The Inbound Internet Marketing blog recently looked at Why eBooks Are Better Than Whitepapers and while I don’t particularly agree with the point being made, it’s somewhere to start when formulating your own approach to creating content.
I always think that if you need to define what something is, there’s a problem somewhere, and that’s almost certainly the case with terms like “white papers” and “eBooks”. What are they? To me, they’re just different presentation methods for your company’s sales and marketing cases, and both have their place. Whether you call them white papers, eBooks, or something quite different, doesn’t really matter. But you do need them in a way you didn’t 10 years ago.
I’ll talk about the merits of both types of presentation tomorrow, but for now, we need to remind ourselves how much the internet has changed the sales and marketing process. It’s still quite likely that plenty of your sales take the form of the traditional “advertise the product, send in the salesman to make the case” sequence. But the reason why many companies are finding it increasingly hard to get appointments for their sales team is that customers are getting used to reading the sales arguments before talking to anyone. If you’re not convinced how much this change has crept up on us, it really isn’t that long ago that frequently the first time many customers would be able to see the technical details of your product would be when the salesman left the brochure with them. That’s laughable now. Customers do their homework up front, and even if you’re in a market where you always have to sit down and discuss their needs before selling them anything, they’ll still expect to know a lot more about you before asking you in.
So it’s essential to have great collateral on your website, which really establishes you as an authority in your market and explains the case for your technology. It’s no good leaving that to the salesman, because if you think your name is enough to make the appointment, he may never get the chance. White papers and eBooks are great ways to tell the world they need to talk to you.