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Profitably Using White Paper

Posted by Christine Taylor on: 2005-08-06 14:11:33

Self SEO > Copywriting Articles


Profitably Using White Papers
By Christine Taylor



Most B2B companies have a white paper under their belts or are planning to write one. But it's not enough to write a white paper. You also need to distribute your white paper to your prospective customers and channel partners. For example, channel executives can sharply increase qualified leads to pass along to their channel partners and can offer the same white paper for channel partner sponsorship. Marketing executives can generate a steady stream of qualified leads, passing hot leads directly to Sales, and successfully grooming warm leads through the sales cycle. And PR executives can raise brand awareness in the marketplace and leverage awareness into qualified leads for marketing campaigns and sales. Marketing your white paper correctly will increase qualified leads making back your investment many times over.

#1 Target your white paper to readers who need your technology - and know it.

White papers are notorious for sitting on a company's Website doing pretty much nothing. There are reasons for that:

A. The white paper isn't right for its target market, or…
B. The white paper wasn't written well to begin with or…
C. The white paper doesn't compel readers to find out more or…
D. All of the above!

Don't let this happen to you - wasting your investment in a white paper is like setting fire to a sheaf of bills. The money you spend to write the white paper whether in staff time or hiring a professional writer is a poor investment if nobody reads it or responds. But by marketing a well-crafted white paper to the right audience, you'll dramatically increase your ROI - making a white paper your best single marketing investment and the core of your marketing communications program.

Who's the right audience? Readers who:
1.Know they have a problem and need to fix it.
2.Can make a decision to purchase your product (decision makers/executives), or can alert someone who does (influencers/IT), or can resell your product to their customers (channel partners).

Decision Makers/Executives. Decision makers are the managers and executives who have the final say in spending budget and buying your products and services. They are often CIOs but may be C-level executives of any stripe who are interested adopting technology that serves their business needs. White papers written to decision makers should contain a strong business focus.

Decision makers are comfortable with white papers. They'll use search engines to get to them and use search terms on technical libraries. If they like your white paper, they'll pass it along to other executives and staff. They would much rather read a white paper before talking to a sales representative - in fact, decision makers are just the kind of long-term lead that Sales usually ignores, but who consistent marketing and marketing communications can bring on board within the year. The Sales department then enters the picture to confirm facts and negotiate the sale.

This role, which has decision makers proactively researching new technologies for business advantage, is an increasing trend: CIO Magazine reports that 68 percent of CIOs believe that CIOs should proactively envision business opportunities and apply technology to achieve them. Your white paper can help the decision makers do that.

Influencers/IT. IT staff and managers aren't looking for a spec sheet but for a technology that will meet a pressing need. They're using white papers much earlier in their buying cycles. A recent TechTarget survey reported that 79% of IT professionals read white papers to learn something new about technology relevant to their job, 73% of them consider white papers very valuable for keeping up-to-date on the latest technology trends, and 62% said they use white papers to get information on actual implementations.

This means that putting white papers where IT can find them will get their attention very early in their buying cycle and guiding prospects through the decision-making process so you'll be top-of-mind when they're ready to make their short vendor list. With 9 out of 10 prospects using white papers to research vendor capabilities, the last thing you want is for your white paper to sit around gathering dust.

Channel partners. It's a real trick to get marcomm into the hands of your channel partners, especially if you have a large partner network. Even companies with partner portals find that their partners rarely consistently download product marcomm. One way around this is to actively distribute a compelling white paper on your technology to partners, who in turn can use the white paper to sell your product to their customers.

Using white papers with channel partners, especially during new product launches, increases sales, decreases expenses and reduces complexity.

#2 Persuade prospective customers to respond to your offer and download your white paper.

Your white paper is useless unless the right people read it. Once you know who your best prospects are, you must offer your white paper where they'll see it and respond by filling out a registration form and downloading a copy. Depending on the readership you're trying to reach, this could mean electronic and direct mailings, newsletter sponsorship, content syndication and paid search/contextual advertising.

Top B2B White Paper Marketing Strategies in 2005

1. Mailings, email and print: Mailings, whether email or print, are a great way to reach your targeted audience. Use email to reach mid-level professionals and managers, and use direct mail with high-level executives. Use in-house and highly targeted lists like VARBusiness.com to reach channel partners and partner prospects.

2. Newsletter sponsorship: Advertising in a newsletter targeted to your audience works very well with mid-level IT professionals. Since a popular newsletter can go to more than 10,000 subscribers, this is an excellent balancing technique to direct mailings. Use trade journal newsletters directed to resellers to reach the channel.

3. Content syndication: Posting white papers on syndication sites like Bitpipe and TechTarget works especially well for white papers in hot categories. Ideally, links should point to a landing page that's specific to your white paper.

Paid search/Contextual advertising: Method of presenting ads based on user-entered keyword searches. Google Adwords is a popular method of paid search, and contextual ads extend keyword search into business and IT sites.

Here are some practical applications:

Channel executives. Reach existing and prospective channel partners through mailings. Email is ideal for partner sales reps while direct mail is best for high-level partner executives. In-house lists can be golden, but if you rent an outside list make sure it's highly targeted to the people you want to reach and that it's scrupulously cleaned. Also post your white papers on content syndication sites; you can pass on the resulting leads to partners as well as your direct sales force.

Marketing executives. Do all of the above. Send email and direct mailings in-house and other trusted lists, syndicated content on the top syndication sites, sponsor popular newsletters to your targeted prospects, and invest in paid search in Google and business/IT sites.

PR executives. Offer your white paper in mailings to media and include a copy in your press kit. Reporters that will dump a press release in a hot second will stop to read a good white paper. Suddenly your client's approach to solving a business problem becomes a valuable resource for the reporter instead of an annoying intrusion.

Titles and abstracts

Compelling titles and abstracts pull readers to click on a link to download the white paper (content syndication sites) or be sent to a landing page customized for the white paper (everything else). Take a hint from extensive ad testing - headlines are responsible for at least 50% and as much as 75% of an ad's responses rates. White paper downloads depend on the same element.

Here is an example of before-and-after titles and abstracts:

Before: Not compelling, to say the least
Title: "Protecting Your Email Directory with Guardian Software from SecureLock"
Abstract: "Many challenges are faced today by email administrators. This white paper from SecureLock describes how Guardian Software protects email directories from Directory Harvest Attacks."

After: A whole lot better
Title: "How Spammers are Assaulting Your Critical Systems and How to Stop Them"
Abstract: "How secure are your critical messaging systems from outside attack? Most corporations say email security is a top priority, but all they do is set up a virus checker and call it a day. This white paper investigates the challenge of fighting off spam, hacking, phishing and harvesting attacks, and tells you how to protect your vital email systems today and in the future."
Which one are you more likely to download?

#3 Once the prospect has downloaded your white paper, ask permission to contact - then do it.

Some prospects will be ready to talk to a salesperson right away. These so-called hot leads go directly to the direct sales force or channel partners. The challenge lies in the warm leads - people who are interested enough to register and download your white paper, but who aren't ready to purchase in 3 months or less. These leads often get lost, which is a shame - a large percentage of them do end up buying within 6 months, and even more within the year.

Registration forms will allow you to capture the lead and to request permission to contact. One of the best ways to encourage a prospect to respond and give permission to contact is by encouraging them with a specific landing page optimized to your white paper. The great beauty of a landing page is that it vastly increases white paper requests and registrations, and increase permission responses to send the prospect other materials like newsletters, articles, and promotional mailings. This is key to warming up a lead and bringing them to a purchase decision: regular, permission-based contact keeps your product top-of-mind when the prospect is ready to buy.


About the Author

Christine Taylor is the principal of the Christine Taylor Company. Christine concentrates on writing Core Collateral like white papers, bylined articles and case studies, which is the foundation of the successful B2B marketing outreach. You can reach Christine at 760-249-6071 or at christine@ctaylor-co.com. Visit her website at www.ctaylor-co.com and her blog at http://christinetaylor.typepad.com/core_collateral.




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