If you write it they will come? Not necessarily

If you write it they will come? Not necessarily
Kate Headen Waddell - Thu Mar 26, 2009 @ 03:29AM
Comments: 86

A tight economy means you need more focused marketing efforts

In a tight economy, doing more with less is the reality for product marketing mField of dreamsanagers. Many companies slash marketing efforts that focus on branding and name recognition and get back to basics – lead generation. In recent years, white papers have emerged as a staple in the product marketer’s toolbox, largely due to their reputation as powerful lead generation tools with an attractive cost-benefit ratio.

In fact, the power of an effective white paper to connect with prospects and produce abundant, quality leads is unparalleled. According to the TechTarget 2008 Media Consumption Benchmark, “80.5% of buyers find white papers to be either very effective or somewhat effective in the decision making process, more so than any other marketing tool.”

Why white papers fail

Even so, some white papers simply fail to generate leads. And no one can afford to spend precious resources on efforts that return lackluster results.

When white papers don’t perform as expected, the quality of writing is usually at issue. According to a recent MarketingSherpa report, the main reason white papers fail is their readability factor; “the topics are uninteresting, titles blah, and content far too salesy or just plain dull.” 

Many organizations make the mistake of thinking that a white paper is just another data sheet, or just another product brochure, and turn this critical piece of writing over to an engineer or junior marketing copywriter.

The problem for product marketers is that, in a market saturated with marketing messages, a poorly written white paper is not only a waste of the time it takes to produce it, but could end up turning off prospects and sending them running to the competition.

Outsourcing costs less and produces better results

Creating white papers that command attention and deliver leads is a highly specialized skill. A professional white paper writer charges anywhere from $4000 to $7000 for a white paper depending on the market and their experience level. While hiring a professional writer may, at first glance, seem like an unwarranted expense, when you look at the numbers it starts to make a lot of sense.

Tasking an internal employee to write a white paper when they are not practiced at it takes their time and focus away from more business critical projects for a considerable period of time. The deadline tends to slip as other initiatives pop up and take precedence, and soon your white paper is not only poorly written, it’s late to market and has cost the whole team in productivity and added stress.

By outsourcing your paper to a professional, you get a compelling white paper with a greater ability to attract leads, much faster and without the drain on your internal team. Still think it’s not worth it? Ask yourself this – how many solutions do I have to sell to recoup the investment? Now, in this economy, can you afford not to?

Comments: 86


1. Jamie Wallace  |  my website   |   Sat Apr 04, 2009 @ 04:07AM

Kate - As a fellow freelance writer, I couldn't agree more. ;)
Joking aside, there are a great many benefits to engaging a freelance writer to handle a white paper project. One of my favorite reasons is that they can "see the forest."
Employees tasked with writing a white paper may not only be inexperienced writers with a lack of knowledge about how to craft a persuasive white paper, they may also be "unable to see the forest for the trees" ... meaning, of course, that they are so immersed in company rhetoric that they find it nearly impossible to create the unbiased, logic- and needs-driven content that is the core of a solid white paper.
A third-party freelancer, however, can look at a business and its products with fresh eyes. They can cut through all the "smoke and mirrors" and find the facts, stories, and details that will speak most compellingly to the reader.
It's a win-win on so many levels.
Nice piece!

2. Kate Headen   |   Sat Apr 04, 2009 @ 05:19AM

Thanks Jamie, that is a great point. I find one of my most important tasks is asking all the "dumb" questions so I can effectively explain the offering in a way that an outsider (read: potential customer!) can understand it. Often the inside team is very focused on all the features they have spent months developing while the prospect is focused solely on the benefits. Being an outsider does make it easier to "see the forest," as you put it.

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