White Papers in Marketing: Are they Really Dead?

Recently, a group of about fifteen of us in Sales and Marketing in the software
and technology space got together for some authentic Chicago pizza.

One of my new friends, a sales professional (who may discover he is the inspiration
for this piece, but that’s okay) shared some insight he was confident was
unequivocally true:

Perform your own drumroll here… unless you’re reading this in public on your
mobile device.

“White papers are dead!” he announced to us, while waiting for the delicious
two-inch deep-dish pizza to arrive.

“Nobody does white papers anymore. Everybody uses e-Books!”

Hmm, I said to myself, ‘I’ve seen a lot of white papers still used by software and
tech companies.’

But still, I didn’t bother getting confrontational by pointing out his back of the
(yet unused) napkin argument.

Is he right though? Are white papers really dead?

Surprisingly, Content Marketing Institute actually lumped white papers and
eBooks into the same category in their B2B Content Marketing 2017 Benchmarks,
Budgets and Trends – North America
, but their research still shows that 65
percent of B2B companies are still using white papers.

That’s nearly two-thirds!

Why don’t you see for yourself? Go to your preferred search engine and type:

white paper site:www.microsoft.com.

Of course, you could plunk in any software or tech company’s website in place
of Microsoft. But my search showed 133,000 white paper results, and 10 pages
of search engine results pages on white papers in the past year alone.

If a little fledgling company like Microsoft (Microsoft lawyers: I’m kidding. Really!)
is still finding value in white papers, your company probably does not consider white
papers dead either.

So if we can all agree that white papers are not dead, shouldn’t we really go a step
further and chat about why they’re still a useful piece of marketing content?

Sure, some companies are using the landscape and other graphic differences
found in e-Books.

However, many e-Books get much longer than some of the shorter
white papers today, from 30 – 50 pages versus 5-12 pages, respectively.

There is a place for both, but e-books are not white papers and do not replace them.

Credibility Builder
A white paper gives you the opportunity to build credibility as you inform your
audience where the market was, then guide them to where newer solutions could
save them time and money.

Educational Paper
A well-planned white paper can guide the reader in shortlisting a number of
software or tech vendors who can provide a solution to his or her problem.

When the paper is planned properly, it will come across as educational,
not as a mildly-disguised brochure.

Lead Generation Workhorse
If your topic truly is educational and relevant enough to your audience’s concerns,
it will be more likely to attract more downloads (leads). And that might have been
the reason you published one in the first place.

Lead Nurturing Included
You earned the right to introduce your company at the end because you were
educational throughout the paper. Now you have an opportunity to introduce
them to your newsletter or blog.

Now have the research. Maybe you even conducted some of your own research

And you just read five other reasons white papers are still as useful as ever,
even in our short-attention span society.

You can download my white paper 5 Questions You Must Consider in Your
Content Marketing Strategy
from the sidebar on the top right.

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