Three Inspiring Ways To Engage Your Audience

Are you a new start-up looking for different ways to get your name out there? Or have you been around for awhile but need to inject some new pizazz into your business?  Or maybe you work for a company, are in charge of your department, and you need to change things up. Generate strong new leads. Whatever your situation, here are 3 ways to engage your prospects and have an inspirational season. After all, Spring 2016 only comes around once in a lifetime.  You only get one chance with each prospect that comes your way!

All of the following types of marketing materials will not necessarily be beneficial for you, though. I suggest you evaluate each one. HubSpot’s article suggests reexamining your business’ goals and asking questions like: 

Are you trying to…

  • increase the number of leads?
  • Better qualified leads?
  • Close more deals?
  • retain more customers?

Here’s how.

1. Start an E-mail Newsletter

I was spending a leisurely evening doing what I love to do – reading the latest blog post on HubSpot. The ingenious folks over there sure know how to get my attention. Ginny Soskey presents a thorough compendium of what you need to consider before deciding if this type of project is what you want to spend your resources on.

If you were around in the 80s, you must remember Tracy Chapman. One of her lyrics that comes to mind goes something like “When I’m bad I’m so, so bad – but when I’m good, I’m so, so good”. The same goes with E-mail newsletters.

E-mail newsletters are too often as dull as a doorknob. You want to avoid that. No, you NEED to avoid that. The last thing you need is to feel responsible for low open and/or clickthrough rates and any measurable rate of unsubscribes. Right?

Awesome anything is never easy. E-mail newsletters are no exception. They are “hard because (they) include a mix of different types of content about different parts of your business, including event reminders, surveys, educational information about your product, service, or industry, and promotions”. Possibly the most challenging element in the whole process of creating an E-mail newsletter is persuading readers to complete a call-to-action.

Can they ever truly be awesome? You bet they can! And should you decide, to start an eNewsletter, you’ll be among the 83% of companies who use this content marketing tactic, according to Content Marketing Institute.

I suggest first finding out if your organization has a budget to hire a copywriter for the job. That would be ideal. On the other hand, if you’re up to leading this project yourself, read on.

Here’s the deal: draft a plan of attack and follow it step by step. My rational is that if you are going to put in the time and effort it takes to plan and write one of these puppies, you’ve got to aim for awesome. If you aim for awesome, you’re wise to follow a solid step by step plan from a trusted source like HubSpot.

What I love most about their approach is the advice to focus one whole newsletter on one topic. “A way to help reduce the randomness of an email newsletter is by keeping it to one very specific topic. So instead of it being about your company in general, maybe it’s dedicated to one vertical.”  The article goes on to show how, if they focus on one vertical  such as social media for business, “the email newsletter would be much more focused and engaging”.

You can drink up these and more juicy HubSpot tips for your E-mail newsletter creation:

  • Balance the content of your newsletter to be 90% educational and 10% promotional
  • Set expectations on your subscribe page
  • Get creative with e-mail subject lines
  • Pick one primary call-to-action

So there it is. Reevaluate your goals and see if an E-mail newsletter makes sense for you. If it does, follow the tips outlined in HubSpot’s article and you’ll create the best little newsletter your readers will have seen.

One more thing. Does anyone remember that Tracy Chapman song? If you do I sure would appreciate the reminder.

2. Join a Professional Networking Group

The most proactive networking group I have come across is BNI (Business Network International). 

Just before hanging my Copywriter shingle last year, I decided to dip my toes into the waters of our local business community. I ventured out to a small Home Improvement trade show to  pick up some brochures to study their copy, make a connection or two if I got lucky, or at the very least check out the vibe. I wasn’t worried that I had no desire to work in that industry. I just wanted to test the waters.

When I stepped into the arena that last day of the trade show was well underway. I started to make my way around the horseshoe arrangement of exhibitors, thinking I’d maybe talk to one or two people. By chance, my timing was good. I discovered late afternoon on the last day of trade shows is when the room won’t be crowded – at least that was true of this one.

As I picked up brochures at each exhibit, almost every exhibitor struck up a conversation with me. I immediately introduced myself as a copywriter, and the response blew my mind. Several prospects conveyed that  there is a shortage of good copywriters in this community and their interest in having access to one.

Then came the invitation. One of these prospects invited me to a BNI networking event in the next two weeks. I of course accepted his invitation graciously, and then went home to research BNI.

There are a multitude of chapters in major North American cities. An international organization, they are also on other  continents. The benefit up front of going to BNI’s networking events is that any one chapter only has one copywriter in its membership. This is because they adhere to the policy of having only one representative from any given profession or field.  That’s great news!

Membership is not cheap, but think of it as an investment. When you join, you can go to networking events once a week. The standard format calls on each member to get up on the floor to speak about his or her business for two minutes. You will have your elevator speech polished on no time! After every member has given his or her spiel, breakfast or lunch is cleared away and people stand up and start mingling. Chatting is focussed and business cards are exchanged. Copywriter Debra Hilton is a member of BNI in Australia, and gets a significant percentage of her clients via her chapter.

If you are interested in checking out your local BNI networking groups, contact a chapter and ask to be put on the guest list. I went to that breakfast meeting as a guest and only had to pay the price of the meal.

This could become a great way for you to engage your prospects face-to-face every week! Many companies would agree that little if anything can replace the effect of a good old-fashioned handshake. According to Content Marketing Institute, 77% of companies factor In-person events in their business strategy.

3. Write a Case Study

If I were to choose only one of these 3 strategies for engaging my prospects, this would be it. When done well, adding a new case study to your website can be exactly what you need to better engage your prospects and drive more traffic to your site. Well written case studies can also boost your conversion rate dramatically. Testament to this is the fact that 77% of businesses use case studies in their business strategy.

So what story do you write a case study about? I’ll answer with the question WHO do you want to write your case study about. Ideally, you should write about the experience of one of your happy customers/clients who recently purchased a product/service from you. It’s the story of the problem he or she had and how your product/service solved that problem.

In a recent blog post I  suggest that we are hard-wired to be drawn to stories.  Like a shiny coin to a magnet! I offer some hard data about astonishingly high box office revenues in the film industry.  A parallel between movies and case studies is clear, and suggests the efficacy of good case studies.

Good Story is Good Story

Our love of story is undeniable. Testament to this is the revenue raked in by the film industry. In 2013 alone, gross box office revenue in North America was $US10.9 billion. When we see that the common denominator of movies and case studies is story, it makes sense that companies frequently and successfully use case studies in their business strategy.

We start our young lives listening to and learning from stories of The Three Pigs and other parables. It’s a story framework that we use to make sense of the world around us as we grow up.

How many times have you heard, for example, “…and then Sally called Jimmy up and told him where to go. You’ll never guess what happened next! He showed up knocking on her door. She opened it up and he planted this huge kiss right on her lips. You should have heard what her mother said!”

Why We Like Case Studies

The key elements of a case study are surprisingly similar to those of a screenplay. Both engage the audience’s emotion at the outset, and don’t let go of it until the end. They both start off with a hook to capture the audience’s attention. In case studies this means a unique perspective of the customers’ experience with the product or service.

Both case studies and movies convey the main characters and setting early on in the story. Next, movies all have some kind of main conflict, while case studies all outline a problem of some kind. The problem gets countered with a solution in case studies; in movies the concept is no different but it’s called the ‘resolution’.

Stories when told or written skillfully have the power to fully engage us emotionally and intellectually, which is why we respond to both movies and case studies.

So there you have it. Three inspiring ways to engage your prospects. Why not choose one right now and make some preliminary notes? If you have any tips  or opinions to offer on any of these 3 darlings, why not take a minute and share your thoughts with the rest of us?