White papers are persuasive, authoritative, in-depth, and educational reports on a topic that identifies a problem in your industry and offers a solution. White papers are created to teach the public about your industry and your brand, and to show how your company is an expert in the field. A bright picture, logo, or infographic will draw readers attention and bring them to your website, but a well-done white paper will make them want to stay and download the paper.
Your research could draw an audience beyond just potential business customers, but also those who are doing their own research. A reader using your research today could easily become customers tomorrow!
White papers are less flashy than a blog or an ebook and more serious in style. They include original research that could take weeks, months or even years to put together. They are much more detailed and specific. Whitepapers are the academic papers of marketing content. Readers expect a high degree of expertise backed by solid research that is fully documented by references.
White papers are not deal closers. Your sales team is for that. They are also not typically viral marketing. White papers are in between an article length and a full book or ebook; between 1,000 and 10,000 words. However, the length of the white paper is not nearly as important as its content. On the negative side, white papers are generally boring to your audiences. But on the positive side, visitors read them anyway if they contain valuable information. They help you build credibility and trust in your industry.
What should white papers include?
Your white paper should include original content that will wow your readers. Your topic and your research strategy must be relevant to your industry. Be sure you know if the trend you are writing about has been covered before and consider how you will cover it differently. Your topic should address the needs of your customers, bloggers, and employees within your industry. Here are a few questions to consider in determining the subject of your white paper:
- Is there data missing from your industry that could shed light on certain trends?
- What news worries those in your industry and how can you offer your perspective?
- Share ideas you have about your industry that no one else has thought to cover.
These questions can guide you to create a compelling piece that will draw an audience and keep them involved.
How do I prepare to create white papers?
Once you have your topic, it is time to gather information. Begin by studying any information already available on your topic. You will need to develop your own information with independent research of your own. You could use interviews, conduct a survey, or complete a test. An in-depth case study of your success in helping a customer solve the problem can also be included as a part of a white paper.
As you create your paper, remember that it is not a sales pitch. It should go deeper than a sales pitch and truly provide education. If a white paper is written too “salesy,” it could turn off your readers. Data reports that 76% of readers of white papers are looking for education and information, and 78% of those readers note that minimal marketing is a sign of a credible white paper. This does not mean to leave out marketing all together. You need to connect your work back to your company. 67% of readers say that they hope to learn about what the sponsoring company offers as solutions to the problem.
What format should a white paper follow?
White papers usually have a title page, table of contents, short executive summary or abstract, an introduction, several pages educating the reader about the problem, several pages hypothesizing a solution, several pages offering an example of a company that used that solution to achieve results, and a conclusion.
What steps should I follow in creating a white paper?
Here are 10 steps you can use to guide your work in creating white papers:
- Identify your specific audience.
- Identify a problem that needs solved.
- Research what has already been done on the topic.
- Create your original research.
- Analyze your data.
- Create an outline.
- Flesh out your outline.
- Use images, diagrams, tables, and graphs to support your points.
- Invest in editors to offer feedback and advice.
- Invest in graphic designers to guide your format, layout, and design.
How do I promote white papers?
The key to getting your white paper out there is to have a plan in place to promote it. Focus on industry-niche marketing to target audiences that want to better understand your topic. For example, a professional conference in your industry is a great place to promote a white paper. You can also reach out to already established bloggers to see if they would share your work.
How will I know if my white paper is successful?
It is important to note that a white paper is not likely to go viral in 24 hours like a social media boost. It takes more time to prove itself. Given a few weeks and months, however, you should start to reap the benefits of this marketing and education tool. In addition, white papers typically provide a consumer’s email or other information before allowing a download, and these provide your business some terrific sales leads.
The secrets to successful white papers include first, picking an interesting topic that is distinctive and relevant at the time, second, conducting original research that provides value, and lastly, making the content relevant to your customers. At NuMedia Marketing we can help you see and use the benefits of using white papers in your marketing. Contact us today!
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