Author:

Story Is Fuel; A Marketer Never Wants To Run Out of Fuel

Whatever business you’re in, it pays to define your offering in a way that brings customers in the door. We do this all day long for our clients, but sometimes we struggle to do it for ourselves.

This we do know…most business owners and/or marketing directors who are considering hiring an agency want to know what the agency’s area of specialization is, in the hope that it intersects with their own needs. They don’t want to hear a list of things the agency can do or did do. They want to hold onto one idea in their minds about the agency. Therefore every agency needs to answer this most difficult and most essential question: What’s the one thing that you do best?

What is Bonehook’s one thing? Out of all the things that we do, which one do we do best?

Answer: Copywriting.

While we regularly manage a wide variety of clients needs, at the core of our company there is the writing practice. Writing, like design, is fundamental to brand communications. The right words, distilled from strategic sessions and “walking a mile in the customer’s shoes,” turn our clients’ brand stories from esoteric things on PowerPoint slides into copy that drives people to consider, buy, and share.

Focus on the Value Exchange

Is placing writing at the core of our business a true differentiator? That’s for our client’s to answer in a definitive sense, but yes, it works for us.

What we do best is help clients figure out what needs to be communicated and how. The when and where is pretty simple. The tricky one is “why?” Why should a person give their time and attention to an ad or branded content? We believe there must be a value exchange, or there is no valid reason. Clients must provide content that matters to the audience. That’s how attention is earned, day in and day out.

Over the years, we have developed a systems approach to content delivery. We create editorial calendars for our clients, and in essence, they become subscribers to our content services, which are fashioned to the needs of the audience. The mix is typically writing, graphic design, and video for client websites and social channels.

Custom Content Packages Available

Bonehook is a marketing company that operates more like a media company. Our clients “subscribe” to content packages that we custom make for them. A base content package might contain the following:

    1) Two-three blog posts per month
    2) Weekly social media support across all channels
    3) Creation of a monthly email newsletter
    4) Writing, shooting, and editing video once a quarter
    5) Research, writing, and design of one case study per quarter

Our packages start at $2500/month and are adjusted from there, based on a client’s exact needs, which may also include the production of elements like brand advertising, direct mail, and collateral on a project basis.

Multiple Operational Points of Difference

No one factor is the deciding factor when it comes to the client/agency dance. There are many considerations, and most clients we work with look for a lot more than the obvious expert. Clients want a partner with integrity that they can trust with their trade secrets, and they also want someone they like to work with. Put that in your pipeline.

Can we say we are more likeable, or easy to work with, than the next agency? Sure, we can say it and it may even be true half the time. We can also say we run shorter meetings, get right back to people, deliver on time and on budget, and all these things will also be true every time. Our goal is to provide the work in an efficient, cost-effective manner and we do. We’re running a business here!

We Teach Our Clients To Fish

Copywriting is a highly specialized trade that people spend years, even decades, perfecting. Because we place writing at the center of the agency, we want to make the fundamentals of copywriting well understood. To this end, we offer ancillary services to our clients in the form of copy or content audits of existing materials, as well as workshops designed to build the team’s copy muscles.

The legendary Leo Burnett once said, “I have learned that you can’t have good advertising without a good client, that you can’t keep a good client without good advertising, and no client will ever buy better advertising than he understands or has an appetite for.” Burnett was an insightful man with a keen business mind. Our twist on his original thinking is that appetites change and tastes, like habits, can be cultivated.

When you concentrate on building your team’s copy muscles, you gain the distinct advantage of having people on your team trained to recognize stories inside the company that best illustrate the brand’s values. We love to find the answer to the communications riddle inside the product or service itself, as it provides the authentic connection that people seek.

Every Company Has A Story To Tell

Every company has a core brand story to tell because every company has founders, a mission, a team, customers, products and services. Sometimes clients come to the table with pre-conceived ideas about what and how to promote a new offering. It’s our job to listen intently and weigh the ideas. Bonehook’s true value-add is our proven ability to take it all in—the client’s wants and the customer’s needs—and piece together a strong communications plan that moves the needle for the client by consistently providing valuable information to the customers.

We are eager to hear from you about where you are in the brand storytelling process.

    1) Do you have an active content strategy to guide your decisions?
    2) Do you have a framework established for content production and distribution?
    3) Do you have a team of writers to run with your ideas and make them shine?

We get excited when people ask for help with this essential work. If you have a good sense of where you want to go with your company’s communications in 2018, but you’re unsure of the best path to get you there, let’s chat. We’re currently looking to work with two to three new clients in 2018.

Send a note to david@bonehook.com or call 503-970-3862 to open the conversation.

Client Showcase #26

HealthCo Information Systems is a value-added reseller of GE Healthcare’s Centricity Practice Solution, an industry-leading electronic medical records software suite for ambulatory clinics.

GE Healthcare’s EMR software has traditionally been presented to prospects and customers in a binary fashion, with clinical and practice management functionality shown as two distinct spheres that when combined make a whole. The reality is a bit more complex.

With the executive team’s help, we identified nine product categories and nearly three dozen different solutions. We then designed, wrote and organized the material into a physical binder and a brochure that members of the sales team can now use to make presentations inside the clinic. We also made the assets available to the team in digital format, so they can easily send new product fact sheets before, during, or after touching base with customers.

We Trust Our Team To Perform…To Our Standards On Their Terms

Talent rules the Bonehook roost. That’s how it works in a business that relies on the daily contributions of committed, talented people.

Of course, we understand that some companies fail to live up to this new workplace rule. As with many progressive workplace issues, there’s perception and there’s reality.

Sadly, there are companies who choose to talk a good game and leave it at that. Let’s look away from them and toward something better.

“Let My People Go Surfing”

New research featured in Campaign indicates that 25% of all full-time workers would specifically prefer to work part-time for part-time wages if it did not affect their pay per hour or career progression.

Karen Mattison, joint chief executive of the talent agency, Timewise, said:

“The data proves, once and for all, that how people in the UK work, has changed. Flexibility is the new form, and people of all ages, both men and women, expect it. Nearly 9 in 10 of full-time workers either have some form of flexibility, or they want it. And when it comes to Gen Y – those at the forefront of the marketing and advertising sectors, they are leading the charge.”

According to Mattisson, it is now the flexible jobs market that needs to catch-up. “Flexible working policies are no longer enough, agencies and businesses alike need to implement robust flexible working strategies,” she explained.

Managers and owners will decide which “robust flexible working strategies” to implement, but the point is clear—make your company people-powered and people-centred, or suffer the consequences. At Bonehook, we’re already focused on making our client’s communications audience-centric. Making the way we work, work for our team is my job and Darby’s job, and it’s one of the jobs we love to do.

Clearly, one of the great joys of growing a company is building the team. Along with winning new business, finding talented people who work well and thrive in our system is essential to our success.

Remember To Grease The Wheel With Gratitude

Earlier this week, I watched a video featuring CNBC contributor, Suzy Welch. She argues that there are two key ingredients one needs to succeed at work: Grit and Gravitas.

Her points are well made. What she’s missing is Gratitude. When you have all three Gs working for you, you’re rocking the spot.

Suzy Welch: The two G’s guaranteed to get you promoted from CNBC.

We are grateful for the people who hire us, recommend us, and work with us to solve communications problems for our clients. Even though Bonehook is small, our ecosystem of vendors, clients, co-workers and contacts continues to grow. I’d like to think our respect for talented and intelligent people has something to do with it.

A lot of ad people say, “It’s all about the work.” What they don’t say is, “We’re perfectly willing to make you unhappy in order to make us famous and rich.”

Our thought is simple—people who are overworked and unhappy at work are no good to themselves or anyone else. I’m often reminding myself and wanting to say to our team, “Go outside and play!” Because that’s how you loosen up and find a way to pull amazing ideas out of thin air.

Find Time To Focus (Your Customers Are Counting On It)

How much time do you spend each week thinking through your business problems?

Many mangers can’t find the time, and that’s a problem.

“If you ask managers in a large organization to approach a strategic business problem, their focus often quickly narrows to proposing solutions. When asked why, many respond that they don’t have time to think.” -Duncan Simester, MIT Sloan School of Management

Not having time to think sounds a lot like not having time to breathe. You drown in the details.

In related news, I recently downloaded “Rethink the B2B Buyer’s Journey,” a new ebook from LinkedIn. Inside the report, I found this revealing graph:

The most effective salespeople, and the most successful companies, consistently make their customers smarter and give them an edge on their competition. The only way to provide this level of insight is to truly know and care about the client’s business, and the only way to do that is to make time to think.

The Question Remains…

How do you make your customers smarter, while also making your quarterly numbers, and helping them make theirs?

According to Bright Funnel, the average path to sale for high growth tech companies is 512 days from lead to revenue.

When you have quarterly numbers to meet, 512 days from lead to revenue is an eternity. Click To Tweet

There may be little one can do to relieve the pressure or pace of sales targeting at your company. What one can do is always bring new business-building ideas to prospects and customers. Little gifts go a long way. Clearly, there can be a danger in overwhelming people with too much information. Likewise, there’s a danger in failing to reveal your thinking.

Despite what we’ve heard before, coffee is not for closers. To rise above the noise, it takes skill, patience, and unbelievable persistence. It also requires that you care about the customer. Caring means you’re not always closing, you’re always considering (on your customer’s behalf).

Make Your Customer The Beneficiary of Everything You Do

Modern brands earn credibility and continued attention through the production of customer-focused communications.

The content marketing vehicles may take the form of email newsletters, blog posts, social media updates, content-rich product catalogs, video, and more. To manage it all, brands require multi-skilled editors with a strong understanding of marketing’s role in the media mix.

Today, these communications professionals are typically called Content Strategists. Kristina Halvorson is a well known content strategist. According to a recent update on Twitter, her desires for the field are pure but difficult to realize.

I love when smart people remove all the layers, strip out the talking points and simply get to the point.

“All I want is for companies to put their customer in the center of everything. Better business will follow.” Sometimes, the shortest sermons are the sweetest and most meaningful. This is one of those times.

Halvorson’s desire is the customer’s desire, and it’s our job as strategists and advisors to clients to always elevate the customer’s needs above everything else. That’s how hearts and minds are won—through sacrifice and remarkable service.

The award-winning ad campaigns will come, as needed, provided the advertising enriches the customers’ brand experience. Anything that detracts from the customer’s experience, including advertising, is unneeded and potentially harmful.

When you begin to run all your Marcom decisions through this finely tuned customer-service and enrichment lens, you’ll be on the high road to much better brand-sponsored content and all the benefits that spring from it.

Are You Feeding 5-Course Dinners To People Hungry For Snacks?

It’s not every day that I come across a mind-blowing marketing communications statistic. I found one on Kiss Metrics’ site this week that I must share with you.

Approximately 96% of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy.

While stats can be easily manipulated, and percentages will move up or down based on the company in question, the point here is mind-numbingly clear: People are window shopping online.

The computer or phone screen is the same glass barrier that we see in a traditional retailer’s windows to the street. And the online and physical retailer’s tasks are also identical: Interest a small percentage of the passersby to come inside the store, touch the product, and hear from the sales associate as to the various attributes.

Whether you sell services or products, online or off, the idea is basically the same. Move people from “not interested” to “interested,” and then direct them down a sales funnel. The problem with this linear approach to customer acquisition is people don’t naturally line up like cattle. People are free to wander around, shop the competition, read some reviews, talk to a friend or colleague, and maybe one lucky day “pinball” back to you and your company’s highly appealing and perfectly packaged offers.

Here’s a fair question: Why do marketers insist on using a formula from the late 19th century in today’s media-rich marketplace?

I think we all enjoy an easy to visualize framework that supports our desire to convert shoppers into customers. Dealing with the reality of a customer’s pinballing her way through her own individualized customer journey—rather than opting for a smooth glide down a provided slide—is the first big step to reconfiguring our thinking around the role of a company’s website.

If 96% of the visitors to your website are not ready to buy, what are they ready for? Are they ready to learn? Presumably, yes, that’s why they bothered to stop their clicking for a minute or two and consider your offers. Since a minute or two is about all that someone is willing to give at first, it’s important to put “content snacking” at the heart of your digital strategy.

Ask yourself this: Is your company’s website offering visitors what they actually want, versus what you think they want? We often assume that visitors to our website want more information on our products or services. When you run a pizza joint, it’s a good assumption. When you run a software as a service (SaaS) company, or a marketing services provider like Bonehook, the customer’s journey is much more layered, nuanced, and lengthy.

Approximately 96% of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy. Click To Tweet

To move people toward your company’s larger offers, we suggest a steady routine of content snacking as a prelude to richer meals like white papers or case studies. There is a reason to deploy landing pages and A-B testing of multiple offers, but once again let’s confront the boogeyman in the room. We too often assume that people are ready for a deep dive into our materials, but that’s more wishful thinking in many cases.

A blog post that’s 800 words or less is a content snack. Social media updates are content snacks. When used successfully, a trail of snacks will lead people to want a complete meal from you. Thus, a successful website will be front-loaded with content snacks and back-loaded with content meals.

If you’d like Bonehook’s help assessing your website’s proper content balance, send us a note and we’ll arrange a Walk and Talk.