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Apryl Parcher
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Great Post! Especially your paragraph on promoting white papers. It's right on target--a must-read for anyone considering using them to generate more leads and close sales. Technical products aren't the only good candidates for white papers, however. Anything that is perceived by the reading audience to be expensive, complicated, or require a lot of thought before making a decision can also be a candidate. And it also takes more expertise than one might think to put together a winning white paper. Here are a few key points to consider: Length & Focus: The best white papers are 6-12 pages in length (but can be longer) and are subtley persuasive, while establishing the sponsoring company as a thought leader in the field. No Sales Hype: Establishing that credibility means conducting interviews with experts outside the sponsoring company, using third-party statistics, charts, graphs and other proof elements, and discussing general solutions--not just company-specific ones. In fact, the sponsoring company shouldn't even be mentioned at all in the piece until the last page in the call to action. Writing should be reader-centric: This means the author must have an intimate knowledge of the reader profile: What industry do they work in? How big is the target company? What's the title of the person reading this? What are their job responsibilities? What kind of attitude do they have are they active seekers, busy execs, skeptics)? When you know your audience this well, you can write to them in a way that cuts through the clutter and compels them to pick up the piece, read it, and take the action you want them to take at the end. Time & Expertise: White papers are often more readable to the target audience when written by a professional writer skilled in white paper construction. Also, it can take an in-house person up to 50 hours to write a white paper, whereas a professional can get it done in half that time...something to consider before spending lots of energy better spent on running your business. No doubt about it, white papers are the most consumed form of marketing available today. Surveys have shown that people favor them over just about every other form of media when making decisions--even webcasts, podcasts and other educational online tools. That's because they're printable, portable, perceived as less biased, and highly focused to the needs of the reader. And like Janine said, White Papers can be cross-marketed across your media mix--so word for word, they pack a pretty powerful punch.