If you’ve ever hired someone to write a case study, white paper, or special report (or even written one yourself), you know that research is significant to the process. And I think it’s fair to say that for most of us, research begins with Google.
Online research is the gold standard today and yields valuable results for sure. But I’ve found that interviewing a subject matter expert (SME) never lets me down when I’m in the hunt for premium content. Facts and details garnered from conversations with an expert can uncover some sparkling gems of information.
But that’s not the only reason why I suggest interviewing as an alternative to Google. Here are some more that make it worthwhile.
~ Reduces research time. Scouring the web for articles that may or may not provide useful information can eat up a good chunk of time. Sometimes it feels like you’re circling your topic, slowly closing in on it with narrower search queries until finally, you hit some results that fit. This hit-or-miss searching is a time-waster.
When you interview, by preparing questions in advance, you can approach the topic head-on and collect up-to-date, specific industry information from an expert. I can generally accomplish this in about 30 minutes to an hour.
~ Information gaps are quicker to fill in when you interview a subject matter expert. With online research, the information that’s returned sometimes isn’t quite right. The focus might be too narrow or addresses only one part of your topic. So you keep searching for the additional pieces. And when you find them, there’s the chance that the information is out of date, incomplete, or too general.
Or, maybe you have a good grasp of the topic you’re writing about but want to dig deeper. Input from an expert source could help you flesh out some juicy details.
~ Some of the best content lives in another person’s head. Because your expert is sharing her unique perspective and experience, insightful and profound details often bubble up to the surface during the interview. Your back-and-forth discussion can go down paths that you might not have considered and lead to quality material. Such tasty morsels can offer a writer more clarity, and clear writing is a goal of any edu-marketing piece
Research doesn’t have to begin and end with Google. Why not give interviewing a try? I think the stellar results you can achieve will surprise you.
You’re probably thinking I mean content marketing and yes, I do.
But I like the term edu-marketing better.
It underscores that marketing is more than just a sales pitch, it can, and should, educate too.
The thing about edu-marketing is that your ‘students’ aren’t there because they’re chasing passing grades.
No, their goal is information. Useful, valuable, educational information that will help them figure out how to solve their problem.
And what makes this useful, valuable, educational information even better is that it doesn't cost them anything.
Edu-marketing doesn’t explicitly promote your product or service.
The soft-sell approach is what makes case studies and white papers so effective.
Sounds a bit crazy, especially since traditional animal health marketing has always been about making the sale and product focused.
But edu-marketing isn’t about convincing customers to buy, it’s about helping them to understand.
It’s a knowledge-share by way of facts, details, statistics, and proof. The substance that helps people justify to themselves and others why a certain decision should (or shouldn’t) be made.
Case studies, white papers, blog articles, and special reports are just a few ways to accomplish this.
Well-written content that’s clear and germane to your targeted audience can pay future dividends. It positions you as a credible source, an important component in a business relationship, especially when you’re trying to build one.
If growing your business with edu-marketing interests you, or maybe it’s a concept that you’d like to hear more about, you can sign up for my monthly enewsletter right at the top of this page.
And, if you have a project in mind that you'd like to get rolling with, you can contact me here.
We all have those little business tasks that we put off doing.
For whatever reason, they don’t get done.
You don’t feel like doing them. You’re too busy now. They’re not a priority. They’re just plain boring.
And there’s always that chance that maybe someday, some extra time might pop up, even though we all know that there’s no such thing as ‘more’ time.
Enter the coronavirus.
(I think ‘someday’ just arrived for us, whether we like it or not.)
Now, all those activities that eat up our time like commuting to work, picking up the kids, enjoying a night out, are suddenly struck from our calendars.
The world’s been turned upside down, giving us a very unfamiliar view. In attempts to gain back normalcy and distract ourselves from reality, those little mundane tasks abruptly become must-do.
Banal and boring just a few weeks ago, their simplicity and everyday-ness now give us comfort, a little slice of security.
Did today’s headlines leave you unsure and worried? Well then, organize your desk!
You can’t control the path of this unruly pandemic, but the top of your desk (or boundaries of your hurriedly thrown together home office) are your domains. Control them as you wish.
Need suggestions for some other comfort ‘tasks’?
Take a look at your website. You know that footer at the bottom of all the pages? Is the copyright date 2020, or does it reflect back to the good ol’ days of 2017? Now’s a perfect time to fix that!
How about the “Contact Us” link. Has it inadvertently morphed into a “Don’t Contact Us” link because it doesn’t work anymore? Or worse, it’s working, but no one’s ever checked that mailbox.
While you’re at it, why not check the links on all the pages of your site. Do they still transport your users to a valid page, or do they arrive at a 404 error?
See, before you know it, you’ll be lost in the safe haven of minutiae, while accomplishing those little chores you’ve been procrastinating about for months!
Remember, even the darkest of clouds have shiny, silver linings ...stay focused on the shiny lining.
I was never very good at math.
Throughout my school years, courses that involved numbers and making sense of those numbers were never my strong suit.
Matter of fact, at one point I’d contemplated becoming a veterinarian, but worried I wouldn’t be able to hack those evil courses like chemistry or calculus, so I ended up as a business major. (And yes, as a business major I did encounter calculus, and as I had feared, it didn’t go well. I squeaked by.)
Now, on the other hand, I like writing.
With writing you have all these WORDS to describe and explain with. You can make a point or illustrate an idea in infinite ways. And the beauty of this is, if you write something one way and a person doesn’t understand it, you can re-word it in other ways until it finally makes sense.
In contrast, this chemical formula for caffeine will always be the same: C8H10N4O2
And therein lies my point. Standing by itself, that formula would be meaningless to you, unless you’ve a chemistry background. But preceded by the words ‘chemical formula for caffeine’ the average Joe (sorry, had to say it) recognizes what it is -- his reason for getting out of bed every morning.
Remember this the next time you’re compiling numbers to include in your content marketing piece, whether it’s a case study, blog article, or social media post.
From a content marketing perspective, pure, raw data that stands alone is valuable only to those who can decipher and make sense of it. Pure, raw data combined with a written analysis that further explains why this data matters, is far more valuable.
Why? Because it educates the portion of your audience who may not have the aptitude to draw understandable conclusions from the numbers presented. These readers will gain a deeper knowledge because you shared your expertise with them.
They’ll appreciate your going that extra mile. By translating the numbers into digestible information, your readers grow a little bit wiser.
And in the world of content marketing, wisdom is a treasure. Knowledgeable consumers are more likely to buy.
Why we need testimonials
I think we can all agree that testimonials could be considered a necessity of life ...
Testimonials attest to the value of a product or service. They’re credible because they’re actual feedback from customers who purchased and used your product or service and were pleased with the results.
In fact, 72% of consumers say positive testimonials and reviews increase their trust in a business (Big Commerce). For this reason, testimonials carry a lot of clout. They can help convert prospects into buyers.
Glowing testimonials frequently ease the reluctance and uncertainty potential customers may feel. And hey, as the business owner or service provider, they can relieve the doubt that you might be dealing with. The positive feedback tells you that you’re on the right track with your business. Everyone needs a pat on the back now and then!
What makes a good testimonial even better
A positive testimonial is always worth sharing with the masses. But are all testimonials created equal? What, exactly, separates a good testimonial from a great one?
One word - specifics.
A good testimonial says, “You did a great job, thank you!” In this case, whatever it was that you did, you satisfied the customer’s needs in some way.
But what does this tell the person who’s reading the testimonial? What does she learn about you or the work you do? Is knowing that you’re capable of doing a ‘great job’ enough to convince her to hire you?
What if a prospective customer has specific expectations that she wants met?
Well, to answer that question, let me introduce you to “Jill.”
Jill had hired a freelance copywriter a while back who failed to meet her project’s deadline. Jill wasn’t happy about that, and was wary about running into that problem again.
Not long after, there’s a project in the pipeline, so it’s time to find another freelancer. Jill enlists the aid of Google, determined to find a writer who won’t let her down.
She looks over the search results and picks a website of a copywriter that sounds promising. After a quick skim, Jill starts to think this one might work. She reads a little more and then -- whoa -- she sees this testimonial:
“The case study you submitted was outstanding! Thank you for meeting our tight deadline!”
Aha! Now, that comment struck a chord!
After being disappointed previously for this very matter, Jill’s now found a copywriter who’s capable of meeting a deadline!
OK, so there is no Jill, I made her up …
But, don’t you see the difference between the first “you did a great job” testimonial and the second, more specific one that wowed Jill?
A great testimonial gives specifics about what makes a service or product so extraordinary. And those details can sway even more prospects to take the plunge, especially those who are looking to solve, or avoid, (as in Jill’s case) a particular problem.
Specificity sells, in your testimonials, and in your copy. Take advantage of it!
Suzanne Quigley - Copywriter