Why I Rarely Publish Links to White Papers
By Dennis D. McDonald
I've written my share of white papers, some for clients, some to promote my own interests. Yet I'm reluctant to link to commercial white papers when writing articles here or when commenting on networks like Google+.
Agreed, that seems hypocritical, so the following is a discussion of why I hesitate to link to commercially produced white papers.
Many commercially- and vendor-produced white papers are quite substantive and provide much useful information. As long as you understand the commercial interests of the author you're OK. I certainly have no problem with that.
Problem is, some white paper sponsors still make you jump through hoops to download a white paper by requiring information like name, title, company, phone number, email, and other information. Some also request company size, revenue, and intent-to-purchase information.
I understand why such information is being requested, I really do. I spend a lot of time promoting and selling my own consulting services and I would love to know the details of everyone who, say, reads one of my blog posts or who engages with me on Google+. But I do have some problems with linking to some commercially produced white papers:
- I like to know what I'm linking to. If I have to jump through hoops just to read the content of what I will be linking to, and I'm in a hurry, I might pass on reading the document in order to decide if it's worth linking to.
- As an independent consultant I'm rarely in a position to purchase the products or services being promoted by a professional white paper, and I know if I have to provide my name and phone number I'm going to get a screening call from a junior sales rep that I'm probably going to have to disappoint. I've been in that position myself many times and I'd rather not waste anyone's time.
- If I link to a white paper and someone in turn gets the call or has a bad experience with spam as a result of a link I supplied, do I want to risk being somehow associated with that bad experience?
- If someone is reading one of my links to a white paper on a mobile device like a smartphone and goes to a too-complex form that is not optimized for a small screen or touchscreen, disappointment might result. Again, who gets the blame?
I'm a firm believer that (a) if someone is motivated to call me after reading one of my pieces openly published online, I've succeeded, and (b) I'm going to be doing targeted emailings to potential clients anyway to promote my services and these usually include links to the new stuff I've published. Basically I've decided that making potential clients jump through hoops to ready my promotional content is not in my best interest.
Copyright (c) 2018 by Dennis D. McDonald. Need help with your own white papers? Maybe I can help. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.