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One of the mistakes that most people make in advertising is that they assume that their prospect is ready to buy NOW. Discounts, specials and limited time offers are all aimed at the prospect who is ready to buy now and just needs to be convinced who to buy from, or who just needs that little bit of extra push to take action. But research tells us that only about 20% of the people who will actually buy in the next month or two are ready to make the decision now. So you’re amazing offer and incentive to buy now is completely lost on 80% of your potential customers.
One of the best ways of generating leads is to use “education based marketing” to get prospects who will be ready to buy in the near future to put their hands up and ask for information. And now you have the opportunity to teach them exactly why they should buy from you, and not from your competitors. There is an old marketing saying: “The one who educates the market, owns the market”. This technique has been referred to as “Information Packets,” “Consumer Awareness Guides,” or more simply “Free Reports.” But it is quite different from “product spec sheets” and catalogues (although I have seen many good catalogues incorporate education-based marketing with good results).
Education-based marketing is also a fantastic option when giving quotes or even in the post-sales process. Last year we needed some ant treatment so I called a local pest control company to come over and give me a quote. The guy was very knowledgeable but they left me nothing in writing other than a business card (before or after the job) and they missed a fantastic opportunity to solidify repeat business and referrals. They didn’t call back 6 months later offering a re-treatment either!
In this article I am going to focus on steps 1 through 5. I’ll cover the other steps next month.
Quite simply, it should be about the sort of things that your prospects are interested in BEFORE they are ready to buy or DURING the buying process. What you need to do here is to grab the attention of the SUBCONSCIOUS MIND of your prospect. Once you have told your mind that you are interested in doing something your subconscious mind continues to work on the issue even when you are not aware of it. Let’s say that you’ve decided that you want to remodel your bathroom next winter. You know that you’re not ready to start now and you start asking yourself a lot of questions. Things like: how do I fit everything I want into my small space? How much will it cost? Will I need to get a permit? Can I do any of the work myself? How do I prevent mould? Your brain now starts trying to answer those questions for you. When it sees something that will help it will absorb the data or awaken the conscious mind to take action.
The key question to ask yourself when you’re deciding on the subject matter is this: “Would this information be helpful to someone in my target customer who at present couldn’t care less about me and who might not ever buy our product or service?” Another useful concept is to try to “enter the conversation in the prospects mind” – that is, what are they wondering about or asking their spouse, friends, co-workers and how can you “join” that conversation with this resource?
The title of your report should be designed to grab the prospect’s attention. It is akin to the headline in a sales letter, advert or newspaper article. Most people will only read past the headline if you have given them good reason to do so.
if you were a builder trying to target people who want to redo their
bathroom in 3-6 months time you could offer an Information Guide
addressing issues like:
Remember – the objective of the title is to get the person to read more. Therefore it needs to address a felt need, open question, or something that worries the reader. Don’t try to fill it with anything salesy, too much information, or try to appeal to too many people. A secondary objective of your title is to EXCLUDE people who are not your target readers. That’s right – you actually want some people to ignore this report and not respond! The whole point of this technique is to get prospects to give you permission to market to them so that you can target interested buyers much more effectively and for much less money.
The title does need to connect with the structure of the content – there is no point in calling the report “7 ways to save money in your telecom spending” and then talk about plumbing (that’s obvious) or have only 3 ways or to have a different structure completely. Your title is like a promise that you need to deliver on in your report. The better you deliver on that promise the more trust you will build with your prospect.
So having chosen your topic and title you may well have already set your structure. If you are writing a step-by-step guide then that is how you should structure it. If you are giving seven reasons, then that obviously sets the structure of your core content.
Here is a suggested general structure for your report
The cover and/or back page of the report should also contain the following:
Some general pointers about the way you write your content
In this day of all-things-electronic the temptation is to do a PDF and email it. This is certainly a viable option – especially if it is being offered from a web site. Now you might expect us to say this given that we are printers, but it is still true: you will get better results from a printed and mailed report then you will from an electronic one. Especially if it is more than about a dozen pages. There is just something special about receiving something in the mail, and people are actually more likely to read a physical document than they are an electronic one. Yes, it certainly costs more, but remember that you are now dealing with people who have self-selected themselves as being an interested prospect so you can afford to spend a little more on them for better results.
Interestingly, your special report does not have to be all glossy and colourful. It depends on the content and the length, but plain text on a white page can work very effectively here. In fact, one of the reasons many people never use this approach is that they don’t think that they can make it look good enough. We certainly do encourage making things look well presented and readable, and we have seen and developed some fantastic looking special reports over the years – but don’t let the way it looks stop you from getting started.
Next month we will talk about the ways to promote your special report and use it as a lead generating activity. In the mean time, we can help with the creation of your special report in many ways. We can help you brainstorm topics and structure, interview you to help generate the content, assist with graphic design and PDF creation (even if you only want to do an electronic version), and (of course) printing a physical booklet.