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Been There, Done That, Got The White Paper

White Paper

Why now is the best time to re-launch your inbound marketing campaign with compelling content.

If you have abandoned white papers in favor of the latest social media idea, it may be time to revisit what is still the most effective inbound marketing tool out there today.

You’ve no doubt heard all the dismissive comments about white papers (and maybe even used a few to rationalize your decision not to offer any new ones):

  • Our prospects are already overwhelmed with information as it is.
  • There’s no perceived value in something we give away for free.
  • Our prospects are too jaded now – they know we’re just collecting their contact information.
  • A well-written glossy brochure will give our prospects the information they need anyway.
  • We don’t need white papers anymore – our prospects can find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, or our website.

All of those observations are correct, but when considered objectively, they are also the very reasons why you should now be ordering new and compelling white papers for your marketing campaign.

Let’s look at each observation:

Our prospects are already overwhelmed with information as it is

What better opportunity could you ask for to help your overwhelmed prospect and differentiate your product or service from the mass of competing information. A well-written white paper that directly addresses the prospects’ needs, offers clear content that highlights benefits (as opposed to a sales pitch), and presents valuable data that your prospect can use to support the purchasing decision, has become a rarity in today’s social media obsessed world.

There’s no perceived value in something we give away for free

The perceived value of a white paper depends heavily on how it is presented to your prospects. If all you have is a call-to-action link with “download your free white paper now!” you will most likely get lost in the shuffle. Better positioning leads to higher perceived value. Why not drop the term ‘white paper’ altogether? Call it an ‘executive briefing’ or ‘special report’, and focus on a topic that is likely to be relevant to your target prospects rather than offering a catch-all generic commentary about your organization.

Our prospects are too jaded now – they know we’re just collecting their contact information

Jaded prospects are a frustration for every marketing professional, but those prospects are still smart enough to realize that information cannot be gathered without communication. Getting on a mailing list is no longer such a major commitment (how many are you on, can you remember?) and unsubscribing only takes a couple of mouse clicks. A targeted, informative report that helps your prospect move forward in the buying process can still be a fair trade for an email address.

A well-written glossy brochure will give our prospects the information they need anyway.

There is no doubt that brochures convey legitimacy and serve a useful purpose at trade shows for the generally inquisitive buyer. However, your targeted prospects are likely to be looking for the steak rather than the sizzle. If they are compiling a short list of prospective candidates, they want more than legitimacy and gloss – they want the kind of hard data that only a well-written white paper can provide.

We don’t need white papers anymore – our prospects can find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, or our website.

In this new social media-centric world, marketing professionals are now blessed with multiple potential contact points with prospects and customers alike. Depending on your preferred venue (or venues), those contacts can be specifically targeted and timed to present a very personal dialog, but the opportunity to convey hard data can be restricted by the respective operating parameters of each venue. Can you convey everything you want to say in 140 characters? Or do you offer a call-to-action with a link to a more compelling piece of marketing content that provides the precise information that your targeted prospect is looking for?

A well written white paper that is targeted, informative, and offers a compelling message to your prospects can still beat all the ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ you could hope to gain in social media. It may never go viral, but if it gives your prospect the hard data that he or she needs to make an informed decision in purchasing your product or service, what better definition of success could you ask for?

To continue this conversation and discuss how white papers can complement your marketing strategy, contact us today.

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