February 10, 2004
If you're considering having your CEO (or other top exec) communicate in a more personal way with customers and prospects via a headshot and audio clip on your Web site, you'll find this Case Study very useful.
Includes three practical tips on how to script an audio-clip, how long it should be, and a sample script:
Stephen Meade, CEO at GBUCs, has one of the toughest b-to-b marketplaces to crack -- COOs and CFOs at huge organizations including governments, large public school systems, and big companies.
"If they have lots of locations and $50-$100 million in assets like typical office equipment such as chairs, it makes our tool worthwhile."
The sales cycle requires a lot of personal touch -- including working his board members' connections and constantly meeting with high-level people in places like Washington DC.
Meade began to realize that most prospects were using the Web as a reference to check their bearings immediately prior to a first meeting. They'd see from their schedule that they had to meet with some company they didn't know much about, so they'd type in the URL for a quick look-see just before they walked out the door to go greet him.
How could Meade make the site work harder - and include a personal touch - for that quick, just-prior-to-meeting, viewer?
Meade had already had his Web team to put up a special site for RONAstar (the particular product he was pitching) so prospects could go to a branded, dedicated, www.ronastar.com URL to learn about it, rather than hunting around on his main GBUCs corporate site.
Last November, he decided to add one more flourish to the home page -- a smiling headshot of himself so prospects could see who they'd be meeting with, plus a quick rich media presentation they could view to get up to speed prior to the meeting.
Prospects are sometimes wary of Flash demos because a demo might take too much time, repeat information you're about to hear in the meeting anyway, and it might take over their computer screen. So, Meade limited the presentation to a small viewable box right on the home page next to his photo.
The headline said, "Is saving money important?" The click line read, "Listen here" with an audio icon next to it.
Then everyone who clicked would hear Meade speaking for 45-seconds about the product. Plus, a few key points scrolled up on the boxes' screen as eye candy while they listened. Why just 45-seconds? It's about the limit of what you can send without annoying buffering wait time to many big organization's computers, plus it's also the limit of most people's attention span. You don't want to bore or annoy them.
It took Meade about two and a half hours to write the script and record it, via phone to his tech vendor, for the 45-second spot. His advice for others:
Tip #1. Outline your big points first
Instead of writing a script from scratch, first boil down everything you'd like to get across into a list of points that next you'll flesh out with verbiage. It's like creating a telegraphic version of your elevator pitch.
Meade admits that it was harder than he thought even though he's the company CEO. "I had six or seven points, which was probably 120-seconds. You have to shorten the message, condense it, and then put them in order of most relevance." He got his list down to five.
Tip #2. Don't "hear" your script in your head
Meade says the biggest mistake most scriptwriters make is to silently read through what they've written, listening to their words inside their heads instead of with their ears. "There's a disconnect in the timing. When you actually speak a script out loud, it's invariably much longer than you thought."
He also advises that you read your script out loud to a few other people to make it sounds good to them as well. Don't show them it written up, make them listen.
Tip #3. Pre-plan inflections and pauses
A strategic pause, especially in the middle of a sentence, can make your speech much more powerful. So you actually need to copywrite pauses and inflections just as you write the words to be said.
"It doesn't have to be a very long pause," Meade says. "A planned pause helps you emphasize a certain point. It's actually more interesting when they are waiting and anticipating at a critical point what the next word is going to be. 'This is how much it's going to save you… and the answer is…'"
Here's a copy of Meade's script with pauses carefully noted:
"Is saving money important to your organization? (pause) Does your company have a process to identify idle assets (pause) and redeploy them? (pause) Is reducing purchasing costs important to you? (pause) If the answer's yes to any of these questions then you need RONAStar.
Hello, my name's Stephen Meade, the CEO of GBUCs, and I'd
like to introduce you to a resource (pause) optimization tool, (pause) RONAStar. (pause) RONAStar's a Web based system that acts as an eternal Ebay-like application (pause) and it works for large corporations, (pause) school systems, and government entities. (pause) RONAStar provides global visibility of idle assets (pause) and enables the easy process (pause) for internal transfer of assets (pause) in and among business units.
Historically, over 10% of a company's asset base is idle (pause) or un-utilized. (pause) The process and ability to redeploy even a small percentage of these (pause) can result in dramatic savings (pause), and results that go straight to the bottom line. For more information or an online demo (pause), contact us at sales (pause) @Ronastar.com. (pause)
Thanks and we look forward to serving you."
Once the presentation was posted to the site, Meade emailed his current hot prospects a quick, polite, text-only note letting them know about it. Plus, he also began to routinely include a link to it in every single meeting confirmation email he sent out from then on.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that Meade's audio presentation is very popular, especially with executives who arrange meetings with him outside of their offices -- such as at trade shows, in government building lobbies, and at restaurants.
They often go to the site just to see the headshot so they'll be able to pick him out in the crowd wherever they are meeting.
(Because Meade's meeting with folks such as the global directors of Homeland Security, he can't just run up to their offices. So, outside meeting locations have become critical.)
"Even if they read the print materials, they are still going to the site and listening as a precursor before the meeting. The audio helps them understand the key points," says Meade.
He adds, "The picture and audio adds another level of personalization. Here's a picture of a guy and I can hear his voice. That creates a psychological connection completely different from anything static."
Note: Meade wasn't able to give us any useful stats for this article because he only sends top prospects to his site to view the audio -- it's not enough metrics to be statistically reliable. However, we learned from another site that uses the same tactic, roughly 4% of unique home page visitors (who have not been specifically directed to) click on the audio link.
Useful links related to this article:
The RONAstar site with the headshot and audio:
Tech Image's Deskside Chat ™, the tech that Meade used to create his 45-second presentation:
MarketingSherpa past article -- Adding Audio to Email Campaigns: Inspiration from 4 Marketers, 5 Tips, and 5 Vendors (There is a fee to access this)