It’s many years since I first read Alvin & Heidi Toffler’s 1970s international best-seller, “Future Shock”. One of their predictions was that news, information and even society itself would become so fragmented and specialized that people would struggle to cope with the resulting overload.
Sure enough, forty years on many of us now live in a world besieged by information inputs. Cable TV, mobile communications, and especially the Internet, have shattered the ‘narrow-band’ stranglehold that the main stream media once had on our collective attention.
White Paper Overload or B2B Marketer Laziness?
In the light of this “information choice explosion” isn’t it then strange to find white paper offerings still stuck in a time warp of trying to be all things to all readers? Just like TV, radio and newspapers were able to do for so long – because there weren’t any viable alternatives.
Today’s B2B readers may be deluged with white paper ‘scofferings’ (I made that word up to denote the apparent neglect some marketers have for their prospects’ needs) but these online searchers are the ones who are increasingly in control of the how, where, what and why of content consumption.
So, what’s to be done?
Start Offering White Paper Content Channels…
On the plus side, this broadband, multi-media world means there’s so much opportunity for computer networking companyies to differentiate their white paper offerings from those of competitors.
And here’s how to do it.
2) Study it carefully and then answer the following questions as they relate to your technology marketing strategy:
a) Which content types do your prospects find most helpful with buying decisions?
(e.g., white papers, customer success stories, webinars etc.)
b) Are your white papers clearly targeted to buyers at specific stages of the buying cycle? (The Infographic describes three generic stages.)
c) Are your white papers too long or too short, or ‘just right’? How do you know? Have you polled your prospects and customers?
d) Are your white papers segmented by factors of interest to your prospects? For example, do white papers used by marketing department(s) for prospects in the Asia-Pacific rim countries include business, technological and geographical contextual references those markets are most comfortable with? At a tactical level, do you care if CIOs get to read the same white paper as network operations team leaders? You should…
e) Are your white papers designed to be interactive?
There’s much to discuss on this point and Alinean’s infographic only has space to mention the concept – but I’m sure their white paper review service would probably go in to much greater depth.
For my part, as a white paper writer, I think the (r)evolutionary convergence of social media interaction with ‘traditional’, take-it-or-leave-it b2b white papers is still gathering momentum. See my previous post on ‘b2b white papers meet social delivery platforms‘ for additional comment on where that might be headed.
3) Take the answers/feedback from question two and sit down with your Sales colleagues to see how white papers (and other content items) can help them woo more prospects and close more deals. This is ‘collective bargaining’ time and may take significant effort and concessions on both ‘sides’ to get a metric-driven plan that is measurable and achievable.
And if the above seems like too much work for already busy departments?
Well, isn’t churning out white papers that go unread, or become just a tick in a RFP check-box, a waste of your company’s time, money and knowledge?
And if that’s not bad enough, imagine what your poor, bloody prospects must be thinking…
– Mark ‘white paper writer’ McClure
Based in Tokyo, Japan since 1994, he has over 18 years experience with computer networking and was a Cisco CCIE from 2002 to 2008.