White Papers are fact-based documents used in B2B marketing. They typically show an industry-wide problem and then set your company up as the solution.
In the past, white papers were very dry to read. But as content marketing has evolved, so have white papers. Now they’re usually several pages long and generally interesting to read.
They don’t sell. They’re chock full of facts. And they’re “bred” to do the heavy lifting of B2B sales.
White papers are like draft horses
I’m sure you’ve seen the Budweiser commercials. You know, the ones with big beautiful horses. These horses are much bigger than regular horses – and they can be intimidating because of their size and strength.
I’ve thought about these horses ever since 2012. That’s when I was lucky enough to attend the Calgary Stampede. There were lots of activities. One of my favorite, was watching giant horses pull weighted sleds across an arena.
These horses are called “draft” horses. The word “draft” means to pull a heavy load, and that’s what these horses were bred for.
Since that time, I’ve thought how work was done in the pre-industrial era. And how these horses were indispensable in getting things done.
Kind of like white papers.
White papers are “bred” for the heavy lifting of sales.
And they’re invaluable because they:
- Generate leads.
- Enlighten readers with thought-provoking information.
- Provide detailed specifications to close sales.
Generating leads with white papers:
Most white papers are written to generate leads – at the top of the sales funnel. These documents are written in a problem/solution format.
They are typically 5-10 pages long and start with a brief overview – often called an executive summary.
They discuss a problem in your industry. They talk about common solutions and then introduce a new way to solve the problem.
This new solution is discussed without mentioning a specific vendor. Of course, it’s setting you up to be the best vendor. At the end of the white paper, a call to action is included along with your company information.
White papers enlighten readers with thought-provoking information:
You’ve seen papers with titles such as “9 things you must do to . . . ,” or “3 questions you must ask . . .” These white papers are generally pleasant and easy to read.
They charm prospects at the top of the sales funnel – and keep them interested in the middle.
They’re not as detailed as a problem/solution white paper. However, they’re a great way to round up blog posts or other assorted information into one place. Or you can write one to answer FAQs.
These white papers are generally as fun to create as they are to read. They’re where you can provide the thought-provoking information your readers might not understand. They appeal to anyone interested in an issue.
White papers providing detailed specifications
According to Gordon Graham, this type of white paper is a “backgrounder.” He says:
Once upon a time, every white paper was a product backgrounder. A backgrounder is good for explaining an unfamiliar or misunderstood product to a technical audience.
For a prospect at the end of the sales cycle, or to back up a product launch, a backgrounder can be powerful.
Backgrounder white papers go into great detail about your offering. They give the detail and specifications necessary to justify a sale.
Creating a white paper can be intimidating
Formulating a white paper can be overwhelming – just like handling a draft horse. But it doesn’t need to be that way. Think of white papers as the gentle giants of marketing.
Their power comes from considering many things and making thoughtful decisions such as:
- Choosing the audience – by industry, technical needs, business role. etc.
- Selecting the goal – how the paper will fit into your sales funnel.
- Limiting the topic – you can’t cover everything in 5-12 pages.
- Showcasing your available research, if needed.
- Determining subject matter experts, if necessary.
- Obtaining buy in from stakeholders.
Take the intimidation out of crafting a white paper.
White papers take a while to create (usually 6-8 weeks) That can be intimidating – especially with everything else you have to do.
You can do this yourself with a white paper plan.
Or you can hire me to create the white paper. (See a sample.)
I can help you decide on your target audience, goals, and subject.
I know plan, research, and write business to business documents.
And, if you need graphics and printing, I can have partnerships with a few graphic designers who can do that as well.
Contact me to get your next White Paper done.