when's the last time you read a whitepaper? That's my #dinosaurofthedayNow I fully admit to being a 'digital immigrant', but not only do I *read* white papers, I like to write them too.
Why not just blog the key points? Does anybody really want to download, print and read a 10-20 page sales pitch? Isn't there a better way to articulate non-sucky vendor messaging? The criticism is fair - but let's try to get to the root of the problem: most technology white papers are now salesy schlock. It's not the container, it's the content.
Here's where I see the value of a good white paper...
- Complex ideas require more than 500 words. Product strategy, new approaches, shifts in market conditions that compel a rethink or addition to a vendor roadmap deserve full articulation.
- A white paper is the vendor equivalent of showing their work - it can be the public explanation and rationale behind specific product capabilities, target markets, platform/architectural decisions.
- Somebody needs to be able to tell a cohesive end to end story - if the big picture story (the "why") can be clearly articulated, odds are the vendor really gets what they're doing. Piecemeal topics scattered across a few blogs that have no apparent common theme, clarity of cohesion don't give me the confidence that there is a common shared purpose behind the roadmap.
- Good white papers feed the content machine for weeks / months to come. Specific sections CAN be chopped up and tailored for a variety of other consumptions channels - blogs, tweets, short articles for online or print, bullet points for an in person or web-based seminar. So when an analyst, customer, or prospect thinks to themselves, wow, these guys really get it because the message all makes sense, you can thank the white paper that spawned the little content artifacts.
If white papers are dinosaurs, it's because they've been hijacked by lame marketing hacks, not because our audience is too stupid to read past page 3. Blame the content, not the container.