Editor’s note: This post was written by Bob Scheier and published with permission.
Bob is a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor. Visit Bob’s site to learn more about his writing and services.
“What do I write next?”
At each stage of a drip marketing campaign, you need something different, interesting, and compelling to keep the reader engaged as they move from awareness to consideration to comparison to purchase.
Showing readers why they should care about an ongoing story is a challenge newspaper, broadcast and trade press editors have wrestled with years. They meet it by putting themselves in the reader’s shoes and asking “What do I want to know next?”
1) Is “X” True?
First, the reader wants to know whether the story rings true, and more importantly whether it rings true for them.
A great follow-up piece (and a great chance to build a rep as a trusted partner) is to do a more detailed explanation of whether, when and why, a given “insight” is truefor a specific reader. Some possible follow-ups for these three stories might be:
- Endpoint antivirus isn’t really useless, but is becoming a commodity with limited room for innovation.
- Google+ isn’t dead, but so far businesses to consumer marketers are having more luck with it than business-to-business types.
- Cloud security can be good enough, especially if your internal security isn’t that great and you don’t have extreme regulatory requirements.
2) How does “X” affect me?
Once they know whether and when “X” is true, the reader wants to know whether “X” is good, bad, or indifferent for them. The two hooks are, of course, greed (reading this I might get me a raise) and fear (if I don’t read this I might get fired.)
Possible follows on our three stories:
- I can save some money and be a hero by being the first to suggest we let our antivirus subscription expire. Or I look like a chump if we drop antivirus and the next week we’re hit by a vicious attack. Which risk is greater for my specific situation?
- Jill in marketing has been wondering about our Google+ strategy and something in this content suggests a new tack we could take. Maybe I should suggest lunch to explain it. Or dinner. (I forgot lust along with fear and greed as news hooks.)
- This story tells me he committee the CFO put together to check out possible cloud providers for us really doesn’t know what it’s doing, and I’ll be blamed for a data breach even if the new service provider is to blame.
3) What should I be doing about “X”?
Once the reader knows the answer to the “good/bad/neutral” issue, the next question is “What do I do about it?” Be careful with advice because 1) you could be wrong, and b) you’ll lose credibility if the answer to every question is “Call us.”
The way to thread this needle is, as for question 1, to make your answer specific to different types of prospects, and 2) keep it honest. (After all it does you no good to encourage a lot of unqualified prospects to call you.
Possible content angles for our three stories:
- Since desktop antivirus is becoming a commodity, buy a low-end, but mainstream package and put your main effort into dealing with breaches after the fact.
- As a B2B marketer, keep an eye on Google+ but don’t spend huge time on it right now.
- That clueless cloud committee is getting close to choosing a service provider. Better cover my rear end by sending the CFO some “tough security questions to ask” in case things blow up after we sign a contract.
4) What is everyone else doing about “X”?
This is where surveys, case studies or even “war stories” from your sales force or service staff come into play. Everyone wants to know what their peers are doing and if they’re ahead of, behind or with the crowd.
Sample follow-up content for these three stories might include:
- Despite trash talk about AV from security vendors, our survey shows most companies are indeed being cautious and maintaining some desktop antivirus capabilities, while beefing up their security response efforts.
- Over lunch a B2B marketer told me a horror story about wasting time on Google+. Or, she told me about a little-known Google+ feature that’s a killer for business users.
- We summarize a Wall Street Journal story about a Mom and Pop firm that thought cloud security was sure to be better than their own but found that wasn’t true and suffered a breach. We describe the questions they should have asked the provider but didn’t.
There are more angles where these came from. But whatever route you take, keep yourself in the mind of the reader and be informative, not salesly.
Bob Scheier is a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor. Visit Bob’s site to learn more about his writing and services.