Articles, reports, workbooks and white papers.
Sound kind of boring, don't they?
Maybe. But in my experience they are the most powerful marketing tools you can use as an independent professional.
Last week I got this email message from one of the participants of my Marketing Mastery Program, Sharon Rich:
Just had to share this. Had a networking meeting end of last week with a woman I met in my networking group. She and I had made a nice personal connection.
But my take from meeting her was that she was in between jobs, and in the early stages of a business she wasn't fully committed to. A perfect person to practice on! Sure enough, when we met, she told me she'd taken a full-time job with a company.
So my anxiety around whether my article would be solid enough was very low. I might not even have offered it to her, but for my Marketing Action Plan, and my commitment to Robert. So I offered my article and she seemed interested and willing to read it. That was Thursday.
This morning, there's an email from her. She sent the article to a contact at a major movie studio. She also sent it to the head of a global theme park organization, who is very interested in meeting me.
How many networking meetings have I had with people that were pleasant but went nowhere??? The article gives them a place to go.
And Sharon's experience is typical, not extraordinary. Articles and reports, etc. are a bridge between an initial connection where someone knows very little about your business, to a deeper connection where they now understand the value you provide.
And until someone really understands that value, they are unlikely to do business with you or pass your name on as Sharon's networking connection did.
Another Marketing Mastery participant, Thomas Witt, just completed an article. Thomas lives in Germany and is a sales trainer for large furniture stores. He just generated over $150K in new business.
Both Thomas's and Sharon's articles were written as "wake up calls" to their intended audience. Sharon's is called "5 Ways Leaders Sabotage Change." Thomas's is: "7 Reasons Why Sales Trainings Have Had No Positive Impact on Your Business - and 3 Actions That will Make a Difference Immediately."
The articles are titled to get immediate attention and interest from their intended audiences - for Sharon, it's leaders in large companies, for Thomas, it's owners of large furniture stores.
And the articles are provocative.
They aren't bland overviews of leadership and furniture selling. They are more like indictments, uncompromisingly telling the reader how the mistakes they are making are costing them dearly.
You don't want a "nice" article. You want a "disturbing" article.
Articles like this, say, in essence, that if you don't pay attention to what I'm saying, you're in serious trouble. If you don't take action on what I'm recommending, your business (or you personally) is at risk.
The goal of such an article is more than to educate, but to stimulate a response: "Hmm, what this article says is absolutely true. I need to learn how to avoid making those mistakes. Perhaps I should call this person to see if they can help me."
You can offer articles to your prospects in many ways:
1. Offer it to people directly through networking connections as Sharon did. "I have this article you may be interested in. Can I send you a copy?"
2. Make the article the "free bait" on your web site. When they request the article, they are asked to opt-in and also get added to your eZine list.
3. In a directed marketing campaign, as Thomas is planning, the aim is to get his article into the hands of as many large furniture store owners in Germany as possible.
4. As the attention-getting bonus for an online offer, such as my 5 Silver Bullets Report.
5. As a way to get cards after giving a talk or presentation: "Who would like a copy of this article that talks about how to avoid making these serious leadership mistakes?"
6. Sent to existing clients and asking them if they know other business owners who might be interested in the article.
And, of course articles are just as effective if your clients are individuals as well as business owners: "The Nine Things That Prevent Women From Achieving Their Goals."
Are you starting to see how articles can be the ultimate marketing tool? They are multi-purpose. They are inexpensive to produce (often just formatted and turned into a pdf). They can be used wherever and whenever a prospect wants to know about your business. You can send one at a time or do a campaign that sends out thousands.
It's time to start writing that article!
The More Clients Bottom Line: Articles, reports, workbooks and white papers, are generally 5 to 10 pages long and focus primarily on mistakes your prospects typically make and how they can avoid these mistakes. They are not sales pitches, but educate your audience on the error of their ways. They shouldn't soothe; they should sting. Of course, make sure to include information on your business and a call-to-action at the bottom.
Do you have a success story of using articles, reports, etc. in your business to attract clients? Please share your answer on the More Clients Blog by clicking on the Comments link below: