How should case studies be used in marketing activities versus sales activities?

Marketing teams and sales teams are different within a company. Marketing team within a company works to put together and publish case studies to highlight their solutions and products. Sales teams need to engage with prospects through various phases – pre-sales, nurturing them, educating them, contracts, actual sales and post-sales. Marketing customer engagement is clearly very early stage as compared to sales customer engagement.  We asked case study experts “How case studies should be used in marketing activities versus sales activities?”. We also asked them to share their insights on the following questions:

  • What is Marketing Team’s objective in creating a Case Study?
  • How does a Marketing Team use a Case Study?
  • How does a Sales Team use a Case Study?
  • How can a Marketing Team use a Case Study more effectively than they normally do?
  • How can a Marketing Team effectively use a Case Study through various phases of customer engagement?

Recommended Resources from Experts on Case Studies

Blogs

Books

Others

Cindy King

Blog CindyKing Twitter CindyKing

“It is important for sales and marketing teams to be aware of each others needs and market needs”

Cindy King’s Bio

Cindy King is a Cross-Cultural Marketer & International Sales Specialist based in France.  She uses her dual background in sales & marketing, in international business development, to help businesses improve their international sales conversion. She is also adept at content marketing, international web marketing and social media marketing.

Cindy King’s Tip

Collaboration between sales teams and marketing teams is essential.  You get better case studies when both teams are working towards the same goals.

Here’s why…

The marketing goals for a case study fall into three main categories: to bring credibility, to educate and to validate.  Salespeople need to address all three of these to make sales. Marketers need to keep a clear focus on this goal to create good case study.

And there is something else to remember…

Sales professionals have an accurate picture of what kind of case studies would help them do their jobs.  They can usually bring insights into current trends and even insider news that could be valuable in creating the case study.  Sales teams bring feedback to improve a case study’s relevance for a market’s specific needs. When you use this feedback within a solid marketing plan your case studies become much more effective.

It is important for sales and marketing teams to be aware of each other’s needs and to cultivate communication around market needs and the role case studies can play.  A fruitful dialogue can often highlight the need for more credibility, or education, or validation, in different areas of business. When sales teams know what to look out for this usually helps to find the right clients to approach for future case studies.  Teamwork between sales and marketing teams gives you a stronger case study marketing program.

Cindy King Recommends

Casey Hibbard

Blog Stories That Sell Twitter Casey_Hibbard

“Integrate the happy customer’s voice in nearly all communications throughout sales and marketing”

Casey Hibbard’s Bio

Casey Hibbard is the founder and principal of Compelling Cases, Inc. Over the past decade, she has created and managed nearly 500 customer stories for dozens of companies, including Level 3, USA.NET, Jobfox, Qwest, Great-West Healthcare, Vocus and Verio. She is the author of the first published book on the topic of customer case studies, Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales & Marketing Asset.

Casey Hibbard’s Tip

The lines of case study usage between marketing and sales teams are often a little blurred. The reason: Not every buyer follows the exact same path in the marketing and sales processes, so case studies show up at different points in the cycle.

For example, marketing teams create customer case studies usually in a couple of formats – the website format and a downloadable PDF, or maybe a customer video. On the company’s website, those serve as educational pieces for buyers to review on their own, perhaps before ever calling the company for more information. But also, sales reps refer to that same content when engaging with prospects in the sales process. They email them to prospects, hand them out, or link to them. It’s the same content but used in different stages.

However, at times there are differences in how marketing and sales use the customer’s story. Marketing might also use case study content in various forms in advertisements, newsletters, blogs, direct marketing, live events, for industry awards, contributed articles or pitching to the media. Sales then uses the content in PowerPoint presentations, sales letters, live in sales conversations, and proposals. They can even leverage them to upsell to current customers.

Both teams can use their case study “content,” not just the full written case study, more effectively by integrating the happy customer’s voice in nearly all communications throughout sales and marketing. Few organizations do this well, but it pays off for those that do.

Casey Hibbard Recommends

Jonathan Kranz

Blog Kranzcom Twitter jonkranz

“The case study is essentially a marketing, rather than sales, tactic”

Jonathan Kranz’s Bio

Today, Jonathan Kranz enjoys the confidence of numerous clients and agencies, but unlike most independent copywriters, his career didn’t begin with them. Instead, he had stints as a follow-spot operator in a regional theater, a park ranger on an allegedly haunted island in Boston Harbor, and as a summarizer of documents in large-scale litigations (think: Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener). After completing his MFA in Creative Writing in 1995 (and publishing a number of short stories in literary journals such as the Missouri Review and the Green Mountains Review), he leap-frogged agency life and jumped into freelancing with both feet. Since then, he has written a huge stack of content, advertising, direct marketing, and public relations materials for consumer and B2B clients in financial services, banking, insurance, high-tech, healthcare, education, and other industries.

Jonathan Kranz’s Tip

Frankly, the case study is essentially a marketing, rather than sales, tactic. (No one will sign on the dotted line based on the strength of a case study alone.) As a marketing effort, case studies can help you:

  • Demonstrate how your product/service works in action
  • Clarify the role and purpose of your product/service
  • Reinforce credibility by articulating a real-life (rather than theoretical) application
  • Build trust by centering your product/service story on someone prospects can empathize with — customers like themselves

And the beautiful thing is, the case study is “green” content (yeah, what the heck, I’ll jump on the emerald bandwagon, too): it’s a make-once, recycle-many-times tactic that can (and should be) used for:

  • Website content
  • Something to talk about on your blog and on Twitter
  • Something to distribute as social media fodder
  • Part of a direct mail package (sure beats the slim-jim brochure)
  • Part of a press kit — terrific material for reporters and editors
  • Sales call leave-behinds
  • Trade show handouts
  • Follow-ups to inbound inquiries

If you’d like to learn more about how to write case studies, I invite you to download my free ebook: Making Your Case: Everything You and Your Colleagues Need to Write Compelling, Lead-Generating Case Studies.

Jonathan Kranz Recommends

Michele Linn

Blog Savvy B2B Marketing Twitter MicheleLinn

 “Marketing teams should use case studies to generate interest and sales team should use them in a more customized way”

Michele Linn’s Bio

Michele Linn is a freelance marketing writer specializing creating buyer-focused B2B marketing content, such as white papers, research reports, feature articles and case studies.  Her business is devoted to making the job of B2B marketers easier by producing effective content and providing insights on how they can market it. Her website is Linn Communications.

Michele Linn’s Tip

Case studies are content-rich goldmines for both marketing and sales. Both groups are thrilled to have new story because they feature the voice of the customer and automatically lend credibility to their solution. However, both of these groups use the case studies differently.

Marketing uses case studies to generate interest and move prospects through the sales cycle.  In general, they are looking for stories that have wide appeal. In some cases, the case studies are simply posted to the website, but there are so many more ways that they can be used. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Pull quotes can be used on the website and in presentations.
  • The content from the case study can be used in white papers and eBooks to show how a user has been successful.
  • Excerpts of the customer success can be used in newsletters (both internal and external).
  • Content can be used for press releases and articles (getting the customer’s permission, of course).
  • Case studies can be used as next steps for any type of marketing content.

On the other hand, sales relies on case studies to help them close sales, and they often use them in a more customized way, looking for customer references that really address the specific pains and questions faced by each customer. For instance, earlier in the sale cycle, quotes and facts from case studies can be referenced in sales presentations, matching clients who are in a similar industry and role. As another example, when clients are ready to purchase, sales can use specific customer quotes and results in proposals.

Michele Linn Recommends

Sarah Mitchell

Blog Global Copywriting Twitter globalcopywrite

“Marketing department should consider the case study as more than a lead generation tool”

Sarah Mitchell’s Bio

Sarah Mitchell is a freelance copywriter with a focus on B2B content, specifically case studies and white papers. Combining successful technical, sales and writing careers, Sarah provides a rare perspective to every project. She’s especially interested in working with small and medium-sized businesses. Sarah has lived and worked on five continents. Find her website at Global Copywriting.

Sarah Mitchell’s Tip

When I worked at a multi-national software company, it wasn’t unusual to have the marketing and sales teams at odds with each other. The marketing people were full of great ideas and possessed a lot of energy. They developed products that didn’t always reflect the real needs of the quota-weary sales staff. Being on the sales end of the equation, I was party to plenty of disagreements about marketing collateral. We all agreed on one thing, however. You couldn’t do better than a case study.

Marketing teams view case studies as promotional material. With a focus on successful conclusions and attractive graphics, they know a stack of printed case studies is going to be easy to push at trade shows, conferences and to the media. The marketing department is usually the originator of the case study and, largely, controls the development and deployment of these documents.

While case studies are often part of a marketing strategy, they are invaluable in a sales cycle. As Word of Mouth (WoM) becomes a heavy influencer in how consumers are making acquisition decisions, the role of the case study is intensified. By documenting the benefits of a particular product or service and establishing a reference customer in the process, the decision to purchase becomes easier. Replies to tenders, bids or RFPs are always enhanced when a sales person can demonstrate the successful implementation of their solution with documented evidence.

For this reason, it’s imperative the marketing department consider the case study as more than a lead generation tool. It must also be viewed as a means to help close a deal. In this light, the case study has to provide more than a good story with a happy ending in an attractive package. It must present hard data demonstrating specific benefits to the client. Statistical data outlining cost of ownership, payback periods, and the investment required for implementation and training all help build a successful business case.

The good news is a well-planned and executed case study can satisfy both the marketing and sales teams. A knowledgeable marketing team can repurpose a single success story into many different formats including print advertisements, online campaigns, newsletters, and direct mailings. Rich in facts, the same document will assist the sales department in their task to generate revenue for the organization. Ultimately, the goal for both marketing and sales is to close business.

Sarah Mitchell Recommends

Stephanie Tilton

Blog Savvy B2B Marketing Twitter StephanieTilton

“To squeeze the most value from case studies, don’t relegate them to the case study library”

Stephanie Tilton’s Bio

Stephanie Tilton is an expert case study and white paper writer who helps B2B companies advance the sales cycle by engaging prospects and customers. Harnessing her unique blend of technical knowledge, marketing savvy, and writing skills, Stephanie has crafted nearly 100 case studies and white papers for leading brands such as Akamai Technologies, EMC, Macromedia, Novell, SAP, and Symantec. Her website is Ten Ton Marketing.

Stephanie Tilton’s Tip

Increasingly, B2B companies are viewing their engagement with prospects from the buyer’s point of view – and delivering content that’s relevant at each stage in the buying cycle. This strategy is key because today’s prospects often don’t interact with a sales rep until the decision stage. As a result, the onus is on marketing to develop enough valuable and engaging content to keep prospects moving along the path until they’re ready to talk to sales.

At the beginning of the sales cycle, marketers can present case studies to overcome objections.  After identifying common reasons that prospects are hesitant to consider the company’s solution, pinpoint existing customers who had the same concerns initially. Develop a case study that highlights one or more customer’s concern with this issue and why the company’s offering ultimately won them over. This story can be offered as a downloadable PDF, a video on the website, and as a featured story in a newsletter.

In the consideration and decision stages, offer case studies that follow the standard “problem-solution-results” formula. This type of case study helps business buyers envision how the company’s service or product can help them change their current situation for the better.

But don’t overlook the needs of technical evaluators. According to a poll of CIOs conducted by Scott Vaughan of TechWeb, people in this role are interested in the evaluation and implementation process, the technology architectural approach, and lessons learned. Be sure to craft case studies aimed at the technical audience so they can understand what it takes to successfully implement the solution.

To squeeze the most value from case studies, don’t relegate them to the case study library. Excerpt customer quotes and summaries to include in white papers, webinars, presentations, prospecting emails and voice messages, and on relevant web pages. Rotate featured quotes on the home page. Share a compelling story in the company blog. Highlight a customer success in a lead-nurturing newsletter. Promote a case study in a keyword-rich press release that will show up in the search results.

Assemble all case studies in a playbook, on the intranet, and in any other relevant systems, categorized by industry, prospect role, challenges, and stage in the buying process. Then make these available to sales reps so they know which case study to offer in any given situation.

Stephanie Tilton Recommends

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How to write a tutorial that helps others and helps you

Did you know that you’re an expert at something?

You know something about a topic or a process that many people don’t, and you’re qualified to teach that knowledge to the rest of us. Designing a user-friendly tutorial or instructional resource about a process or method related to your field is a great way to help others, build community and market content.

Instructional information is valuable for many reasons:

It demonstrates expertise and an altruistic willingness to share knowledge

  • It’s often “evergreen” content that remains relevant and useful over time
  • Because it’s problem-solving information, it builds trust and encourages people to return for more
  • If you pick a topic that contains popular search terms, you could hit an SEO goldmine

How to determine your expertise

Social Marketing Manager Nate Kartchner blogs about how he turned to WPDesigner.com for free instructional help in coding his own site. “WPDesigner has an impressively extensive knowledge of WordPress themes. He took that knowledge, broke it down into chunks that are easily digestible for noobs, and shared it, free of charge.” It follows that many people can offer the same kind of value if they think about what their areas of expertise or authority. Kartchner spells out how to determine those areas in five easy steps.

Tips on how to construct an effective tutorial

1. This tip comes from Little Box of Ideas, a blog about design. “Before writing a tutorial, pick a topic you know about like the back of your hand, then research, ” writes Sneh Roy. “I would suggest running a search via Google using a combination of keywords to see whether that topic has been covered before.” The idea here is to try to identify what information is lacking, and find an angle or search terms that fill the gaps.

2. Brainstorm how best to position and title the tutorial so that it addresses people’s core wants in that subject area. Skelliewag talks about this in her own tutorial How to write a Viral-ready article in two hours flat. “Explicitly addressing an entire core want in your article is a very powerful viral strategy. Here’s an example: I read an article about ‘How to Tackle in Soccer’ because I want to learn how to be a great soccer defender. Don’t you think I would be even more excited to read ‘How to be a Great Soccer Defender’?”

3. A straightforward lead-in to the tutorial is crucial, writes David Barnes in How to Give Your Tutorial a Killer Introduction. It should be jargon-free, and tell readers what they’re going to learn, how it will help them and what the steps will be to get there.

4. To figure out how to break down the process you want to describe, look to other basic tutorials as models. There are popular sites like eHow and wikiHow that offer step-by-step instructions in many subject areas.

5. Use visuals, particularly for explaining technical, graphic or hands-on processes. Once you’ve broken the process or topic down into steps, figure out a way to illustrate each one. Depending on the subject, you may want to use screenshots or photographs. This post, How to Make Your Post Attractive Using Images, shows how to find stock photography online and how to capture screenshots and insert them in tutorials. Here’s an example of a tutorial that makes great use of images to explain how to use Photoshop to give a retro look to photographs.

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Happy Sixth Month Blog Anniversary!

Six months ago we embarked on the ClickDocument: Connect the Docs blogging journey. It has been a thoroughly exciting adventure!

Thank you Readers and Panel of Experts

Readers – A big thank you for reading, subscribing and for your enthusiastic involvement! Thank you for your support and encouragement.

Also, a special thank you to our panel of experts for their invaluable contribution to ClickDocument: Connect the Docs project.

White Papers Experts

Follow ClickInsights White Paper Experts on twitter with one-click.

Case Study Experts

Follow ClickInsights Case Study Experts on twitter with one-click.

B2B Marketing Experts

Follow ClickInsights B2B Marketing Experts on twitter with one-click.

Top 3 Posts

These are the three posts that readers have enjoyed over the last 6 months – if you haven’t read them yet, please do take a look and let us know what you think.

TOP POST 1: ClickInsights: Tips on how B2B marketers should leverage social media

Social Media Marketing is now getting a lot of interest not only from cutting edge startups but also from mainstream B2B companies. In this post B2B Experts shed light on the following question: What is your one tip on how B2B marketers should leverage social media?

TOP POST 2: ClickInsights: What is the biggest mistake to avoid in B2B Content Marketing?

B2B marketers are producing, managing, and distributing marketing content to reach prospects and turn them into customers. With all this energy fueled into content marketing, what are the pitfalls to avoid? We invited B2B Experts to share their insights on the following question: What is one big mistake to avoid in B2B Content Marketing?

TOP POST 3: Content Marketing – The Ultimate Cheat Sheet

If you are creating or marketing a white paper, eBook or any other type of content, you might have heard about Content Marketing. You may wonder what it is and how it can improve your marketing techniques. We put together a great Content Marketing Cheat Sheet that will tell you all about Content Marketing, from getting started to applying new promotional techniques to your marketing campaigns!

The Journey So Far

ClickInsights In ClickInsights Expert Interview Series we have feature top notch industry experts and thought leaders and got their insights, opinions and predictions on the content marketing field. We also asked for their suggestions on recommended reading resources to keep abreast with latest trends within the industry. Currently, we have 3 different series: ClickInsights White Paper Experts Interviews, ClickInsights Case Study Experts Interviews and ClickInsights B2B Marketing Experts Interviews

ClickLaunch ClickLaunch is ClickDocuments’ platform for launching new and exciting eBooks, books and white papers. We feature the best industry experts and thought leaders in order to get an exclusive insider view into their latest creation and awesome work.

ClickIdeas ClickIdeas is a hub for bringing together expert picked blog posts and articles from around the web on these topics:
•    Content Marketing
•    Social Media Marketing
•    B2B Marketing
•    Viral Marketing
•    Ebooks
•    White Papers
•    Case Studies

Expert contributors to ClickIdeas include Michael Stelzner, Joe Pulizzi, Chris Garrett, Jonathan Kantor, Patsi Krakoff, Casey Hibbard, Stephanie Tilton, Doug Kessler, Michele Linn, Cindy King, Jonathan Kranz and Sarah Mitchell.

 

The Journey Ahead

The latest addition to ClickDocument: Connect the Docs  is called ClickDigest. It’s a big world out there in the content-marketing/social media/B2B blogosphere, so we will save you time by rounding up the best posts and articles of the week. It’s our pleasure to do the leg work for you!

Free GiveAways

To celebrate our six month blog anniversary, we have FREE giveaways worth more than $1000

To enter this giveaway, simply do the following:

We will randomly pick 7 lucky winners tweeters each day.

  • 1 Tweeter will win one of the Marketing books listed above(ONLY one book each day for 5 days)
  • 1 Tweeter will win The Fulcrum Effect DVD
  • 5 Tweeters will win Upbeat

Winners of each day will be announced the subsequent day. Stay tuned!

Thanks to all the folks who enthusiastically conversed, thereby enhancing the value of content on our blog – Joe Pulizzi, Cindy King, Glen Townsend, Mark Pilipczuk, Jim Lodico, Michael Stelzner, Kim Albee, Ardath Albee, Karen Swim, Roberta Sachs, Erica Stritch, Denise Wakeman, DeneneWrites,  Patsi Krakoff, Brindey Weberm, Nick Peters, Jonathan Kranz, Peter Springett, Dianna Huff, Melissa Paulik and Sarah Mitchell.

Again, thank you all dear readers, you make for such a great audience!

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How to choose a white paper syndication partner?

How do you market your white papers? Can syndication partners take your white paper to your prospects?

Stephanie Tilton has published a timely 14-page report on White Paper Syndication Options for Technology Marketers.

White Paper Syndication Options for Technology Marketers report has great information on the following:

  • List of Syndication Partners
  • Costs to syndicate your white papers
  • What returns you can expect for dollars spent on syndication

List of Syndication Partners in Stephanie Tilton‘s report:

  •  eMedia
  •  Find White Papers
  •  IT Business Edge
  •  NetLine
  •  Technology Evaluation Centers
  •  TechTarget
  •  TechWeb
  •  Toolbox for IT
  •  Web Buyer’s Guide/Ziff Davis Enterprise
  •  Connect Direct

We have invited White Paper Experts to shed light on the following question: “What are your tips on how to choose a white paper syndication partner?”. Read on to get their insights.

Recommended Resources from Experts on white papers

Blogs

Books

Others

Stephanie Tilton

Blog Savvy B2B Marketing Twitter StephanieTilton

“White paper syndication is one way to quickly expand your reach and generate leads”

Stephanie Tilton’s Bio

Stephanie Tilton is an expert case study and white paper writer who helps B2B companies advance the sales cycle by engaging prospects and customers. Harnessing her unique blend of technical knowledge, marketing savvy, and writing skills, Stephanie has crafted nearly 100 case studies and white papers for leading brands such as Akamai Technologies, EMC, Macromedia, Novell, SAP, and Symantec. Her website is Ten Ton Marketing.

Stephanie Tilton’s Tip

Once you’ve spent the time and money to produce a white paper, you want to get it in front of as many prospects and customers as possible. White paper syndication is one way to quickly expand your reach and generate leads. In fact, according to MarketingSherpa, 78% of companies rate white paper syndication as the most effective media purchase, even outperforming online ads, paid search, emails and offers in third-party newsletters.
But when it comes to syndicating your white papers, it’s not so simple to sort out the options. You can syndicate via:

  • Newsletters (or bulletins) through companies such as eMedia
  • Single sites through companies including IT Business Edge, Toolbox for IT, and Web Buyer’s Guide (part of Ziff Davis Enterprise)
  • A network of sites through companies including Find White Papers, NetLine, Technology Evaluation Centers, TechTarget, and TechWeb

To choose the right partner (or partners), ask the following:

  • Do you reach my target audience?
  • How many white papers per month does your target audience download?
  • What is the cost-per-lead and is there a lead guarantee?
  • How will you promote my white paper, to how many subscribers, and over what period of time?
  • Do you help me optimize the paper’s title, content, and description to maximize downloads?
  • What type of information do you collect on the registration form, and can I customize it to collect information that fits my lead definition?
  • How frequently – and in what format – do you deliver leads?
  • Why should I choose to work with your company versus another syndication partner?

If you feel overwhelmed by all the options, you could work with an agency such as Connect Direct who can help you choose the right programs. Once you tell CDI how many leads you want and what criteria you want those leads to meet, it will negotiate a package of content postings and other promotions for you via its network of media partners.

Read 14-page report on White Paper Syndication Options for Technology Marketers.

Stephanie Tilton Recommends

Michael Stelzner

Blog WritingWhitePapers Twitter Mike_Stelzner

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

Howard Sewell has a great article on this question. Read more at Ten Tough Questions to Ask Your White Paper Syndication Vendor

10 critical questions you should ask every white paper syndication vendor before you post on their site or network

  • What’s the demographic profile of the person downloading white papers from your site/network?
  • Is the contract price based on cost per lead, or fixed price per month/quarter? What assurances do I have on lead volume? What happens if we don’t meet that minimum?
  • If there are lead promises, what constitutes a “lead?” For example, will I have to pay for consultants or students who download my paper?
  • What percentage of total downloads or traffic is international? Will I have to pay for international leads if I don’t want them?
  • Can you provide references?
  • What’s the typical lead volume for a white paper in my category?
  • How do you drive traffic to your site/network? Is my content syndicated to other sites — if so, how and where?
  • Do subscribers or registered users get alerted to new content? If so, how? How many registered users are there? What’s the typical response to this alert?
  • What’s the user experience on the site? How can I feel confident that someone searching for information on my product category (or the business problem that my technology solves) will find my white paper?
  • If I renew my contract, how will the pricing be different from this initial term?

Michael Stelzner Recommends

Jonathan Kantor

Blog WhitePaperPundit Twitter Jonathan_Kantor

 “Consider free white paper distribution sites”

Jonathan Kantor’s Bio

Jonathan Kantor is the principal and founder of The Appum Group, “The White Paper Company“, and has been producing commercial white papers for the past 11 years. He is also the author of the White Paper Pundit blog. Jonathan’s experience with white papers is also coupled with over 25 years of enterprise business experience with leading industry innovators such as Apple Computer, Microsoft, Digital Equipment Corporation, and J.D. Edwards Enterprise Software (now a division of Oracle Corporation). This experience included a variety of sales, marketing, business development, and management positions.

Jonathan Kantor’s Tip

In this economy, it pays to consider the free white paper distribution sites instead of fee-based syndicators.

If you’re an enterprise white paper marketer, you can consider the usual outlets for white paper syndication such as Bitpipe, TechTarget, ITPapers, KnowledgeStorm, etc. In most cases, these syndicators will charge you a fee based either on number of downloads, clicks, or subject relevance. These fees are quite steep and show mixed results for the marketers that use them.

Rather than paying an arm and a leg with an uncertain return on your investment, consider the free white paper distribution sites such as:

In most situations, these free sites allow users to preview your white paper, read it online, download it, or generate hyperlink URLs allowing you can reference them via Social Media sites such as Twitter.

So why not try these free sites first before jumping into the uncertain and expensive waters of fee-based syndication?

Jonathan Kantor Recommends

  • Free document distribution sites: Scribd.com, DocStoc.com, Slideshare.net, Gazhoo.com, Yudu.com, and WhitePapers.org.
  • Blog sharing sites such as BizSugar.com, Sphinn.com, and Reddit.com.
  • WhitePaperPundit: The Friday FREE White Paper List, a listing of free white papers from weekly Twitter Tweets that don’t require registration, posted each Friday.
  • Twitter search criteria set to keywords: “White Paper”, and “White Papers”.
  • Google Alerts set to “White Paper”, and “White Papers”.
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The Power of Commenting: How a Skeptic Became a Believer

When it comes to content marketing, the power of one simple habit is often forgotten. If you’re consistent and genuine, commenting on other blogs and websites is an efficient way to highlight your own content and, more importantly, build relationships and reputation.

In a funny guest post on Problogger.net, Josh Hanagarne aka World’s Strongest Librarian, talks about how he has gone from being a commenting skeptic to a believer.

“I’d never tried commenting as a traffic-building strategy, mainly because I’m not smart or patient enough to strategize,” writes Hanagarne. “For the record, I read a ton of blogs. It’s just rare that I comment.”

Then, after being asked about his position on blog commenting in an interview, he froze and realized he should look into whether commenting is actually worthwhile.

How? He spent one week trying to leave as many comments as possible.

Now, he did have a head start, because he targeted his comments at bloggers who had commented on another guest post he had written on the ultra-popular Problogger.net. He went through the comments on his post, sifting out genuine comments from spam, and visited the commenters’ blogs to see if he could add anything of value to the discussion. He ended up leaving about 30 comments over the course of the week.

The results? “After I left the comments, the numbers went up again,” writes Hanagarne, “far beyond the typical spikes following a Problogger guest post.”

Higher numbers translated into a 100-per-cent increase of RSS subscribers (160 to 320) and 40 new newsletter subscribers.Not bad for a week’s work! But, as Hanagarne, goes onto say, even more important than the numbers are the relationships that commenting can facilitate. In that spirit, here are some other posts that offer inspiration on commenting:

In a post titled 5 Tips for Getting More from Your Blog, Duct Tape Marketing talks about simple ways to engage your comment community.

This post on DoshDosh, titled Rethinking Blog Comments: Much more than just a quick way to get web traffic, captures the idea that comments are an extension of your personal brand. “A comment left on a popular blog may be viewed by a few hundred people in one day. Multiply that by the lifespan of the blog and you’ll see that a simple comment may say a lot about you. Every blog comment is usually permanent. It’s not just a hyperlink but a long-term representation of your brand.” For the record, this DoshDosh post got 186 comments.

From Chris Garrett’s 10 Reasons Commenting is Good for Bloggers, reason #7 reads: “You never know who is reading – It amazes me who reads my comments on obscure blogs that I thought only myself and a handful of others read. My comments on one blog lead to a consulting gig. You never know unless you try.”

Caroline Middlebrook has commenting down to a science. Her post Do You Have a Blog Commenting Strategy? has great tips on things like setting up a hit list of blogs to comment on. Interestingly, she notes that since she’s in the UK, it’s difficult for her to be a top commenter on U.S.-based blogs, because of the time-zone difference. She works around this issue by commenting more on Australian blogs.

Do you have a commenting strategy and how is it working for you?

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