“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…..get on yourway!” ~Dr Seuss
I was on the phone a few days ago with a current client talking about a new White Paper I am preparing of him. As we were closing the call he mentioned he also wanted me to revamp a paper I had done for them in 2006. I laughed saying that old thing was probably ready for the “old white papers home” by now. He said it had been a very effective piece but they had recently acquired some new technology and wanted to incorporate that in to the solution and do another printing.
That started me thinking about all the places my white papers have gone. That paper I had previously done in 2006 started out as a trade show piece. It was a standard offering the company had but they wanted to attend a series of industry specific tradeshows and needed specific value propositions and needs assessments for the various industries. I Googled the name of the white paper and found it not only on the company’s website who hired me to write it but also on two of their partner companies sites. The industry organization that sponsored the original trade show also had it as part of the archives of the conference in 2006.
I called the vertical sales director responsible for selling the solution who had been my initial reviewer when I wrote the first paper. Explained to him I was doing an update and asked what doors he felt had been opened by the white paper. I also solicited his feedback on what he might change with the revision. “White Papers get meetings for my field guys” he plainly stated. “They make contacts with busy prospects and one of the initial screening steps is frequently ‘Send me your White Paper and I will take a look’. Without a clear articulation of the solution in a White Paper the sale rep never gets the meeting.”
He went on to say they use white papers to promote webinars they sponsor and as exhibits in RFP’s they respond to. Because of the article like nature of a White Paper they have replace the glossy brochure and are much more likely to be read and trusted.
As a writer of White Papers sometimes you know their impact and other times you deliver and never hear from them again. Saddest still is the times when you hear the company you did the writing for never properly executed on the opportunity they had with the White Paper to generate leads. I truly believe the potential of White Papers as a dynamic solution communication tool but to be most successful they need to be given wings to fly.