Is it the end of the line for the venerable white paper?

Are B2B white papers losing their clout? They just might be, according to some who say they fail to meet the need for speed (when it comes to reading) that today’s “infovores” crave. 

Making the case for shorter content

IDG Connect has this to say on the subject:
When creating content there is a widespread feeling that more is better. But the truth is, buyers simply do not have the time or interest to wade through 20+ page white papers any more. The era of lengthy content is beginning to wane.

Please note: You will need to register to read this IDG article, but it’s free.

Then there are others who say “It depends”:

It depends on the the content. 
Is it “laced” with sales promotional copy? 
Is it devoid of real research? 
Then yes, your white paper is a waste of time and energy, say the folks at Matizmo.

Then there are those who give a definitive”NO” 

(and bring out the hard data to prove it):

Joe Peterson at B2B has this to say:
In a 2010 Eccolo Media surveyed 501 C-level execs, vice presidents, managers, directors, developers/ programmers, and technicians involved in technology purchase decisions. A whopping 76% of the respondents indicated that they read a white paper in the last 6 months to evaluate a technology purchase.The only category that beat white papers was product brochures/data sheets at 83%.  White papers trumped Case Studies (67%); Videos (59%0 and Podcasts (40%).

The takeaway?

White papers, like eBooks, DO work…If you put some real planning and thinking into them. If you learn to write them well (or pay someone to write them), make them helpful to readers and give them depth, chances are your key prospects will not only read them but pass them on to their colleagues as well.

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