White paper marketing is an extremely useful inbound marketing tool. Inbound marketing is really all about giving prospects information of value that not only helps you, as a business, to get found, but it also helps you establish trust and credibility with the reader. And this is often accomplished through educational marketing and a well-written white paper has become an extremely powerful tool for marketing many businesses.
A white paper can specifically converse about business or it can deliver technical information, and it can enlighten or influence. Its power rests in providing readers something of great value—and if done effectively, you’ll gain their trust and, in due course, their business. A well-written white paper can drive your business to a thought leadership position in your industry and deliver incredible business opportunities and this is why it’s become a very powerful marketing tool.
Unfortunately, many businesses haven’t started using this concept because they’re still not sure exactly what a white paper is. A very basic definition of a white paper is that it’s a persuasive document that usually describes problems and some solutions to solve those problems. They typically range from 6 to 12 pages in length; however, we have seen some very detailed papers extend to 50 or more pages.
The intent of a white paper is to provide some useful, educational, valuable information to the intended audience with the readers generally understanding that the sponsoring company is, in fact, marketing to them. But it’s a very soft well. Typically, most white papers only introduce a solution after significant discussion has presented a real case and demonstrated a strong need.
Since the white paper was introduced, four types of white papers have emerged. There’s the technical white paper, the business benefits white paper, the hybrid version that presents both technical and business benefits and, finally, the government white paper.
Why White Paper Marketing Is Important
The best reason for including white paper marketing in your efforts is because they help people take action and make decisions. Taking action could be exploring more information on a business’ web site, it could be picking up the phone to get more information, or, it could be deciding to purchase.
From a marketing perspective, the white paper has become important because it’s a foundational piece of content that can and should be levered for a number of marketing purposes. White papers are certainly widely used as lead generation pieces and offered in exchange for contact information but they’re also used to continue to take prospects through the process of building know, like, and trust.
White papers are useful in helping to move prospects through the sales funnel. Because the information in a white paper is educational and helps to answer typical questions from prospects more effectively and efficiently than a salesperson, it helps a company to build its credibility while assisting prospects at the same time.
Because we know do a good deal of online research for just about everything we buy, white papers serve that research function very well. In fact, a recent study suggests that we are 57% of the way through the buying process when we decide we’re actually interested in talking with someone at the company. And that detail might just be the best reason to adapt and use white papers in marketing your business.
Stay tuned for a future session detailing the three functions white paper marketing can serve in your business.