By Alan Graner
White papers are at the heart of effective content marketing. According to business surveys, 80% of respondents state they’d register online for a white paper. Everything else comes in second. Because of this, white papers are effective for:
- Generating leads
- Establishing your expertise
- Creating your brand image
- Building mailing lists
Here are some basic steps for achieving that.
Define your audience. B2B white papers are normally aimed at a specific industry, business or title. You should know their level of education, expertise, experience and their major pains to ensure you’re delivering appropriate content. For example, writing about how to market a product would be inappropriate for an audience of service providers.
Determine your objective. Do you want to inform? Educate? Convince? Warn? Create product/service superiority? Establish thought leadership? Discuss trends? Forecast? Report? Instruct?
Keep your white paper focused. All too often there is too much information available, so it’s easy to ramble or wander off topic. Instead, focus on a specific problem, segment or idea that’s of maximum interest for your audience.
Create a compelling title. Your headline should entice readers by introducing something new, solving a problem, offering a benefit, imparting vital knowledge, offering useful information.
Include an executive summary. It should include enough detail to convince busy readers why they should read your content.
Define your white paper
White papers normally take one of the following forms:
- Problem/solution (here’s a common industry/business problem, and here’s our unique solution)
- How-to (analyze, compare, decide, create, evaluate)
- Backgrounder (subject briefing)
- Numbered list (5 questions you should ask, 7 pitfalls to avoid when buying)
- Value proposition
Next: Part 2
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA business public relations and marketing content firm. For content that makes you stand out from the crowd, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.dsprel.com.