Recently a friend of mine (you know who you are) told me that no one bothers with sales and marketing materials anymore.
That is absurd.
I’ll concede that there’s plenty out there that doesn’t do corporate literature any favors. And it might not be the kind of read known to hold your attention span hostage, like say, The Hunger Games, but this does not mean corporate literature is obsolete.
We all need information to help guide our purchasing decisions, and, when done well, corporate literature can be a powerful force in steering us toward one offering over another.
In my experience – both professionally and personally – collateral is most persuasive when it clearly and succinctly addresses a need I have. Once or twice I’ve even come across marketing materials that identified needs I didn’t realize I had.
Creating corporate literature is an investment, so to help boost your returns, here are six tips on producing content that sells:
1. Speak your prospects’ language
Using industry terms helps establish credibility. It shows that you get your audience. But as a teacher of mine used to say, “Don’t use a 50-cent word when a five-cent one will do.” Adding industry terms just for the sake of proving you know them will not make prospects like you more. It will likely do the opposite.
2. Avoid unnecessary marketing jargon
No one knows what “synergy” actually means or how on earth one goes about leveraging solutions. Be direct and be concise. As the writer the burden is on you to ensure that the reader understands what you are saying.
For more evidence check out I don’t know what anyone is saying anymore from the Harvard Business Review.
3. Be precise when describing your company’s value proposition
Don’t clutter your message with meaningless adverbs and adjectives.
According to this analysis of PRWeb’s archives, the most commonly used word in press releases and promotional material is “leader.” Turns out, dictionaries be damned, in this era of everyone-is-a-winner, everyone is a leader, too.
On a related note: If you’re providing a real-life example of how your product or service benefited a real-life client, be as specific as possible. Exactly how much time or money was saved? If you can’t provide numbers, percentages work well, too.
4. Put your most compelling points in the headings
Most people are scanners. Odds are you’re scanning this right now, so make your key points as obvious as possible. The goal is to format your corporate literature in such a way that your message is picked up after just a few glances.
Expert tip: If you can’t make a heading out of it, find some other way to call attention to it. Bold it. Insert a picture and add a caption. Use pull-quotes like they do in magazines.
5. Don’t give it all away at once
Don’t inundate the reader with a million reasons why you’re great. No one likes a braggart, plus it desensitizes prospects as to what’s most compelling about you. Focus on just a few salient points that really set you apart from your competitors.
Expert insight: I’ve often found that a significant portion of people downloading sales literature aren’t potential buyers – they’re competitors. As a result, keeping some of your selling points offline helps to keep your rivals from figuring out your entire strategy.
6. Don’t forget a call to action
Keep your readers engaged. Get them to sign up for your newsletter, subscribe to your blog, follow you on Twitter, etc. – and don’t forget to include contact information.
Expert tip: I’ve found that people are often more likely to send an email when the address is something specific (email@example.com) versus generic (firstname.lastname@example.org); the downside of course is web crawlers picking up your direct email address and using it to spam the heck out of you.
Harvey Hudes is the founder of Caliber Corporate Advisers, a New York-based integrated marketing firm that provides solutions to help clients reach their target audience, connect with key stakeholders, and ultimately grow their business. Core capabilities include content creation, public relations, media and event strategy development, and helping clients generate high-quality leads through its Caliber Corporate Data service offering.
Prior to Caliber, Harvey held various senior-level positions in the publishing industry including Managing Director and Publisher of leading financial B-2-B publisher Cross Border’s global publications: Corporate Secretary and IR magazine. Harvey also worked for PRWeek, where he was member of the original, Folio Award-winning launch team.