White papers have been around for quite a while, but I’ve noticed that many businesses misuse the idea and get disappointing results.
I think the reason is that many people don’t understand the distinction between marketing literature and a true white paper.
Marketing literature, such as a brochure, is just what it sounds like. It’s literature intended to sell you something. It may be informative and interesting, but the purpose is clear. It works best when the person requesting the literature is curious about a specific product.
A properly-written white paper, however, is not simply sales literature in disguise. It is intended to be an authoritative report or a guide focused on an important, relevant issue. It seeks to educate readers and help them solve a problem or make a decision.
When you fail to make this distinction, you often end up with nothing but a wordy advertisement. There’s nothing wrong with long, editorial-style ads, but these are not white papers.
If I could sponsor a national conference on sales lead generation, I would simply fill a room with Rube Goldberg cartoons, herd everyone in, and lock the door for a few hours.
No speakers. No booths. No buffets of cold ham and limp green beans.
And you know what? The effectiveness of lead generation in this country would skyrocket. People would be closing more sales than their companies could handle.
Once I settled all the copyright infringement suits from displaying ol’ Rube’s artwork, I would be rich. I would be hailed as the Peter F. Drucker of sales leads.
Oh, well. I can dream, can’t I?
A couple of years ago, I was at a party where the host challenged guests to remove a cork from the inside of a wine bottle. It was quite a challenge, the host proclaimed.
One by one, people tried and failed to remove the cork. Then the host began explaining the tricky and complex solution, and people were impressed. However, the host was unable to remove the cork after 15 minutes of fiddling.
Growing impatient, I grabbed the bottle and asked the host if he really wanted the cork out of the bottle. He said yes. So I broke the bottle and handed him the cork. He wasn’t happy with that solution and said I “cheated.” Apparently it just wasn’t clever enough, even though it worked instantly.
Too often, this is the way it is with sales lead generation. Generating leads isn’t really that difficult, but people seem to be forever looking for complex solutions to simple problems. I call these the “lead killers,” because that’s exactly what they do — they kill leads.
The best defense against these killers is to just do what works. The simpler, the better. Here are a few examples.
Lead generation is a fairly straightforward task. You reach out to a list of prospects with letters, postcards, emails, ads, or other promotional material. You offer something, like a quote or brochure or other freebie. And you follow up with those who contact you to begin the process of getting customers.
Call backs are an essential part of this process. The point of lead generation is not merely to distribute promotional literature or create awareness, but to winnow your prospects to a list of sales leads to give to your sales force.
A sales rep must then call back quickly. Why? If you’ve ever watched a blacksmith work, it’s easy to understand.
When you think of generating sales leads, you probably think of direct mail or telemarketing. But any medium can be used to generate sales leads, including TV ads.
Watch this TV ad I wrote for Sunbelt Software and then I’ll give you the 3 key tactics used in ads like this.