Earlier this year, Michael Stelzner predicted a jump in demand for white papers by B2B marketers. That prediction is apparently coming true: financial and Internet-service companies are just two examples of B2B firms discovering the power of white papers.

Why the white-paper mania? Stelzner cites the usual culprits—social media and the economy—as trend drivers. But there's also an interesting intellectual element involved.

Businesses are struggling to stand out in a fragmented world. "Social media alone has added dozens of new marketing channels (think Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg)," he notes, adding that "White papers have an appeal across the channels, and [they] can pull someone in from a social media channel."

The slowing economy has CEOs demanding more options. White papers, Stelzner says, have withstood the "evolution of the Web" and are now solid lead-gen tools. As the Web expands, free content offers like white papers help businesses stand out.

More industries are simply starting to use white papers. "It used to be that high-tech was the only place you saw white papers," Stelzner notes. But these days, "they are also growing in [segments like] manufacturing and real estate." Industries that sell "complex or expensive products and services" can make their best cases with white papers.

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