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Three Reasons Your Premium Content Offer Sucks

Three Reasons Your Premium Content Offer Sucks


Premium content offers are the workhorses of content marketing. They can help you grow email lists, generate leads, and build thought leadership. They have the potential to form the basis of fast and effective blogging and email marketing campaigns. Sales teams can leverage them to build relationships and close deals.

From white papers and case studies, to ebooks, video tutorials, checklists, and assessments, the most successful content marketing plans include at least a few premium content offers.

Unfortunately, simply creating premium content doesn’t automatically translate into leads and sales. In fact, 70% of marketers say they increased their content production this year… but only 38% of them feel it’s effective.

What are all these marketers doing wrong? And, more importantly, how can you avoid making the same mistakes?

First, make sure your marketing plan and related content is aligned to your buyer personas and their buying process. Julie Kukesh has the deets on that here.

Second, make sure your premium content offers avoid these three common pitfalls.

Pitfall 1: It’s All About You

whats at stake-sorofmanA marketing client of ours a few years ago asked us to rewrite a ten-page ebook for them. It was filled with information about the organization’s background and services, why the client should want to work with them, and what the client could expect. Someone had put hours of work into the piece, and it wasn’t getting any attention at all. Nobody cared.

To create content that people care about, you have to know what people care about–and then talk about it. In other words, start with what’s at stake for the buyer.

We worked with the organization to identify who they wanted to target, and create a buyer persona for the primary audience. Next we determined which part of the buying process the piece was best suited to support, and identified the questions the persona would have at that point.

We used this information to align the piece’s original points with the genuine pain points and questions that the target audience was interested in. We re-wrote the title and outline to intrigue the desired audience. Finally, we restructured the content and fine-tuned it to match the new title and outline.

The result was a piece of premium content that works smoothly and effectively inside a larger content marketing plan, and that continuously delivers results for the client, even years later.

When you start with what’s at stake for the buyer, you earn the right to their attention. ~Jake Sorofman Tweet This

Pitfall 2: Your Writing Stinks

A piece of content that is carefully targeted will get more click-throughs than one that is not. But if it’s poorly written, those extra click-throughs could backfire. When site visitors run into grammatical mistakes, poorly constructed sentences, repetitive structure, and ill-phrased wording, they not only stop reading–they develop a poor opinion of the organization that sponsored the crappy content.

If your company is the best in the world at what you do, but your content sucks, your reputation–and customer acquisition–will suffer. Online entrepreneur Charles Duncombe says that a single spelling mistake on a landing page cuts sales in half for that product.

“A single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half.” ~Charles Duncombe

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Further, stringing together words in a coherent fashion is simply not enough. Good writing is clear, engaging, and enjoyable to read. Great writing drives action.

Good writing is enjoyable to read. Great writing drives action.

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If your premium content offers are carefully targeted but still aren’t generating results, check the quality and consider hiring a writer with the chops to do it right.

Pitfall 3: You’re Selling Too Hard

“You sell more when you stop selling,” said David Meerman Scott in his keynote address to the Inbound 14 conference in Boston this past September.

Nowhere is this more true than for ebooks, white papers, and other forms of premium content.

Brian Halligan, co-founder of Hubspot, grew the company from a simple idea in 2004 to a market valuation of nearly $700 million this year. He says part of their success is due to the fact that they don’t hire “Always Be Closers” (known as ABCers) for salespeople. Instead, they hire ABHers—sales people who will “always be helping.”

Even more than other types of content, premium content offers should be ABHers.

Approximately 80-90% of a successful TOFU (top of funnel) offer should be focused on helping the prospect with a genuine problem or question, with no overt sales attempts. The remaining 10-20% can provide information on the company that has produced the material.

MOFUs (middle of funnel) and TOFUs can dedicate a little more space to company-oriented information, but should still avoid overt “buy from us!” “we’re so great!” type content.

You sell more when you stop selling. ~David Meerman Scott

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Taking It To the Next Level

Avoiding these three pitfalls is a great start to producing or updating premium content assets for your brand. Of course, simply not doing the wrong things does not guarantee success. Creating effective premium content offers requires doing a lot of the right things right.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. To help you out, we’ve created The Ultimate Ebook Writer’s Kit to guide you through producing your next remarkable ebook. In the kit you’ll discover:

  • Four crucial ebook facts you can’t afford to ignore
  • How to set yourself up for success
  • Step-by-step instructions for writing the ebook itself
  • Critical keys to achieving remarkable results

The kit includes an 11-page manual as well as these valuable tools:

  • An annotated template
  • Interview questions for getting the information you need from a subject matter expert
  • Two samples of highly successful ebooks to model yours on

Access your kit now.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t take this opportunity to suggest that there’s an even easier way to access remarkable content to support your efforts. Chat with us about how we can help.


Fen Druadìn Head (formerly Heather Head) is an author, as well as the founder of Scopcity. When she is not writing, running the business, or chasing down bad guys on Twitter, she enjoys hiking, snuggling with her husband and three boys, and avoiding the kitchen.

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[…] with what’s at stake for the buyer, as Jake Sorofman puts it. Focus on their story, not […]

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