Great example of survey turned into ebook

Holger Schulze's B2B Lead Generation Marketing Trends book


I don’t ordinarily go out of my way to promote someone else’s ebook (especially when that someone isn’t a client or hasn’t plied me with drinks), but I really like the B2B Lead Generation Marketing Trends ebook Holger Schulze put together from a survey he ran for 2013.

I mention it here for two reasons: first, it has genuinely useful information you might like to know; second, it’s a great example of how to turn a survey into strong content. And as content, it has a clean, simple layout that makes the book easy to scan, easy to read — virtues I appreciate (even if my own work tends to be more cluttered).

A few observations:

I was a bit disappointed to see that (no surprise), lead generation remains the number one priority for B2B marketers. Given the way that influencers and decision-makers behave — seeking knowledge online to inform their potential choices — an excessive emphasis on “the lead” seems retrograde, a holdover from a sales-centric era of fedoras and three martini lunches. Shouldn’t we be thinking more about interception, about how we catch these seekers as they’re seeking, about infiltrating their minds, shaping their attitudes? After all, “a lead” means a long, expensive pathway of throwing more time and money at a subset of people we suspect might be interested. I’d rather invest more time and money up front to attract the most likely buyers and have them practically throw their business at me.

Or again, the number one barrier to getting these leads is/was (say the respondents), “lack of resources in staffing, budgeting or time.” C’mon, people. There’s never enough staff, budget or time — that’s a given. The real issue is lack of imagination, the inability to make the most of the staff, budget and time that we have. Right?

I was pleasantly surprised to see how much marketers esteem conferences and trade shows (I think they’re particularly useful when you speak or present at them), and I felt a pang of nostalgia for poor old direct mail, which was about as favored as something stuck to one’s shoe. Finally, I’m a bit disturbed by how often “I don’t know” was the number one answer to crucial questions about understanding costs-per-lead and conversion ratios. Uh oh.

Download and enjoy. And you can find Holger here.




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A few weeks ago, I interviewed David Kaupp of Consilium Global Business Advisors, who was kind enough to give me feedback and insights related to a podcast series I intend to launch. As a consequence of that call, I poked around the Consilium site and found an ebook on B2B marketing. Clicking through, I found that the book wasn’t available yet, but if I left an email address, the company would alert me when the book was published.

This morning I got the alert. Here’s the landing page it directed me to:

Give us three "likes" and we'll give you the book.

Perhpas I’m out of the loop, but I haven’t seen this kind of gate before. In an interesting twist, the exchange of value has shifted; instead of asking for the usual lead-gen contact info, Consilium is asking for social media love.

With all due and genuine respect for Dave, I have some misgivings about this:

  • In essence, Consilium is asking for a “thumbs-up” review BEFORE I’ve had a chance to read the book. I just don’t feel comfortable committing to an opinion I might regret later.
  • Even though I’m not a heavy social media user, I already feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I have to slog through. A couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated to click a “like” button. Today, I’m much more circumspect, recognizing that every millisecond impulse to push the “like” button may be rewarded with years of the social media equivalent of junk mail.
  • THREE likes? One I can see, and two…well, okay. But three? With three commitments, I become not merely a casual fan, but an active advocate of the company. Do I really want to play that role?

I think a strong argument could be made that since Consilium is offering something of considerable value — the equivalent of a 250 page book — it’s only fair the company get something of value in exchange. But they’re also asking me to commit my reputation before I have the opportunity to assess the value of the book itself.

What might they do as an alternative that would be fair for all involved? (And, by the way, more likely to be shared and socially distributed.) Since I’ve already declared my interest, why not just send me either a condensed, preview ebook OR the first 10 – 20 pages as a sample? Or ask me to download the same? Then, after evaluating the preview/sample, I can make an informed judgment call about whether or not I’m willing to exchange three of my social media “likes” for the remainder of the book.

I think that’s a reasonable deal — and probably a more successful way to market the book, too.



For more practical thoughts on content strategy, consider my content strategy workshop.

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New Content Marketing Playbook 2011!

Updated for 2011, it's the new and improved Content Marketing Playbook. Yeah!

Come and get it! A little more than a year ago, Joe Pulizzi and I released the first edition of the Content Marketing Playbook to much acclaim.

We’re baaaaack!

The latest edition of the Content Marketing Playbook includes new rankings by popularity (see what other marketers think are the top 10) and 5 new content marketing tactics.

We’ve updated the examples/case studies (more than 90 of ’em) and have retained the sly humor that has entertained marketers worldwide. Or at least in Cleveland.

Download now the Content Marketing Playbook 2011 now. No gating, no registration. No kidding!

Learn how to execute your own plays through in-house content writing training.

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eBook recommendation: Sales Playbook Essentials

If you’re in sales, you’ve probably heard of playbooks, but you may not know how to distinguish the good from the bad and the ugly.

Fortunately, Kathyrn Roy of Precision Thinking has put together Sales Playbook Essentials in Brief to bring clarity where once dwelled confusion. In it you’ll find:

            • The what and why of playbooks
            • Different types and what they’re good for
            • Preparatory steps for creating playbooks
            • Design tips and suggestions
            • And best of all: a listing of traps to avoid

The download is free and un-gated (yay!) so go ahead and take a look for yourself. I’m confident you’ll it a model for what a strong ebook should be: useful, relevant and easy-t0-digest.

Learn how to write your own ebooks through my in-house workshops.


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Call me a copywriting drill sargeant because MarketingProfs has signed me on to sign you up for its Marketing Writing Bootcamp. They’re offering a comprehesnive set of online courses; I’m on board to lead one of them, EBOOKS: Exploring the ebook: What, Why, and HOW on Wednesday, June 22, noon – 1PM ET.

Here’s what I’m doing:

In recent years, the ebook has emerged as a versatile new way to package and distribute content. Through real-world examples and success stories, this class will cover the critical elements that go into creating an ebook that your audience will want to read—and want to share. You’ll learn everything from selecting the best subject for your ebook to choosing and organizing its content, as well as the best ways to use ebooks to augment your digital marketing programs.

You will learn:

  • What defines an ebook and how it works as a marketing tool
  • How to generate perfect ebook content ideas
  • Tips for structuring an irresistible ebook that gets shared
  • How to close with a convincing call to action

Check it out on the Marketing Writing Bootcamp site. And watch this blog: in coming weeks, I’ll be able to offer you a discount code that will save you at least $200 on registration fees. Yeah, no kidding. So stay tuned…

Missed this webinar? No problem: check out my live ebook workshop, brought in-house to your organization.



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Ultimate Guide to Corporate Blogging Ebook Now Available

Ultimate Guide to Corporate BloggingThe “Ultimate Guide”? That’s one heck of a promise. But I think the good people at Openview Labs have kept it. (Self-interest alert: yeah, I contributed a section to the ebook.)

What makes the Ultimate Guide to Corporate Blogging worth downloading and reading? Let me count the ways:

  1. It clearly defines the business value of blogging — a case you can take to the powers that be.
  2. It maps a practical pathway for creating a blogging strategy and implementing it.
  3. The book gives you metrics for measuring progress and spots the most likely challenges.
  4. The authors have articulated the responsibilities of each corporate player who should have a role in your blog.
  5. The “Quick Start” guide helps you get up and running, fast.
  6. Finally, it’s packed with hints, tips and suggestions from credible authorities — such as Joe Pulizzi, Ann Handley, Darren Rowse and Grace Kang — and from one suspect authority: me.

It’s free. So go get it. Obey. Okay?

When you’re ready to train your own people to create content, check out my content writing training seminar.

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Ebooks: Turn self-centered features into customer-centric issues

handstandDespite the most ardent protests of sales people (and some marketing directors), the ebook/whitepaper is NOT the place for overt self-promotion of products and services.

Why? (I can’t help but feel like that food guy who always has to explain how to make clarified butter…) Because the goal of your ebook is to establish credibility, a foundation of trust that encourages the reader to pursue a deeper engagement with you. Anything that smells like self-promotion is, well, rotten.

But . . . there must be a way to leverage your unique features in your ebook, right? Yes, there is — you can “flip” each feature into a relevant ebook topic without falling into the self-promotion trap.

Learn how in my new article published recently in White Paper Source:  Do the Flip: How to Turn Product/Service Features Into White Paper Topics.

(By the way, turning technical features into business benefits is one of the many skills you can learn in my content writing workshops.)

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Acne Cured the Ebook

Published on January 22, 2010 by in copywriting, eBooks


Funny headline I found today via Google Alerts: “Acne Cured the Ebook.”

Who knew zits held so much power? What’s next: “Pimples Pummel Pertussis”?

In any event, if you ever questioned the magic of a misplaced comma, doubt no more.

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Metaphors are tricky things — push ’em too hard and your premise crumbles. But I think the ebook, 7 Infectious Diseases of B2B Marketing, manages its analogies in ways that are both clever and apt. Kathryn Roy, the ebook’s author and principal of Precision Thinking, tells us more about her book and why she wrote it:

I was spurred to write the 7 Infectious Diseases of B2B Marketing because I was working with so many companies that were confident they were doing the right things, the right way — but weren’t. It goes back to that Mark Twain quote: “It ain’t what we don’t know that will hurt us. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Take a look at what is happening with home pages. I have a big issue with what I call, “Sleep Apendea,” in which passionate marketing people try to convey all the messages they think might resonate with their visitors. For example, I see many more B2B websites use Flash video or slide shows to convey complex positioning messages to their visitors. But this assumes visitors will stay engaged as the screen changes. Eye-tracking studies show what really happens: people glance at something on a web page when they detect motion, stay there for 3 – 5 seconds to see if it’s what they’re looking for, and then scan elsewhere on the page. If visitors see too much irrelevant material, they stop reading altogether.

I’m working with clients to streamline what they say to prospects. Here’s one example of a before and after value proposition for a web site:

Roy Chart

In this example, XYZ company wants to claim leadership. But if you check Google Analytics, you’ll find that there aren’t a lot of searches for “3D direct modeling” not related to this company. So XYZ is emphasizing a category that’s based on terms searchers aren’t using. Your home page is just not the place to start educating prospects on what you call the category.

I think that many marketing people, like XYZ, give up before they have found a more powerful and succinct means of communicating their value proposition in terms that prospects understand. I hope that by posting more examples of how we can strengthen our messages, we can get more people to see what is possible and reconsider their own home pages and marketing materials.

Curing Sleep Apendea is no easy task — we’re dealing with addiction. I’m working on a new ebook to share more specific examples.

For more information on marketing cures, you can visit Kathryn at her website, http://www.precisionthinking.com

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Yesterday, the Star-Ledger and nj.com posted a terrific article about ebooks by guest columnist, Allan Hoffman. Here’s an excerpt from “Free-download publications are a great way to attract attention“:

But let’s face it: If you’re calling something an e-book (rather than a pamphlet, or just a PDF), you’re raising expectations about it. You will want to take a look at successful e-books to see how they’ve blended slick design and meaningful content in order to grab their readers’ attention.

Take the “Taxonomy Folksonomy Cookbook,” a 22-page e-book from Dow Jones Client Solutions (available at solutions.dowjones.com/cookbook/). With illustrations of brightly colored apples, cakes and grapes, the e-book takes on a technical topic — the “metadata” used to “tag” digital information — and approaches it with a fun, friendly attitude. If you’re interested in the material, you’ll read this e-book and think, “Wow, I can’t believe this is free!”

Thank you, Allan!

Learn how you can create equally successful ebooks in my ebook writing workshop.

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