In the words of Dame Edna, call me old fashioned possums, or maybe I’m just old, but if you work in this business long enough you see ideas come back around. As with all things, there are trends in marketing—once the shine has worn off some of the latest and greatest tools of the trade, maybe the time will come to see if one of the well-worn favourites can pull in new sales leads, or accelerate the buying cycle.
Such is the role of the technical white paper which, apparently, is enjoying something of a renaissance. And about time.
The occupation of thought leadership
Just a few years ago it seemed the white paper had fallen out of favour. They tended to be weighty and, perhaps, quite dry in their presentation; and it didn’t help that readers’ attention spans were falling.
The commoditisation of IT meant our focus was on communicating business benefits, not the technical justification. The papers were intended for a technical audience, while we were busy wooing c-level execs and line-of-business managers with thought leadership and opinion pieces.
And it wasn’t just audiences that turned their back—I think many people found technical papers daunting and rather hard work to create. To produce the content for the white paper we had to enter the rarefied kingdoms of product management, engineering and design, and decipher their native tongue.
The technical white paper has a new image
But today, gone are the off-putting text-heavy pages, replaced by a lighter touch and more infographics to emphasis key messages. White papers are now more focussed and succinct, making them shorter but still long enough to address the complexity of the argument that’s being made. And although they might be putting the case for a particular technology or one technical approach over another, the business context is very much in evidence. The new white paper is made for the commercial world and not academia.
Not to mention, the technical white paper is also great for SEO—packed with keywords and clearly supporting the buyer’s decision-making process—bringing realisable revenue closer. It’s valuable for lead generation and as supporting credentials to showcase your expertise and technical vision.
The one challenge that possibly hasn’t been overcome is the need to step confidently into the technical space and hold a peer-level conversation with your company experts. Here at HN we’ve always thought of that as more like fun, than hard work, but that’s the kind of folk we are.