When is it appropriate to use humor in a white paper aimed at IT professionals?
If you’re thinking “never” then I’d agree with you in most cases.
But there are exceptions and here’s one that does the job well in my opinion: “The Demarc Extension and its Critical Role in Enterprise Network Telecommunications Infrastructure”
The “layer 1 cabling stuff” is often regarded as “out of sight, out of mind” by most IT staffers who have never seen the inside of a data center or wiring closet.
However, for network and cabling teams who must provide a rock-solid infrastructure on which the majority of business information flows depend, it’s a very serious matter indeed.
For example, a network outage due to a faulty or mistaken cable patch on a WAN-facing router or switch can have hordes of irate and sleep-deprived senior managers on a late night global conference call within minutes… and all of them looking for blood to spill… 😉
Reading this paper I was struck by how well the cartoon-style illustrations captured the depth of emotions that enterprise-wide cabling issues often cause among users of the network; people whose jobs depend on connectivity being “always-on”. And that made the serious nature of the text that much easier to both understand and relate to.
Some closing observations on this paper:
1- I found the online version much easier to scan and read than the two-column approach of the downloadable version (it’s also available at the link above.)
2– Using web links within the paper to additional online diagrams was a great idea. Now, if only there was a lead capture form on the landing page to capture email contact info in return for another paper, terminology mini-course or even an invite to view a special recorded webinar etc.
3– Admittedly, there is a subtle ‘call-to-action’ (CTA) at the end of the white paper (just after the terminology section) but I think it’s somewhat weak in impact (contact us) and it would be worth split testing a stronger CTA. (see #2 above.)
Kudos to ace white paper copywriter, Jonathan Kantor, whose White Paper Pundit blog featured this paper at “The FREE White Paper List: Week of 05.17.10”.
– Mark McClure