So, first to be clear about some things:
First: Lists: What I mean is the popular-offer/subject-line-grabber technique of 100 Best Ways to “X” or 10 Reasons You Shouldn’t “X.”
Second: George Carlin . If you don’t know him, read about him on Wikipedia.
Third: Offers can be blog posts, article headlines, whitepaper headlines, Webinar topics, email subject lines and so on.
So, I am listening to the radio, and the host is talking about George Carlin, who passed away this year due to heart failure. Here is how he described Carlin: “George Carlin is known primarily for his ‘seven dirty words act’ … ” The “seven dirty words act” is of course George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.”
OK, so do the math. This dude did stand-up comedy and movies for 40 to 50 years. He was known as being funnier than hell. At the end of the day, Carlin will always be remembered by the ultimate list headline: “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” The seven words take one minute to list, and the monologue was one act in an entire career. Yet it is what everyone turns to when they describe Carlin’s career.
George Carlin proves one thing: You cannot stop the use of lists for marketing success. You can only hope to contain it.
Ironically, as I was thinking about this offer, I figured that I should do some research on it, and, lucky me, some of my favorite bloggers have some great posts on the subject:
- Michael Stelzner from Writing Whitepapers blog: “Two Reasons Numbers Still Work in titles“
- Two posts from Brian Clark of Copyblogger: “7 Reasons Why List Posts Will Always Work” and “5 Reasons Why the List Post Is Dead“
One thing is true: With the blogosphere and the multitude of people trying to capture eyeballs, the list technique has never been more prevalent. But the bottom line is that it still works.
Then there’s this comment from MacStansbury in the “7 Reasons” article:
“It’s getting so bad with the lists, I’m almost to the point I don’t want to read a post if there’s a list. Of course, I’m still writing posts like that, because it works!”
Why does it work for approaching B2B buyers? B2B buyers have no time and want their information from people whom they trust or that they believe are thought leaders. The list approach conveys the following to a B2B buyer:
- Easy to Read: The list format gives a feeling that your offer will be “to the point” and can be consumed quickly and easily.
- Authority and Thought Leadership: Making a list is authoritative and definitive.
The most important factor is that the list technique still works, and B2B marketers should take notice. Also take notice that if you haven’t been doing it, everyone else has, so you have to still be creative and think outside the box on how you present a list. George Carlin would be proud.