In a recent forum, someone asked the question, what are white papers? This was my response.
White papers are a form of marketing communication that fill a gap that most other formats cannot. They are unique because they provide valuable information that is more solution oriented, rather than branding-driven as in an ad or a brochure.
A well-written white paper is a powerful marketing tool that can influence the buying decision by demonstrating how implementing a solution satisfies a business need. They are especially helpful in situations where the sales cycle is long and/or complex. When used effectively, white papers can generate high-quality leads.
Don’t make your white papers self-serving by focusing only on your products and/or services. Instead, talk about the problem that is of interest to your readers and then lead them to the solution. If possible, reference and quote third-party sources to bolster your case. Then conclude by saying how your company offers such a solution. Case studies and/or real-world examples are very effective in establishing your credibility and showing how you have truly solved the problem.
Keep it short and to the point, typically white papers are no more than 8 to 10 pages long. Have a copywriter/editor proofread your material before publishing. Get it reviewed by an outsider to get an unbiased opinion.
Avoid what Michael A. Stelzner, one of the leading authorities on the topic of writing and marketing white papers, calls the “post and hope” syndrome. Too many people make the mistake of just posting a white paper on their Website and hoping someone will download it. Social media networks, blogs, white paper syndication, news releases, e-mails and banner ads are some of the effective ways of promoting your white paper.
Adding video to white papers has become increasingly popular. You will find more information about white paper marketing on my site at http://www.tiecas.com/whitepaper_marketing.htm.
Best wishes for a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!