Content Strategy: Stop Feeding Your Audience Dog Juice White Papers

PropelGrowth Blog - Financial Services Marketing

Calling your product brochure a white paper is like putting dog juice in an apple juice bottle and offering it to people. Just don't do it.

Years ago, when I first moved to New York City, I lived in an Upper West Side apartment with four other male twentysomethings. As is usually the case in such roommate situations, personal goodies would occasionally go missing from the refrigerator. Such was the case with apple juice that I was fond of drinking first thing each morning. Someone kept pilfering my apple juice, much to my chagrin. One day, it finally got to me. While at the grocery store, I happened to pass through the pet aisle and spotted a new kind of beverage for dogs. So, I purchased a bottle of what I’ll call “dog juice,” took it home, poured it into an empty apple juice bottle and placed it prominently in the refrigerator.

Soon after, one of my roommates had a friend over for a visit — let’s call him Rob. Rob was known among his friends as a carefree fellow who harbored no inhibitions about availing himself of other people’s belongings. I was in the living room when I heard him exclaim from the kitchen, “Ewwwwww!” I walked in to find Rob with a tall glass of dog juice in his hand and a huge grimace on his face. He had a reasonable expectation of the sweet taste of apple juice and got a mouth full of salty dog juice. I couldn’t help but burst out in a fit of laughter (ain’t I a stinker?).

Marketing “Malcontent”

In another context, I fell victim to the content equivalent of the dog juice experience. I downloaded a document that was presented as a white paper. Here I was, fresh cup of coffee in hand, excited to learn something about an emerging industry topic…only to be disappointed by what turned out to be a thinly disguised product brochure — for an application that was still in beta! That certainly left a bad taste in my mouth and it’s time I’ll never get back. My experience with this “malcontent” (think of malware, but in the context of content) has now created a negative association with any content published by that company.  I wanted an educational white paper, but was misled. Suffice it to say, I never made it past the first page of the document and will certainly think twice before downloading that company’s content in the future.

Related: Your Problem Is Not The White Paper

Content Marketing Shell Games

A significant objective of content marketing is building trust. Setting and fulfilling consistent audience expectations should be a central foundation of all your content. Bait and switch tactics only succeed in annoying your audience. That’s the LAST thing you want your content to do. These tactics also provide a golden opportunity for a competitor offering quality content to lure your audience away.

Your White Paper Should Actually Be A White Paper

Experts have been writing about this for a while, but it bears repeating. If you want to write thought leadership or educational content on a topic, write a white paper or article; if you’re pitching a product, write a product brochure. Just because you begin with a couple of sentences that state an industry problem doesn’t mean you can spend the rest of the document extolling the virtues of your product and call it a white paper. It’s not good content strategy. Rather, publish content that your audience needs and wants. Not a blatant advertisment.

When is a white paper not a white paper? When it’s “malcontent.”

Don’t feed your audience dog juice. Just don’t do it.

For tips on troubleshooting your white paper’s effectiveness, check out, How To Create A FinTech White Paper That Helps Convert and 11 Reasons Your FinTech White Paper Fails.”

For a history of pet beverages, click here (and you thought I was kidding). 😀

6 responses to “Content Strategy: Stop Feeding Your Audience Dog Juice White Papers”

  1. Thanks, Christina. Totally appreciate your article and how you turned the term around at the end. We all need to aspire to producing great content that speaks to the needs of the customer.

    Thanks so much for stopping by to read and encourage. Thanks also for working to be part of the solution.

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