White Papers: The Guided Missiles of B-B Lead Generation
Companies People Buy?
Why did I strikeout the word ‘companies’ in a message about business to business (B-B) lead generation? Because companies don’t buy goods and services, people who work in them do. Anyone who has tried to generically pitch a company can tell you it’s a waste of time if you don’t have a champion on the inside. Finding those champions is the hall mark of any successful lead generation campaign. That’s why rental lists, bombarding people with email pitches, sending direct mail and cornering passersby at trade shows don’t work and never will. You haven’t thought of your customer prospect from their individual perspective, i.e. ‘What’s in it for me?’. Answer that question and you will find a champion.
Great Products and Services Solve Specific, Personal Problems
When I say specific problems, I am talking about personal problems that employees, management and leadership of your customer companies face. It’s personal because it is their business, their career and their reputation. It’s all personal. And that’s why showering a company with a canned pitch can’t work. Yes, throwing things at a wall and waiting to see what sticks is one way to market, but it’s insanely inefficient and can be extremely costly.
Ack-Ack Vs. The Guided Missile
Antiaircraft guns, also known as ack-ack, were a notoriously inefficient way to defend against air attacks during World War Two. Spraying ammo all over the sky did occasionally hit things but most of that ammo fell to the ground. Today we have technology which targets an incoming jet, latches onto its signature and once it has locked onto its target, cannot be evaded. Guided missiles. If you are going to reach a potential champion in a company you need the same highly targeted solution. That solution is the lowly, plain jane White Paper, possibly the least glamourous weapon in your marketing arsenal.
White Papers Are the Guided Missiles of Lead Generation.
Let’s look at a scenario inside of a prospective customer’s meeting room. Several executives from ABC Co have a problem. Their IT is outdated and their servers are rapidly becoming insecure by modern standards. They’ve tasked a tech-savvy junior executive to research their options. She has gone online and read reviews, perused websites, had product demos, put up with salespeople and has a huge amount of information, represented by an enormous Powerpoint deck she is about to present. But she can tell that the execs in the room are not happy with the thick stacks of printer output she has placed at each seat. So she decides to pivot.
She opens her briefcase and takes out a handful of stapled reports and hands them around. They are copies of a white paper created by one of the companies she has researched. It succinctly looks at the server market from the perspective of a company in need of a solution. It outlines the options available, including those offered by the company’s competitors. It explains how to calculate the true cost of implementing a server, a cost above and beyond what is included in most RFPs. It explains the value proposition of their offering in relation to their competition, again explaining in terms relevant to those people in that meeting.
Our presenter stands up and turns off the projector that has been warming up. She tells the group that she has done research and looked into many options and that they are all in the PPT deck in front of them. Then she says that while doing my research I found a white paper that covers the same territory and includes some price issues that we had not considered. She hands them out and says that she recommends moving forward with the company that supplied the white paper. She has already distributed the paper digitally to them and they have a hard copy. It is only six pages long and reading it will help each person get up to speed enough to know what questions they should be asking. The meeting ends and they agree to make a decision after each one has had a chance to study her work.
Meanwhile that white paper has already been forwarded to several other parties within the company with a note that says “I thought you’d find this useful as we move ahead on our new server purchase.”
The guided missile has not only hit its target, it has hit multiple targets.
How did she get that white paper?
- The first time she got it by supplying her email address in a form prominently featured as an offer on the home page of the company that created it.
- The second time she got it was in the signature of the follow-up email she received from a salesperson from the company that created it.
- A week later she was at a conference and attended a session where the white paper was presented.
- She also found it in a forum on the subject on LinkedIn, posted there by someone else making a buying decision with a note that said “This was a big help in getting up to speed on this decision for us.”
Penetrating The World of Reputation
Referrals + Testimonials + Recommendations + Reviews = Reputation
The lowly white paper had penetrated into the world of reputation faster than any typical marketing pitch. To reach the world of reputation means that someone not affiliated with the company that created the white paper had recommended it to their peers- an unsolicited recommendation. The most powerful kind of marketing there is.
Beyond Cost Effective
Our guided missile has another benefit. Compared to other lead generation tools it cost very little to create or distribute.
It is digital so there is no reproduction or distribution cost, nor are there any limits to its reach.
It is a barebones document for a reason: By not dressing it up in a fancy template with company branding splashed all over it, it says:
“I am serious effort to provide useful information rather than a marketing pitch. You can share me with your team members just as you would any serious research or analysis. I am simple and concise and will not waste your time. I will make you look professional.”
How much is a qualified lead worth to your business?
As a marketer I hope you know the answer to this but I will not be surprised to find out that you don’t. Let’s say that server sale is worth a round one million dollars in gross revenue to your company. 25% or $250,000 is profit. Your salespeople average 25 calls to get to a real prospect for that sale. We’ll go ‘simple stupid’ here and decide that a qualified lead (demonstrated need, ready to buy, a decision maker, has the money) is worth $10,000.
If I’m a server salesperson and my marketing team can buy me those super leads for $10k, I’ll take all I can get. I’m probably lucky if my best efforts find me one a month.
When White Papers Don’t Work
This is a simple one.
- They don’t work when they are brochures disguised as reports.
- They don’t work when they are not designed to generate qualified high quality leads.
- They don’t work when they contain falsehoods, insult competitors or pretend there are no competitors.
- They don’t work when companies make it difficult to get them. They should be ridiculously easy to get.
- They don’t work when there is no plan for distributing them widely.
Ok, I’m going to stop now. I write white papers that are designed to be guided missiles that target decision-makers. I work with you to research and identify the problem facing your prospective customers and I write a paper that is solely focused on showing them how your product or service solves that problem.
If we can’t identify that problem I probably can’t help you.
Finally, I include a specific plan for distribution of your white paper, a plan designed to reach your targeted audience in multiple ways.
My pricing assumes access to your product and market information and the support of an internal champion who will help me succeed. The length of your white paper depends on your product and its complexity and value proposition. In most cases shorter is better, but there are exceptions.
I charge $350/page with a three page minimum. A page is 350 words as counted by any standard word-processing software. These costs are all inclusive and include up to three phone meetings, editing by an outside editor (it is impossible to accurately edit yourself) and very basic formatting. Unlike other white paper creators I do not offer fancy templates for an up-charge because I do not believe they help the effectiveness of the paper. A cover page on your stationary with a small logo beneath ‘Created By’ is enough.
All papers include a one page Action Plan, specific to your business, for distributing the paper.
Turnaround is one month and terms are 50% up front and the remainder upon delivery.
Contact me directly 24/7 at firstname.lastname@example.org or 585-727-3119 (US)