Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Targeted Messaging: An Important Reminder Thanks to LinkedIn Answers

Noodling around on LinkedIn Answers the other week served as a great reminder as to the power of targeted b-to-b messaging. 

That means shaping strategic messages to each relevant audience segment, then issuing those messages in a timely fashion. 

As you’ll see via the LinkedIn Answers thread, it’s a powerful approach when issuing press releases.

Quick Aside
Haven’t explored LinkedIn Answers?   It’s a great way to spend 10 minutes or so each week, checking out  current thoughts and concerns from those in your professional area – try it!  Chances are, topics address professional topics of interest to you…

Back to Targeted Messages
In the thread that inspired this post, a fellow marketer posted this question: “Our company recently announced several promotions. Would you issue one all-encompassing news release or several individual releases?”

As of today, 11 answers all provide great value and insight into this issue.  Yours truly provided this answer:

"Customize each separate announcement for the three geo regions for sure - but there is a role for an aggregated announcement targeted to the industry target. For example, if your client is in the financial services sector, the aggregated announcement signals growth and expansion in the sector, which would be of interest to trade publications/online outlets in financial services."

In other words, shape the press release to resonate with target audiences, then do the work to build out media targets in each relevant sector.

Some Great Insight
Another answer provided by Ellyn Caruso, Founder & Principal of Chicago-based Caruso Communications LLC, puts it this way:
“..integrating company promotions across multiple communication channels (lets you) reach a wider group of audiences - remembering of course to always keep the audience in mind when delivering such information. Often today many companies only post promotions on their website and/or deliver to local news ... Think about the social networks, industry groups and list serves as well as deep into trade and business media developing appropriate angles to provide as much depth and detail that can help increase overall visibility of the company in general.”

Great advice, Ellyn!  The key is to maximize visibility and awareness for our clients by spending the time to shape announcements to targeted audiences, then doing the leg work in discovering the social networks, industry communities and targeted outlets where they would be of value.

A To Do for Next Week
I’m taking this lesson to heart.  Next week, I’m distributing a press release for a Private Equity company that recently invested in three businesses in various sectors (real estate, technology, manufacturing).   

For maximum exposure, it’s a best practice to the release to each of the various sectors and distributes it to targets that way.

Thanks LinkedIn Answers! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Beware Shovel Ware

It’s been a privilege to participate in several excellent “Writing for the Web” training programs as part of NielsenNorman Group’s Usability Week.  It was there that I first heard about the term “Shovel Ware” as applied to marketing communications content.

In terms of marketing communications, the term “Shovel Ware” relates to marketing content and copy that is applied from one medium to another with little thought given to adapting it for use on the destination platform or medium, resulting in poor quality, and low usability – which translates to a low return on marketing investment.

Think of a printed brochure text that is cut and paste in its entirety and stuck on a web page.  Or website copy that makes it’s way into an eNewsletter or direct mail message.

Essentially one “shovels” the content from one platform to another.

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish
Shovel ware tactics are economical, but certainly not a best practice. In the example above, writing for the web comes with its own set of guidelines and strategies, as opposed to writing a press release or technical brochure.

From the content side, businesses often forget that web visitors are impatient and on their own “missions” – searching, snacking for info from a variety of sources…. they don’t want to wade through cutsie copy or scads of content better suited to other formats.
It makes no business sense to plug in long-form printed copy on a website, as research findings show:On the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.”
Much in the same vein, the researchers find the following in this NNGroup report Writing Style for Web vs. Print.
“Web content must be brief and get to the point quickly, because users are likely to be on a specific mission. In many cases, they’ve pulled up the page through search. Web users want actionable content; they don’t want to fritter away their time on (otherwise enjoyable) stories that are tangential to their current goals…”

Back to Shovel Ware

Indisputable research shows that taking the time to rewrite (and redesign) for each platform improves better business outcomes for b-to-b organizations including:

  • Usability increases.
  • Users are more likely to accomplish their goals.
  • Conversion rates increase.
  • ROMI improves.