White Papers are great. Because they were taken up most enthusiastically in the nineties by IT companies whose mission seemed to be to make even the simplest concepts bafflingly complex, many people (including me) were put off them almost forever. However, the concept has been reclaimed now by people with something to sell, and I believe they should be a part of the marketing armoury of every business.
Essentially, a white paper is a good explanatory document aimed at helping readers make decisions. If you want to establish yourself as an authority in a subject (and who doesn’t?), then a white paper is a great way to go. It’s a tremendous hook to pick up new potential prospects, especially now that the web has made distribution essentially a free process.
If your target is to use a white paper to fish for new prospects, the decision you have to make is whether to try to get their details in exchange for the white paper, or to disseminate the white paper as widely and freely as possible, and then try to get their details once they’ve read it. We launched Business Marketing Online with our own white paper at the start of the summer (How to slash your marketing expenditure …while increasing your incoming sales leads), and over 400 marketing managers requested it. Many of them went on to become subscibers to our Insider Programme.
We decided to ask for details first, but the other approach is discussed in 3 calls to action you must have at end of your lead generation white paper on the B2B Rainmaker blog. It’s difficult to truly A/B test these two approaches, but if you have white papers which ought to attract similar levels of response, you may be able to try out both and get a rough comparison of response.