But, the stumbling block for all marketing is the type of offer to give. Do you offer them things? Services? Discounts? What shall we offer our prospects?
Calendars? Note Pads and Pens?
NO! None of those items will work for a lead-generating offer, on your website. They might pass for trade show give-aways, but, an offer on your website needs to have real, inherent value in the mind of your prospect. It needs to be something special. Something only you can give them.
Obviously, it’s not financially practical to offer an IPod to everyone who responds to your offer. It wouldn’t be a good idea, anyway. When something of too much dollar value is given away, free, your prospect immediately wonders, “What’s the catch?” They get suspicious of you, and your offer.
What do B 2 B Executives value?
According to a May 9, 2007 article in Marketing Sherpa, an online marketing research publication, in the B 2 B market, a white paper is the most desirable marketing tool to use, for offers. This is followed closely by Case Studies.
In a survey of 427 marketing executives, and 2,394 content users, the ranking of white papers was 79% by users, and 82% by vendors. Case studies came in at 62% for both categories.
The Advantages of Using White Papers
(“Manufacturing Efficiency Improves With New X_Y_Z Process”) are clearly there:
* White papers are filled with valuable content;
* The white paper can be tailored to the prospect’s interests;
* The recipient gets in-depth information on a subject of interest;
* They can be sent to recipients in a PDF file, at little or no expense;
* The recipient can download the paper to Save, or print it out;
* They provide real, physical evidence of your company’s efforts and successes.
What Do They Want To Know About?
If you’ve done your homework, you should have a good understanding of who your customer, and potential customers are. You should know what his ambitions are, and what he worries about. Knowing these two things will guide you to the subject of your white paper.
These days, most executives have advanced education degrees. This tells you they’re people who value information. They seek it out–the hows, the whys and the wherefores. They place a high importance on information. This is why white papers and case studies are so popular.
A white paper is usually a treatise 10 to 25 pages in length, covering a specific topic. It could be a new process your company has developed, or a report on clinical research into the efficacy of a new ingredient. It might be about a revolutionary distribution system that could be used by a wide range of companies.
A white paper is not a selling document. Respondents will request your white paper for the content. They do not want, nor will they appreciate, a sales pitch from you, in the middle of a discussion of functional results. At the end of the paper you will, of course, give credit to, and a brief bio of the author, and the sources. And you’ll include contact information for those who’d like to learn more.
Case studies are also excellent offers for prospective clients. These are short (two to three pages at most) studies done on a product’s efficiency, effectiveness, or popularity, for example. A case study presents the initial problem or challenge, then details the steps taken to find the solution, and concludes with the results of the solution.
If neither of these two “products” fits your needs, there are other products which have proven effective, as offers.
Free samples are always winners. The drawbacks include expensive packaging, postage and shipping expense.
Some companies offer Webinars, or demos, particularly is they want to demonstrate a new process or procedure. These can be effective, but reside at the bottom of the list, in Marketing Sherpa’s report.
You could develop CDs or DVDs, covering a wide range of topics: how you find and select the elements of your products, how your products are manufactured, or whatever you feel would illustrate and highlight the uniqueness of your company. Again, though, you’re facing added expenses, plus another “inventory” list.
Try a discount or “two-for-one” coupon for their first purchase. Be aware that this type of offer works best only to establish customer loyalty, and for customer retention.
I’ve seen companies offer smart, attractive Day Planners, or, through affiliate marketing, offer gift cards to a related business enterprise. (“Order our Smart Saw today, and we’ll give you a $50 gift card to Home Depot!”) These can work very well, on many positive levels.
Give these ideas some thought, then, implement one. You’ll only have to do this about once a year, for your regular marketing schedule, and for any trade show you attend.
If you have a truly great offer, you’ll dramatically increase leads, spread your good reputation and improve your ROI.