5 Deadly Sins of B2B Marketing Communications

These “sins” aren’t new. They are still deadly.  And they’re easy to commit when wandering in the vast fog of media choices and marketing tactics. It can be easy to lose sight of the following communication basics.

Deadly Sin #1: Not attracting attention.
If you don’t attract attention with a compelling headline or opening of some kind, it doesn’t matter what follows. No one is going to see or read it. Work diligently on headlines and don’t try too hard to be clever. Other ways to grab attention are to ask a question, say something timely, tell a story, or offer an anecdote.

Deadly Sin #2: Not identifying an audience need, concern, or problem.
In journalism parlance, this is called the hook. It tells your audience you understand them and sets up how you can help them.

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The Dark Side of So-Called Customer Relationships

Jonathan Kranz is the principal of Kranz Communications and author of Writing Copy for Dummies (recommended by yours truly, whether you’re a novice or pro). Last week Jonathan wrote an excellent piece entitled “Teaching Our Customers to Hate Us” at MarketingProfs Daily Fix.

A few excerpts:

“As a pretext for sending me overwhelming amounts of unsolicited email, marketers tell me (in the fine print) that I’m receiving this cascade of irrelevant and irritating material because we have some kind of ‘relationship,’” Jonathan wrote.

“Often, I cannot recall what that ‘relationship’ is …”

Yes, “relationship” has been a business and marketing buzzword since the late 20th century. As a marketing type, I bought into it long ago. But Jonathan’s post was like a splash of cold water. This “relationship” talk is often a big marketing lie.

“Real relationships take time,” Jonathan concluded. “Just because someone thanks you for holding the door open doesn’t mean you’re invited to pack your toothbrush and spend the night. As marketers, we need to be prudent.”

4 Tips for Creating Email Subject Lines That Get Opened

Direct marketing agency Epsilon has released a new white paper on “creating subject lines that pack punch.”

Rethinking the Relationship Between Subject Line Length and Email Performance: A New Perspective on Subject Line Design offers important subject-line considerations for marketers, including these four tips:

1. Front-load subject lines with most important information.
2. Keep subject lines as short as possible.
3. Test.
4. Personalize the subject line, if possible.

You can also try subject lines that pique curiosity. For example, I’ve been using an email subject line to network with new-to-me professionals that seems to work rather well:

Group Hello and Question

It’s friendly and — I’m guessing — gets people to open it to find out what the question is.

Sneaky Big Marketing

The choices in marketing communications are overwhelming. What audiences do you need to reach? With what messages? And with what media?

An opinion piece I read by Seiter & Miller Advertising CEO Livingston Miller made a lot of sense. Miller wrote “find a place you can dominate and a space you can control. The results will make you look bigger. Call it ‘sneaky big.’”

Miller explained that sneaky big requires sacrifice. “Decide what not to say, who not to talk to and where not to advertise.”

Instead, simplify your messages and “give up the market you aspire to for the market you can achieve.” It’s a smart, nimble strategy for non-titans who nonetheless are looking for big results.

(Source: BtoB)

FedEx Spots Focus on Small Business Issues

“Dad, football games have the best commercials.” My daughter isn’t a big football fan, but she knows a smart, entertaining TV spot when she sees one.

FedEx aired several spots during last night’s Orange Bowl game. “Nordic Tuesday,” “Dorm,” and “Butkus” focused on saving money, reducing overhead and going international.

View FedEx TV spots

Their tagline: “We understand.”

Of course, all spots get their message across in a humorous, memorable way.

Avoid Panic Marketing

“Panic marketing” is a term I read in The 10 Commandments of B-to-B Direct Marketing, a white paper by The Hacker Group. It’s based on the misguided belief that direct marketing (or marketing) can somehow create faster or increased sales for products that have built-in sales cycles.

“Panic marketing almost never works,” the Hacker Group writes. “If the customer needs nine months to make a decision, direct marketing can’t affect sales this quarter. If the customer needs 18 months to make a decision, direct marketing can’t affect sales this year.

“The proper way to use direct marketing is to generate qualified leads on an ongoing basis.”

All true, but often ignored in our hyped-up, competitive economy. If you’re a marketer and an agency promises you the world, be wary. If you’re an agency and to get the account the marketer expects the world, educate them or simply run.

20 Good Information Sources

Creating an effective marketing piece is impossible without good information and input. Following are 20 solid information sources for B2B marketing communications projects.

1. Web sites/blogs
2. Ads
3. Brochures
4. Case studies
5. Demos
6. Newsletters
7. Industry publications
8. Annual reports
9. Catalogs
10. Press releases

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