On the NPR quiz show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, they've taken to asking celebrity guests on "Not My Job" a multiple choice question—where all the choices are right! It makes sense. Number one, it allows them to give three correct pieces of information, and two, nobody loses. I thought of that watching Jim Sinkinson give his thorough, benefit-laden Copywriting Bootcamp today at Day 2 of BIMS 2020.
“Good subject lines or bad?” Sinkinson quizzed the big group.
1. “Need a CA.-specific handbook ASAP? Here you go.” (“Bad. What is it?”)
2. “When FMLA gets tricky.” (Bad. No problem, no solution.”)
3. “Dads make more buying decisions.” (“Bad. We don’t know what to make of it.”)
He might have listed a couple good ones that I missed. But Sinkinson was made for virtual. Yesterday Bob Bejan, Microsoft’s events guru, told us that speakers have to be more cinematic now and less theatrical, pretend you’re having X number of one-on-one conversations.
What did Sinkinson tell me after his session? “It’s different. I feel like I’m having a whole bunch of one-on-one conversations." He gets it.
There was a lot of getting it Thursday at BIMS 2020. I don’t think anyone is going to walk away from this event—and into the next room—saying they didn’t get enough useful information.
Here are five highlights from today:
“What will keep them and what else might they want [after a couple years of subscribing]?” data journalist and founder of The Plug, Sherrell Dorsey asked in her opening keynote. She's proud of their membership structure but admitted it's hard. “People have to feel like they trust you. For us it wasn’t just about being loud. There are lots of larger publishers. For us it was about doing something deeper—taking our time to be intentional about the type of stories we need to be doing… and having a level of expertise that we can bring to the conversation.” She added that while “people do value community even more so now,” it’s hard to provide. “We’re working to recreate that… People want to know that there’s a real-life human being behind this stuff, a level of authenticity.”
“Don’t try to emulate an in-person event,” Eric Shanfelt told us in an informative virtual event session. “Focus on profitability and audience development, not revenue.” Merek Bigelow, executive editor, Loss Prevention Magazine, added that audience development has been their biggest success in virtual events and they’ve enjoyed a greater profit margin. “How can you shift the content to be engaging in a digital platform? It does allow people to layer in an element of casualness and create it as an opportunity so people want to be there.”
Build relationships now. “Building relationships with new prospects means that when we are able to do this in person, a hybrid format will bring those people into the fold as well,” said Dorian Sullivan, VP, audience development, National Association of Broadcasters, in that same session. “We want to have a year-round relationship.” Added Bigelow: “You assume that same content will resonate. It really won’t. You have to look for ways to create that interactive conversation.” Sullivan said that they are looking at their speakers in a new way, where they will be asked to contribute to the ongoing conversation of the community. “We’re looking to revise our contract [by requiring] two thought leadership pieces before the show, and maybe a webinar after.”
In your data world, strive for accuracy. Shawn McCarthy, VP of operations and general manager, Endeavor Business Media, and Mary Tangen, vice president, strategic initiatives, agriculture, DTN, presented the session, Product Is the New Content: Case Studies in Data Monetization. Data licensing is a big part of both of their successful ventures. “Ask for intended use,” Tangen said. It’s a major item. “Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal if it’s not right. And strive for accuracy. We have over 90% retention rate so we’re doing something right.” McCarthy runs MAPSearch, which combines one of the leading providers of locational accuracy, comprehensive coverage, robust attribute data, and exceptional customer services. Asked how they price it, he said you look at the history and then the ROI. “What did it take to get the product and data?”
“What experience do you create for customers?” Sinkinson asked. “How do customers use your products to get results?” He wants you to focus on benefits. “Our customers buy benefits not features. A benefit is the promise to transform someone’s life for the better.” Think about what makes a difference in people’s lives, he said. “Use provocative language in a subject line. Stir things up.”
Former writer at The Washington Post, publications manager for Washington Redskins and editor at Newspaper Association of America
Specialties: runs a large arts group at www.meetup.com/ArtHouseDC