Why White Papers should be Part of Your 2011 Marketing Strategy

Updated: December 20, 2010

  1. White Papers enhance credibility via high value, educational content
    Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where image is more highly valued than substance. Unfortunately, this principle doesn't work too well when you're evaluating a 100K enterprise-level business solution. For these circumstances, decision makers are hungry for high-quality business information that is more fact-based than image-based. White papers gain credibility by leveraging verifiable industry data backed up by highly recognized, credible information resources.

    This idea of credibility is a central attribute that is responsible for the continued demand for white papers in the commercial business sector. As a result of their high degree of credibility, white papers build reader affinity with their business decision maker audience.

    When white papers do not provide educational content and instead confine their content to promoting products, their sponsors make the task of leveraging white papers to generate warm business leads much harder.

  2. White Papers build strong brand recognition and market leadership
    As a result of Reason #1, business readers have a first impression of any organization that offers a "white paper" as having a highly degree of ‘believability'. When a business marketer identifies a document as a "white paper", there are certain content expectations they for both the document and the organization providing it.

    But this marketing strategy comes with a double-edged sword. If a white paper doesn't deliver high quality, educational content and instead is understood to be an overt sales message, the ability to leverage white papers again in the future becomes harder. Any future white papers after that point will be viewed as overt marketing documents making it harder for that marketer to achieve key marketing goals such as lead generation, market leadership, competitive analysis, strategic partnerships, or vision casting.

    The good news is that an organization offering high quality white papers can realize greater success over a longer period of time than other marketing deliverables, as the Eccolo Media survey shows. The time, effort, and money invested in high quality white papers, provides a significant ROI in the form of market leadership, lead generation, and brand image enhancement.

  3. White Papers are often used to make the first impression of a business
    White papers stand out among a mixed portfolio of other business marketing deliverables such as brochures, product datasheets, videos, etc. When white papers are offered along with other deliverables, their highly recognizable name often makes them one of the first, if not THE first document downloaded from a content library and read by prospective customers conducting marketing/product research.

    This means that the quality of your white paper will often determine the customer's perspective of your entire organization. Offer your readers a highly technical, text-only white paper and the first impression of your firm will be complex, unsophisticated, and overtly technical organization.

    On the other hand, offer your readers a heavily graphic-laden white paper with little substance and your organization will be viewed more of a marketer than a serious solution provider.

    A good white paper must strike the balance between the two concepts. A good white paper will attract today's short attention reader with visually pleasing professional design and easy-to-understand concept graphics that draws them into more substantial high-quality educational text-based content. Using this approach, the first impression that readers will often make of an organization that provides high quality, designed white papers is that of a professional, easy to understand, and highly knowledgeable, credible solution provider.

  4. White Papers can be repurposed into a wide range of marketing uses
    Once a white paper has been developed, the high quality content they contain yields a number of additional and valuable marketing uses. For example:

    • Email Marketing - Include a white paper to email existing customers for greater brand reinforcement or leverage it to find new prospective customers.
    • Newsletter Sign-up incentive - This is one of the most frequently used incentives today to incent a customer to signup for a corporate newsletter.
    • Seminar Supplement - Seminar presentations are often developed based on white paper content, making great supplements to hand out during seminar topic or concept.
    • Sales Leave Behind - When white papers include educational content designed to educate new or prospective customers, they make excellent documents that can be left behind after a sales call with a target business decision maker.
    • Website Lead Generator - This is one of the most popular uses of white papers and a mainstay for most website landing pages. White papers provide the incentive for user registration and subsequent lead generation.

  5. White Papers Amplify intra-Enterprise Lead Generation
    Once an administrator or decision maker has downloaded a white paper, it is often passed along and read by several decision makers within an organization. Each time a white paper is read by an additional decision maker or influencer, it provides an additional opportunity to influence that person directly responsible for the solution acquisition or to enhance a brand image for those not directly involved in the procurement process. It is not uncommon to find a single white paper read by dozens of enterprise employees within the same organization, whether they are part of the overall decision-making process or not.

    The same ‘ripple effect' cannot be said for other popular marketing deliverables. When was the last time someone forwarded a brochure, guide or datasheet to you? Probably far less than a well-researched and highly valued educational white paper.
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