Are you struggling to attract prospects? Do you need to increase the size of your opt-in email-marketing list?
How can you stand out in a sea of noise?
With so many disruptive (and alluring) technologies such as email, RSS readers, instant messaging and mobile phones, prospects are distracted like never before—and chances are, so are you!
This attention-deficient dilemma makes it exceptionally difficult for businesses and professionals to stand out.
So what can you do?
The answer is very simple, and rests on this premise: If you provide something of value to prospects, they will give you their respect, loyalty, time AND ultimately their business.
People are hungry to learn and find great value in educational content. Educational marketing strategies can rapidly change the face of your business.
Perhaps nothing is more valuable to readers than white papers, how-to guides, reports and ebooks.
Consider the research. A major study by KnowledgeStorm and MarketingSherpa found that readers value white papers most—more than case studies, product literature, articles from industry journalists, analyst reports, company websites, webcasts, blogs, online video and podcasts.
While white papers are super hot right now, most fail to bring opportunity.
Share Your Secrets in White Papers
Chances are you or your company has knowledge that people find valuable.
This may seem counterintuitive… If you give away some of that proprietary, hard-earned insight in the form of a white paper or ebook, you actually can propel yourself to a position of thought leader and attract opportunity.
Consider Brian Clark’s free report on viral marketing with blogs, Viral Copy. When I first read this 30-page report, I forwarded it to many of my friends with the label, “Required Reading.” This excellent resource convinced me that Brian knew his stuff. If Brian had something to sell, I’d be first in line to buy it.
Here are the core character traits of effective educational marketing tools. They:
- Downplay the mention of your product or company
- Focus on problems or needs faced by readers
- Examine trends and look at history
How to Leverage White Papers to Grow Your Business
Once you have written your masterpiece, it is time to put the document to work for you.
If your goal is to capture a lead (a name, phone number or email address, for example) or to encourage folks to join your email list, you should place the white paper, report or free ebook behind a registration form.
There is a right way and a wrong way to do this…
Mistake #1: How many times have you seen a single sentence or a paragraph summary of a white paper and then a long registration form? There may as well be a pit bull standing at the door, because I wouldn’t go near that paper.
Unfortunately, many white papers fail to provide enough content to engage readers or scare people away with 20 questions such as “What is your budget?”
Mistake #2: On the flip side, how often do you see a white paper that is instantly displayed with the click of a link? While this provides immediate access to a reader, it fails to capture any information or make it easy for readers to sign up for your newsletter.
The Solution: What I am about to propose is a strategy that appeals equally to readers and businesses. Revisit my earlier premise, when you provide value, you gain respect.
Consider real estate investment specialists Brown & Brown. A few pages of their white paper, Achieving Early Retirement With Real Estate: Rethinking Traditional Retirement Planning, are presented before the registration form appears.
With this example, readers are given plenty of sample content before they are asked to trade their personal contact information for access.
This idea flows from the video game market. Remember playing video game demos that provided you access to the first two levels? By providing a good sample taste of the product, the hope is that people will act and want the full game. The same strategy can be applied to white papers.
By providing a sufficient example of the document you want users to register for, you:
- Increase the likelihood people will complete the registration form and you capture a lead.
- Improve lead quality. If people do not find your opening words relevant, they will never scroll down the page and see there is a registration form at the bottom.
- Create a content-rich page for search engines.
When your registration form finally appears, this is the prime opportunity to ask readers if they want to join your email opt-in list, in addition to receiving the white paper.
Thus, by providing a compelling sample of your white paper, you improve the likelihood that people registering are truly interested in your topic AND you can quickly grow your opt-in lists.
Your feedback: Have you utilized this strategy effectively? What are your thoughts?
Michael Stelzner is the author of the book ‘Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged.’ For a sample chapter of Michael’s book, visit his blog and sign up for his newsletter.