on what works and why it works. Be able to replicate that formula. Include your creative people in the buying cycle and buyer definition meetings. Their insight will translate into more effective creative.
- Don't rely on white papers. White papers are great. I have a bunch; I've even read a few. The last time I spoke at a marketing conference, I asked the room, “Who has read a white paper in the past 60 days?” About half their hands went up. I followed up with, “...that wasn't written by you or someone on your team?” Almost no hands were still up. That doesn't mean that electronic white papers aren't good for acquiring names through lead-gen programs. However, they may not be great vehicles to ensure your message is understood.
Don't think your content has to be the be-all, end-all, definitive guide to whatever. Short blog posts are great. A 30-second multimedia presentation is great. Your white papers, broken up into tweet-sized chunks, are also useful. Mix it up, but keep it short. We're all busy. For your multimedia, you don't have to hire Hollywood producers. Relax. Just be yourself and tell the story. In the user-generated content world, no one is judging you on your video quality—unless it's glaringly unprofessional or you sell video production services.
Ed Thompson is director-demand generation at Pedowitz Group (www.pedowitzgroup.com), a demand generation agency. He can be reached via email at email@example.com and Twitter @edthewebguy.