We’ve all done it (and still do it) – we sit around with our marketing colleagues arguing over rev after painful rev on where the cool new graphic should go on which panel of the new brochure, and whether or not lavender is too feminine of a color or brick red too masculine.
And while we’re perpetually always weeks away from final artwork and printer-ready files, our competitors have written, posted and distributed a quality white paper than has generated more leads than we generated in the past six months.
It’s not to say that marketing collateral isn’t important in B2B marketing. It is. So is advertising, PR, direct marketing, exhibiting at events, etc. But quality content is where it’s at in the human capital marketplace. Selling products and services to human resource professionals, employee benefits brokers and consultants – regardless of company size – isn’t as easy as producing something shiny and pretty in order to hypnotize them into signing a multi-year million-dollar agreement. These are savvy business people who can see through the glitz and identify quality products over crap.
HR has become a powerful and strategic component of successful businesses today, and it is held just as accountable as other departments to reduce costs, improve internal efficiencies, and most importantly – to help grow their businesses. Any product or service HR purchases for their organizations must contribute to the strategic goals of the organization.
Although many marketing activities can help deliver this message, well-written white papers can provide the right balance of intelligent, almost academic-like content (what are the solutions to everyday problems HR professionals face) and marketing content (what types of products and services contribute to those solutions) needed to generate interest, leads, and sales.
There has been much written about how to write a lead-generating white paper and how to maximize its distribution (we’re working on a must-read white paper about marketing to HR that will be available on HRmarketer.com next month), but we recommend that you read or reread one of our more popular blog postings, White Papers = Sales Leads and a recent article on MarketingProfs.com entitled Why White Papers Make for Great Marketing Collateral.
Here are five marketing advantages to writing quality white papers referenced in the above article (of which we whole-heartedly agree and evangelize continuously):
- Additional content on the company's Web site: If you are not in the business of aggregating or publishing proprietary content (like a news site, for example), keeping a site fresh with some new content on a regular basis is a constant challenge. Here, white papers can add a bit of depth and variety to your Web site content. You can either write these yourself, or commission a third party to produce it for you; and the benefits of having additional relevant content are fairly well documented.
- Ease of distribution: White papers can be easily distributed for almost no cost to the organization. Readers of white papers are more likely to pass along the document to their colleagues or friends. How often does one hear of regular ads or other marketing collateral being circulated? Moreover, there are a number of white paper aggregators around that would be happy to list your white paper for free. In such cases, you are only paying for the creative and distribution service (if doing it through a PR firm). But unlike traditional online advertising, you are not paying for the real estate as well. The advantages of having the links to the white paper and to your site are quite obvious.
- Format: The format of preparing a white paper is fairly simple, and therefore the turnaround time can be much faster. Typically, white papers don't go through numerous cycles of "I think that picture should be moved to this corner" and "the brand is not prominently displayed" kind of critical review sessions. With most other collateral, brevity is another constraint that one has to contend with.
- Perception: There is a perception (rightly or wrongly) that white papers are absolutely objective and factual, almost like scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals. A certain academic weight and bent is placed on a white paper, and specifically for that reason white papers should be used for marketing sparingly and intelligently.
- PR value: A white paper is treated as content and not advertising. Editors are most likely to include quotes from white papers; you can bet they don't write about ads.