By Kim Gusta
Are you ever stuck for ideas when it comes to content? You’re not alone! This is part of a series of articles highlighting how one of my technology clients solved a real content challenge with an innovative solution. You’ll get actionable advice that will hopefully spur ideas for your own content.
The concept of "snackable" content is that it's to-the-point, visually interesting, and focuses squarely on your prospects' challenges. Here's how I worked with my client, Brocade, to transform a meaty research report full of interesting insights and data into a snackable guide that's perfect for demand gen purposes.
Many of my clients ask me to take long papers and research reports and turn them into something more “bite-size” for demand generation purposes. The challenge with longer reports is that, although they’re filled with loads of interesting information and data points, they’re often overwhelming for prospects in the early stages of the buying cycle. Creating a shorter, "snackable" piece that highlights interesting insights from the longer report increases the ROI of your original paper plus you get a compelling new piece that’s ideal for demand gen campaigns.
A great example of a compelling teaser is the guide I wrote for Brocade, developer of networking solutions including Ethernet fabrics, routers, and switches. Dawn DeLaRosa, demand generation manager at Brocade, had a meaty 22-page research report full of data and in-depth analysis on Brocade Ethernet fabric solutions. However, while this report was a good fit for highly technical decision-makers that understood its “speeds and feeds” information, it wasn’t as well-suited for business IT executives who were early in the buying cycle.
Dawn asked me to create a shorter “teaser” piece that highlighted the most compelling results for business IT decision-makers. The goal was to use this new, more concise guide to entice prospects’ interest and generate well-qualified leads.
Some of the advantages Brocade realized by repurposing the research report’s content into a teaser guide include:
• Targeting a new market segment: business IT decision-makers.
• Realizing additional ROI from the original research report.
• Gaining a new, stand-alone deliverable to use in multiple demand gen campaigns.
• Realizing efficiencies as it was more cost-effective and quicker to create the teaser than writing a report from scratch
Here are examples of the "Before" and "After" so you can see how we repackaged the original, meaty research report into a compelling and more concise snack-size guide.
After creating many of these “teaser” guides, I’ve learned a few best practices to make them as compelling as possible:
1. Highlight only the absolute most important takeaways. Don’t get stuck including information that’s “sort of” important. The success of this piece will hinge on highlighting the absolutely compelling takeaways that your audience finds useful.
2. Be ruthless about keeping it short. I limit these types of reports to 3 pages max. Two pages are even better. The longer the report, the more easily people can be overwhelmed and choose not to read it.
3. Include informative headers and sub-headers. Readers will skim and scan your teaser report to determine if they want to dig in deeper and read more. By writing headers and sub-headers that “tell the story”, you’ll give them a sense of what’s in it and they can better decide if they want to delve into more of the content.
4. Don’t make it a sales pitch. We purposely toned down the Brocade-specific information until the final pages of the report. Often, when I write these types of guides, we don’t mention the company or product except in a final closing paragraph.
5. Use compelling graphic design and plenty of white space. I work with a great graphic designer who used interesting graphics that reinforced the key messages and made it visually fun to read. We also pulled out important quotes and statistics to highlight in the margins and moved background information (such as “What is the Brocade VDX 8770 Switch?”) to sidebars.
6. Carefully consider your call-to-action. Think carefully about what you want readers to do after they read your report and add a web link to take them there. For the Brocade guide, we asked readers to download the full research report.
Think twice about making your call-to-action merely “Call Sales at xxx-xxx-xxxx”. If prospects want to contact your Sales team, they’ll get your phone number or email address from the boilerplate contact information at the bottom of the report. It’s a much better use of a call-to-action to direct them to additional, relevant content sources on your website.
If you follow the steps I outlined above, you'll be well on your way to repacking a longer research report or white paper into a compelling teaser guide.
Have you created snackable content like these? Tell us about it in the Comments section.
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