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Are Whitepapers Losing Their Moxie?

Everyone is supposed to like whitepapers.
Customers and prospects like them because they offer insights and answers free for the asking; the only downside is having to provide their contact information in return.

Marketers like them because they provide a way for suppliers to identify and connect with people who are more likely to be valid prospects.

But the picture is decidedly more mixed than that.

In recent times, so many marketing gurus have been banging the drum for whitepapers, it seems that everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. Consequently, whitepapers have gone from being a relative novelty to being ubiquitous.

When something becomes so commonplace that it elicits yawns, it’s no longer working – despite what the purveyors of content marketing solutions might claim.

Today, it isn’t uncommon for a B-to-B businessperson to receive two or more whitepaper download invitations per day. That’s 10 per week … 40 per month … nearly 500 per year.

And with so many whitepapers swirling around in cyberspace, many of them are delivering too little substance or value.

Want to test that theory? Take an informal poll in your office. It’s likely you’ll fi nd few people who have read a useful whitepaper from anyone in a good long time.

Instead, too many of them are pretty thin gruel – short on facts and insights and long on thinly veiled advertising.

So … what’s a B-to-B marketer to do when the typical whitepaper turns out to be a waste of time to produce and reaches an audience of practically no one?

Start by recognizing that free content offers go only so far to generate qualified leads. The vast majority of people who click through to receive a complimentary whitepaper or special report – or a free information kit on your products and services – aren’t qualified leads. They’re just inquiries.

To receive these items, make some of your information fields mandatory and others optional. This way, you’ll be able to separate qualified sales leads from all the others.

Finding highly qualifi ed leads that turn into customers is the real objective. Today as in the past, the most qualifi ed leads are the people who ask you to contact them to answer their questions.

Chances are, your whitepaper didn’t get them to that point.

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