How Less Frequent Blogging Is Creating More Leads for B-to-B Bloggers

Showing your human side, proving there’s a face behind the cold, maniacal business you represent, frequent blogging and telling stories about our businesses—it’s a shame these simple ideas aren’t generating leads and sales often enough. Yet, there is a better way to start generating leads with blogs. Winning new business in this anemic economy means creating “dramatic distinction” and irresistible curiosity with social media—giving prospects a reason to get a focused conversation started with you. Sometimes that means blogging less often.

Showing your human side, proving there’s a face behind the cold, maniacal business you represent, frequent blogging and telling stories about our businesses—it’s a shame these simple ideas aren’t generating leads and sales often enough. Yet, there is a better way to start generating leads with blogs.

Winning new business in this anemic economy means creating “dramatic distinction” and irresistible curiosity with social media—giving prospects a reason to get a focused conversation started with you. Sometimes that means blogging less often.

Content Marketing’s Biggest Myth
Want to stand out in social media? Do you have something honestly new to say? Well until you do, say less. Why? Because it works. You’ll become known for publishing less on your blog and, when doing so, releasing remarkably useful content more.

Tom Webster (one of the few wise voices willing to occasionally dissent) says the surest way to fail at blogging for sales leads is to write to a schedule, “and not in the service of ideas.”

“The tyranny of the content calendar is responsible for a lot of weak content on the Web,” says Webster.

He says, “keeping up that pace out of deference to some kind of received wisdom about publishing frequency” may not lead you to intellectual dishonesty, but it often does. At best, Webster says, it places dangerous stress on the system.

How to Stand Out—Fast
The key to success is giving prospects a compelling, irresistible reason to discover something new—a way to solve a problem that is contrary to popular wisdom. In other words, mythbusting.

Shutting-up until you have something honestly meaningful to say flies in the face of most content marketing experts. Sadly, many gurus over-emphasize the role of frequent blog posts, video uploads, etc., and point to keeping search engines busy crawling your site.

But having something new and useful to say works better and is the key to successfully using LinkedIn for sales leads, for instance.

Here is the mythbusting system in a nutshell:

  1. Make the myth clear up front: You’re dismantling popular wisdom to prove it wrong (just like I did in this blog post!)
  2. Offer proof of better way—again, up front
  3. Create a pathway for prospects to get more details (to create leads!)

The Role of Original Thought
No, no, no say the experts. Google demands a constant stream of content. Indeed, it does, but what those same experts avoid confessing is powerful:

  1. The role of original thought is becoming increasingly influential in search engines given how ranking algorithms factor in the spreading of thought-leading ideas by humans (prospects).
  2. Netting more and better leads means creating “dramatic distinction” and irresistible curiosity on your blow.

Ironically, infrequency of blogging and reaching beyond curating content is the it’s the key to getting found and making social media sell for you.

Follow These Steps: Take Action Now
Popular belief is powerful stuff. It’s what cements our habits … keeps them in place. Yet the status quo represents a big opportunity and always has. Social media gives B-to-B bloggers the chance to exploit the essence of truth-telling at the expense of every business’s enemy: mediocrity.

Mythbusting also works because it’s the story everyone wants to hear: “what you’re doing is popular yet not effective… here’s the secret on what actually works.”

This creates distinction in what you’re offering.

To generate a lead start blogging in a way that creates:

  • Confidence: Shine a light on the success your unique perspective brings; do it in a way that gives prospects clarity; help the customer feel like they can experience success too.
  • Curiosity: Explain your remedy in a way that creates clarity AND curiosity.
  • A Way: Give prospects a way to immediately act on the thought you just provoked; help them choose a pathway to make the needed change a habit in their everyday lives.

My clients and I are having a lot of success by focusing messages away from very popular (yet unproductive) beliefs that stymie our clients’ success.

For instance, I am currently mythbusting this false yet popular, positive-energy-filled belief that prevents success: “Storytelling and having a unique business personality/culture is what motivates prospects into engaging and doing business with you via social media.”

By calling into question what the elements of a good content marketing plan are on my blog (and amplifying it on other social media) I’m creating intense curiosity (about a more complete “way to get what customers want”) and presenting a clear way for customers to act on it (see the call-to-action half-way down the page).

Challenge yourself to go beyond messages and create tangible distinction by busting myths that stymie your customers’ success. Start today!

Stephanie Miller’s Engagement Matters: Email Storytelling Sells

Combat the fatigue from crowded inboxes by embracing the role of storyteller. Telling a story, rather than just announcing a fact or blasting out an announcement, is a more engaging way to share information. The storytelling approach weaves a relationship through a cadence of touchpoints. Any nurturing or loyalty program is built on the same concept, and many B-to-B marketers are very good at telling stories to move prospects through a buying process.

Gone are the days of the passive email subscriber. Consumers and business professionals tire easily when publishers and marketers broadcast to them. It’s the online equivalent of shouting. Your customers and readers want meaningful conversations — and they know they have other options if you don’t deliver.

Combat the fatigue from crowded inboxes by embracing the role of storyteller. Telling a story, rather than just announcing a fact or blasting out an announcement, is a more engaging way to share information. The storytelling approach weaves a relationship through a cadence of touchpoints. This isn’t complex. Any nurturing or loyalty program is built on the same concept, and many B-to-B marketers are very good at telling stories to move prospects through a buying process.

It’s simply a series of stories about use cases, cool new features and real-life implementation of your editorial, products and services. So invite your subscribers to the proverbial campfire and build their anticipation with a question, “How can I help you today?” Email marketing is great for providing the answer.

Invite subscribers on a story journey
Instead of sending a generic newsletter or “special offers,” invite website visitors to accept a two to five message email series on a particular topic. Make it about how your products, services or content will help them: “Five ways to be beautiful this summer,” “Three strategies for impressing your boss,” “Doctor’s advice on buying contact lenses online,” “Ten things your CEO wants you to know,” “Five great summer games for kids under 10.”

Make it easy to sign up by putting invitations in prominent locations on pages that have related content. And be sure permission is clear. If the offer is just for two to five email messages over the same number of weeks or days, then say so. You’ll likely find a higher sign-up rate and higher response and engagement because the content is so targeted. If you’re also signing them up for your ongoing e-newsletter, be clear about that. There’s no reason you can’t encourage a further subscription after you’ve delivered the series, too. Earn their trust first, then sell. Consider the following strategies:

  • Make your story interactive.
  • Tap the socially connected nature of today’s digital experience.
  • Integrate opportunities for subscribers to share with their social networks or forward to others.
  • Invite subscribers to take a poll or survey or give you feedback.
  • Offer a page where subscribers can upload their own stories or photos, and then share that user-generated content back to the group in your series.
  • Ensure your customer service team monitors these pages so that you can quickly respond to any questions or direct prospects to your sales team or e-commerce site.

Why does it work? An email series strategy is based on a fundamental truth of marketing: Provide something of value and customers will continue to engage. A series makes it easy for you to customize messages to the interests of subscribers at that moment. The topic is top of mind for them, and that creates selling and relationship opportunities for you.

Another benefit is that when your email messages are more relevant, you won’t have as many people clicking the “Report Spam” button, which registers as a complaint at internet service providers like Yahoo or Gmail. Even a small number of complaints can result in a poor sender reputation and a block on all your messages. Make even some of your messages more relevant, and the response rates for all your messages will go up and complaints will go down.

For content, consider the following four options:

1. Make it easy to learn more. Offer website visitors a two- to three-part email series rather than a whitepaper. Most downloaded content never actually gets opened or read. Once a whitepaper is downloaded and saved, it’s out of mind. An email series forces marketers to package up content in bite-sized pieces (you can always link to more detail on your website), and gives them several opportunities over a few weeks to engage. Advertising CPMs for these targeted messages can be at a premium, as well.

2. Comparison shopping. Advertisers know that readers are researching and want publishers to help them shorten sales cycles. Use a series of email messages to help subscribers compare competitive sets — the more honest/nonadvertorial you are, the longer they stay on your site! — find testimonials and bloggers, and make a strong business case.

3. Move free-trial subscribers to paid circulation. A series can give prospects confidence in your content or technology. Help them actually use your service during the trial — help them find the best reviews or product feature comparisons, or let them download tools that help them forecast productivity, revenue or cost savings as a result of making a decision to buy. Test if increasing incentives as prospects move through the cycle helps or hurts your conversion (and margin).

4. Educate. Send one great idea each week, and include ways to practice or implement. The next week, ask for input or a story about how that idea worked or didn’t work. Then, the next day, send the next idea. This interactive cadence will build value for subscribers and let them engage repeatedly over time.

Storytelling lets you retain control over the content while giving subscribers the freedom, choice and interactivity they crave. Successful email marketing is built on a very simple concept: Give subscribers what they want, and they’ll give you what you want. Subscribers want you to help them. When you do, they’ll reward you with higher response and sales, positive buzz and sharing, and stronger brand loyalty.

Let me know what you think by sharing any ideas or comments below.