Adding eBooks to the B2B Marketing Mix: An Interview with Cindy Kim of Lumension

Adding eBooks to the B2B Marketing Mix: An Interview with Cindy Kim of Lumension
Stephanie Tilton - Wed Jul 01, 2009 @ 02:23AM
Comments: 74

I recently connected with Cindy Kim, Director of Corporate Communications and Social Media for Lumension (@CindyKimPR on Twitter). After telling me about her company's experience with its first eBook, she agreed to share her insights here into how and why B2B marketers should produce and promote their own eBooks. ebook

Q. What prompted Lumension to produce an eBook in addition to white papers?

A. B2B marketers have traditionally used white papers to share content. While they've been effective for lead-generation purposes, white papers tend to be heavy on content, many times replete with marketing jargon and industry terms.

Web 2.0 prompts us to "open up our kimonos" in terms of how we produce, publish, and syndicate content. Given that content is king, today's marketers must think like publishers and produce compelling, thought-provoking content. Then they need to leverage tools such as eBooks to generate interest and make the ideas go viral and easy to syndicate.

At Lumension, we wanted to focus on thought leadership as a way to elevate our brand. But we didn't want to just produce and sit on that content. We wanted to syndicate it to influential bloggers and journalists, as well as to prospects, with the hope that it would go viral.

White papers don't typically go viral because they sit behind a registration page. My boss, C. Edward Brice, recommended the eBook concept as a way to make it more interactive, content-rich, and viral. Before getting started, we turned to David Meerman Scott, one of the best thought leaders in this space in terms of how to create content and make it go viral. David boiled eBook best practices down to three things: make it easy to read, make it informative, and make it educational.

Lumension is always trying to be on the cutting edge in terms of how we market our content. We decided to publish an eBook since no one in the industry is doing it. The result was 7 Things Every CEO Should Know about Information Security.

Q. What do you think of David Meerman Scott's statement in The New Rules of Viral Marketing that the eBook is the "stylish younger sister to the nerdy white paper"?

A. In my opinion, the eBook is the new white paper – it lends a hip air to content. If you properly adopt the guidelines for eBooks, you'll end up with a stylish piece that's easy to read and navigate. An eBook should include sophisticated graphics and multimedia links, and be structured for easy digestion, such as by liberally using bullets, callouts, and share buttons. The structure of an eBook makes it much easier to share. These days, everyone is on the Web, sharing information via various tools and communities. You're much more likely to see an eBook passed around than a white paper. That’s largely because people can access it freely, without providing any information in exchange.

Q. How did the process for developing and promoting your eBook differ from promoting and producing a white paper?

A. First of all, the writing style is completely different. It has nothing to do with marketing or industry jargon. Again, you want to make it simple to read and understand. As far as production, you want to make it a one-stop shop for all related resources.

A writer interviewed our Chairman and CEO Pat Clawson to gather the key points. We also interviewed influential analysts such as John Pescatore of Gartner, Inc. as well as C-level customers to get their perspective on gaps that exist today when it comes to information security. Then we worked with our creative director and a marketing agency – Spark Design – to produce the eBook itself. The agency helped us structure the eBook and embed rich multimedia, with links to video interviews. Within each chapter, you can click on various links that take you to interactive features that give you a better sense of our CEO. We worked with a local videographer to shoot the video of our CEO, and then we uploaded it to YouTube in time for our eBook launch.

Having said that, it's not necessary to go through an agency. There are plenty of online tools that enable you to format an eBook. If you’re on a budget, you can get it formatted for free at ChangeThis.

As far as promotion goes – you can't think about it as a one-time hit. eBook content can live and get shared for a long time. When you're pushing out an eBook, you need to be committed to making others aware of it. That means you need to support a variety of activities on the outreach side.

We took a three-pronged approach to promotion. First, we gathered key stakeholders to come to a consensus on the marketing plan and how we'd measure success. Because we wouldn't require registration, we decided to measure success based on the number of downloads from the microsite as well as the number of video views on YouTube.

Next, our corporate communications group sent out advance copies of the eBook to key analysts and media contacts so they could preview and write about it, and provide feedback. We also reached out to industry bloggers and social media leaders like David Meerman Scott and asked for their feedback.

We had our CEO talk to a local CEO/CFO group as well as TechConnect on why CEOs needed to get on the ball and get involved in Information Security. We also gave out USB sticks with the eBook on them at all major security and CEO events. Plus, we had our creative director design a button for easy, on-demand download, which we added to our homepage and email signatures. We also added the button to Ed Brice's blog and most Lumension employees with LinkedIn accounts added it to their profiles.

Finally, we created a dedicated landing page/microsite that made it possible to track the viral component. We shared the link with analysts, our channel partners, prospects, and customers – essentially every touch point. All our employees included the link in their email signatures. We also included the link in Cindy Kim's blog. We also sent out dedicated emails from the corporate marketing side promoting the eBook and included a link to it in our monthly nurturing newsletter. Plus, we distributed a social media press release that talked about the challenges CEOs face amid the security threat landscape and introduced the eBook. We even included the video of our CEO at the end of the press release.

Q. Has the response been different than what you’ve experienced with your white papers?

A. Since launching the eBook, it's been downloaded over 7,000 times, and the CEO video on YouTube has been viewed more than 5,000 times. We've heard positive responses across the board, from the media, analysts, prospects and customers. It's important to remember that our goal was not lead generation. It was not about selling our products or pushing marketing messages. We are using this platform to elevate and build brand awareness by educating. Having said that, we can figure out the source of downloads through the links in the eBook. By providing a dedicated link on our landing page, we can pull the analytics from our Omniture analytics tool to see how many times the eBook was viewed and downloaded.

One thing to note – eBook content should not include marketing promotions or sell the company or its products. The eBook is really about delivering premium content to educate around a key issue. This helps to validate your company's expertise and thought leadership.

Q. How has the response impacted your future marketing plans?

A. To date, we've published only white papers. But going forward, we'll publish a balance of white papers and eBooks. For lead generation, we will continue producing white papers. These will likely be for technical topics and to drive the nurturing process. Having said that, eBooks don't have to be limited to thought leadership topics. Even if the topic is technical, an eBook makes it easier to digest. Plus you can embed links to so much other valuable content. I recommend all B2B marketers migrate to eBooks.

Q. What can other B2B marketers learn from your experience producing and promoting your eBook?

A. When putting a process in place, think beyond the eBook. You can share your content across multiple channels, such as byline articles, blog posts, videos repurposed on YouTube, etc. Whether you produce a white paper or an eBook, think about how you can syndicate it, share it across communities, and encourage peer-to-peer sharing.

Today's marketers need to collaborate with thought leaders to create and promote great content. By teaming with leaders, you can take advantage of the power of two – those folks will tweet and blog about your content.

Q. Can you give us a sneak peek of your next eBook?

A. We're working on another thought leadership piece about the evolving security landscape. Specifically, we will be getting large enterprises as well as small and medium businesses to consider how their security blueprint needs to change to deal with cybercriminals. It will be 10-15 pages long, and include links to video and a cartoon "skit", which is like storytelling via a cartoon instead of a live person. To get an idea of what that's like, check out Powerhouse PR. I'll be tweeting about the new eBook as soon as it's out the door, so be sure to watch for it!

Read more Savvy B2B posts from Stephanie.

Comments: 74


1. Jonathan Kranz  |  my website   |   Wed Jul 01, 2009 @ 04:11AM

Great success story! I especially appreciate the care and attention Lumension gave to promoting the ebook effectively. My experience with clients who use ebooks leads to a similar conclusion: plan your marketing strategy in parallel with your book development process. By the time the ebook is finished, you should have a step-by-step plan for its launch.

2. Alyce Lindquist   |   Wed Jul 01, 2009 @ 06:05AM

Thanks for a great breakdown on ebooks vs white papers - loved the insight on how using different language (no industry jargon!) is key.

3. Jamie Wallace  |  my website   |   Wed Jul 01, 2009 @ 07:55AM

Great piece, Stephanie. I love the in-depth insights into why and how this particular ebook was created and distributed.

I find that less technical people feel much more at ease with an ebook than with a white paper. As Cindy mentions in her responses to your questions, using presentation and language tactics that "lend a hip air" to the piece make it much more appealing and approachable as well as potentially viral.

I love the fact that the next ebook Cindy's working on will include a skit. If you can entertain a prospect while educating them, there's a good chance that they will remember you fondly when they are ready to make a purchase.

4. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Wed Jul 01, 2009 @ 08:59AM

Jonathan - You hit it on the head. Lumension executed on its plan brilliantly because it left no stone unturned. Of course, there's nothing that says companies can't and shouldn't dedicate as much time and effort to promoting their white papers. That said, there's no denying the fact that eBooks tend to cut through the noise better than white papers.

Alyce - Thanks for stopping by! You highlighted an important point - keeping language approachable and "real" is one of the main ways to set eBooks apart from white papers. It's almost as if marketers have been looking for a way to break free of "jargon jail" and they've found that freedom in eBooks.

Jamie - Thanks for the comments! To your point about less technical people feeling more comfortable with an eBook than a white paper - I'd have to agree. That said, research by TechTarget shows that tech buyers actually seek out eBooks (among other content) as they evaluate technology purchases. Anyone can access the report for free (2009 Media Consumption Report: Mindset of the IT Pro during the Recession):
And I'm completely with you when it comes to entertaining while educating - what better way to stand out from the competition?

5. Cindy Kim  |  my website   |   Wed Jul 01, 2009 @ 09:49AM

Thank you for the comment. It's about strategizing and planning. The key thing first and foremost is the content - is the content compelling enough and does it meet your objectives of what you're trying to accomplish with this ebook. If you understand those two components, you will have the foundation - it's about following that up with the right execution tactics and understanding which channels you want to leverage to help promote the ebook.

Once again thank you. Sometimes we get so caught up using the same buzz words that the message will most often get lost. The purpose of the ebook is to make it Sesame simple for the readers to digest but make it informative and educational. I think in any content you create, every marketer and PR professionals have to break down the language barrier and build a channel of communication that's easy.

Thanks. The ebook will continually evolve and innovators will look to add new functions that can better engage with the reader. As I mentioned, videos are key (the new way people are going to communicate and share information) - so adding in videos (that can summarize and highlight the ebook) as well as interviews, skits, etc. all make it interesting.

I thank you for your comments and thanks Stephanie for a wonderful interview. Please be on the lookout for our next ebook. If you guys are on Twitter, I'd love to connect on Twitter as well

6. John Fox  |  my website   |   Sat Jul 04, 2009 @ 05:39AM

Stephanie, I understand the power of reframing -- using a new word to describe something old (ebook is the new white paper), but other than that I don't see anything of substance beyond the rewording exercise.

Making a document easier to read by reducing/eliminating jargon or removing self-promotional content are best practices for white papers already, so I'm just not understanding what you and Cindy are suggesting.

Could you help me see what I'm missing?


John Fox

7. John Bottom  |  my website   |   Mon Jul 06, 2009 @ 01:09PM

Stephanie - it sounds like an excellent piece of work and - if I dare try to respond on your behalf to John (above) - I think the eBook must be viewed as more than a re-framing of a whitepaper. True it is still just content in a different format but it does not profess to be 'academic' in the same way that a whitepaper does.
My question to you is about data capture - and how would you answer clients who ask why they should invest in such a project when they don't know who downloaded it? 7,000 potential customers that they can't track! I am coming from your side here (see blog at for proof!) but would love to know how you would answer that.
Thanks - John

8. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Mon Jul 06, 2009 @ 04:05PM

John Fox - IMHO, part of the appeal of eBooks is that they can cut through the clutter, especially in the technology space. With so many white papers vying for attention, eBooks stand out not only because they're more approachable in tone but because they are still few and far between in the B2B world. Plus, they've been established out the gate with the best practices that should be -- but often are not -- incorporated into white papers.

John Bottom - Thanks for weighing in and sharing the link to your post. Regarding data capture, it gets back to the company's objective. In this case, Lumension wanted to promote its thought leadership. Obviously it's easier to spread ideas widely if no registration is required.


9. John Fox  |  my website   |   Thu Jul 09, 2009 @ 03:57AM

@Stephanie, @John Bottom - Okay, rather than opinion vs. opinion, I dug into a recent B2B buyer report (mid-2009) to find out what's really going on at the "street level."

It turns out, we're all correct, but it depends upon which stage in the buying cycle you're referring to.

I posted my analysis of TechTarget's B2B Buyer Study (@Stephanie: you featured this report in your blog (

The report ranks the most effective marketing tactics/methods for reaching B2B buyers in each of 3 buying stages (Awareness, Evaluation, Decision). The study surveyed 1,474 B2B buyers.

eBooks are #1 (as you both suggested), but only for Awareness/Lead-Gen. White Papers are #1 for the Evaluation stage.

Here's the link to my analysis:

John Fox

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