Thursday, May 23, 2013

The King of Content

The King of Content

Content is king. But what about the king of content? For my money, the white paper takes the crown, far and away. Sure, a good webinar is worth its weight in gold. But webinars aren’t nearly as consumable or leverageable as white papers. Case studies are cool (i.e., important), too. In my experience, though, they’re typically too high-level. Not to mention that you need a fleet of them to cover all the angles (i.e., business issues solved and vertical markets of interest). Presentations? Rarely are they sufficient as a standalone resource.
In comparison, white papers have a number of key strengths:

1. They force crystallization of a topic. In my experience, there is no tool more powerful for forcing one to think through the issues surrounding a topic than trying to write about it. In theory, much of this should already be done, at least for high-level topics (think MRDs). But theory and reality don’t always align. And what about all of those secondary, more granular topics that still need to be fleshed out?

2. They establish credibility and thought leadership. A single, well-written paper can demonstrate applicability and value of your products for solving a specific set of business problems, while also conveying a number of important intangibles, such as attention to detail and professionalism. With a series of papers covering additional angles and providing further insight on a topic, credibility can quickly be transformed into thought leadership.

3. Decision makers prefer them. Simply put, white papers provide an opportunity for business and IT professionals to absorb a large amount of relevant information with a modest time investment.

4. They accelerate sales. A marketing campaign leveraging a solid white paper delivers qualified leads to the sales force and can make it easier to close a deal by simplifying the process that prospective clients use to gather information and begin to evaluate your solution.

5. They deliver unparalleled flexibility and value. White papers can be used to convey just about any type of information, from technical selection criteria, innovative capabilities, business cases and TCO models to product/vendor comparisons and best practices for implementation and ongoing operations. Moreover, the same content can often be leveraged over and over again – for web copy, articles, blog posts, newsletters, presentations, solution briefs and so forth.

Of course, the effectiveness of a given white paper will depend on the quality of both the content and the writing. But that’s a topic for another day. In the meanwhile, if your organization needs help developing one or more white papers, let us know. It’s one of our specialties! 

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