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David - Clarification on the studies I mentioned. They are in the content syndication business, not the white paper writing business. They offer a variety of content to the subscribers of their content networks. In fact, none of the the other companies are in the white paper writing business. And one of the people in the studies was Google. I would argue that your reach is not a matter of format, e-book vs. whitepaper, but more a function of the quality of your content and your brand recognition/follower base. My gut tells me that if your next published document were an educational white paper rather than a white paper, you would receive an equal amount of downloads because people look forward to reading your work. Enjoy the debate. Have a great weekend!
Hi David, I disagree for a number of reasons. First of all, if you look at several studies (Eccolo Media, Tech Target, Information Week, B2B Magazine) focusing on small or large business marketing, white papers consistently rank as the #1 or #2 most influential sales tools by buyers. Ebooks don't even make the list. Based on the 100+ ebooks I have read, most ebooks follow one of two paths: (1) Pictures and bullets (2) pictures and a lot of text. While the pictures and bullets model is great to share really high-level, summary information, it is fairly useless in create a credible argument that creates affinity, demonstrates objectivity and introduces new concepts. This is a requirement for most high-dollar sales and/or complex sales. This is why you see these types in marketing primarily, because us marketers already have some body of knowledge. The pictures and text model are pretty much white papers in a landscape PPT format. Your ebooks, fantastic content for sure, are written in this format, and the reason is because you need the space to make your argument. Are ebooks a good part of the marketing mix to generate awareness? Absolutely! Will they replace white papers? Nope. Why do some white papers get a bad name from readers? The reality is that most marketers think of white papers are gloried brochures. Rather then educating the reader to create authority and affinity with the reader, the spend one paragraph educating and ten pages writing blah-blah propaganda. In fact, the number one and two peeves about white papers are (1) they are too long and (2) the have too much vendor info. Many corporations outsource their white papers because they realize their internal writers are too close to their products to step back an write a truly educational piece. Re: registration pages If you create a truly educational piece and you clearly articulate the value of that piece in your landing page, visitors will not hesitate to leave their information. Many companies make the mistake of wanting WAY too much info to get a paper. The form/no-form discussion comes up a lot, but visitors don't mind providing their information if (a) it is minimal (name and email); and (b) they demonstrate value upfront. Let me share an example of how well-written white papers can work magic. We wrote a white paper for a client in the security space and put together the marketing campaign for it. As a result of a single white paper, they received the following: - 3X increase in total leads QOQ - 2X increase in lead quality (i.e. the number of director and higher leaders in their market) - 2 byline articles in leading publications, resulting in 500,000 impressions across print and web - 2 speaking engagements - several editorial interviews - 2 analyst interviews with previously non-interested analysts (translation: we were not clients of theirs) The company sold enough product to put the ROI into the 1000s of percent. If you ad everything up, the marketing reach from this single white paper was nearly six figures. So while ebooks definitely have their place, there are reasons why white papers continue to be perceived as valuable to marketers AND buyers. BTW - I taught a class at Mike Stelzner's White Paper Success Summit about how we achieved the results in the above case study. Shockingly :), we have a white paper that shares how we did it. Here's the link: All the best, Ryan Malone SmartBug Media An Inbound Marketing Agency
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Jun 4, 2010