Not All Industrial White Papers Merit Registration

White papers are used most frequently for lead generation and nurturing in industrial marketing. Many of these white papers are very technical and require engineers and other domain experts to spend quite a bit of their time in producing these content marketing assets. A freelance copywriter cannot create them with an hour or two of work.

It is natural for industrial companies to want to maximize their ROI after investing all that time and resources. However, should all industrial white papers be gated – require registration? There are two schools of thought on this.

On one hand, you have those who insist on registration because they believe it is an equitable value exchange. Free knowledge and valuable educational content in exchange for contact information.

Then there are those who advocate setting all your content free. This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky concept. There are well-known content marketers in this camp.

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Variety of Content is the Key in the Early Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle

In the early stages of the industrial buy cycle, you as the marketer have very little information about the visitor to help you tailor your marketing content to their needs.

In Needs Awareness and Research phases, the first two stages of the industrial buy cycle (see my earlier post Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle) your prospects and customers use a variety of online content to find solutions to their current problems and needs.

The chart below shows the variety of content used at different stages of the industrial buy cycle (Source: Understanding the Industrial Buy Cycle: How to Align Your Marketing with Your Customers’ Buying Process from GlobalSpec).

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White Papers Prove Their Worth Once Again

Technical and b-to-b marketers usually include white papers in their marketing mix. Now, there’s even more evidence that they are indeed valuable in influencing the buying decision. Eccolo Media, a content strategy services company did an online survey of 155 technology buyers last August. A whopping 86% of respondents found white papers to be the most effective piece of marketing collateral.

Lorie Loe, president of Eccolo Media said, “They are definitely the best investment you can make in terms of your collateral budget.”

The same survey asked the respondents to rank various marketing collateral based on the how they influenced the buying decision. White papers were ranked number one as being the most influential. Brochures and case studies were number two and three respectively. Even though product brochures and data sheets were the most frequently used collateral type, they were ranked as being the least influential.

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Yesterday’s Nerdy White Paper Becomes Today’s Top Marketing Weapon

The white paper – what began as a wordy, complicated, techie document has become the cool, neat catalyst for generating insatiable demand, and freelance writers are cashing in with corporate content in 2009. And when a Google search for “white papers” returns millions of results… that means somebody’s got to write them.

Now more than ever, it’s predictable that companies will need to carefully scrutinize more information before making buying decisions, and freelance wordsmiths can expect more demand for their sought-after skill.

Today’s white paper is a conversational 3,000- to 5,000-word document, with a succinct educational focus on how clients can solve specific problems–served up with a pinch of persuasiveness.

“White papers are today’s marketing super weapons,” says Michael Stelzner, author of the best-selling book Writing White Papers. Stelzner cites a number of reasons why clients love marketing white papers: Read more

Making a Statement with White Papers

In a recent forum, someone asked the question, what are white papers? This was my response.

White papers are a form of marketing communication that fill a gap that most other formats cannot. They are unique because they provide valuable information that is more solution oriented, rather than branding-driven as in an ad or a brochure.

A well-written white paper is a powerful marketing tool that can influence the buying decision by demonstrating how implementing a solution satisfies a business need. They are especially helpful in situations where the sales cycle is long and/or complex. When used effectively, white papers can generate high-quality leads.

Don’t make your white papers self-serving by focusing only on your products and/or services. Instead, talk about the problem that is of interest to your readers and then lead them to the solution. If possible, reference and quote third-party sources to bolster your case. Then conclude by saying how your company offers such a solution. Case studies and/or real-world examples are very effective in establishing your credibility and showing how you have truly solved the problem.

Keep it short and to the point, typically white papers are no more than 8 to 10 pages long. Have a copywriter/editor proofread your material before publishing. Get it reviewed by an outsider to get an unbiased opinion. Read more