White Hot … White Papers

White Hot … White Papers

White Papers

 

With more and more businesses realising that good content is what influences purchasing decisions, white papers form an integral part of a B2B online marketing strategy.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 80% of B2B companies have a content marketing plan. And, of the different types of content used, many of your potential customers trust comprehensive and detailed white papers to help them make a decision.

The term ‘white paper’ is a hot topic these days, but what exactly is a white paper, and who should use them?

A white paper is an in-depth persuasive document, between five and eight pages, that describes specific problems and how to solve them. Michael Stelzner calls them a crossbreed of a magazine article and a brochure. They merge your understated and subtle marketing messages with an informative article to educate your readers on the complexities and solutions of the problem so they can make an informed decision.

There are business white papers, describing business problems and solutions. Technical white papers, used in the technology industry and medical industry, incorporate a lot of technical detail and jargon specific to the target audience. And there is the popular hybrid white paper, which is a combination of business and technical details in different sections, something for everyone

Whew! White papers are really just detailed documents containing research, statistics, solutions and other information to help your readers gain clarity and get through the maze of choices they have when it comes to buying complicated or high-priced products and services. Things such as software systems, consulting services, corporate training programs or specialised equipment.

White papers are useful when there are two or more people involved in the buying decision – a common scenario in most large B2B companies – and they need to justify and show due diligence to the ultimate decision maker. Often a buying committee will do thorough research, make a decision, and then need to show the reasons and supporting material that brought about that decision. A white paper is valuable any time during the sales cycle, from the formal evaluation, to the final buying decision.

Companies also use white papers as lead generation tools – bait pieces, if you will. Prospective customers can request a white paper after being sent to a landing page or clicking through from an ad or email, in exchange for their email address and some other details. The fact that they showed an interest in your white paper makes them a qualified lead, and a potential customer.

Everyone, from workers, through purchasing managers, and up to the CEO or business owner reads white papers, and they are regularly shared and passed around between people, often going viral within the company. For that reason, your white papers need to be clear and logical to a wide audience, and explain the problems and solutions from varying perspectives.

A well-written white paper should contain almost all the information required to make a decision, and it should break down any complex ideas into clear, easily digestible concepts that anyone can understand.

Your potential customers have busy, stressful lives. They don’t need the headache of researching and reading hundreds of pages of material trying to find a solution to a problem they may not even be able to define, let alone solve. If they can come to your website, read your polished, persuasive white paper and make an informed choice without information overload, then you’ll have a grateful and loyal customer for a long time to come.

Quite simply, when properly done, a white paper is one of the best marketing pieces you can use to steer prospective buyers through the decision making process and toward your product or service as the solution.

As a content marketing piece, a digital white paper can be customised any way that suits, and updated regularly to make it a living document. That makes it one of the most valuable and lasting investments in your B2B marketing strategy.

 

KEEP THE FAITH

 

 

 


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