The original purpose of white papers as a B2B marketing tactic was to produce objective information, packaged as quasi-academic research, to validate a company’s or product’s value proposition. White paper sponsors sought to educate, inform, raise comfort levels and eventually initiate sales conversations with prospective customers.
White papers gained significant adoption as a content marketing tool concurrent with the rapid growth of new technologies that often required detailed explanation or context for non-technical buyers. Over time, however, the market education function was largely assumed by research firms such as Gartner and Forrester, whose opinions carry greater credibility than self-publishers of white papers.
Unfortunately, what began as a legitimate and sometimes helpful marketing tactic has morphed into poorly disguised sales promotion, packaged in a plain vanilla wrapper. The evolution of white papers from bona fide content into self-serving advertorials has been validated by vertical industry trade publications, in which companies, for a fee, are permitted to “feature” their white papers in a special section. White papers jumped the shark when they became paid content.
The outcome of widespread abuse of white papers – driven by marketers grasping for new ways to put lipstick on a pig, or too lazy to produce rigorous research that might empower customers to draw their own conclusions – is that the tactic has lost its franchise as an effective B2B marketing asset class. Increasingly, prospective customers do not believe white papers will be helpful or credible, and as a result, they often no longer play a critical role in their decision-making process for purchasing products or services.Continue reading…
By JOHN HALAMKA
I blog 5 days a week. This is my 935th post. Monday through Wednesday are generally policy and technology topics. Thursday is something personal. Friday is an emerging technology.
Everything I write is personal, unfiltered, and transparent. Readers of my blog know where I am, what I’m doing, and what I’m thinking. They can share my highs and my lows, my triumphs and defeats.
Recently, I had my blog used against me for the first time.
In discussing a critical IT issue, someone questioned my focus and engagement because I had written a post about single malt scotch on June 2 at 3am, recounting an experience I had Memorial Day Weekend in Scotland.
I explained that I write these posts late at night, in a few minutes, while most people are sleeping. They are not a distraction but are a kind of therapy, enabling me to document the highlights of my day.
I realize that it is overly optimistic to believe that everyone I work with will embrace values like civility, equanimity, and a belief that the nice guy can finish first.
If Facebook can be used against college applicants to screen them for bad behavior and if review of web-based scholarly writing can be used by legislators to block executive appointment confirmations, what’s the right way to use social media to minimize personal harm?