In a recent conversation I was having with the Bloom Group they believe “the practice of publishing white papers must come to a close because of the utter proliferation of white papers, and the poor content contained within so many of them.” “Kill the white paper!” they are increasingly telling their clients. “We think white papers – even those in PDF form that are emailed or posted on a website – are a relic of the print days” said Bob Buday, President of the Bloom Group. And I tend to agree.
But then the question quickly becomes how do you build thought leaders?
In place of a white paper, B2B companies need to create a topic micro site – i.e., a site focused on a single topic and providing a wide range of educational content and interactivity that a white paper alone just can’t provide. Such content can include:
• A blog by the subject-matter expert(s)
• Discussion forums
• Surveys/polls that the audience can take
• A news aggregation feature
• And yes, white papers
Here is Bloom Group’s position on this http://bloomgroup.com/content/topic-microsites
Practically speaking a micro site in place of every “white paper” would be overkill and the sheer work involved in going from just a white paper to all those artifacts for the micro site is not insignificant.
Personally I am taking the angle within my organization of more eBooks rather than white papers. Aspiring to the World Wide Rave theory from David Meerman Scott which says to give away your content rather than lock it up behind a registration form. I also like to use the eBook to point to a landing page with some more Premium content (research, analyst paper) as well as many of the other artifacts that I can muster on a single topic. Trying not to let the eBook or white paper for that matter be the only artifact you create from your efforts. An eBook should spawn 3-5 other items that can be used to reach out to potential clients like a couple of blog posts, an email blast, a podcast perhaps and several factoid tweets that can point to your landing page.
But the purpose of a topic micro site is to help a firm show it has deep expertise in a given subject and to help potential customers think about that issue and the best way to solve it. A topic micro site – if positioned as a firm’s current and future expertise on an issue, and if continually refreshed with good, new, multimedia content (including content from viewers) – can be a tool to keep prospects and customers returning to a piece of your website.
What’s your view on this? We would love to hear from you.