Star Light, Star Bright, How You Shine So Paper White
BY Jason Ciment | June 7, 2002
We've covered a lot of ground on building a "system" for affiliate marketing. To review:
As always, there's more territory to cover. So today, I would like to focus on expanding our selling tools — the resources merchants either use themselves or provide to affiliates to increase sales. These tools generally involve:
I recently rediscovered a tremendously underutilized tool originated in 18th century England that is missing from the above list — something affiliates and merchants could give away "totally free" and will drive traffic that is both qualified and extremely targeted. I'm talking about the "white paper" — a concise report or position paper about a particular topic that is designed to significantly influence a prospective customer.
For example, MagMall (my company) is currently working on a white paper about "how companies can save time and money by using an online subscription service to manage their corporate subscription purchases." The purpose of the report is not only to convince a prospective corporate magazine user to consider the idea of buying magazines in a different way but also to use MagMall because our prices and services are better than the rest of the competition.
When a prospect picks up a white paper, she is, in effect, saying two things:
White papers need to present your company favorably and reinforce why your organization should be selected over your competition. Since the goal is to ultimately influence a prospective customer into becoming an actual customer, you need high-impact white papers that can be easily understood by your audience and clearly demonstrate how your solution can solve the person's critical needs.
Here are four compelling reasons why white papers stimulate sales:
Here is a short list of rules for writing and delivering a white paper:
As a final review, consider this notion. White papers are not the exclusive domain of technology companies. Properly disguised, white papers can be delivered as press releases, submitted to search engines, signed by "third parties" to create the impression of "independent review," or turned into step-by-step guides to understanding your company's products and services.
Just remember this golden rule: A good white paper should leave even a nonexpert convinced that your company's approach is the only one that makes sense. Too many white papers jump right into the details of the subject without providing any background information about why the need for that solution exists in the first place. A good white paper assumes the reader knows nothing about the issue and walks him through a logical progression of information, going from the broadest issues within the industry or business environment to the specific attributes of the solution and how it solves the business challenges.
Here is a list of white paper resources that were instrumental in preparing this review:
Please let me know if you have any war stories on using white papers or suggestions on other resources.
Jason Ciment is CEO of MagMall, which he founded 1997. He designed, programmed, and developed the fully interactive java and perl-based magazine subscription Web site that has more than 10,000 individual and corporate partners. He has also worked with manufacturing companies such as Liz Claiborne and Jones New York to maintain quality standards and prompt order fulfillment.
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