Cure for the common white paper: 3 alternative approaches


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The traditional white paper concept may be dead (or at least dying) as a viable marketing tool for most B2B marketers, but the idea of a written, value-added lead generation tool is very much alive and kicking.

When we hear B2B marketers say “white paper” these days, they usually mean something other than a 15-20 page, footnoted, academic or technical paper.

Today, we’re really talking about something very different. Shorter, more accessible, more direct and relevant to each intended audience.

Here are three ways to think about “white papers” a little differently. I’ve seen all of this work.

1. Call it something else
It might still be easy to call the overall category “white papers”, but what you actually name them (in your strategy as well as in execution) should likely be something very different. It’s usually best to call it what it actually is. Some examples I’ve seen used successfully lately include: Best Practices Guide, Opinion Paper, Industry Insights, Expert Analysis, Success Series, Field Guide, Mastery Series, Secrets to…., 10 Minutes to…., Ultimate/Definitive Guide to….

2. Be creative about the format
It doesn’t have to be an essay, nor does it have to include an “executive summary” or other elements traditionally included in white papers.

For example, what about a Q&A with an industry expert? What if the entire “paper” is a transcript of that Q&A? If it’s useful and valuable information to the reader, doesn’t it still work?

Similarly, consider an edited transcript of a recent event, white paper, speech, etc.

3. Packaging can help drive higher response rates
I really like how Eloqua, for example, packages their best practice guides under the name “Grande Guides“. It implies the speed at which you can get through the content, plus “grande” itself implies big and valuable.

For a client that sold church management software, we called them Ministry Guides. The title itself was specific to the category and audience, and it let us nicely package the assets together.

If nothing else, I hope these approaches help you think differently and a little more widely about an asset format that not only isn’t going anywhere, but is actually getting better.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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