Creating a White Paper can be a powerful marketing strategy for your business
What is the first thing that crosses your mind when you hear “white papers” ? If you have never written, read or heard of it, you can think it is a plain printing paper or academic paper. Well, you are not far from the truth.
The white papers i want to talk to you about are different. These are research-based reports whose main goal is to explain a problem and how to solve them. In fact, White papers are more like Informational Papers. Companies use white papers to generate leads, nurture prospects, and build mind-share.
In this post, i am going to show you how to get more business with white papers.
So what exactly is a white paper?
A white paper is a document that argues a specific position or solves a problem for its audience.
Michael Stelzner describes white papers as “persuasive documents that usually describe problems and how to solve them”. A white paper’s objective is to market a product, service, process or idea by educating potential buyers about that product, service, process or idea with valuable and credible information.
That explains that much. But, how can you make good use of white papers to generate business?
How can you make use of white papers?
You can use white papers to market or sell high-priced as well as complex products and services. Those that involve many decision makers, who need a detailed evaluation of options. These include expensive software systems, medical equipment, training programs, consulting services etc.
Your prospects need to be able to justify an important buying decision. They need credible information to make the right decision. That is why white papers come in handy. White papers provide information and statistics to help buyers assess available options.
So, when can you use white papers?
There are three distinct stages in product evaluation. These are Lead Generation, Formal Evaluation, and Final Buying Decision. Others include; redefining your market share and educating your sales force.
Let us look at how white papers come in handy.
a) Lead Generation
A white paper helps a B2B buyer understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision. Most business people google their issues and problems. A white paper illustrating an industry-wide problem, backed with good promotional content should appear in search engines.
As a promoter for this white paper, you can follow up with the perspective, to see if there is an opportunity to start a conversation.
b) Formal Evaluation
Decision makers use white papers to gather relevant information and weigh different options. They can create an evaluation criterion and a short list of products and services as well as vendors.
c) Final Buying Decision
A buyer or buying committee can use white papers to make a final decision. The prospects at this stage ask very difficult and often very technical questions. Your white paper will be very instrumental at this stage.
d) Educating your salespeople
Your sales team can use the same proof and arguments to interact with prospects. Not only that, they can pass it to possible buyers as handouts. Vendors compete for buyers limited time. You are most likely to get in front of your competition if you have a better white paper which can pay off in more sales.
e) Redefining your market share
Sometimes your company may want to shake up the market space, expand or shrink to refocus. These efforts can be very challenging. White papers explain the challenges or opportunities facing it and why the management wants to take the new direction.
How to figure out if you need one
Ask yourself these three questions to determine whether you need white papers.
- Does your company sell something new?
- Is your product or service complex, that requires more explanations?
- Is your product or service expensive?
If your answer is “Yes” any of these questions, you may need a white paper. But if you answered “Yes” to either two or all the questions, then you definitely need a white paper.
Once you have your white paper completed, you can use it in many ways. You can create a landing page with an abstract and feature it on your website. You can also email it to your perspective and promote it on your social media. You may blog about it, or better still publish a press release. You can also arrange to give a talk at a local industry association meeting and pass the reports out there.
That’s all I’ve got for you. Still, have questions? Drop me a line below, and as always, thanks for reading.