White paper marketing is a tried and true tactic for B2B marketing. White papers are great for building and delivering great valuable and educational content for your audience. For those less familiar with the term and concept of a white paper, you can find a definition right here.
White papers are useful documents in helping people make decisions. Reading a well written white paper can persuade people to pick up the phone and initiate contact with an organization and they can also help someone make a decision to purchase or even justify the decision to purchase.
White papers are typically used for three purposes: to generate leads, to establish thought leadership, and to close sales. Because white papers educate readers about a company’s unique value, they tend to be a soft sell document, so they are an extremely useful marketing tactic.
White Papers For The Purpose of Lead Generation
Probably the most common purpose of creating a white paper is to use it as a lead generation document. Two step direct advertising commonly use a white paper offer as the call to action. It’s low risk as far as the commitment you’re asking the prospect to make and usually only involves the individual giving up their email address.
Businesses will often leverage key real estate on their home page and other pages on their web site to generate leads with white papers. Pay-per-click advertising and other online advertising campaigns typically offer access to white papers in their call to action. And more traditional forms of advertising like television, radio and direct mail are now including white papers in their ads.
One of the most prevalent reasons for this is because the white paper offer allows businesses to easily track the effectiveness of the ad and the number of new leads the campaign actually generates.
White Paper Marketing to Establish Thought Leadership
Thought leadership papers help organizations to establish a position as a visionary in the industry. In many cases, businesses will write white papers on a concepts that may still be theoretical in nature. Businesses are looking for an audience to buy in to their future vision and convince existing customers to that the organization has a long-term vision and that they should be considered a player with a very viable future.
White Papers as a Closing Tool
White papers are most cost effective as a lead generation tool because of the amount of online research reviewed in the B2B buying process today. But a white paper can also be used as a leave-behind document to help close the sale after a meeting with the prospect. This type of closing document is likely to be more technical in nature.
Historically, white papers have been targeted at technical influencers and engineers. But today’s reader has shifted considerably because the notion of providing this kind of valuable and educational information has become wide-spread across non-technical industries as well. If well-written and targeted, white papers can be valuable to just about anyone—the small business owner, an investor, an expectant couple, etc., however, with some of these other audiences you may want to adjust your offering and call it a guide as opposed to white paper.
White papers are an extremely effective marketing tool—now it’s just a matter of figuring out what kind of information to offer in the white paper. And we’ll be taking a look at how to work through that process so stay tuned.