Company: JER Envirotech
Contact: Marc Hoelscher, former Dir. of Marketing and Communications JER Envirotech; Robert Cooper, Strategic Director/President of PlusROI
Location: Delta, British Columbia, Canada
Industry: Raw Materials, B2B
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: 30

Quick Read:

JER Envirotech is a custom formulator and manufacturer of environmentally friendly thermoplastic biocomposite materials. Competing against traditional manufacturers with its nascent technology was challenging. The company wanted to develop a whitepaper that would help build credibility for its offerings.

Understanding the hesitancy of manufacturers to use recycled and still-unfamiliar materials, the company wanted a whitepaper that could serve as an educational tool at tradeshows as well as an ongoing lead-generation tool on its Web site.

JER Envirotech turned to online marketing firm PlusROI, which helped create the edu-focused whitepaper for $4,000.

That relatively small investment allowed the company to capture 500 leads via downloads of the whitepaper in the first 60 days of its being featured on the company's Web site. It also scored major coverage in the  leading industry publication in the form of an article generated as a result of the whitepaper.

The Challenge:

JER Envirotech is a custom formulator and manufacturer of environmentally friendly thermoplastic biocomposite materials (polypropylene combined with organic materials such as sawdust, rice husk, and palm fiber). One of the company's largest challenges was figuring out how best to highlight the durability of its recycled-material products to other manufacturers hesitant to use "green" materials.

In August 2007, the company decided that a whitepaper could present the company to a larger audience, initiate possible leads for reaching new customers, and build credibility and awareness for JER Envirotech.

The whitepaper was intended for a B2B audience, focused on the benefits and durability of recycled material products.

The company tapped Rob Cooper, founder and strategic director/president of PlusROI, to help create the whitepaper for debut at a large plastics-related B2B tradeshow, the Leading Edge Molding Conference, and for use as a lead-acquisition tool on a download page at JER Envirotech's Web site.

The initial cost of the paper was $4,000.

Marc Hoelscher, at the time the director of marketing at JER Envirotech, noted, "We were hoping to generate additional credibility for our company, but did not initially have a specific target number of leads in place. We wanted the whitepaper to also be on our Web site with the goal of developing new contacts for our opt-in database and new leads for as long as the content was relevant."

The Campaign:

Working together, Cooper and JER Envirotech Vice-President Bill Hunnicutt produced the whitepaper within a month.

The eight-page whitepaper, titled "Injection Molding with Thermoplastic BioComposites," was placed on the company's homepage for download and highlighted on the Web site with a distinctive download box.

The paper also served as the foundation for the presentation by Edward Trueman, president and CEO of JER Envirotech, at the Leading Edge Molding Conference in September 2007. Trueman presented the edu-focused whitepaper in conjunction with a PowerPoint slide presentation.

The whitepaper also served as the primary sales collateral in the company booth at the same conference.

"We focused our whitepaper on one of our clients and their unique application of our technology. We were careful to keep the spotlight on them and not ourselves. This allowed the paper to be much more objective," noted Hoelscher.

The Results:

During Trueman's presentation at the conference, an editor of Plastics Technology Magazine, which has a readership of 85,000 readers, found the content of the whitepaper and Trueman's presentation compelling enough to offer to become the first magazine to publish an article about it. The magazine even helped JER Envirotech edit some of the content, which was then revised in the whitepaper as well, Hoelscher said.

"What was great about the magazine approaching JER Envirotech about running the key points of the whitepaper in article form is at the same time we were in the process of researching the cost to run an ad highlighting the whitepaper, with the cost of [the ad] anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on placement," noted Cooper.

The bylined article, titled "Injection Molding Wood-Plastic Composites," was written by Hunnicutt and appeared in the December 2007 issue of Plastics Technology Magazine.

Hoelscher said the whitepaper and its subsequent reach were much more than the company had initially hoped for: "More than 500 leads have been generated from the whitepaper, as well as enormous exposure in the industry's leading trade magazine, Plastic Technology Magazine.

"The article generated from the whitepaper was featured as an inset on the front cover, [a] feature photo in the table of contents, and a five-page full-color spread, all at no charge—and worth an estimated $50K."

The paper also helped strengthen relationships with clients. "One of our long-standing accounts, Rolco, Inc., became much more active with us after reviewing the whitepaper on our site. The whitepaper was also a fantastic means of developing customer loyalty. Given the potential size of the accounts with our customers, the cost of the whitepaper was relatively insignificant," Hoelscher said.

"The benefit of creating this document and hosting it on our site is that it will continue to develop new contacts for our opt-in database and new leads indefinitely—or at least as long as the content is relevant, anyway. Unlike investing in an advertisement, the whitepaper has a long shelf life and has the potential to create opportunities for our company for years to come," he concluded.

Lessons Learned:

  • Whitepapers are an excellent way to convince potential customers of the benefits of your products or services, especially if they're new to market and not well understood by the potential target market.
  • Consider the whitepaper an educational tool. "Ensure your whitepaper is heavily focused on the educating readers about the solution and its contribution, rather than on the company. The closer the document is to editorial vs. advertorial, the more acceptance it's going to receive from trade magazines, partners, and potential customers," said Hoelscher.
  • Always keep in mind the possibilities for repurposing the content of collateral for press releases or bylined articles to gain more exposure and a higher return on the initial investment.

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