White papers are authoritative reports designed to solve problems. Originally called “white papers”, they were used for government business. The famous Winston Churchill White Paper of 1922 documenting political unrest in Palestine was one of the first on record.
Over the years, white papers evolved into a common tool for high-tech software and information technology companies because they presented an efficient format for showing problems and solutions. Today, they are used in a wide range of industries, including healthcare, banking, energy, manufacturing, and just about any business with B2B content marketing needs.
As white papers gain in popularity, companies should take a look at the benefits they offer. A well-written article can be an effective way to reach a target audience that is looking for both specific data and more traditional marketing dialogue.
Here are the top 3 benefits of white papers:
1) Thought leadership – White papers give companies an authoritative voice that leads to trust, respect and loyalty. When a problem is diagrammed and solved in a way that relates to readers’ concerns, that audience will inevitably gain respect for the organization presenting the solution. At that point, the organization becomes a thought leader in its specific industry.
Advice: Make sure your document addresses the pain and pressure points of your target audience. This helps you engage with your reader and filter out people who don’t need your product or service. Also, try to wait as long as possible to mention your company’s name on the document. Once you address your audience’s concerns and show how the problem can be solved, then integrate your product or service with a traditional marketing angle that promotes your organization.
two) Introduce the new, talk about the old in a new way: white papers are a great format to introduce a new product or service. They are also a great opportunity to showcase old products and services in a new light. Use white papers to show real-life benefits in relevant situations, to directly compare a solution to competitive offerings, or to show how a product or service can adapt to changing business environments.
Advice: To be effective in presenting your product or service, make sure your document follows this proven sales technique: Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. And then tell them what you just told them.
3) Increase sales – The goal of any white paper is to increase sales, and the ease of tracking ROI is one of the reasons for its popularity. Companies use white papers to demonstrate how products and services are relevant solutions, and when consumers see a company’s offering as an answer to a problem, it becomes a necessary component of their own business. This means more sales.
Advice: Your white paper must be objective. Do not make extravagant claims and use facts and references to support your statements. Images, graphics, and callouts will also help the readability of your document, as will organizing it into short, eye-catching segments.