Fear Sells

Nothing motivates behavior – including buying behavior, whether B2C or B2B – quite like fear. Being a glass-half-full kind of person I wish it weren’t so, but that’s the reality.

Some fear is healthy and legitimate, and some fear is the byproduct of manipulation, feeding on people’s insecurities, ignorance and prejudices.

One thing I know: We’re living in fearful times because of the widening financial crisis and highly charged political season. There are many who will use fear to their advantage and profit from it, some unscrupulously.

I’ve worked on several B2B marketing campaigns in which fear was a legitimate motivator. For example, consider anything that requires security and protection, such as valuable company data. The fear of loss and resulting financial ramifications are a valid entry point for a marketing dialogue.

The point? Fear sells. As a marketer, use it responsibly. And as a buyer, beware.


In B2B, Shamelessly Market the Fulfillment

To market B2B products or services that are high ticket, complex, or simply take several steps to sell, providing more information — fulfillment — is the first critical step in the sales cycle.

As a result, the fulfillment becomes the offer.

Make the fulfillment a kit, a guide, a video, a brochure, a packet, a report, a white paper, a landing page. Give it an engaging name that promises a benefit or piques interest. Detail what’s included and how it will benefit the recipient.

Of course, this approach means your fulfillment must deliver on its promise. Your fulfillment needs to sparkle, inform and inspire further action. If it disappoints, valuable leads will slip through your fingers.

Be Provocative

Be provocative and cut through the massive clutter and “me too” marketing. Get people thinking, feeling, reacting. I’m not advocating anything inappropriate. Good taste should prevail.

Here’s what marketing legend Ted Nicholas wrote in his e-book, 87 Marketing Secrets of the Written Word:

If copy doesn’t bother or offend someone it usually doesn’t work! When getting feedback on new copy from colleagues, advertising media and prospects, if everyone likes it, watch out! Nearly every time I write a breakthrough ad or sales letter, it pulls orders and bothers someone. Reason? Great copy gets attention by being provocative. And interrupting usual thinking habits.

Let’s face it, “safe” is usually boring and unmemorable. Instead, try to interrupt usual thinking habits and pump some new life into your marketing.

Just Say No to Business Jargon

If you’re a copywriter or marketing communications pro, then you know it’s a no-no to use business jargon. Yet, jargon infiltrates messages every cotton pickin’ day in the corporate world.

Copywriter Nick Usborne has found a creative way to express his business jargon protest: coffee mugs and t-shirts.

Here are a few of my favorite lines:

  • Shift my paradigm before I’ve had my morning coffee and I’ll core your competencies.
  • Our alliance stands alone in demonstrating the extensivity of integrated partnerships with other collaboratives.
  • Most new paradigms are worth about 20 cents.

More protest lines here. (And, no, I don’t make a penny if you buy a mug or t-shirt.)

5 Deadly Sins of B2B Copywriting

No, these “sins” aren’t new. However, they’re very easy to commit when lost in the vast fog of media choices and marketing tactics. Be forewarned.

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. As David Ogilvy famously said, “If you haven’t done some selling in your headline, you have wasted 80 percent of your client’s money.” Work diligently on headlines and don’t try too hard to be clever.

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

Continue reading “5 Deadly Sins of B2B Copywriting”