Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New B2B Tools: White Room and Paper Chunks

What should we do next with white papers?

The following is excerpted from a position paper I've been nurturing for some time; thought it was about time I shared it. This renewed interest was prompted by a webinar I recently heard on B2B marketing and social media from Tippit.

Originating in British Parliament, white papers present an authoritative overview of a particular issue and layout specific actions. Businesses adopted the term in the ‘90s as a moniker for sales and marketing documents that aim to educate the audience.

In B2B marketing, white papers are an integral part of the buying process and serve a variety of purposes. From the vendor point of view white papers accomplish the following:

  • Establish thought leadership and a presence.
  • Keep a vendor ‘in consideration’ and ‘top of mind’ during a long sales cycle.
  • Provide the tools to generate a cost benefit analysis.
  • Generate interest and leads.
  • Breed a sense of trust in order to reduce risk in making a decision.
They are part of risk management and lessen the fear associated with B2B buying decisions. A post from Marketo outlined four ways of managing risk:
  1. Get on the approved vendor list before a decision is needed.
  2. Facilitate peer recommendations to reduce risk; peers are often the first resource people turn to when researching.
  3. Leverage sales for referrals in addition to closing sales.
  4. Establish credibility and thought leadership to garner the ‘wisdom of the crowd.’
From a buyer’s point of view white papers help get a project funded.

While white papers are read and used by a large number buyers (and committees) the form factor remains the old document-based ‘paper’ in this day of tweets, Diggs, sharing and comments.

Borrowing from the success of ‘social media news rooms’ this [post] describes a new delivery model for this valuable content. Rather than just producing a PDF, the social media white paper consists of a variety of elements that facilitate content distribution and sharing of information. From quotes to slides to a printable version, reports are presented in a variety of forms that make it most useful to the audience.

White Room

Rather than a listing of PDF files behind a registration page, the concept creates a diverse set of objects that readers can use to meet their needs. To accomplish this; a new section [should] be added to a firm’s website tentatively called the ‘white room’ – a combination of the white paper and news room. To provide control of the functionality, content, and track distribution the white room is a separate part of a web site that contains a variety of sections. Using the standard sections of NewsCactus or PitchEngine as a guide it could take the form of:

  • Home: an introductory page for the section. Similar to many blogs, it contains a synopsis and listing of recent contents.
  • Overview: Provides a place to discuss what the section is about (optional)
  • White Papers: Listing of white papers with links to the actual page. Each page is designed to be found as part of inbound marketing strategies.
  • Highlights: Links to other events related to white papers, e.g. presentations, or speeches.
  • In the News: Listing of mentions of the firm as thought leader.
  • Multimedia: useful objects to associate with the white paper.
  • Company Kits: Fact sheets for company, leaders, and products.

Paper Chunks

The Internet has changed how we read and consume content [see the "Twitter Paradox"]. To facilitate consumption and spreading of information the following should be supplied.

  1. Content written in form that can be scanned. Use of bullets and short sentences, paragraphs required in this day and age of Internet-reading.
  2. Sub-heads written in the form of tweets that can then be used with url-shorteners to deep link and drive traffic.
  3. Plain text (not Word) and PDF versions of full white paper and key paragraphs.
  4. Audio version of paper (mp3 format).
  5. Three to four specific recommendations or points that can be forwarded quickly. Written for retweeting.
  6. Links to outside, relevant resources within the copy. No more than one link per 150-200 words.
  7. A description, synopsis of the piece in 30-50 word that can be emailed to others like the reader's boss.
  8. A list of key words associated with the piece; used to develop content to facilitate search traffic.
  9. Two or more multi-media objects – pictures, video, or audio interviews.
  10. Charts in clear template form for both PowerPoint and Keynote as well as on slide share – with speaker’s notes.
  11. Spreadsheets if providing calculation tools.
  12. Full contact information for key resources: all relevant channels.
  13. Links to social bookmark and network sites.
  14. Simple registration – accept LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter profiles.

Business Model

I have some ideas here too....

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