We’ve all had that piece of content. A whitepaper or other asset that is absolutely awful. Maybe it’s boring. Maybe the writing is bad. Maybe the person who made it had zero design experience.
And you, yes you, are expected to write copy for an email promoting it or are supposed to share it on social media. Maybe it’s for a client or to build a better relationship with a partner.
It doesn’t have to be as painful as pulling teeth.
Whether you are promoting an asset from a client or were simply handed a colleague’s shoddy work, there is (usually) some value in every asset, no matter how bland.
The trick is to find it.
In every asset, there are key ideas, concepts, and art. Even if they are presented rather badly in the original asset, they can be isolated and pulled from the original asset and revamped.
For the design aspect, you want both the logos and key information from the asset and use them to liven up the promotional copy. No matter how good your copy is, without beautiful, responsive design, it will be hard to convince people that it’s worth reading.
This is often the case with whitepapers. The asset is often overdesigned or underdesigned, both of which take away from the content itself. No one wants to look at a literal, plain white paper. But sometimes that’s all you have to work with. So you need to make the best of it.
You want to focus on a few things when trying to make your design promote a “meh” asset.
Logos generally look good. They usually cost either a lot of money or a lot of time. That makes logos a good piece to pull out of just about any asset. It retains the brand and is sometimes the only decent graphic you can pull out of a crappy asset.
One area that often gets overlooked when pulling design components from whitepapers is the text itself. Just because the creator of the whitepaper didn’t think to break up a wall of text with a key quote or statistic doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. This requires a bit of reading but is worth it when you can provide value in your promotional emails. There is nothing that makes a consumer happier than having to do absolutely nothing to receive a bit of valuable information.
Pictures and Infographics
This is the best option if you have either good pictures or appealing infographics. While many bland assets lack both, you often want to grab anything visually appealing out of it. This can be anything from stock photos to graphs showing off some set of numbers.
When you write copy for a dull asset, you must figure out what makes it that way. Did the author use too many buzzwords? That’s a huge no-no for your copy. No one wants to open an email and see a bunch of words that look like they came straight out of corporate ipsum.
Or does it sound like an academic paper? You don’t want that either. That’s how many people were taught to write, which is why you may run across it in the professional world. It may sound smart, but your readers don’t care how smart you are.
Here are some things you should focus on when you are sifting through a whitepaper looking for value:
You need to remember here that your call to action in your email copy or other promotional copy (landing page, etc.) is not the same as the one in the asset. Often, assets are framed as decision-makers, the final word that could convince someone to buy. Your promotional copy doesn’t have that purpose. You want to convince someone to open the asset, to get the value inside it. The promotional copy and the asset are in two close, but different points in the funnel. Therefore, you must make sure that your copy reflects that.
I would also make sure to read the asset from your target customer’s perspective to determine what matters to them in the asset and what wouldn’t.
The Pain Points
Read through the asset and figure out the pain points for the ideal lead in this area. They are likely inside the asset, just waiting to be pulled out.
This is what makes people buy. If you tell someone they are at risk of something and say it convincingly enough, they will likely jump at the chance to remedy the situation. Your promotional copy is the first step to creating and pushing this urgency.
Many of the same ideas from other sections of this article also apply to the social promotion of assets. The advantage of social media is that the short-medium makes it so you can use a very small part of the asset to promote it. This means you can take just the very best part of a boring asset and utilize the bite-sized nature of social media to show it off.
Short and sweet is the name of the game in social. Quick, sharp, and engaging writing is what you are looking for, pulling from the pain points and urgency from the previous step. You want your audience to click through to the asset, and you have limited space. It needs to be good, or it will not be effective.
Go back to the design section of this and pull those images. Figure out what is most appealing to your audience. Say you are looking for marketers who want metrics. You would want to show them the infographic with the metrics your tool pulls. If someone works in the creative field, a visually inspiring image might be the pull. It’s all about targeting the audience you want and pulling them in.
You may be wondering, “Why should I spend all this time on something that isn’t as good as my promotion?”
The short answer is: you may not have any choice. You may be forced to promote something you don’t love or that you think could be better. And while it isn’t ideal, sometimes repurposing is your only option. Sometimes you can make something greater than the sum of its parts.
If you do your promotions right, even bland assets will already be framed in the right way for your target audience to see their value.
Have you ever been told to use a particularly bad asset in your marketing? What did you do? Share with us and we might feature your response in a future blog post!
This post was originally written by Acadia Otlowski on November 10th, 2020.