B-to-B Insights: Powerful Prose
Engage their emotions. Anger, greed, fear, hope, dreams, safety, security, wisdom, exclusivity—emotion and the drama around it are what make good movies, and great copy, too. Don’t be afraid to hit your reader hard—in the heart, because you can be sure he’s heard all the other marketing hype in your category for years. Here’s one of my favorites from e-marketing visionary Seth Godin, written in a webinar invite letter: “I hate wasting time, and therefore, I hate conferences and trade shows. So that’s why I’m writing you today.” One of the best-performing teasers my firm created was directed at high-risk investors in the late 1990s for a venture capital fund. It read, “90% of your portfolio should be horrified at how the other 10% is invested.”
Create curiosity. What’s the prize inside? Business people—human beings—are kids at heart. We love to be surprised and delighted. And our curiosity about what’s inside is a powerful motivator that drives behavior. So when you’re looking at your teaser lines, or e-mail subject lines, ask yourself, what have you done to create curiosity to read more? Sometimes, when your brand is well-known, less is more. A blind, white outer envelope with just your brand name can contribute to creating a control winner. On the other hand, if you’re going to use a teaser message, then make it so compelling that a reader has to find out more.
Some creative online subject lines: “15 minutes could save you 20%,” “Three ways to beat your competition to market,” or “Double your return in five minutes.”
Check out this offline teaser line: “It’s won more awards than anything in its class, and we’ve reserved one in your name—free.”
Sell the benefits of response. As I’ve written in prior articles, direct marketing is an offer delivery vehicle. And in B-to-B marketing, you need to generate an inquiry to start your dialogue. So, before you start selling your product benefits, start selling the benefits of responding. Tell your readers what they’re going to gain, discover, learn, uncover, understand, find out, take away when they request your offer. Be specific in your benefits. For example: “Call now and receive our free, helpful guide, ‘The True Costs and Benefits of Small Business Health Plans,’ to find out how to increase worker productivity, lower employee turnover and be more successful at recruiting new employees.”