My colleague Angela Schuster (A great online marketer) recently received a follow-up email from a business development manager regarding a whitepaper she downloaded from a website. Now Whitepapers are one of the key ways to sell complex service products or complex products. Many people not in the business to business marketing game don’t understand whitepapers so here is the strategy.

Whitepaper marketing strategy

Create a document which outlines a potential problem or business issue, lets take the example of Entreprise VoIP management software. (This is a topic close to Angela!) Now entreprise VoIP management software isn’t something you just walk down to Harvey Norman bargain a price then walk over to JB HI Fi and get a better price then walk back to Harvey Norman and get them to drop their price even more and finally choose to buy. It’s not a commodity and it’s something that needs a lot of expert thought in putting together as well as purchasing. The purchaser needs to be educated in the field and needs to be able to determine what a good purchase is and what is right for their business. How can they do that? There exists a major gap in information from what the supplier of the software knows about the area and business requirements and what the buyer knows about their business problem (i.e. what things to look for) and what they know about software solutions for this area.

Whitepaper solution selling

The whitepaper is written by the software vendor to describe the business situation the company is in and show what things are required for a successful software deployment, in this case a deployment of VoIP and the management software that you will need along with this.

What kinds of things does the whitepaper contain?

1. A description of the business problem and what companies are trying to achieve.
2. An overview of the potential solutions.
3. A critique of how these solutions compare and information what kinds of companies should purchase which piece of software.
4. Usually there is a bit of a spin as to how this particular software vendor fits into the piece and how their solution fits the bill. I.e. If you are This kind of company then you should purchase our software because you fit our software perfectly. The software company will describe their perfect target market and lead the reader through to find out if they are right for the software. It’s almost like self service with a bit of user education beforehand.

How effective are whitepapers?

Whitepapers have been the bread and butter of major corporates who have successfully built a business on educating their customers to buy from them. Companies like IBM, Prognosis, Cisco, SAP, SAS and Unisys. These companies’ offerings are so complex that the selling process is more of an education process rather than a Television ad and a good personality to represent the brand.

Now, Angela downloaded this whitepaper from their company and here is the email that followed her up:

Greetings,
I would welcome an opportunity to speak with you in more detail about our customized Strategic Optimization Program(r). It is important that you understand the value your website brings to your business. Many companies are reaching out to us about optimization because of the increasingly high cost of bidding on keywords in Google. Once you optimize your site you are gaining FREE traffic and exposed to 85% of searchers, this is on the left hand side of the page.

Websites are no longer just a place to send people for information about you. It’s all about meeting the requirements that the search engines have established and this takes place in the coding of the site. We assist many companies in gaining on line presence by guiding them through this process.

For companies who want to comprehensively and economically seize the opportunities that Search Engines offer, we recommend this multi-faceted strategy.

First, a detailed initiative is undertaken to make sure the site is aligned (from a Best Practices standpoint) with Search Engines that rank sites via Natural Search (such as Google and MSN). Next, we combine the cost benefits of Natural Search with a performance-based, Paid Inclusion Program, via a fixed-rate Cost Per Click (CPC) to produce highly targeted traffic and verifiable results in Yahoo. This is further enhanced by targeted Directory Listings designed to generate effective link popularity and a strong linking strategy program.

Here’s what you get:

Ongoing Support with a Dedicated Team including a Strategist (pro-active), Tactian (Google Certified), and Optimization Engineer

Web site Review and Guidance

Paid Inclusion (XML) Traffic via a Fixed-rate, Cost Per Click (CPC) through Yahoo Search Technology

Flat rate program for Google, Yahoo, MSN, Business.com, Shopping Feeds, Bizrate, Verizon Superpages

Organic Search Optimization Strategy and Implementation (for Natural Search results)

Directory Submissions

On Going Linking Strategy

Online Reporting

If you would like to set up a convenient day for us to chat via the telephone about this program in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

I encourage you to visit our website”

One of my specialities lies in search engine marketing but online marketing strategy is my passion. I like the strategy but the execution has stabbed the whole plan in the back. I can understand what she is meaning to say but it is not making a single grain of sense to any customer trying to purchase from her. Why the hell do I need a strategist, a tactician and an optimization engineer?? I thought I was trying to get my website to the top of the search engines.

I suggest the following rewrite:

“Dear Angela,

Thank you for downloading the whitepaper on “Search engine optimization” I hope your enjoyed it. We would welcome the opportunity to work with you to get your website to the top of the search engines using are expert services. Our specialised team ensures your search engine listings reach the highest rankings and helps keep the cost to acquire a customer from the search engine down.

I was wondering if you had 25 minutes to have a chat around getting your website to the top of the search engines. How are you placed for 10:30am on Tuesday?

Best Regards,

Fred Schebesta”

I might use that email. :)

Blog on!

Fred Schebesta

P.S. If you do want to discuss whitepaper marketing strategies further just email me (fred at freestylemedia dot com dot au) and we can devise a strategy for you.

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