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15 Things I Have Learned Consulting and Working With Harvard Business Review: The Applied Creativity in a B2B Performance Marketing Organization

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According to a classic direct marketing rule the relative value of the target audience, offer, and creative aspects to the total marketing effort is 40 percent, 40 percent, and 20 percent, respectively. While all three areas are vital for reaching your marketing objectives, mistakes in choosing the right target markets and selecting the right offer/product can be more devastating for you than a poor creative approach, especially when it comes to generating direct sales or leads for your sales team.

However, you should not minimize the creative approach because it often spells the difference between a winning effort and a losing one.

This is even truer for sales support performance marketing since many of its objectives – such as increased awareness, reinforced selling, goodwill building – seek indirect response.

As such, the offer in these campaigns is whatever learning experience or enhanced knowledge the readers, users, prospects get as they continue to read your marketing piece. If the message is obscured, or if the wrong creative approach is used, your campaign will lose its effectiveness.

My Consulting Work at HBR

Following is what I have learned first working as a marketing communications manager at the European edition of Harvard Business Review for a few years and then, years later, doing strategic consulting work as a board representative at HBR.

Bear in mind that the European publisher engaged in a more complex business, and at much more premium prices, than its American counterpart. That included a whole slew of premium training programs, consulting, conferences and many more requiring a complex performance marketing program which generated both direct sales as well as qualified leads for the sales and telesales departments.

These lessons are general in nature and can be applied to any medium or large B2B venture.

B2B Creative Development

Before a concept is developed or a single word is written, you or your performance marketing creative staff must be satisfied that it has at its disposal organized research results of your products and markets as well as an analysis of your competitors’ efforts.

You also need additional input in these areas:

  1. Campaign objectives
  2. Markets to be targeted
  3. Decision makers to be reached
  4. Creative budget (in dollars and/or time)
  5. Time frame
  6. Makeup of approval chain

Each of these elements can have a profound effect on the final outcome of your performance marketing creative efforts.

Knowing the Objective

You have to understand the main objective of the performance marketing campaign to be addressed even though there may be multiple subordinate purposes that can be built into it.

Determining the specific objective of the creative effort seems so elementary that it is hardly worth discussion. This is especially true for promotional pieces that have a direct sales purpose.

Yet most failures in business-to-business performance marketing stem from fuzzy objectives.

Lead generation campaigns get confused with awareness campaigns.

All too often the thinking that comes down the line in a company’s marketing unit is that one mailing, landing page or any one campaign in a given media channel can accomplish several tasks. But too many choices dilute the impact of the real objective of the promotional activity.

Knowing the Market

To make an impact on prospects you have to specifically address the needs and interest of the market in the language of the marketplace. Yet all business markets are not the same.

The more common characteristics of the customer and prospect list you manage to identify in the target group, such as line of business, size of company, and product end use, provide clues on what approach you should use for the creative strategy.

You get to know your B2B marketplace by getting into the lifespace of the typical prospect. This is much easier if you have segmentation studies at your disposal.

Even if these are not available, guesswork is a poor substitute.

You can still get insights about the target audience by talking to the salespeople who sell to that market or by communicating with past purchasers of the product.

Questionnaires that request prospects’ opinions on topics in such a way as to expose interests and needs also provide good copy research for the copywriter.

Knowing the Decision Maker

The individual businessperson is not usually affected by the complex graphics and emotion-building techniques that work so successfully to generate impulse sales from consumers at home.

Of course, we know consumers and businesspeople are one and the same, but we also know they react differently to the same stimulus, depending on the role they are playing at the time.

Businessmen and businesswomen are continually aware of the responsibilities and obligations of their jobs, when on the job. The way businesspeople react to performance marketing is important.

And depending on the specific jobs, reactions of your B2B prospects will vary. For instance, the president of a large company has a different set of responsibilities and will be driven by different needs than the production control manager or the individual entrepreneur who runs a small firm.

Middle managers of large firms need to feel more secure in the decisions they make, since they must often justify their decisions to others in the company. Because of this, most of their business purchases tend to be thought out well.

Emotional factors are not used to great effect in business-to-business performance marketing promotions. They do come into play, however, when competing products in the marketplace are very similar.

You have to try not only to understand the common attitudinal characteristics of business decision makers in the targeted market but the behavioral factors as well.

It is helpful to know how businesspeople go through their business day. For instance, most scan their email inbox quickly and attack it positively.

They are more interested in emails they get as businesspeople than they are about emails they get as consumers, because business email is pinpointed to their specific interests. And many businesspeople have their day inbox open all day and react to the messages almost real-time.

The decision maker uses business email, LinkedIn messages, online articles, whitepapers or webinars to be informed, not to be entertained.

You have to realize that business prospects are busy, and they do not spend any time with business messages that are not in their interest. Business prospects search them to learn something new, looking for propositions that offer opportunities that can help them do their jobs better.

Decision makers are also more interested in reading facts than reading your, the marketer’s, opinion. They want proof of claims, and the claims have more credibility when they come from third-party endorsements.

Specific facts help the business buyers to feel more secure as they make up their own minds about your proposal.

Knowing the Budget

Creative costs are especially critical if you are into business-to-business direct sales marketing operations. They are an important part of the promotion budget and are based on estimates detailed in projected profit and loss statements.

Any overspending on promotion will automatically affect your business unit’s profit center by showing higher expenses than estimated and less profit.

Creative costs for sales support campaigns (e.g. lead generation, awareness campaigns etc. ) should be, but are not, as critical as in a direct sales profit center because sales support costs are less easily discerned.

They are usually only one aspect of a much larger advertising, communications, or marketing budget.

If enough homework is done by the performance marketing manager during the development of the annual marketing financial plan, sufficient funds will be allocated for individual sales support marketing programs.

The budget must be large enough to create and produce a campaign that will have a good chance of accomplishing the results expected. But that is not always the case in many companies.

When the results do not measure up, the fault may lie in a creative budget that is too lean.

The dynamics of the business marketplace often generate changes in marketing plans that affect budgets. Some organizations habitually pull back approved budget dollars when revenue or profit shortfalls occur, causing marketing programs to be halted or even abandoned before completion.

Because of this you must anticipate at the concept stage any potential budget problems that could cause any of your performance marketing projects to be abandoned, perhaps wasting those dollars already spent on creative preproduction.

You first need a working estimate of the dollars it will take to create the campaign.

It may consist of an inexpensive short copy mailing and landing page sent to your own email database. Or the campaign may be a LinkedIn-promoted microsite with an interactive diagnostic tool, several whitepapers and a webinar followed-up by a telemarketing representative, requiring a phone script, plus a retargeting campaign, requiring several different landing pages, in various ad networks.

Either way, you should review the performance marketing campaign in terms of its priority in the program budget to determine its affordability. If the budget is a limiting factor with stringent parameters, then you should scale back your creative effort to fit the budget.

Cutting essentials in the campaign can put your entire effort in jeopardy because the right format and content can be critical to meeting the objective.

Attempting to hold down your creative costs by skimping on the professional effort may solve an immediate problem of getting out a campaign but can lose big when the results are in.

For instance, rather than produce an inferior campaign addressed to a complete target market, it may be better to touch only a segment of the market up to the limit of the budget.

If creative costs are exceedingly high in proportion to the production and media costs due to a small audience size, the total cost may exceed the ability of the campaign to produce a cost-effective response.

For example, a $7,500 creative cost added to a $2,500 media cost to reach an audience of 2,000 prospects would total $5 per prospect reached. Whether this is an acceptable cost depends on your objectives.

Knowing the Time Frame

You need to know, at least generally, how long it will take your copywriter and designer to put together a landing page and a mailing or a complete website.

If you allot too little time, your hoped-for results of your campaign can suffer. When determining the time frame for creating and writing performance marketing campaigns, putting together telemarketing scripts etc., three key factors are taken into account:

  1. The scope of the assignment
  2. The speed of the individual creative people
  3. The deadline

Before starting, you should agree to a due date. The research and idea development phase usually take more time than the actual copywriting and design.

Your critical concern is that sufficient time be built into the project so a quality campaign can be created.

The campaign with a direct sale objective, with its multiplicity of elements that perform the entire sales function in one package, takes the most time to create. And obviously, those programs requiring research into new products and new markets need extra time to complete.

Scope

The scope of a direct sales B2B campaign is fairly self-evident. However, for sales support, you must keep in mind that your campaign strategies and tactics must coincide with the larger marketing effort.

This may include trade show activity, product publicity releases, trade publication advertising, sales literature, audio programs, webinars, field seminars, and other promotions.

Since most of these efforts require different skilled personnel, it takes large blocks of coordinating time for the performance marketing manager to work in concert with these other professionals.

Speed of the Creative Team

One creative team may take two weeks to complete a campaign, another three weeks, still another one week. When estimating creative time, you should always allow for slower than average copywriting and designing speed, even when you know a specific individual’s speed with words or graphics.

Some creative people turn out quality work rapidly whereas others do so slowly. The inspired and motivated copywriter or designer often beats deadlines. Of course, you must guard against letting creative time extend to where it is no longer cost effective.

Deadlines

The dynamics of marketing in the competitive marketplace frequently force changes in sales and promotion plans, requiring new and more critical deadlines.

Experienced B2B performance marketing creative people have learned to adjust to changes in time frames in the business environment.

Some copywriters and designers turn out their best work under pressure, whereas others fall apart. If the business-to-business creative person is fortunate enough to work with product managers, ad managers, or marketing managers who have scheduled campaigns three to six months in advance, there will be fewer problems with deadlines.

But because managers can cause bottlenecks in the approval routine, you must allocate enough time in the approval stage for unexpected delays. Proper scheduling eliminates backups that cause deadlines to be missed.

Knowing the Approval Routine

Professional copywriters and artists do not like to have their efforts changed or rewritten. Of course, the fewer the number of people in the approval routine, the better.

Some creative people can afford a “take it or leave it” stance, but most are continually frustrated by the approval routine.

Creative people should know who the approvers are in the chain, the specific reason they have an approval function, and how much each of them will be involved.

Some approvers, such as marketing specialists and engineers, review for technical accuracy. Company attorneys examine the effort for indications of misrepresentation or other causes for litigation.

Marketing, product, or ad managers look at it to ensure that the theme is in accord with other related marketing communications.

As a by-product of the approval process, a latent interest in artistic critiquing often surfaces, possibly causing the creative effort to suffer. Such critiques are unwarranted and unwanted.

Performance marketing creative people certainly should have an open mind and always be on the alert for good ideas. But they should also resist opinions about the creative aspects that come from those who are supposed to approve technical accuracy, legal aspects, and so forth.

Legitimate opinions about the creative aspects of your performance marketing campaigns usually come from the copy supervisor, the creative director, the ad manager, and others who are equipped by training and experience to pass on the creative efforts of others.

The more copywriters and designers know about how the approvers think, the less intimidated they will be and the easier it will be to get over the roadblocks caused by unwarranted opinions.

Copywriters and designers who work in a performance marketing agency, advertising agency, or internal staff of a large company need to justify their creative campaign efforts only to their immediate supervisors, usually the copy supervisor, senior art director, or creative director.

These efforts are usually presented as part of the overall program by the supervisor to those in the approval chain. Then changes, rejections, or additions come back once removed from the source.

This can make it difficult for the copywriter or designer to respond positively. In smaller companies, ad managers, product managers, or marketing managers often create and write their own sales support copy.

Here, the approval chain may consist of only one person – the division head or president.

Copywriters and designers who can create quality copy and graphics that successfully run through the approval routine with the least resistance have learned to minimize the roadblocks by keeping in perspective what and where they are.

Needless to say, high standards should always be maintained for copy and graphics. With that in mind, it is time to look more closely at these cornerstones of any performance marketing campaign.

B2B Copy

Any performance marketing communication should be written so the targeted business audience will quickly understand it wherever and however they read the message.

Business communication is more formal than consumer communication, yet it should not be stiff. It can be warm and friendly as long as it is businesslike.

You want the prospectto perceive the proposition or offer in the campaign as a positive influence and react to it accordingly.

Dozens of books on writing advertising copy have been published. There are about a dozen specifically on writing performance marketing copy.

However, virtually all of these focus on the skills and techniques of consumer direct response copy. Yet there is much to be learned from consumer copy principles as well as from general advertising copy concepts.

Many of the most meaningful general copy points that are most relevant to the business-to-business performance marketing copywriter, whether for direct sales or sales support, are imbedded in nine or ten basic formulas on how to write copy.

Professional performance marketing copywriters have their own favorite formulas and for the most part have committed them to memory. Following the steps has become automatic.

Highly talented copywriters who “play it by ear” find formulas get in the way of creativity. Regardless of how any copywriter thinks about formulas, some method, guideline, or checklist is needed to ensure that all the elements of effective copywriting are covered.

Five basic elements run through all advice for writing good copy. Four of these elements make up the most popular and most often quoted AIDA formula: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.

The job for the copywriter then is to keep these elements in mind along with four important areas of creative performance marketing copy: approach, content, style, and choice of words.

Determining the B2B Copy Approach

If your campaign is to do its job it must first be interesting enough to get read and persuasive enough to influence the prospect’s behavior in some way, directly or indirectly.

Effective performance marketing campaigns employ the proper combination of copywriting style and selling principles. B2B copywriters, as writers of persuasive copy, need great skill in assembling words and phrases to get ideas across.

They must be masters of expression and understand business decision-making behavior. Without adequate research to gain insights into the specific needs, wants, motivations, and attitudes of buyers in the market, copy can miss the mark even though it may be well written. Its aim must be to the interest of the audience.

The main idea for the campaign comes from the copywriter’s estimate, based on the performance marketing program objectives, of the most powerful appeal the offer or product will have to the decision maker.

Unless your copywriter knows the decision maker’s real motives for buying, the job of creating and developing the basic idea becomes a high-risk effort.

The copy framework is constructed with convincing “reason-why” arguments persuading the prospect to think or act in a way that the copywriter suggests. The actual reasons why decision makers place orders are built into that approach.

The more successful B2B copywriters prepare for the writing task with highly organized research findings, listing all possible appeals for the market to be addressed and possible product benefits in order of their value to the buyer.

Every product feature should be backed up with facts, examples, and testimonials. The campaign objective determines the detail involved.

This is the starting point for the concept of the campaign. Seven or eight ideas may surface. The copywriter may develop one or two and try them out on a few friendly prospects, or better yet, on a couple of focus group interviews to get a reaction before proceeding further.

The bigger the proposed campaign and the more sizable your potential profit, the greater the need to research creative concepts and approaches first, even before testing the campaign live.

Some copywriters identify major interests by testing different copy approaches in micro-campaigns to a good representative sample of the target market.

You may use any number of different creative approaches, depending on the magnitude of your overall marketing effort. The different approaches used for this type of testing must appear only in the headline, first sentence, or paragraph of the mailing or landing page, which is the initial statement the reader sees in a campaign.

It is not unusual for the difference between the best and worst approach in terms of response to be as much as 200 percent or 300 percent. Because it is not easy to guess the best creative approach, dollars you spend in the early stages of performance marketing program development can pay off.

Without testing or research, it may take you more time than you have, to eventually find the most cost-effective creative approach.

A B2B copywriter who also has personal selling experience in a specific market has a decided edge in knowing how to approach that market. But such a copywriter is rare.

Regardless of how much sales experience an individual copywriter or designer may have had, creative skills are the key to effective performance marketing communication. However, the entire creative effort must be based on sound sales strategy.

Content

The fundamental job of all B2B performance marketing copy is to convey the offer to the target market in terms that ensure maximum response and effect.

Developing the content always begins by determining the main selling point, sometimes called the “unique selling proposition,’’ or “the big idea.’’

And the copywriter always tries to spell it out as something of news value to the reader, or something dramatic, different, and interesting.

You should use separate content ideas, e.g. whitepapers, ebooks or video tutorials, where highly complex and technical products require extensive details.

Style

Writing style depends on the attitude the copywriter wants the reader to adopt. This depends on the objective and is aided by the format.

Since one of performance marketing’s main built-in strengths is personalization, a polite, pleasant, and even conversational tone is most appropriate, as long as it is completely businesslike.

The writing style also reflects a marketer’s personality, so copying a competitor’s style can be counterproductive.

To create the right impression it is important that you use the same style continually throughout the campaign.

Thoughts should flow in a logical sequence. You should eliminate all excursions and side issues to help keep the flow on track.

Communicating through words would be chaotic without rules of grammar. However, common usage of language has rendered some of the rules too rigid for use in advertising and performance marketing copywriting.

Splitting infinitives, ending sentences with a preposition, or having the copy freely split into a multitude of paragraphs are acceptable. Actually, sacrificing the natural flow of language to strict rules of grammar can hamper readership.

Choice of Words

Copy communicates better with the reader when it is written in plain and simple language. Copy that does its job best does not attempt to be clever, coy, or pompous.

The best business-to-business copywriting is lean, straightforward, sensible, clear, and understandable while being believable and exciting. Words alone, for the most part, must fulfill the objective in performance marketing, especially for sales support objectives, whereas in conversation, words have the support of gestures and inflections.

What may be a friendly quip verbally can be interpreted as sarcasm in copy.

The lazy writer will not take time to dig out the specific facts that address the prospect’s interest. For example, the following phrases taken from business-to-business landing pages could be improved by being made more detailed and precise:

  • “… with proven reliability you would expect from…” (Saying it is “reliable” does not make it so. The copywriter must give the reasons.)
  • “… you need special knowledge and special skills…” (Words like “special” are overused and are not specific enough to retain an impression.)
  • “… the described facts speak for themselves…” (This is a worn-out expression that passes up the opportunity to restate one or more memorable key facts.)
  • “… you are sure to get the highest quality available…” (Hollow expressions such as this need quantification to make them credible.)

General words such as “highest” should be avoided. “Many” and “most,” “more” or “less,” “bigger” and “better” are also in this category. Adjectives and adverbs, such as “very” and “extremely,” should be kept to a minimum.

They tend to lose their punch. Words that give specific details are more believable. They paint pictures that are memorable.

Too much use of the words “we,” “us,” and “our company” are the result of well-meaning and enthusiastic marketing and sales personnel attempting to tell prospects in brag-and-boast words how great the company and product features are.

Readers are more interested in what the company and its products can do for them. Reader benefits are spelled out more convincingly when using “you” and “your” words. They express the message best.

Strong action verbs convey urgency, excitement, and forward movement and propel the prospect along to the next thought. Such words are found in phrases like these:

  • “… all rush to capitalize on…”
  • “… alerts you to key factors…”
  • “… slash the high cost of…”
  • “… you’ll grab their attention …”

Use of the present tense puts your prospects in the action where they can relate to the activity or events described. For instance, “You’re geared up for full production” is better than “You’ll be geared up for full production.”

You should avoid trite expressions. They adversely affect the prospect’s judgment of the company. Also, yesterday’s buzzwords can be today’s cliches. Words should be legitimate, precise, correct, and consistent with the tone of the copy message.

Some words are received negatively whereas others convey positive thoughts. Descriptive words make it easier for the reader to visualize the benefits of the proposition. But if you overdo it, they can lead to hyperbole or lack of credibility, which destroys reader confidence.

Your copywriter should edit out jargon, i.e. words that have narrow usage and meaning. They may not be understood by the prospect. On the other hand, the copywriter should understand and use the particular terminology characteristic of the marketplace addressed. Every word written should have one intention – to make the prospect want to continue to read your message.

Graphics

All components of your performance marketing campaigns should include a graphic designer’s input. Professional design is needed to lay out the elements of your promotional piece in the most effective configuration.

You need graphics to illustrate what cannot be explained with words alone. Graphics are often needed to emphasize an offer or important parts of the message.

Direct sales promotions require, by virtue of the selling job to be done by a promotional campaign alone, hard working, very specific graphics. Yet graphics can cause more than communications problems if misused or overemphasized.

In business-to-business performance marketing, graphics are downplayed compared to consumer promos where photos, videos and illustrations support more emotional appeals.

Your design should focus on only one dominant element augmenting the basic idea. Graphics should not detract from the copy. Captions should be written before photos or illustrations are selected.

Also, white space is important because it makes other elements in the message stand out. Consider the one-sentence paragraph that reads more easily because it stands alone.

Hiring B2B Copywriters

B2B copywriters fall into two groups:

  • those who create and write promotional packages and campaigns on a professional level, full-time;
  • and those who write copy, as well as perform many other responsibilities in the normal course of doing their jobs.

Full-time B2B Copywriters

Most of the best professional B2B copywriters are found in performance marketing agencies, advertising agencies, and small freelance copywriter-consultant firms.

A professional B2B copywriter may also be part of the performance marketing department staff. The bulk of sales support B2B copywriters have advertising or sales promotion experience and have either learned or are learning how to measure the results of their performance marketing efforts.

The full-time B2B copywriter may not necessarily contribute to the planning aspects of the performance marketing campaign. The specific sales objective, performance marketing strategy, target marketplace, budget, and even the offer are often determined before the B2B copywriter gets involved.

It depends on how the organization is structured. For instance, in some organizations the performance marketing manager, creative director, copy chief, and copywriter may all wear the same hat. (That was actually my case at Harvard Business Review.)

Part-time Copywriters

The larger group of copywriters of business-to-business promotions have other functions in addition to their writing responsibilities. These multifunction management personnel are usually found in the small- or medium-size companies or in smaller divisions of larger companies.

They have many different titles – advertising manager, account manager, consultant, marketing director, project manager, sales manager, product director, direct marketing coordinator, communications vicepresident.

Some of these part-time copywriters know how to develop a performance marketing creative strategy and the copy to go with it at a professional level, but they are few.

However, increased numbers of video courses, seminars, books, and other training materials on performance marketing creative development make it evident that more and more businessmen and businesswomen are interested in learning the art.

Brilliant copywriting may require special talent. When the mastery of the performance marketing writing craft is combined with innate creative talent and selling ability, blockbuster B2B campaigns are created.

This kind of talent is rare. Yet, fortunately, most fairly well educated men and women oriented in business marketing can become adequate at writing acceptable performance marketing copy for just about any objective.

For the average copywriter it takes dedication, discipline, and perseverance to master the basic rules, principles, and proven creative techniques. In addition, the copywriter needs a heavy load of writing assignments.

Critiques by professional copywriters can be invaluable for the beginner.

And since performance marketing is a results-oriented medium, you should pay attention to the measurement of effectiveness of the copywriting efforts, whether for readership, lead response, or awareness level change.

Those ultimately responsible for reviewing and approving the copy of others also must learn how to tell the difference between good and bad B2B performance marketing copywriting.

And they should be able to spell out the reasons why, for each of the different performance marketing objectives. They must know what constitutes a good reinforced selling campaign, a good lead generation landing page, and a good telemarketing script.

Only by knowing why performance marketing succeeds or fails can those responsible for the finished effort improve results.

Personal Medium Copy vs General Online & Print Copy

Since many business-to-business sales support performance marketing creative people are general online ad copy oriented, it is worth reviewing the differences between the two.

Creative staff, in both business-to-business advertising agencies and company marketing departments, have been and are involved heavily in general online and print advertising.

This is not unusual since general advertising often gets a three times greater share of the budget than personal media like email, LinkedIn inMail, direct mail etc.

Those professionals who have written both kinds of advertising know there is a vast difference between personal copy and general ad copy.

One main difference relates to the way each is read. As readers scan content of an online portal or thumb through a business publication looking for editorial material to read, they are occasionally stopped by an ad headline or illustration that gets their attention and provokes them to read the ad or some other type of sponsored content.

The reader sees the entire message at a glance. When this happens, it is an interruption, and competes with the time the reader has to spend with the editorial material.

Noticing or even reading the ad is incidental to the reader’s purpose in picking up the online or print publication. The ad must be creatively compelling to get noticed and read because it competes with content on many other pages readily available.

Also, the reader knows that the online or offline magazine has many other readers and obviously each ad’s message speaks to the entire audience who reads the content.

Therefore, even though the reader may be addressed as “you” in an ad, the general B2B ad format precludes “one-on-one” communication.

In addition, the general ad delivers the message to a market or submarket chosen by the publisher, so you may have a problem targeting a specific segment of a marketplace cost effectively.

The publication and not you, the marketer, defines the audience. Having to address the publication’s overall audience tends to make the copy in an ad more general.

Personal media – email, LinkedIn inMail, direct mail and others – on the other hand, reach your audience with a communication that does not compete directly with any other communication when it is in the hands of the reader.

It gets the individual attention of the prospect. For instance, it may be a piece of business mail that is picked up, perhaps read, acted upon, and then filed, passed on to associates, or disposed of.

The personal copy goes into an environment where the prospect thinks positively about reading business mail, email or other messages related directly to his or her personal interests.

The contents of such a campaign become the “editorial,” allowing greater opportunity for better readership.

Although most readers of personal B2B performance marketing messages do not know how many others have received the same promotioanl pieces, they do know they were on the list to receive it and this somehow makes them special.

Since audience availabilities for personal media are much more highly selective than the circulation of a business publication or its general online audience, you have more opportunities to appeal and relate to more finely targeted market segments.

Personal emails or direct mail can include multiple illustrations, photos, testimonials, and as much descriptive copy as needed.

The copy message can be more specifically detailed and pertinent to the reader’s interest, reflecting a higher degree of personalness.

Summary

  1. Creative considerations in business-to-business performance marketing can spell the difference between winning and losing.
  2. While there are a few full-time professional copywriters dedicated to writing business-to-business sales support campaigns, most write direct sales copy.
  3. The great bulk of performance marketing copy writing for sales support is written by those who also perform other job functions.
  4. A copywriter may in addition be the performance marketing manager or sales manager, depending on the size of the marketer’s organization.
  5. An understanding of the objectives, markets, business decision makers, budgets, approvers, and timetable all have a critical effect on the approach to the creative effort.
  6. B2B copywriters must know how to separate the many objectives that get assigned to a campaign by those in marketing into one major attainable objective.
  7. Approaching the B2B copywriting task involves a study of the marketplace and research into the buying behavior of the business decision maker as it relates to the product being promoted.
  8. The business-to-business copywriter must be aware of the difference between business and consumer reaction to performance marketing campaigns.
  9. Copywriters also need to know how the business person receives, handles, and reads email, direct mail or LinkedIn messages.
  10. Budget planning must be as precise in sales support campaign planning as it is for direct sales or ecommerce campaigns.
  11. The time frame allocated to create B2B performance marketing campaigns is related to the scope of the individual assignment and the speed of the copywriter.
  12. The copywriter’s understanding of the approver’s functions minimizes roadblocks caused by unwarranted opinions.
  13. The five universal elements found in virtually all copywriting formulas are attention, interest, desire, conviction, and action. The job of the B2B copywriter is to incorporate these into the content of the campaign with appropriate style and choice of words that make the reader want to continue reading.
  14. Copy critiques by professional copywriters are a good practice, giving opinions by non-marketing staff is usually bad.
  15. When general ad copywriters switch to writing copy for personal media they must consider the main advantages of email, direct mail or LinkedIn messages in effecting readership and response: less competition for attention, a more personalized writing style with more space for the message, a more selective market segment for targeting, and greater format flexibility to make it easy to respond.

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The expert's thoughts on direct response - growth hacking - performance-based marketing activities - DIRECT MARKETING

About Me, Rafal Lipnicki.

the direct / performance marketing consultant with a strange sounding name

Who.

Not your usual "guru" but a real-world performance marketing & innovation consultant based in Europe and an experienced senior executive at leading multinational companies.

What and Where.

I am a consultant for hire, working remotely and on-site all over the world (but Europe is always preferred). See my consulting services page for details.

How.

Contrarian advice most of the time. Document-based audits, workshops, one-off projects, mentoring programs, and more.

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