Tips on How to Write a Better Case Study from Experts

Case studies are the perfect marketing tool. The best way to convey your marketing message is through the voice of a successful and happy customer. We have invited Case Study Experts to shed light on the following question: If you could give our readers one tip on how to write a better case study, what would that be? Read on to get their insights.

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Tips on how to use social media marketing for promoting white papers

Social Media Marketing is now getting a lot of interest not only from cutting edge startups but also from mainstream brands. How can White Paper writers and marketers leverage social media marketing? We have invited White Paper Experts to shed light on the following question: How to use social media marketing for promoting white papers? Read on to get their insights.


Michael Stelzner

Blog WritingWhitePapers Twitter Mike_Stelzner

“Social media is not about promotion, it’s about engagement”

Michael Stelzner’s Bio

Michael Stelzner is one of the leading authorities on the topic of writing and marketing white papers. Michael is also the author of the bestselling book, Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged.

Michael Stelzner’s Tip

Do NOT “promote” white papers with social media.  Rather monitor discussions on topic-relevant subjects and then interject by saying, “Have you seen this white paper on…”. Social media is not about promotion, it’s about engagement.

Michael Stelzner Recommends

Jonathan Kantor

Blog WhitePaperPundit Twitter Jonathan_Kantor

 “Modify information for the short attention span of your audience”

Jonathan Kantor’s Bio

Jonathan Kantor is the principal and founder of The Appum Group, “The White Paper Company“, and has been producing enterprise white papers for the past 11 years. He is also the author of the “White Paper Pundit” blog.

Jonathan Kantor’s Tip

If you are going to participate in social media, understand that your audience has a limited amount of time, and more importantly, a limited amount of attention with each message that you may post.

With this in mind, you need to keep your information messages short and sweet. If you are posting a white paper on Twitter, you must use the 140-character limit very efficiently. Try to describe the type of post, such as “White Paper:” or “Case Study:”, then use the remaining number of characters you have left for the white paper title and a brief description.

Most importantly, use the “Shorten URL” feature rather than your own URL link and directly link critical files such as white papers, case studies or articles so your viewer doesn’t have to navigate across several web pages before they find the download link.

With attention at a premium, if you have too many landing pages, users will give up. Once you’ve lost them, it will be more difficult to get them back in your camp when you need them.

Jonathan Kantor Recommends

  • WritingWhitePapers Blog
  • WhitePaperSource online forum
  • Scribd for reference and distribution of white papers
  • Google Alerts set to keywords such as “white paper” or “white papers” for news, articles, stories, or examples of white papers

Jim Lodico

Blog WhitePaperSolution Twitter Jlcommunication

 “Go where your target audience is and join the discussion”

Jim Lodico’s Bio

Jim Lodico is a white paper specialist who combines more then 20 years experience in writing and editing with a background in journalism and education.

Jim Lodico’s Tip

Go where your target audience is and join the discussion. If they’re active in a LinkedIn group, become an active member of the community. If there are bloggers in your industry, get to know them and offer the white paper as helpful information. Everyone wants to jump on the latest social media bandwagon but it’s not the medium that matters, it’s who’s using the medium. There is no value in 20,000 followers on Twitter if they have no interest in what you have to say. Find your group, become a member of the community and offer your white paper as a way to help the community. Remember, you’ll be much more successful if your white paper offers truly valuable information and not just glorified sales fluff.

Jim Lodico Recommends

Phil Dunn

Blog QualityWriter Twitter PhilDunn

 “Social media communication is about connecting with specifically targeted audiences”

Phil Dunn’s Bio

Phil Dunn helps companies sell more and communicate more effectively with clear, compelling marketing and advertising writing. He’s also co-author of The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing

Phil Dunn’s Tip

When you get right down to it, social media communication is just about connecting with real-life, flesh-and-blood people. Yes, there are pixels, keyboards and Internet connections between us. But relationships are relationships, after all. And social media is not about collecting oodles of followers that have no specific relevance.
So, let’s assume you’re already set-up on Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In and such with some connections and followers. One of the best things you can do is ask your people (those with experience or interest in the paper topic, of course) if they would comment on your paper and offer suggestions, improvements or criticisms.
Use their ideas to improve the paper, thank them profusely, send them the paper with their improvements highlighted, and let them know specifically how they can help spread the word about the paper (you might even reward them with a book on the topic, a Starbucks card or something you know they like).
Remember, social media channels feature explosive scaling factors that help you touch exponentially more people than you imagined. By enlisting the help of those in your circle who are passionate about the particular topic, you’ve effectively empowered and developed a “hub” person to push the campaign forward. If you cultivate these kinds of relationships, you’ll get a big hub factor ROI when a 100,000 follower person in their Twitter group notices your idea and pushed it forward… and so on.. and so on (obligatory 1980’s shampoo commercial reference… apologies).
Of course, those who have the expertise and enthusiasm to comment on your paper will also have the connections into populations you expect to target. Growth of the promotion is organic and robust from that point on.

Phil Dunn Recommends

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The 7S’ of Content Marketing

The challenges marketers face today are multifold.

  • How you do create content is such a way that it not only addresses an individual’s informational need but also reaches the masses?
  • How you present content so that your target audience does not loose interest?
  • What language, style and marketing vehicle will you adopt to reach your prospects and customers?
  • How will you connect employees, vendors, partners, and customers and help them make better, faster decisions?
  • How will you build competitive strength and boost customer satisfaction?
  • How can you leverage technology investments and improve training offering to grow your customer’s success?

These are just few of the questions faced by content marketers today. Using frameworks to tackle these questions is one way sure shot way of ensuring you are headed down the right path.

Let us take a look at the 7 S’ of Content Marketing. Strategy, Segment, Simple, Succinct, Scannable, Steak and Sizzle and Social Media

You can divide up these 7 S’ of Content Marketing into 3 categories.

2 Essentials of Content Marketing

  • Strategy – Do you have a Content Marketing Strategy?
  • Segment – How do you use Content to engage with different Market Segments?

4 Essentials of Content

  • Simple – Is your Content Simple?
  • Succinct – Is your Content Succinct?
  • Scannable – Is your Content Scannable?
  • Steak and Sizzle – Does your Content have both Steak and Sizzle?

1 Bonus must-have for Content Marketing

  • Social Media – Is Social Media part of your Content Marketing Plan?

Strategy

“Strategy 101 is about choices: You can’t be all things to all people.” – Michael Porter

Identify the goals for why you want to create and market content. For examples, your goals might be to grow your business by educating your prospects and training your customers. Once you have identified your goals, you can deliver a consistent message that your target audience will find relevant and valuable. If you don’t have a strategy then content creation will end up as haphazard tasks – a press release here to combat the news your competitor throw at you and a quickly concocted FAQ there to answer the questions your customers have been asking. Take a step back and look at your content marketing strategy. Investing this time upfront will help you pick the right tactics to grow your business.

Rohit Bhargava gives a useful checklist of questions you should ask yourself in his blog post How To Create A Content Marketing Strategy. Also read Valeria Maltoni’s Top Ten Reasons Why Your Content Marketing Strategy Fails.

Key questions to ask about your Content Marketing Strategy

  • What goals do you want to achieve by creating and marketing content?
  • How do you measure the progress you make on your content marketing goals?

Segment

“A market segment is a community with a shared worldview.” – Seth Godin

Marketing 101 teaches you to do segmentation, targeting and positioning. You need to know your different types target audience and how they consume content. Have a good understanding of your target market segments.This will in turn lead to providing relevant, compelling information to convert prospects to customers, driving greater engagement with your content and also encourage repeat sales through cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

Key questions to ask about your Market Segments

  • Who are the different types of target audience in your various market segments?
  • How do you use different types of content to engage with different market segments?

Simple

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein

Keep your content simple but do not over simplify in a way that it doesn’t meet the goal of creating it. Charles Mingus said, “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” Getting to simplicity is indeed a complicated road. Invest time upfront to simplify your content. Your target audience needs to understand and take action based on your content. To make it easy on them, you have to think and rethink about how best to present content. The more buzz words you use in your content, the greater the chance of confusing or losing your reader.

Read Guerrilla Guide: Keeping marketing simple for ideas on how to keep marketing simple. See this simple example of a 2 minute video – Simplicity of Twitter.

Key questions to ask to keep your Content Simple

  • Is your marketing message simple enough for your prospect to understand and convince his colleagues who will make the buying decision with him?
  • Is your content simple enough to stand out amongst all the other content that prospects have to wade through?

Succinct

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” – Mark Twain

Ensure that your content conveys what you want to say in a crystal clear fashion. Content should be crisp to retain reader’s interest. Good writing is defined by its clarity. When writing content, do multiple revisions until a crisp and polished final version emerges. Choose the right marketing vehicles to get the content to reach your target audience. For example, instead of writing a 100 page training document, record a training video. If you are recording a training video to educate your customer about a complicated product think about how you can divide it up into smaller chunks.

Key questions to ask to keep your Content Succinct

  • What is the marketing vehicle that will get your message across crisply to your prospects and customers?
  • How do you retain and foster the interest level of your target audience by keeping your content crisp?

Scannable

“Most people read online by scanning the page for individual words or phrases, headings and other visual cues.” – Darren Rowse

Your customers and prospects are bombarded with information in this digital age. Ensure that your content is scannable quickly so that your target audience will benefit from the huge investment you have already made to create and market your content. Use lists and bullet points to make it easy for your readers to digest your content. Leverage a variety of media options available to get your message across to your readers. Photos and video are a great way to enrich your customer’s and prospect’s experience. Offer checklists for your prospects instead of a sales brochure. For example, create a checklist of ’10 Things to Consider when purchasing your server’ for your prospects.

Read Darren Rowse’s Scannable Content, Daniel Scocco’s How to Write Scannable Content: A 6-Step Approach and Five ways to make a scannable Web page.

Key questions to ask to keep your Content Scannable

  • Is it possible for your customers and prospects to quickly look over your content?
  • Can your customers and prospects get the main points and identify what is the call-for-action in your content?

Steak & Sizzle

“Sell with Sizzle, Sustain with Steak.” – Erik J. Barzeski

One of the common expressions in marketing is “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” It implies that the goal of a marketing message is to excite the customer. Today customers and prospects are very information savvy. You can’t just “WoW” them with sizzle. In order to persuade them with your content, you need both steak and sizzle. Steak/Substance is the meat of the content and the message that you are trying to get across. Sizzle is the structure and style that constitute the packaging of your content. It doesn’t matter how good your content is. You need to dress it up so it sounds, feels and looks appealing to your target audience. Include visuals in your presentation so it is appealing to the eye. Your website should have an uncluttered look. Your marketing videos should be short and informative as opposed to long and sounding pitchy.

Key questions to ask about Steak and Sizzle for your Content

  • What is the steak i.e., message you want your customer and prospects to get from your content?
  • How do you sizzle up your content to attract and retain your target audience’s attention?

Social Media

“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.” – David Alston

This list of S’s of Content Marketing will not be complete without mentioning Social Media Marketing. Marketing is not just a ‘push mode’ one way street activity any more. Don’t brush aside Social Media as just another useless hype. There are lots of resources to give you a jumpstart. Find out which types of social media you need to use to reach your target audience. Leverage social media tools to listen, converse, collect information, build and grow your business.

Chris Brogan’s blog Community and Social Media Business Strategy and Guy Kawaski’s The Art of Creating a Community  are two great resources for insights on how to build communities. The Top 50 Social Media Blogs Of The Year and Alltop’s Social Media Category are also useful lists to explore ideas on social media.

Key questions to ask about Social Media for your Content Marketing

  • Where is your target audience going to for their informational needs to listen, converse and collect information?
  • Which social media tools should you leverage to reach your customers and prospects?

Over to you…

What questions do you ask when creating your Content Marketing Strategy?

 

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7 S’ of Content Marketing

7 S’ of Content Marketing: Strategy, Segment, Simple, Succinct, Scannable, Steak and Sizzle and Social Media.
2 Essentials of Content Marketing
* Strategy – Do you have a Content Marketing Strategy?
* Segment – How do use Content to engage with different Market Segments?
4 Essentials of Content
* Simple – Is your Content Simple?
* Succinct – Is your Content Succinct?
* Scannable – Is your Content Scannable?
* Steak and Sizzle – Does your Content have both Steak and Sizzle?
1 Bonus must-have for Content Marketing
* Social Media – Is Social Media part of your Content Marketing Plan?

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279 Days to Overnight Success eBook Review

Chris Guilllebeau’s story is truly inspiring. I remember first reading about him in a La Presse article from a few years’ back. At the time, they were covering Chris’ around-the-world on a budget adventure for the paper. I recall thinking how great it would be to live this sort of life and wondered how he managed to do that.

Well, my curiosity is now satisfied since Chris Guillebeau has bared it all in his great 279 Days to Overnight Success eBook! Indeed, this document is unusually practical, useful and inspiring to anyone wanting to start their own professional blog. The author managed to become successful in less than a year and shares his process with you. Here’s what I liked:

  1. There are tons of detailsIf you’ve never written a blog before, but desire to make a living out of one, this eBook will tell you how to get started – right from the beginning (observing, monitoring, planning) up to monetizing your project. It covers technical aspects, posting schedules, finding inspiration and a voice, successes and mistakes, examples from other bloggers, etc. The author even shares his 2009 annual revenue! In short, here’s what Guillebeau thinks you need to get your professional blog started:
    • Create a Compelling Story and Be Remarkable
    • Clearly Answer the “Reason Why”
    • Prioritize Writing and Marketing Over Everything Else
    • Be Bigger than I Really Am
    • Build Long-Lasting Relationships
    • Carefully Introduce Products and Services

     

  2. Chris talks about his own experience

Chris Guillebeau is using his personal story and experience to guide his readers on their journey. Though this is common practice on blogs, I’ve seen few eBooks written in this fashion. This style of writing is great to engage your readers and give them a sense of belonging. This is a fun, entertaining and enlightening document which I truly enjoyed reading.

  1. The design and layout is gorgeousI truly believe that form and function go hand in hand. You won’t notice much the layout of a well-designed document, but you will definitely notice one that isn’t. The latter are difficult to read, bland and look unprofessional. If you want to go viral and be taken seriously, your work should reflect this, both inside and out.
  2. Blog monetization is coveredEven though monetization is definitely a hot topic, few documents tackle it clearly and with pragmatism. Do you want to go beyond Adsense? Do you wonder what your other options might be? 279 Days might give you the answers you’re looking for. I especially like the portraits of bloggers he presents near the end of the eBook – each comes from a specific background and managed to become successful through social media efforts. Quite inspiring.

Kudos to Chris Guillebeau (which is not an unusual surname in my part of the world, Chris!) for putting together such a great eBook. Make sure you get your own copy here. You can also check out other articles he’s written right here.

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