New Study Reveals White Paper Role With Techies

By Michael Stelzner

There has been a literal smorgasbord of recent studies on the power of white papers in the last few months.

This one is fresh from MarketingSherpa’s 2009 Business Technology Marketing Benchmark Guide.

There is SO much gold in this report that i’ll be making multiple posts related to it.

But first, a little gem: Do readers respond better to specifically targeted white papers?

The answer: a big YES.

Content is most valuable when it is targeted to one of the following categories:

  • Specific industry (82% found this significantly or somewhat more valuable)
  • Job function (67% found this significantly or somewhat more valuable)
  • Company size (59% found this significantly or somewhat more valuable)

Take home lesson: If you want to engage readers, focus on an industry AND a job function (and why not get down to a specific company size while you are at it!).

How do Techies Use White Papers?

Here are some interesting findings related to engineers and how they use white papers:

  • Negotiating?  Then give them a white paper: When negotiating a deal, white papers are one of the most important things you can give an engineer.  Engineers placed them just below search engines and ranked them as the 2nd most important thing they turn to.
  • White papers important for evaluation stage as well: Engineers turn to vendor white papers before analyst reports, newsletters, case studies, social networks and vendor webinars, with 44% reporting they like to review vendor white papers.
  • How do engineers primarily find white papers?  They look on search engines (61%), email newsletters (48%), vendor website (45%) and industry search engine (36%).
  • What do engineers typically do after reading white papers? They visit the vendor’s website (70%), shop the competition (46%), contact the vendor (45%) or pass the white paper to a peer (37%).

There’s some really awesome findings here.  I hope they help you make the case for white paper.

Let me know if these findings match your experiences??

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  • Jacques Seoman

    Engineers are a breed unto themselves, and only the hard concrete facts are what they are after. I can see why a well crafted white paper will be something they really appreciate! Also know that your piece will be meticulously scrutinised and appreciated for what it is!

  • Elliot Ross

    I personally take white papers with a grain of salt. Most gothe same way

    - Paper Introduction & concept
    - you “should do” this
    - signature by a company that provides the “should do”

    I could even plagiarize 90% of the article, change the “should” do parts to something that a competitive product does, and I would be just as correct.

    Elliot Ross’s last blog post..Expose Technology

  • Michael Stelzner

    Hey Elliot;

    You’ve been reading some pretty lousy white papers it sounds like…

    Trust me, there are some really excellent one out there and this study proves that.


  • Greg Mischio

    Michael –

    I’m interested in this report – particularly some of the “how to” materials, such as how to write a landing page. Would you consider this a definitive source? (I’m balking a tad at the steep price tag, and wondering if there are better resources out there.)


  • Michael Stelzner

    Greg – Would not say the report goes into any details on how to create a landing page… – Mike

  • Greg Mischio

    Thanks Michael. .

  • Goran Giertz

    Point well taken, Elliot. There is room for improvement with many of the offerings out there, hence the reason for frequenting this blog and picking up on Michael’s way of doing things.

  • Gabrielle Guerrera

    What would websites like and (largest web source of IT white papers) fall under?

  • john191

    I would just say one thing to you and that is, “FANTASTIC”!! Keep it up and wish to get more details from your blog.
    sears parts

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