MondoVox® Creative Group Develops Award-Winning Campaign for Ripon Printers

February 2010
Chicago, Illinois
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

MondoVox® Creative Group (Chicago, IL), a brand and marketing consultancy for consumer and business-to-business products and services, recently created an award-winning campaign for Ripon Printers (Ripon, WI), a leading printer of catalogs, publications, manuals and soft-cover educational products. The company received the prestigious National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) Marketing Plus™ Award. This competition acknowledges and recognizes those printing companies that have created and produced successful marketing campaigns and collateral for the self-promotion of their companies.

Ripon Printers was the sole recipient of the Gold Award in the Vertical Markets category for printers with more than $2 million in annual sales. Entries in this category consisted of campaigns to promote company core competencies and services specifically relevant to identified vertical markets and positioning the company as an effective market leader in these market segments.

“Ripon Printers is an outstanding printing company and client,” says MondoVox President Julia Moran Martz. “They are open to seeing the market in new ways and believe in the power of communications. The collaborative effort between their marketing team and ours clearly produced results that outpaced most companies in the printing industry.”

The award-winning campaign focused on the small to mid-size catalog market. Key elements of the integrated, multichannel campaign created by MondoVox include a series of print and banner ads run in Multichannel Merchant magazine, a series of “Tips” booklets used for inquiry fulfillment, a website revamp, a trade show booth and show promotional materials. Results of the campaign were outstanding and contributed to Ripon Printers developing more than 100 new accounts in 2009 worth millions of billing dollars during one of the worst economies on record.

ripon-tipbooks-600

Tip book set promotion.

ripon-website-group-600

Redesigned website with promotions throughout.

ripon-ads-600

2009 print and banner ad campaign.

ripon-boothmailer-600

Trade show booth pop-up and premailer.

About MondoVox® Creative Group

MondoVox® Creative Group is a brand and marketing consultancy specializing in branding, marketing and advertising solutions for consumer and B2B products and services. Because we implement all aspects of each project including research, strategy, design and production, we ensure the quality and coherence required to increase brand value. Our multi-talented team provides market research, product and service naming, brand structuring and development, product design, package design, packaging graphics, sales and promotional collateral, POP and environmental communications, advertising, e-marketing, and interactive. To learn more, visit www.mondovox.com.

About Ripon Printers

Ripon Printers serves small to mid-sized catalog marketers and publishers, producing catalogs and directories as well as manuals and soft-cover educational products. Founded in 1962 with just 13 employees, Ripon Printers is now more than 300 employees strong and equipped with the latest technologies from premedia through fulfillment and distribution. Linking the company’s capabilities together is an obsessive devotion to customer delight that places client satisfaction above any other business goals. For more information, visit www.riponprinters.com.

About NAPL

NAPL is a not-for-profit business management association representing companies in the $120+ billion commercial printing and graphic communications industry in North America. NAPL’s comprehensive slate of business-building solutions provides company leaders with the management tools they need to make informed business decisions in an ever-changing market environment. The association also handles administration of NAQP, the National Association of Quick Printers, which specializes in the unique concerns of small printers nationwide, and the industry’s Research and Engineering Council, which is dedicated to manufacturing technology and productivity improvement issues. For more information on NAPL or its affiliated associations visit www.napl.org.

For more information contact:
Julia Moran Martz, president
(312) 850-1589
scoop@mondovox.com

Webinars as Lead-generating, Thought-leadership Tools.

For those less electronically initiated, a webinar is an online virtual event that typically includes a small number of presenters delivering a slide presentation to a dispersed audience over the Internet. Participants view the webinar from their computer desktops and hear the audio through their speakers or over a telephone line.
Using an outside webinar delivery platform makes sense for most companies. Many of these systems offer interactive capabilities such as:

  • Live chat.
  • Question and answer boxes.
  • Audience polls and surveys.
  • Virtual white boards.
  • Desktop application sharing.
  • And a number of other options.

They also generally offer customizable registration materials as well as tracking, automated reminders and post-production reports. Providers typically support popular programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Some can provide event management services for an additional fee.

So How Much Do Webinar Services Cost?

Actual delivery costs vary, but most license agreements are fairly modest. For example, GoToWebinar, one of the more popular delivery systems, offers flat-fee pricing that allows you to conduct unlimited Webinars for one rate. You can purchase a standard, single-user license online for $99 per month or $948 per year. There are no additional licensing costs for attendees to join.

Are Webinars Better Than In-person Events?

They are two different animals, each with its own set of pluses and minuses. The big advantage of webinars, especially with strained budgets, is the low cost to reach an audience anywhere in the world. In many ways, the cost structure helps to level playing fields among small and large companies, just as digital communications do in many other marketing activities.

Webinars are also:

  • Convenient and cost-effective for participants who don’t have to travel—distance becomes a non-factor.
  • Convenient for presenters who can be at multiple locations and likewise avoid travel.
  • Capable of bringing valuable information quickly to market.
  • Efficient at speeding the sales cycle with proper follow up.

Some of the drawbacks include:

  • More competition than for in-person seminar events.
  • Less interaction with participants.
  • Limited flexibility to change presentation order and flow.
  • Restrictions on managing questions.
  • Technology dependence to the ultimate degree.

In both types of events, you need to have a relatively large universe of qualified prospects. The general guideline for webinars is that approximately 5 percent of those invited will register and half of those will not attend. Some, however, will view the on-demand, archived version later.

Do Decision Makers Like Webinars?

Studies and my personal experience say they do. According to a white paper by Ridge Business Development LLC, The Benefits and Pitfalls of Webinars, people like the idea of learning about products and services without having to deal with a salesperson.

The white paper also points to a recent survey by Gartner indicating that 86 percent of respondents will view as many or more webinars this year as last. And a survey by PR Canada similarly indicates that only 7 percent found webinars a waste of time, while 86 percent fount them convenient and 66 percent found them time effective.

What If We’re Not Ready to Sponsor a Webinar Ourselves?

Many trade publications and associations offer webinar sponsorship opportunities that enable you to test the medium with varying degrees of participation. For example, you might strictly serve as the sponsor. But you also might be able to suggest topics, give input on selection of the featured presenter, provide qualifying and polling questions and perhaps even deliver part of the presentation if you choose.

You’ll typically get a banner ad at the registration site, inclusion in all of the promotional efforts and, of course, mentioned as the sponsor during the webinar. Additionally, you’ll virtually always get access to the registrant list for follow up.

This all comes at a price, of course, and $10,000 to $30,000 isn’t unusual. But a strong publication or association might also draw participants that you wouldn’t attract on your own, and it greatly reduces your time investment. Plus, it’s a good way to get started.

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

MondoVox Creative Group can help you create content, develop professional webinar presentations and effectively promote the event in multiple media. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

You can connect with Julia Moran Martz on LinkedIn. Or follow her on Twitter.

Do’s and Don’ts of Webinars.

Webinars are inexpensive compared to face-to-face meetings. But like email and other low-cost electronic options, easy entry often lures ill-prepared companies into the arena. Use these tips to create and present webinars that will meet your audience’s highest expectations.

Do

  • Select your topics and presenters carefully.
  • Evaluate your internal capabilities objectively—outsource when needed.
  • Keep your presentation to one hour or less—including Q&A.
  • Start and end the webinar on time.
  • Seed questions to ensure covering important points and to encourage participation.
  • Learn to take advantage of the technology options—drawing tools, polling surveys, etc.
  • Promote your webinar beyond a homepage blurb—use email, direct mail, banner ads, social media, etc.
  • Be wary of using a wireless connection by a presenter.
  • Consider having a few friendly faces in the presentation room—presenters benefit from seeing reactions and playing off the “audience.”
  • Use professionally created slides—be sure to review outside presenter’s slides and be prepared to offer assistance.
  • Develop a lead follow-up plan—demand accountability from the sales team.
  • Record and archive your webinar—many executives appreciate and use the on-demand option.
  • Explore opportunities to generate passive income—selling a recorded series as a set, for example.
  • Rehearse and then rehearse again.

Don’t

  • Use inexperienced presenters as featured speakers—give them a smaller role until they get a few webinars under their belts.
  • Underestimate the investment of time to pull off a professional presentation.
  • Use webinars for target audiences that may not be tech savvy.
  • Dismiss the value of a good moderator to the webinar’s success.
  • Think that webinars will completely replace the need for face-to-face contact.
  • Assume that webinar leads are conversion ready—they are more likely in the exploratory stage and will require further nurturing.
  • Fail to add qualified attendees to your marketing database.
  • Forget to invite your customers to webinars.
  • Use an unproven webinar delivery platform provider—they are not all created equal.
  • Overburden the moderator with the technology requirements—consider a person for each role.
  • Fail to follow up with registrants who don’t attend the webinar.
  • Overlook the value of a webinar as a training tool for your own people.
  • Forget to continue promoting your recorded webinar.
  • Neglect to collect some qualifying information at registration—use checklists and limit the number of questions to three or four.

Pick a Strong Webinar Delivery Platform Provider. The last thing you want is unreliable technology and support when you’re doing a webinar. You look bad and people abandon the event. We really don’t have favorites, and you may uncover a great provider on your own, but we suggest at least looking into these proven companies:

For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

By Larry Bauer

Extending Your Brand To and Beyond the Webinar.

Assuming your presentation is buttoned-up tight and focused cleanly on your topic, what else can you do to ensure wise use of your webinar budget? Well, it’s all about two key points we seem to repeat a lot:

  1. Ensuring brand integrity builds and maintains brand recognition.
  2. Linking this particular tool (webinars) with other marketing and sales tools builds a network around your prospects, creating additional sales touch points.

Essentially, it’s all about maintaining professionalism while being available where and when your prospects need you.

Ensuring Brand Integrity In Webinars.

This seems pretty limited on the surface, right? It would appear that all you can do is send the webinar company your logo as a low-res jpeg and hope for the best. While that may be true with some third-party webinar companies, consider these options below and push, push, push on behalf of your brand.

  • Make sure your presentation is easy to read for the age group of the attendees and includes key brand elements such as logo, colors, fonts (where possible), image assets, etc. This is especially important because the webinar company will be using their own brand elements in the general interface.
  • Don’t choose an outsourced webinar delivery platform based solely on price. Also DO consider how well its interface supports branding your webinar as well as its user-friendliness.
  • Realize that folks will be attending from a variety of platforms and monitor sizes. Adjust the content of your graphics and text appropriately. If your Corporate Brand Guidebook doesn’t contain information specific to webinars, pull from the chapters for PowerPoint and Website styling.
  • Choose a speaker whose voice is appropriate for your brand. If your subject matter expert has a whiney voice, choose someone else or outsource. Stay away from extremely high or low-pitched voices, as they may be hard to hear and understand via many computer audio systems. If you’re selling cosmetics, consider using a female voice. Whereas sports or auto related topics may be able to go either way depending on the audience.
  • Be certain that your support materials are brand cohesive. This includes anything you’re linking to from the webinar such as white papers, case studies, speaker bios or an annotated outline of the webinar content.
  • If you’re sponsoring a trade pub’s webinar, ensure that you’re using every brand tool at your disposal: logo files, ad page, banner ad and link to landing page for more info. Negotiate for additional touch points where possible and connect them back to tools you can control such as landing pages or your website.

Opportunities for Extending Your Brand Beyond the Webinar.

Working your communications before and after the webinar takes research, planning and time. But the key benefit is keeping your audience engaged beyond the webcast to the point of closing a sale.

Imagine being a big-ticket sales person in a brick and mortar store and discovering a way to get the name, phone number and email address of every interested shopper with whom you spoke? You’d do it, right? Even if they didn’t buy from you right away, you could provide additional information and follow up with them during and after their buying process.

This is why it’s critical to look for opportunities to increase the viral aspect of your brand beyond the basic webinar.

  • Make sure you create avenues for attendees to interact with you following the event. Creating an ongoing forum or listserv or even linking to a blog post about your topic provides additional discussion options. If you already have an online discussion forum, open a new topic coinciding with the webinar and publicize it in follow-up communications.
  • Also ensure that your speakers have valid corporate Twitter and/or LinkedIn accounts for attendees to connect with afterwards, and provide that information freely at the webinar. Both tools have methods of supporting discussion topics.
  • Consider setting up a landing page or mini-site to support your webinar. Use this as an info link during registration and reminders, and then modify it afterwards to collect more information during post webinar follow up.
  • Consider timing your webinar close to a key industry trade show and include special invitations to webinar attendees for a VIP session or special gift at the show. This takes advantage of your sales team’s limited travel budgets.
  • If you’re offering in-depth workshops at an upcoming trade show, pre-empt the show with a preparatory session via a webinar. This can generate excitement for the show and increase valid attendees at the live event.
  • And remember, if you’re creating your own webinar content, you can still advertise it via banner ads in industry publications, usually for relatively modest expenditures.

Ultimately, It’s About Building Branded Networks.

Don’t think of a webinar as a one-off event. Use it as a building block within your entire communications network to get the biggest impact.

2010’s Top Ten Marketing Career Resolutions.

  1. elVies-200Eat lunch with others—share a meal with colleagues. Eating alone at your desk might seem productive, but it won’t expand your career-advancing network. Make good use of the lunch hour with people inside and outside your organization.
  2. Seek high-profit areas—low-margins equal dead ends. Most of the praise and promotions go to people who work in high profit areas of companies. Learn the high performing (and high potential) parts of your business. Focus on getting a position in one of those areas.
  3. Develop your elevator speech—your brand travels by word-of-mouth. Decide what you would want people to know about you in a sentence or two. Maybe it’s that you have an MBA from a prestigious school or an in-demand skill. What makes you different in a positive way?
  4. Be the answer—figure out how to get things done. Your boss has enough on his or her plate without having to walk you through solutions. If you get an assignment, find a way to deliver the right response without wasting your boss’s time.
  5. Make the big play—assume some risk. Playing it safe won’t likely take you very far. You don’t need to constantly put yourself out on a limb, but you do need to be an aggressive change agent. In the end, it’s really the only way that you and your organization will prosper.
  6. Loosen the reins—recognize others’ skills and potential. Being a control freak won’t help you develop the strong people you need around you. Set goals and provide resources as well as reasonable oversight, but give others the freedom to find their own way of accomplishing it.
  7. Play to your strengths—get in the right seat on the bus. You always want to be open to learning new skills, but you also need to understand what you really love to do and what you’re really good at doing. The faster you identify this, the more quickly your career will advance.
  8. Learn to measure—metrics will get you everywhere. Like it or not, senior executives are increasingly demanding marketing metrics. Don’t abandon creative thinking or softer measurements like customer feedback, but also make a point to improve your analytic proficiency.
  9. Know the right people—invest your limited time wisely. Right or wrong, whom you know means a lot. Choose people who are successful themselves, appreciate your accomplishments, demonstrate a sincere interest in you and have a strong circle of influence that would benefit your career.
  10. Have some fun—lighten up now and then. There’s some truth to the “all work and no play” adage. You certainly don’t want to be the office clown, but finding humor in situations and being an enjoyable colleague will make you and everyone around you happier and more productive.

mb-2010-do-dont-v22bSuccessful Marketing Campaigns Won’t Hurt Either.

To help you along, we recently published a series of tip books titled The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts. It’s a collection of the most viewed “Do’s & Don’ts” published by our MondoBeat newsletter. We’ve made digital versions available via SlideShare, topics include:

  • Taglines
  • Print Advertising
  • Referrals
  • Trade Shows
  • Corporate Brochures
  • Direct Mail
  • Thought Leadership
  • White Papers

Simply visit our SlideShare page to download your complimentary copy.

White Papers As Thought Leadership Tools.

bernieBubo-250White papers got their start in the government sector as reports outlining policy or offering authoritative commentary on a major issue. The origins of the term date back to early 20th century England, where it referenced brief research reports used by the British Parliament.

White papers were short government reports in comparison to longer, more detailed documents that were bound in blue covers and referred to as “blue books.” Since the shorter government publications were bound in the same white paper as the text inside, they took on the term “white papers.” When the use of white papers became standard practice during this time period, the term became associated with a document having a high level of importance.

White Papers Today.

White papers are now part of the corporate world. Klariti, an Ireland-based technical writing firm, offers this definition, “White papers discuss a specific business issue, product or competitive situation. In many cases, they summarize information about a topic; for example, the results of a survey or study and then suggest a proposal for action, with the research data providing the justification for the action.”

Why They Work.

Business people are increasingly searching for quality content. Studies show that company decision makers often use white papers as their initial external information source. White papers are an effective medium capable of educating, informing and influencing your targeted customers and prospects. Done properly, a white paper serves as reinforcement for preferring your company to the competition.

Consider these statistics noted by Senior Reporter Sean Donahue of SherpaBlog:

  • In 2008, 44 percent of business prospects said they were reading white papers more often than in the past. That’s an increase from the 39 percent who said in 2007 they were reading white papers more often.
  • More than 50 percent of business decision-makers and influencers said they read two to five white papers per quarter.

White papers can serve as excellent relationship starters followed by other thought leadership events such as invitations to webinars, podcasts and conference presentations. They also have terrific pass-along capabilities that tend to cross departmental borders as internal groups collaborate on business initiatives.

Elissa Miller, a senior marketing consultant for Hoffman Marketing Communications, a business and technology writing company, points out that “publishing white papers at third-party information sites such as Bitpipe.com [geared toward IT professionals] generates goodwill and ‘mindshare’ by making research and analysis widely available. In addition, it drives interested prospects to the company, prospects that might not otherwise have known that such an offering existed.”

Why They Don’t Work.

Corporate-sponsored white papers are strategic marketing documents. But that is also frequently the root cause of a white paper’s downfall. It’s fine to carefully weave in positive points for your company through techniques such as case studies, but white papers unravel when sponsors lose objectivity. Most readers will quickly see through marketing propaganda disguised as legitimate research.

Further, many white papers provide an inadequate balance of technical details and the larger business context they address. They sometimes lack a compelling persuasiveness that helps people understand complex issues and how they can apply a solution.

Finally, a lot of marketing types shy away from white papers thinking that their other collateral, from brochures to product sheets, serve the same purpose. If they do get involved, they frequently fail to realize that white papers are unique communication vehicles that not only fill an important gap, but also require writing skills different from marketing communications and even technical writing.

To White Or Not to White.

The evidence is clear that white papers are highly effective thought leadership tools that do not require a huge monetary investment but do require handling with care. You’ll have the most success if you choose the writer carefully, and then develop the white paper through a collaborative process between the writer/researcher and your internal subject matter experts. The entire experience provides an opportunity to delve more deeply into important topics and can be a stimulating professional experience for everyone involved.

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

MondoVox Creative Group can help you develop white papers and other components of an effective thought leadership strategy. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

You can connect with Julia Moran Martz on LinkedIn. Or follow her on Twitter.

Do’s and Don’ts of White Papers.

vernVulpes-250White papers aren’t particularly expensive to create, but that doesn’t mean anyone can just slap one together. They take some careful planning and decision-making to serve as true thought leadership builders. Here’s how to get your white papers off on the right foot.

Do

  • Know your audience and focus on their interests.
  • Identify problems and concerns and provide a solution.
  • Understand that people with different responsibilities view the same problem differently—accounting vs. sales vs. technical people.
  • Think of your audience as a group of investors.
  • Attract interest immediately or risk losing the reader.
  • Assume that your reader is new to the topic.
  • Tell people what you’re going to tell them; tell them; and then tell them what you told them.
  • Subtly and carefully craft your own message into the white paper—case studies and customer quotes are a good approach.
  • Include an executive summary—many people will only read this portion or read it first.
  • Use compelling graphics to reinforce your message—charts, diagrams, illustrations, etc.
  • Adopt a conversational style that includes the word “you”—no one wants to read a term paper.
  • Let your first draft sit for a few days before you begin editing—you’d be surprised how much a little distance can help.
  • Identify key words for Web-hosted white papers before you begin and use them in your white paper.
  • Edit, edit and edit again.

Don’t

  • Make your white paper self-serving—no one wants to read dull details about your product or service.
  • Forget to read a few white papers in your field—you’ll get a quick sense of the good, the bad and the downright ugly.
  • Attempt to write the white paper yourself if you don’t have the depth of knowledge or the writing skills.
  • Overwhelm your audience with techspeak and acronyms—offer clear definitions when you do use technical terms.
  • Get lost in theory and forget to provide real world, supportive examples.
  • Neglect to include a brief About Us section at the end—include telephone and email contact information.
  • Task technical people with the writing assignment—make them information sources and members of the editing team instead.
  • Make the white paper too long (6-10 pages are about right, but they could be as short as 1-2 pages—break longer topics into multiple publications).
  • Write a user’s manual if your white paper is addressing a product or technology solution.
  • Skimp on the promotional side—use news releases, email, postcards, social media, etc. to promote your latest white paper.
  • Shortchange the introduction, conclusion and executive summary.
  • Hesitate to use eye-popping color to attract attention and encourage readership.
  • Neglect the title or the look and feel of the white paper—they are two of the key drivers of readership.
  • Forget to ask yourself what action you want people to take upon reading your white paper.

White Papers Play Well With E-newsletters. Sending an e-newsletter highlighting your white paper and offering a free download from your website or a landing page is effective. MondoVox Creative Group can write and design both your white paper and newsletter, create a landing page and broadcast the message through our MailVox system. You’ll get all the reporting you need right from your desktop, to say nothing of the benefits of working with an experienced single source.

For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

By Larry Bauer

“White” Paper Doesn’t Mean Generic.

cainyCastor-250Creating a successful white paper isn’t just about the content. The content is in fact worthless if:

  • The paper doesn’t support the brand,
  • It’s too hard to read,
  • Your credibility is lacking because the paper looks amateurish, and
  • Your charts or graphics are boring.

I dare say most white papers are not tackling new theories or topics. And in a highly competitive situation, who are your prospects going to believe? The guy in the rumpled suit or the guy whose shirt is pressed, shoes polished and handshake firm? Likewise, a rumpled and amateurish white paper will not engender trust.

Here are five design guidelines for creating highly functioning and trustworthy white papers:

  1. Keep it readable:Readability is created by a combination of design tactics that take your specific content and audience into account.Choice of typeface is top on the list. While all computers have Arial available, a smarter choice for readability of long passages would be a face with a larger x-height. For example, for readability of lengthy white papers on screen, Verdana or Georgia are two excellent options. For readability on paper, Myriad Pro or Garamond may work well. Serif typefaces are usually more readable than sans serif, but you also have to weight that difference with your brand’s needs. Of course, there are thousands of typefaces available and your corporate brand style guide may also govern the ones you use.Bigger is not always better when it comes to sizing type. That said, there are many designers who adhere to the school of tiny type. Use a designer who understands the nuances of type size as it relates to your content, writing style, typeface selection and most importantly, the needs or your target demographic. Striking the right balance in size means ensuring readers can easily read your paper without squinting and that your type isn’t so large that they can’t see the forest for the trees.

    Also consider line length and line spacing. Line lengths that are too short cause too much hyphenation and make reading a choppy venture. Lines that are too long make it difficult for the mind’s eye to track from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. To optimize reading speed, designers have for years been using the 66-72 characters per line rule. Generally speaking, this rule continues to work very well but again, is dependent on your white paper’s specific needs. Papers with lots of very long words may require a slightly longer line length. Just try reading a James Joyce novel with a short line length—painfully slow.

    Line spacing also affects the ability of the mind’s eye to read quickly. Spacing that is too much or too little will slow the reader down, getting your message embedded later rather than sooner. Line spacing is also interdependent on typeface selection and average word length.

    Keeping your white paper readable at maximum warp speed is a fine balance between many factors.

  2. Look professional: Good design will pre-sell your white paper and ultimately, you.Not realizing this and acting on it will place you in the league of second bests or the do-not-consider group. It’s really not any different than showing up at an interview in a freshly pressed suit, shoes polished, hair in place, teeth clean and nails trimmed.Likewise, if your white paper looks like it was created in Microsoft Word, it will compete poorly against a competitor’s paper that is branded, polished, neat and professional. There are many design nuances that Microsoft Word or Publisher lack but a good designer trained in traditional typographic techniques can provide.
  3. Be interesting: Being lively and interesting will get you more attention than the party bore.Don’t think that the term ‘white paper’ means you can’t use color or interesting graphics. White paper doesn’t refer to the overall design of your paper, and you’re doing your brand and your customer or prospect a disservice by not making your paper visually interesting.Now I don’t mean embellish your paper with fancy dingbats and doodads that don’t add value. Good design is not about decoration. Make sure all your graphics are working hard for the content and/or the brand image. And do something to stand out. Don’t be boring.
  4. Design for the distribution method:Good white papers will be shared digitally among peers.If your white paper is being distributed via email, be careful to adhere to the email marketing laws in the country of distribution, don’t use spam triggers, do apply permission-based marketing techniques and make it easy to share by including forward links.If your paper is a downloadable PDF, recipients are more likely to print it before reading. So make sure you design it to be most readable printed from an inkjet printer.

    If you are professionally printing your paper for snail-mail distribution, you must also consider the paper stock used and ideally, make sure it is ballpoint or pencil ready with healthy margins for jotting notes.

  5. Pay attention to details: If God and the devil are both in the details, then this is where you’d better spend some time.We all know of HR people who throw away any resumes with typos, punctuation and grammar errors. It’s one way to narrow the field to the real professionals. Ditto with thought leadership and design. If you don’t look buttoned up in terms of details, how will prospects trust you with the details of their business?

In terms of white paper design details, look out for these common mistakes:

  • Ditch those double spaces between sentences. It affects reading speed and isn’t necessary since we no longer use typewriters.
  • Be consistent with periods and commas. If you’re using a serial comma, stick with it.
  • Don’t break proper nouns at the end of a line, especially if the line length is long.
  • Watch for too many hyphenations, which also slow reading and just look like you don’t care.
  • Keep your bullets closer to their text than the line below them.
  • Use a grid to align your content perfectly so nothing looks out of place.
  • Consider balance of elements on a page. Look for triangulation of weight.
  • Use styles to keep content consistently formatted.
  • Use color appropriately and don’t overuse. This isn’t a flea market.
  • Consider how your document will be printed and if on an office inkjet, make sure key content doesn’t exceed printer margins.
  • Align table columns appropriately for the content. Align decimals on the decimal, for instance.

Skimpy Investments Deliver Skimpy Results.

Ultimately, good white paper design is about taking care of your prospects, making it easy for them to consider you. Yes, it’s a larger investment, but if that’s what gets you moved to the head of the pack, then that’s what you must do.

Remember, looking the part and being easy to understand shortens the distance to being considered a thought leader.

By Julia Moran Martz

Fundamentals of Thought Leadership.

cogiTo-250We all want the same thing as marketers: to establish our company as a trusted adviser, so when a prospect is ready to buy, he or she will think of us first. Part of this we accomplish through traditional marketing communications, but integrating thought-leadership content is also essential to reaching our goals.

Further, it is altogether possible—and terribly important—to differentiate your company by the way it thinks and not just by the products and services it offers. Building your business today is as much about being ahead-of-the-curve as it is about the four P’s of price, product, place and promotion.

Thought leadership is all about building reputation. Consider what Brian Carroll, the influential blogger, author and lead generation guru had to say in a RainToday.com interview: “I found that when you’re selling something that is more complex and intangible, reputation is more important than your brand, because your reputation causes people to make conclusions about your brand. Questions in people’s minds are, ‘Have you done this before’?, ‘Have you helped companies like me’?, ‘Can you do it’”?

Size Really Doesn’t Matter.

You’re dead wrong (and probably dead in the water) if you think thought leadership belongs to the big players. So whatever you do, don’t dismiss your company’s thought leadership potential based on size. Here are four good reasons why:

  1. Thought leadership is more time intensive than dollar intensive.
  2. Being quick, nimble and aggressive is a big advantage.
  3. New channels make it easier than ever to connect your thought leadership messages directly to your targeted audience.
  4. Not every idea has to be original. You can also develop thought leadership by advancing and establishing emerging ideas.

What’s more, when your company establishes thought leadership, you level the playing field. People seek your company out when they have problems. It’s the number of cells in your corporate brain, not the number of employees on your payroll that counts.

Start With Customer Education.

If you’re still lacking confidence about climbing into the thought leadership ring, start by establishing a really good customer education program. One of our smallest customers has done a great job for years by presenting live seminars on timely topics with a follow-up print newsletter that offers additional insights. In between, they offer informative e-newsletter blasts on a variety of subjects with links to more information.

One of the keys to any successful customer education program is the timeliness of the content. Look for gaps in your customer’s knowledge that your competitors aren’t addressing. For example, another one of our customers made a big hit by publishing a white paper that discussed design trends in a segment the company serves.

They also establish a lot of credibility by publishing newsletters and white papers on industry-sensitive issues while offering a fair and balanced approach. Too risky? The issues don’t go away because a company chooses to ignore them. And their customers go elsewhere for information and ideas, thus ending the dialog.

We had another company secure a speaking engagement at a major trade conference by carefully matching its content to typically underserved segments. In this case, it involved a presentation geared toward smaller players and startups, which played right into the company’s strengths and flew under the radar of big competitors seeking audiences of big potential customers.

Be Strategic.

The worst (dare I say dumbest) thing you can do is to try establishing thought leadership with a haphazard approach. You and your team must carefully research your markets and identify your opportunities. If you have a great topic but lack the time or internal expertise, hire it out.

And don’t forget to develop a multi-channel distribution plan. Take a simple white paper, for example, which could be:

  • Announced to the media through a traditional news release.
  • Tweeted to your followers.
  • Announced at business social networks such as LinkedIn, both on your company profile page and through group discussion posts.
  • Linked from a company newsletter, blog or e-newsletter.
  • Used in sales presentations.
  • Presented at industry gatherings or your own customer event.
  • Posted at your company website.
  • Converted to a PowerPoint presentation and offered through SlideShare Presentations.

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

MondoVox Creative Group can help you develop an effective thought leadership strategy and provide tactical execution. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

You can connect with Julia Moran Martz on LinkedIn. Or follow her on Twitter.

Do’s and Don’ts of Thought Leadership Building.

erGo-250Being known as an authoritative resource is powerful in today’s marketplace. The more recognition your company gets, the more powerful it becomes. With so much at stake, it pays not to make missteps in the thought leadership arena. Here’s how to get your strategy off on the right foot.

Do

  • Establish goals you can reach—then move on to bigger things.
  • Immerse yourself in your professional domain.
  • Look for topics that your competition misses.
  • Encourage thought leadership development among your staff—thought leadership isn’t a one-person show.
  • Search for new things to say and add value through what you offer.
  • Be willing to risk rejection in the interests of finding better ways to do things—admit if you’re wrong.
  • Keep customer needs at heart—thought leadership shares the selfless characteristics of servant leadership.
  • Employ leadership vision—point toward a new future or a change in direction.
  • Deliver thought-leadership messaging that is actionable.
  • Ensure that ideas are relevant to your peer base—know your audience.
  • Present solutions grounded in experience.
  • Invest in good research.
  • Make your content actionable.
  • Be fair and balanced in your presentations

Don’t

  • Confuse being a thought leader with being a pundit.
  • Forget that you need to earn the trust of your audience.
  • Lose patience—your company won’t establish instant thought-leadership status.
  • Fear being a little controversial if you’re making a bold projection—just back up what you’re saying.
  • Use a voice that doesn’t match your company’s personality.
  • Fail to communicate thought leadership through multiple media—newsletters, by-lined articles, blogs, social media networks, webinars, symposiums, panels, white papers, case studies, surveys, research studies, speaking engagements and road shows.
  • Neglect to seek an outside perspective before publishing any thought leadership piece.
  • Trip customers’ “BS” meters with your content—demonstrate your desire to help them by being authentic, genuine, generous and accessible.
  • Obsess about giving away too much information—you’ll get more benefit from leveraging your knowledge than trying to hoard it in today’s fast-moving markets.
  • Make thought leadership purely a marketing responsibility.
  • Forget that thought leadership still needs to be part of a larger marketing strategy.
  • Get sucked into believing that thought leadership requires being big—quickness and agility can be huge advantages.

Be a Vertical Market Star. Becoming a thought leader doesn’t require being recognized when you walk down the street. The idea is to become a household word within your narrow business domain. Pick your audience and become famous there. And while being labeled the “rock star of nutraceuticals” might not seem all that glamorous, it can make a lot of money for you and your company.

Source: Larry Chase’s Web Digest for Marketers

By Larry Bauer