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Finding Your Marketing Edge How White Pages Turn into Greenbacks
Friday, June 1, 2001

This column builds on the previous one (siliconindia, May 2001), so you might want to refresh your memory before you read it.
So now you have developed a series of white papers — at least three — that address the problems faced by your potential customers. Be sure that the titles are pithy and interesting. Nobody will send away for “Some Important Management Concepts.” However, “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School” became a bestseller. Remember that the title serves the same purpose as the headline of an advertisement. It determines whether someone will see it as pertinent and therefore worth getting. You don’t have to hire a professional copywriter to create the titles, but it is not a bad idea. Read texts like John Caples’ “Tested Advertising Methods” for great ideas. Be sure that your company’s name, address and phone numbers are on the back cover of the papers, and be sure to copyright them.

Now what do you do with the papers? Simple. You distribute them. Scatter them to the winds, but in ways that insure they reach likely prospects. Also, collect the names and contact details of those who request them.

1. Send a press release to all the trade newspapers and magazines that cover your industry. The release will say you have informative white papers that address common problems and these are available to readers, who may call, write or e-mail for the reports. (Give them all three options.) How easy you make it to acquire the reports is a business decision. Requiring prospects to send along a self-addressed stamped envelope — or charging a nominal fee, say $2, to cover shipping and handling — will decrease response. However, it ensures that the respondents will be much more qualified. Quite often this is the correct route to go.

2. Make the white papers available to qualified persons who can also distribute them. If they are good pieces, these people will be happy to offer this added service to their customers. Use your imagination. Are there consultants who service your prospects? Arrange to have them include a paper in their mailings along with a note that the others can be obtained directly from you. Do your prospects attend trade shows? Ask the organizers to include a white paper in the attendee kit along with information on how to get the others. How about professional seminars and conferences? Make sure the organizers know about your immensely helpful white papers. Industry analysts? They could send copies to their clients or at least let clients know about them. Lastly, vendors of products complementary to, or even competitive with, yours might be willing to distribute your papers if they are truly informational and not blatant product or service pitches. Explore all avenues. You will be surprised at how many there are.

3. Describe them on your Web page. Once again, you have to make a business decision on how to do this. You can simply post them for all to see. Or you can require visitors to register before they can read them. Or you can require visitors to register and give you a valid e-mail address so you can send the papers to them. In general, being restrictive on the front end decreases the quantity of leads but increases their quality.

4. Buy small space advertisements in publications read by your prospects and describe the white papers. Invite readers to send for them.

5. Make a list of companies that advertise regularly to the prospects you covet. Ask if they would like to offer a free, valuable premium to their customers. At least some would like this very much indeed.

6. Make an offer to any independent sales people who call on your prospects.

7. Make sure your white papers get prominent mention in any Web libraries of resources for people in your industry.

8. Contact all of the e-zines and e-mail lists that target your prospects and tout your white papers.

9. Arrange to have your papers mentioned on the resource pages of trade association and non-competing vendor Web sites.

There are probably dozens of other methods — unique to your business and industry — that you can use to secure distribution. Use them all.

Put up a database — get a good commercial program for this — and capture details of all persons who request your papers. The nature of your business will determine what information you need to capture. But definitely include dates, sources of leads and contact information.

sure that this database, which you will process, interacts seamlessly with your sales and customer relationship management programs. In many cases, the latter programs have their own databases, so you don’t really need a separate one.

Now you are ready to convert your efforts into gold. How do you do that? I’ll tell you in my next column.

Prof. Srikumar S. Rao is Louis and Johanna Vorzimer Professor of Marketing at Long Island University, New York. Write to him, with comments, and questions on marketing at: rao@corp.siliconindia.com.

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