The White Paper and Its Following

By John White

The goal of your white paper should be to create a following and start conversations that include you. Do you know your followers well enough to do that?

Colleague John Bromhead is fond of saying,”Marketing is the process of starting a conversation.”

David Meerman Scott is more specific:”Marketers, PR pros, advertisers, and salespeople are on the payroll for one reason: To generate attention.

Attention + Conversation = FollowingIn short, we’re all trying to generate attention in order to start conversations. For a long time, we’ve assumed that the conversations would be between our prospects and us, but the big lesson of social media is that the most powerful attention and conversations take place in this “following” that we’re creating in our wake. Your white papers (and all of your content) need to fit your following.

The White Paper’s Call to Action

Do most of your marketing pieces contain a section titled, “For More Information”? Traditionally, this is where you place your call to action, the thing you want readers to do once they’ve read the paper or watched the video. But maybe you should rethink this.

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Are White Papers Just for Technology Companies?

By Michael Stelzner

Are you working for a company outside of high tech?  Maybe financial services, health care or manufacturing?  You might be wondering, “Are white papers useful for us?”

Heck, you might even be a freelance writer looking to write white papers for these non-tech spaces.  I’d like to address that here.

The question was spawned by a reader (we’ll call her Ruth S.) who wrote me and asked:

I’m a newbie white paper writer who wants to target the life sciences/biotech industry. Yes, I know there are many science writers working in this industry.

But I actually have an academic background (degrees) in this industry. I know that isn’t necessary, but I’m hoping it won’t hurt, and that it might even help.

So is there a market for biotech white papers? Do you have any contacts in the industry? Can you help me get my foot in the biotech white paper door?

Wonderful question Ruth!  Here’s my response:

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Announcing White Paper Success Summit 2010

By Michael Stelzner

I know it’s hard to believe 2010 is just around the corner.  Like me, you’re likely putting plans in place for next year.  Better customers, more of them and so on.

I wanted to share something with you.  There are some amazing marketing superstars coming together for this really great event that will help you grow your business.

Before I tell you about it, I want to share a story that will encourage you. Read the rest of this article »

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3 Copywriting Pitfalls You Must Avoid

By Michael Stelzner

If your objective is to help businesses capture a lead, close a sale or establish themselves as kings in a crowded market, here’s some things to avoid:

1. Don’t lead with the product pitch: In today’s economy nobody likes to be sold to.  Rather they prefer engagement.  That typically means start by building affinity with readers.  You can do this by talking about things they care about, such as problems and trends.  This draws people into your work and allows you to eventually make the pitch.

2. Avoid verbose writing: Pacify the skimmer. Use short sentences rather than long prose.  Try bolding key items and make sure your work is like butter melting on warm toast.  This takes time but ensures that the skimmer is engaged.

3. Don’t assume they’re just like you: Too often writers assume that readers understand the terms and “inside the beltway” talk that goes around.  However, there’s no bigger turn off to readers than terms and phrases that are are foreign.  Always ask yourself, “is this phrase something the reader will understand?”  If not, kill it.

What are your thoughts? What would you add? Please comment below…

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3 Ways to Help Your Writer Over the Hump

By John White

The blank page is a big obstacle almost every writer faces when sitting down to write a white paper.

Marketing managers can play an important role in helping writers over this hump, and get better writing in the bargain.

How does every white paper start out? As a cursor blinking on a completely empty screen.

Whether your writer had an idea of what he was going to write or not, he stared at the blank page for a while – the blank page usually stares back as well – and tried to come up with an opening, a title or an outline that would impress you and show that he understood what you were trying to convey. (And, just to help you read the cards your writer is holding, he tried to figure out the best way to start so that the rest of the writing would be easy.)

I don’t mean he was gripped by writer’s block or any other writer’s disease. It’s just the hump that your writer needs to overcome on almost every piece he writes for you.

You may say, “That’s the writer’s problem, not mine.” True enough, but getting good content from your writer is your problem.  Here’s the solution…

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4 Steps to Successful White Paper Outlines

By John White

White papers need structure, and smart marketing managers work out the structure with an outline early in the writing process.

Be sure your writer includes these elements in an outline.

How often do you get started down a path in your work, only to realize you have to backtrack and go down a different path? Is there anything more frustrating than discarding work you’ve already done and restarting it?

Suppose your marketing communications writer interviews three customers for a white paper you need, then writes up the interviews into a paper and sends you a draft. You read it and realize it’s mostly wrong.

“No!!!” you holler. “This isn’t where I want this to go. We have to tear this down and start over.”

Too soon for a white paper draft?

Here’s what can go wrong when the writer just dives in and goes straight to the draft:

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Why ‘Forced Registration’ Can Backfire for Case Studies and White Papers

By Rachel Karl

Being bombarded with marketing from all directions, people have become skeptical. They require proof that your marketing hype isn’t just that – hype. Case studies and white papers provide that extra ‘push’ customers sometimes need to make a buying decision.

So, why make it difficult for prospects to get that further bit of proof? If it means the difference between clicking, “YES! I want to buy your widget,” and walking away from your website empty-handed, does it really make sense to force someone to give up his name and email address first?

Having prospects register for content is a very common B2B practice. You are asking readers to fill out a form prior to reading a case study or a white paper. The idea is that you will increase your leads list by doing so. But forcing readers to register can backfire.

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Major Study Shows White Paper Power Increasing!

By Michael Stelzner

Listen up businesses!  The white paper is here to stay and it’s only getting more important.  Or so says a brand new study by Eccolo Media.

I covered the main take-home message of their last report earlier this year.  But this new study has some amazing findings covering everything from the influence of white papers compared to other marketing tools, how they are shared, their ideal length and when they are used in the purchase cycle.

I outline the key findings below.

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Using Twitter For White Papers

By Apryl Parcher

Are you scratching your head trying to come up with current trends on a particular white paper topic? Why not tap into Twitter? By using applications that harness the power of this vast network, you can selectively search the Twittersphere for trends in your industry.

Set up alerts around key phrases

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Learn How to Master Facebook and Twitter Marketing in Free Live Streaming Event

By Michael Stelzner

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter… To some they’re social media. But for those in the know, they’re free marketing tools that can attract thousands of customers and make millions of dollars for businesses willing to get in the game.

That’s according to the “The Social Media Dream Team,” four powerhouse social media professionals (Mari Smith, Jason Falls, Chris Garrett and Denise Wakeman), who will be fielding live viewer questions on finding customers and making money online with social media. The group will appear in free real-time video streams on Monday, October 12, 2009 for the premiere of the new online magazine SocialMediaExaminer.com.

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