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The Internet has turned us into an “I-want-it-NOW!” society.

It provides instant access. Instant information. Instant entertainment. Instant shopping. Instant dating. It has accustomed us to instant gratification of our desires.

It’s made us impatient.

And while the Internet has in many ways been a boon for advertisers, it has also had a negative effect on branding.

With so much data at his fingertips – and bombarding him at every hour of his day – your prospect is overloaded. He’s become bored, trance-like…practically numb in the torrent of information gushing over him. So he retains very little of what he reads (or more likely, scans). The result is weak branding and less business – because your prospect doesn’t remember you.

One solution to this problem, according to white paper marketing guru Michael Stelzner, is to break the “immediate gratification” cycle. Take a counter-intuitive approach – one that few of your competitors will be willing to try: Make your prospect wait a while.

Let me explain.

When most companies offer a white paper, special report or other bait piece to generate leads, what do they do? Some will let you download it without registering – hoping it will interest you enough in their products that you’ll get back to them. Most will require you to register your contact information and then immediately provide you with a link to the document. Instant – or almost instant – gratification.

Winning Through Delayed Gratification

Stelzner recommends NOT providing a download link. Instead, he suggests you fulfill your prospect’s request for your valuable free report by email. And not just one email, but a series of email messages, spaced in time.

I’ll tell you exactly how to do this in a moment. But first I want to explain the benefits of this approach and why it works.

The idea is to create anticipation. Our prospect has grown so accustomed to getting things immediately that he often takes them for granted. So creating anticipation – making our prospect look forward to what he’s going to receive from us – makes our free information offer seem more valuable. Which improves our corporate image.

Anticipation also helps us hold our prospect’s attention. He’s waiting for something from us, so he pays attention to anything we send him. Which gives us greater visibility and improves our branding.

Marketers have long known the power of anticipation. Think about movie trailers…summer automobile ads for models that won’t be available until fall…or any other promotion that includes the words “Coming Soon!”

In the technology arena, Apple has made two notable uses of anticipation: Their famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial for the first Macintosh, and more recently, all the pre-launch publicity for the iPhone.

The Benefits of Anticipation

Delaying delivery of your white paper or special report creates a number of benefits for you – provided you’ve created some desire for that report through your landing page.

First, it gives you the opportunity to develop some name recognition and engagement. Fulfilling his request through multiple emails gives you multiple “touches” with your prospect. You get your brand in front of him several times while you’ve got his attention. So he’s more likely to remember you later.

Second, since your prospect is expecting a delivery from you, high open rates are practically guaranteed. This gives you the chance to extend the relationship. In your confirmation email, for example, you could tell your prospect how he can get a second valuable report by signing up for your newsletter or visiting your website or blog.

Even if he doesn’t take you up on your additional offer, he’s more likely to open future emails from you because he knows you offer value. And that creates additional opportunity: Keep giving him information he can use, and you’ll transform your relationship – from vendor to trusted advisor.

This strategy also improves the quality of your leads. Since delivery is by email, you discourage those who might be tempted to give you a false email address just to get the paper.

Finally, anticipation increases your prospect’s desire for your white paper and its perceived value in his mind. This greatly improves the chances he will actual read your white paper, and likewise, your chances of turning that prospect into a customer. In short, the main reason or benefit for using this strategy is this: It improves response.

Now let’s look at how to implement Stelzner’s strategy for best results.

Four Steps Towards Stronger Branding, Better Leads and Higher Response

STEP 1: Tell your prospect he will receive his white paper by email.

On your registration or landing page, make it clear that delivery will be by email. This ensures you will get a good email address during the registration process.

You may also want to ask him to “whitelist” the address from which the white paper (and your other messages) will be emailed, to ensure future deliveries.

STEP 2: Send a confirmation email BEFORE you send the white paper.

Once your prospect has completed your registration form, he should get a confirmation screen that does three things:

  • Thanks him for registering,
  • Tells him he will receive an order confirmation and his free white paper by email “shortly,”
  • Confirms the email address he’s provided.

Most likely, your prospect will immediately check his email. You don’t want to disappoint him. But you don’t want to send your paper right away, either.

So you send him a confirmation email. It should start off something like this:

Dear [recipient’s name],

Thank you for registering to receive your copy of our new special report, “[title].” Your order is being processed. You should receive your copy of “[title]” within the next 24 hours.

This is NOT a redundant step. There are a number of subtle differences between the confirmation email you’ll send and the confirmation screen your prospect has just come from.

First, you obviously don’t need to confirm the recipient’s email address. The fact that he’s received this message verifies that he’s been registered correctly. Second, by indicating his order is being processed, you imply some human intervention – a touch of personal service. And you give your recipient a deadline by which he can expect delivery. You may also want to tell your recipient what to do if he doesn’t receive his white paper before that deadline.

This first part of your message is a simple professional courtesy. It improves your corporate image.

But what’s really important is what you say next. Here you have the chance to extend your relationship by upselling your prospect. If you publish a newsletter, offer him a free subscription. Better yet, if you have a bait piece for you newsletter tell him about that – briefly – and how he can get it just for subscribing.

If you don’t have a newsletter, you could invite your recipient to follow your blog or follow you on Twitter. A vehicle that provides periodic contact is best, but an invitation to visit your website can work as well. Just be sure to tell him a reason for doing so – why he might find it useful.

Step 3: Wait a bit, then deliver your white paper.

After a suitable delay, it’s time send your white paper.

In your delivery message, give your recipient a brief summary of your landing page. Tell him again about all the great information that’s waiting for him inside. Remind him why he requested it in the first place. You want him to read your white paper. Motivate him.

Then give a brief reminder of the upsell offer you made, along with the appropriate links. If you didn’t get him to subscribe with your confirmation message, you may get him now that he has your white paper in hand.

How long should you wait to send this message? Stelzner recommends 10-20 minutes. Even in that small amount of time, he says, you’ll often get emails from people saying, “Where’s my white paper? I need it now!”

You can delay longer, if you like. But you probably shouldn’t wait more than a couple of hours. You want to ensure delivery well ahead of your 24 hour deadline, and the next message you’re going to send.

Step 4: Follow-up the next day to confirm delivery and encourage reading.

And finally, twenty-four hours after receipt of your customer’s order, send a follow-up email to confirm delivery – just in case your delivery message or the attached white paper got blocked by your recipient’s firewall or spam filter.

In this message, you:

  • Thank him again for his order,
  • State that by now he should have received his white paper,
  • Express hope that he will find it useful, reiterating a benefit he should get from it,
  • Tell him what to do if he didn’t receive his white paper,
  • Briefly repeat your upsell offer.

What do you tell your prospect to do if he didn’t receive his white paper? At this point, you could include a link for download — you already have his contact data. But it’s best if he replies to the email he received. Tell him you’ll arrange to provide the paper “via alternative means” once he responds. That way, you can state the same procedure in your earlier order confirmation email. The “alternate means” can be a personalized download link delivered in a later email.

With these four steps, you’ve had four contacts with your prospect instead of just one. In other words you’ve multiplied your brand exposure – the likelihood your prospect will remember you – by a factor of four. You’ve also built anticipation for your white paper, thus greatly improving the chances it will be read. And you’ve also had three opportunities to create an ongoing relationship with your prospect. Opportunities you otherwise would have missed.

Try this procedure the next time you offer a white paper or special report to generate leads. It’s guaranteed to boost your response and improve your lead quality.

And if you need a copywriter to create your next lead generation white paper – and the landing page and email messages you need to capture those leads – you can reach me by email at, or by phone at (+39) 011 569 4951.

Want more ideas for boosting lead generation and ROI with you marketing literature? Not already a subscriber? Click here to sign up for Technical Response.

Take-away Points

Information overload in the Internet era has led to poor retention of marketing messages and weaker branding.

One way to break the cycle is by creating anticipation of your lead generation pieces by delaying delivery.

Delayed delivery of your bait piece through a series of emails, spaced in time:

  • Increases your brand exposure,
  • Improves your open rates,
  • Generates desire for your piece, thus increasing the chances it will be read,
  • Improves lead quality,
  • Creates multiple opportunities to extend your relationship,
  • Improves response and ROI.
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