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Recently on ClickDocuments, I contributed suggestions for choosing a white paper syndication partner. Here I expand a bit on that post.

Not familiar with white paper syndication? Syndication makes your white paper available to mass audiences. Think of it as you would a syndicated newspaper column. If you write a column for your own newspaper (e.g., website), only your subscribers will see it. But if your column is syndicated via hundreds or thousands of other newspapers around the country, it will be seen by many more people.

To syndicate your white paper, you contract with companies that reach hundreds of thousands of – or even a million-plus – subscribers on a regular basis, subscribers who are interested in reading white papers and other content.

Why Syndication Makes Sense

A Business Content Study conducted by MarketingSherpa and TechWeb in 2008 found that a white-paper-centric site was one of the top five sources for white paper downloads by technology buyers. Plus it can be a great way to build up an in-house list. According to BtoB Magazine, CoreTrace – an IT security company – promoted its white papers and webinars with companies including Ziff Davis Enterprise and TechTarget, and grew its database from zero to about 20,000 addresses in one year. (Of course, it’d be great to know how much value it found in that list.)

How the Programs Differ

That said, all syndication programs are not created equal. Companies such as eMedia offer syndication programs that promote your white paper to their subscriber list via newsletters (or bulletins). Other companies – such as IT Business Edge, Toolbox.com, and Web Buyer’s Guide (part of Ziff Davis Enterprise) – promote your paper on their single site. (Within that group, even Toolbox.com is unique in that it offers a professional community network for IT/HR/Finance professionals to connect with their peers.) Still others – including Find White Papers (part of Madison Logic), NetLine, Technology Evaluation Centers (based in Canada), TechTarget, and TechWeb – promote your paper to subscribers across their network of sites.

Program Basics

Some of the companies offer a lead guarantee (i.e., will deliver a certain number of leads within a specified time frame). While each company displays a registration form to subscribers who show interest in downloading your paper, many of the companies enable you to customize this form so you can collect the information that fits your lead definition. They will typically deliver these leads to you on a weekly basis in Excel or .CSV format, and some can even dump leads into your sales force automation tool. A few of the companies can even help you develop a white paper – or help you reuse your content by turning your white paper into a podcast or Webinar.

Sorting through the Options

It’s not hard to see why some marketers feel overwhelmed by all the syndication options out there. If you’d like someone else to do all the legwork, you could work with an agency such as Connect Direct (CDI) who can help you choose the right programs. Once CDI understands your goals, it works out a deal with its network of media partners on your behalf.