I probably won’t come as a surprise to you to find out that most white papers, guides and general free literature of an informative nature is produced as part of a technical PR or marketing plan and not out of the goodness of the author’s heart. 

In fact you’ve probably got a guide or two of your own hidden away somewhere that forms part of your marketing plan. I’ve no doubt that people request it every so often and you send them a copy. But what happens after that?

And what happens when you promote the guide by e-mail, in a press release or at a trade show and you get mountains of requests? How do you follow up the literature collectors and turn them into sales leads?

Well, here are a couple of ideas:

1, Follow up with another freebie: The people who have requested your guide like free things; they are dipping their toe into your product or service to see if it’s for them. So why not offer them something else for free? Maybe you could provide a DVD of your products in action or a ready-reckoner that will allow their engineers to easily integrate your product? The more free things they have requested the less reinforced their mental barrier will be when the time comes to ask for a sales meeting.

2, Offer them a free consultation: Again, these people like free things but probably have the need to buy something to fulfil the need they are researching. Why not follow up with the offer of a free initial consultation session?

3, Involve them in your product: Why not invite the people who’ve requested your guide or white paper to sit in on a round table, industry group or product development session. You can use this face to face contact as an opportunity to qualify the request and decide if it can become a sales lead.

4, Never, ever, ever just ignore them: All too often the complaint from sales to marketing is that the people who requested the free guide haven’t placed an order yet. Normally in these cases no follow up has been made by sales with the people who requested the guide. At the very least give them a call and offer to meet them. Guide requests are the virtual equivalent of someone poking their head around the door of your shop and asking if you have a business card. Would you just give them a card and send them merrily on their way without asking why they want it?

In every case, make sure it’s clear that they are being invited to take action because they requested the guide. They have been pre-qualified, the have been chosen; they are special. And don’t leave it too long.

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