It’s All About The Next Step

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Success with your digital or print materials comes down to knowing beforehand what you want your audience to do.

Most businesses have a plethora of marketing and communications materials out there.  Chances are that your business has a website, a couple social media channels, printed promo packs, trade show handouts, trade show displays/booths, some video content, business cards, brochures and an office of some sort.  It’s a lot of words and images all rolled up into individual assets that you hope will lead someone down the path from not knowing about you to becoming a client. But here’s the thing. A lot of these materials will not be effective for 2 reasons:

1.  They were all created in isolation from each other with no deliberate complimentary components from one piece to another.

2.  They were not created in context (where will it be, who will see it) and therefore do not lead the viewer to a deliberate and clear next step.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.  All of your communications components fit into an inter-related web with varying degrees of overlap and interconnectivity.  Your website, brochures, print ads and business cards will all relate to and be seen with the other at some point. So you have to factor this in as you design your materials.  The questions to ask are:

  • Where will someone pick up this material?
  • Will they pick it up alone or will there be other things to take as well?
  • Will they be taking these materials without the parallel experience of personal contact or with it?
  • Will they be getting these materials in the mail, at an event or direct from my staff?
  • How does the online component complement or enhance each piece of hardcopy?

The answers to these questions won’t matter if you design your materials in isolation from one another but if you’re taking into account all these factors and all the materials you have then it will make a big difference in your success rate.  To convert a bystander to a client normally takes multiple exposures, multiple approaches and a clear next step.  The more you can do to make your materials complement each other the better success you will have.  Now let’s walk through the “next step” component.

What Do You Want Me To Do?

Every potential client you have is asking this question in their minds as they’re reading your material, “What do you want me to do?”  For every piece of printed or digital communication you have you should know exactly what you want the viewer to do after viewing it.  For example, a potential client picks up one of your brochures at a networking event.  What do you want them to do after reading it?  Seriously, do you know?  It’s amazing how much business communication is not done with the end in mind but is created because, darn it, that’s just what businesses do.  Know what you want your materials to do.  And no cheating.  This is not a good next step for all your materials; “I want everyone who reads this to become my client.”  That’s too broad and it doesn’t make any sense. Get specific.  Here are some good examples of next steps for printed and digital assets:

  • I want the viewer to go to my website and download the free resource pack immediately
  • I want the viewer to watch my promo video on youtube immediately after getting the newsletter
  • I want the viewer to fill out the free report form on my website as soon as they read my letter.
  • I want the viewer to type in their email address immediately after seeing my invitation.

These are good examples of next steps because they’re completely measurable, specific and very easy to do.  They’re low on risk/commitment and high on benefit/yield for the customer.  You have to get in the habit of knowing where your materials are going to connect with a potential customer and what the action step is going to be. You’ve got to know it. And you’ve got to know it before you type 1 word or download 1 piece of clipart for your postcard or brochure.

Start with the end in mind and you’ll find that you need less overall materials and will gain a higher level of success with the ones that you do use.  The way to fail in this area is to spend thousands of dollars on printed materials but not be clear about how they’ll find a customer and what that customer is supposed to do after engaging it.  Get wise, think ahead and everybody wins.

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