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Use Pull Quotes to Pull Readers into Your White Paper

by | Apr 18, 2016 | B2B Copywriting, Collateral, White Papers, Content Marketing, callouts, pull quotes | 0 comments

It’s common knowledge – and if you’re a longtime reader of this publication, you’ve read it here many times – that most business readers will scan a white paper or other marketing content, before they’ll commit to reading it.

Scanning – or skimming, as it’s also called – is a key survival tactic of today’s time-challenged executive. It’s a form of triage that helps them decide quickly whether a particular piece of content holds answers to their pressing business questions, and is thus worth an investment of their scarce reading time.

That means that we, as marketers, need to think like scanners. We need to help our prospects quickly find the answers they’re looking for, if we want them to read our content and absorb our key messages.

Luckily, one of the most effective tools for aiding scanners is also one of the simplest and easiest to use. It’s called the pull quote.

What is a Pull Quote?

Pull_Quote_DefinitionA pull quote – or a callout, as it’s also known  – is a short portion of text pulled from the body of your content piece and isolated in an open area, surrounded by plenty of white space. Pull quotes usually appear in broad margin areas, in breaks between paragraphs or in text boxes, depending on how the rest of the page is laid out.

Pull quotes can be used in practically any type of marketing content. But in this article, I’ll address their use from a white paper perspective.

Good candidates for pull quotes in a white paper include:

  • A sentence that summarizes the problem your white paper addresses
  • A sentence summarizing the new solution your white paper proposes
  • An important fact driving the market toward your proposed solution
  • A relevant quote from a credible source
  • Any other key message that helps make a strong case for your solution

The Benefits of Pull Quotes

The judicious use of pull quotes in a white paper benefits both the reader and the marketer.

Pull quotes help prospects quickly find answers to their questions as they scan a new white paper. A pull quote is likely the first thing a reader will notice when turning to a new page. So it’s very likely the pull quote will be read during the scanning phase. If these pull quotes offer answers to the reader’s business problems, he or she will likely read your entire white paper.

In other words, pull quotes expedite the prospect’s read/don’t-read decision.

And since pull quotes are highly likely to be read by scanners, marketers can use them to lure more prospects into reading the full text of the white paper. You do this by using pull quotes to highlight your white paper’s key points in a well-ordered sequence.

Pull_Quote_BenefitJonathan Kantor, author of Crafting White Paper 2.0, refers to this orderly sequencing of callouts as “serial callout storytelling.” In this strategy, the callouts or pull quotes work hand in hand with section headers, another copy element widely read by scanners. The section headers propose the questions your prospect is likely to have in mind. The callouts offer the answers. Thus, the callouts highlight the main points of your white paper and summarize the case for your solution.

Best Practices for Using Pull Quotes

The following is a list of tips to keep in mind when selecting pull quotes or callouts for your white paper:

  1. Use only one pull quote on a page. Multiple callouts will draw attention away from one another, and may cause readers to miss the most important point.
  2. Use the most important message on the page. Think from your prospects’ perspective. Choose the message that’s most important to them, and make that your callout.
  3. Make them stand out. Use a font that is at least one size larger than the body copy. Consider other treatments, such as font styling, text boxes and shading. Pull quotes that draw the eye are far more likely to be read.
  4. Don’t use pull quotes on pages with other attention-getters. Leave them off pages that contain illustrations, graphs, tables and bullet lists, which will naturally draw the eye away from the callout.
  5. Keep them short. Limit pull quotes to one sentence of less than 20 words. Trim words from the original body copy when necessary.

Take-away Points

  1. To get your white paper read, you must cater to the scanning habits of today’s business reader.
  2. Pull quotes are an effective tool for getting the core message of your white paper across during your reader’s preliminary scanning process.
  3. A pull quote – or callout – is a short portion of text pulled from the body of your white paper and isolated in an open area, surrounded by plenty of white space.
  4. Pull quotes benefit the business reader by expediting the scanning process.
  5. Pull quotes benefit the marketer by highlighting the key messages your prospect is looking for, helping to draw the prospect into your white paper.
  6. Choose the most important message on the page as your pull quote.
  7. Keep pull quotes short, isolated and important.
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