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Date posted: June 8, 2017

This is the first post in my series about my experience as a B2B business writer.

I decided to start with metal fabricating because I was asked this week by a prospective client if I had ever written about it. The prospect was referred to me by my editor at The Fabricator, a publication I’ve contributed to for many years. (I’ve also contributed to The FABRICATOR en Español). Last year, in fact, I wrote the entire contents of the FABTECH EXPO show daily, North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding, and finishing event.

My experience with metal fabricating goes back to the late ’80s when I began my career as a marketing manager for Panasonic Factory Automation (PFA). (I left Panasonic in 1992 to launch my freelance business). One of the divisions within PFA sold welding robots, and I wrote a myriad of metal fabricating case studies for the group, including one about cylinder fabrication that made the cover of the very same Fabricator magazine that I would later serve as a contributing editor.

While metal fabricating is far from my largest area of concentration, it has certainly been a topic I’ve visited repeatedly over the past quarter century.

Date posted: June 7, 2017

When prospective clients ask me questions about how I work, the one question I’m always asked is: Do you have experience writing about my specific industry or product? After 25 years writing about enterprise technology, from the shop floor to the C-Suite, there is seldom an instance when my answer is no. Since this question is perennial, I’m going to write a few posts over the coming weeks that focus on specific technologies that I have written about over the past 25 years. I’ll talk about the product or service or software I’ve written about and provide an example or two.

So, stay tuned. I’ve written about a lot of very interesting companies with remarkable technologies during my career as a freelance B2B business writer.

Date posted: February 27, 2017

One of the most frequent questions I receive from my B2B marketing clients is what is optimal length of a blog post?
The answer: blog posts of 1,500 words or more tend to receive more shares (see chart below).

A lot of my B2B marketers scoff at the idea of writing 1,500-word posts. They say, “People don’t have the time to read long posts.” The fact is that if a post contains useful information it will be widely read and wildly shared.

Quick Sprout has some interesting data behind this recommendation. They cite research from a popular online journal that tested the Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn shares of all its post, broken down by word count. The longer the post, the more shares the post got.
social shares

The stats above would suggest that the bare minimum in length should be 700 words. That’s where shares really started picking up. But the B2B blog post length sweet spot is 1,500 words.

Date posted: February 1, 2017

While you’re out there looking for new customers, here’s a reminder that keeping your current ones is pretty important. Here’s what an article in the Harvard Business Review had to say:

Depending on which study you believe, and what industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. It makes sense: you don’t have to spend time and resources going out and finding a new client — you just have to keep the one you have happy. If you’re not convinced that retaining customers is so valuable, consider research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the inventor of the net promoter score) that shows increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.

Those are some pretty arresting figures, which were used as a jump-off point for a recent column by Pam Neely in the Act-On blog that put forth a baker’s dozen of best practices to keep customers loyal. Of those, we selected the ten we thought were most cogent to those who subscribe to this blog:

  • Coordinate across departments
    Existing customers interact with several departments in your company. They need a coordinated, consistently positive experience if you want them to be loyal to you. Because of this, it’s critical your different departments are willing to bridge any gaps between the different services they offer.
  • Measure what matters
    Neely points to three metrics to track for customer loyalty: one, repeat customer rate; two, customer lifetime value; and three, net promoter score (how likely a customer is to recommend you to a friend or colleague).
  • Be loyal to your customers
    According to research from KiteWheel,“73% of consumers feel loyalty programs ‘should be a way for brands to show how loyal they are to them as a customer.’ However marketing executives disagree; 66% believe loyalty programs are still a way for consumers to show how loyal they are to their business.“ Look at loyalty from the customer perspective as well.
  • Be clear about what you expect from a loyalty program

Define which specific actions you want your program to shape. Consider picking just one thing you’d want to change about your customers’ behavior.

  • Let people help themselves
    Different people have different learning styles. Different ways they take in information. Some are video enthusiasts (see our earlier post). Others prefer text. Keep this in mind as you consider budgeting for an online help center. Not everyone will want to use it; but for those that do, they’ll expect it to be good.
  • Let people get help, too
    Not everyone wants to figure things out with an online help center. Some of your customers want to be able to dial a number and talk to someone. Give them this option.
  • Embrace complaints
    Embrace them. Angry customers are a treasure if you understand them correctly, and if you can engage them correctly. View this as an opportunity, not a threat. For more ideas on how to do this, read Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer.
  • Be better than what customers expect
    Good surprises can build up an enormous amount of goodwill. They appeal to our emotions more than our pocketbooks. But keep in mind it can work another way. Like if your company makes a pretty big mistake, and then offers a cheap apology or money back. Customers can take this as an outright insult, and it can do almost more harm to their loyalty than if you did nothing at all.
  • Create content for existing clients
    Think post-sales as well as sales. Upselling, cross-selling, and retention should be factored in to how you calculate the return on your content marketing. You might also want to create content that’s only available to existing clients. Market research could be particularly enticing.
  • Back off on the selling in content
    Be useful, or entertaining, or both. That’s the sort of content people will come back to. They get enough of advertising (overt and covert) everywhere else.