Primarily, these papers were educational tools. They were designed to educate the reader, provide thoughtful commentary, offer a knowledgeable point of view, spur innovation and disseminate substantive, unbiased and relevant research. In short, they were what prospective buyers wanted: reliable information from a trusted source.
Buyers still want traditional white papers
Today, white papers have earned a bad rep among prospective buyers, and with good reason. They contain little in the way of valuable content or unbiased research. In fact, they tend to be dismal, self-serving sales pitches that look and read like they came directly out of a white paper template. And for some reason, companies have made them hard to get to. Normally, an interested reader needs to exchange his or her contact information or sift through a content mill in order to find one. They serve the needs of the seller exclusively, and address none of the needs of the prospective buyer. In short, they have become the exact opposite of what buyers want.
White papers are at a crossroads, stuck somewhere between grey literature and marketing vehicle. At the end of the day, buyers want to educate themselves. They want reliable information. In fact, they will always want reliable information. What’s currently missing is the trusted source. That’s exactly why white papers should still have a place in your content arsenal.
The ball is firmly back in your court. Either your company can be a trusted source of reliable information that serves the needs of a prospective customer who still happens to be in the fact-finding stage of a purchase, or it can generate the kind of hype that prospective buyers already get too much of and clearly don’t want.
Traditional and informative papers can serve as the foundation of an entire content plan. That plan can incorporate many different supportive channels: blogs, brochures, slide presentations, short videos, webinars and podcasts that can still transmit your sales message without diluting the value of the paper itself. If you would like more information about traditional white papers and how your company can use them as part of a broader content plan, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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