My favorite price is free. As a musician, I have an extensive collection of free software synthesizers, effects plugins, and loops and samples--very few of which I use. I also regularly download various free business white papers, most of which I don't ever get around to reading.
That's not to say I'm not discerning. Like you, I only have so much time to read. I feel cheated when I spend time reading something that doesn't have anything new or interesting to say (which describes most of the content you find on the internet). So I thought it might be worthwhile to save you the trouble. Here are a few free white papers that I heartily recommend:
Profits Under Siege: Growing Your Practice in Tough Times (Harry Mills). This paper contains some excellent insights on strategy and marketing for professional service firms. I've shared this with several of my clients, some of whom have found Mills' ideas an intriguing way to assess their clients and business model. I also recommend the author's book The Rainmaker's Toolkit, from which this white paper is excerpted. Download
Leadership That Gets Results (Daniel Goleman). From the world's foremost authority on emotional intelligence comes a helpful guide on understanding your natural leadership style. Goleman describes six styles and how they affect others, drawing from research on how leaders impact business results. Download
Getting Marketing and Business Development on the Same Page (The Bloom Group). A/E firm leaders don't think much about thought leadership or intellectual capital. They should. This white paper outlines how combining an effective content-driven marketing strategy can greatly enhance the firm's sales efforts. Download
The Customer Experience Journey (Bruce Temkin). Your brand is rooted in the direct and indirect experiences clients and prospective clients have with your firm. Those experiences should thus be the centerpiece of your differentiation strategy. This white paper draws on research in other industries, but the lessons learned are no doubt applicable to your business. Download
Avoiding the Traps in Selling Professional Services (Neil Rackham). Selling consumer products and professional services are distinctly different activities, but technical professionals don't always understand those distinctions. This white paper spells it out, noting that building trust is foremost in selling our services. Download
Putting the Professional Back in Professional Services (Greg Moore). This is another sales-oriented white paper from Huthwaite organization (check out other white papers on their website). The author explains how professionals create value for clients during the business development process. Download
Potential for What? (The Hay Group). Most A/E firms face the daunting challenge of developing the next generation of leaders (and owners). Do you know what you're looking for? This white paper provides guidance on how to identify leadership potential and readiness among your staff. Download (requires registration)
Kill Your Sales: The 6 Most Costly Mistakes You Are Making in 2009 (RainToday.com). RainToday is producing some of the most helpful research and insights relative to selling professional services. If you haven't signed up for their free newsletter, you should. This report outlines the most common reasons that professionals fail at selling and what to do about it. Download
Have any other white papers you would recommend? Leave any suggestions in the comment box below.