White papers are one of the best ways to market a business or professional services company.
A white paper is an examination of a topic, business challenge, or issue by an authority on the subject. My last post explained why white papers can be a powerful tactic in business-to-business marketing and what a white paper typically contains.
But there’s more to developing an effective white paper than just writing about what you know. To create a white paper that supports a smart marketing strategy by establishing your credibility as an expert in your marketplace and positioning your company as a preferred solution provider, you need to plan carefully and think strategically.
In part two of a three-part blog post, here are 10 tips for creating a great white paper from my experience as a business-to-business marketing consultant:
- Choose a topic that concerns or confuses your market. Write about an issue or situation your clients or prospects care about but don’t fully understand. The marketplace will value your ability to shed light on an important or complex subject.
- Focus on what you know best. A white paper gives you a chance to demonstrate your in-depth knowledge and position yourself as an authority. Choose a topic about which you can legitimately claim to be an industry or subject-matter expert and for which your company offers potential solutions.
- Use facts to make your points. One of your main goals is credibility. Support your conclusions with research and statistics from third parties. Always cite your sources in footnotes.
- Add your perspective. While it’s critical to present content in a straightforward, objective manner, you also can use a white paper to help your market view an issue or challenge the way you see it. Add your point of view on the subject based on your experience.
- Use visuals. Increase comprehension and user-friendliness by using charts, diagrams, and pictures to explain or illustrate content.
- Add sidebars. If there’s a specific point you need to explain in more depth to ensure the reader’s understanding of the bigger picture, use a sidebar for additional content.
- Include FAQs. Put yourself in the reader’s place: What questions would your client or prospect have about this subject? Include these FAQs and provide easy-to-understand answers.
- Invest in professional design. Increase the impact and perceived value of your white paper by presenting it in an attractive, business-like format. Have a professional graphic designer develop the layout. Be sure to integrate the design with your brand identity.
- Showcase your credentials. Provide details on your experience and education to affirm your position as a resource readers can trust.
- Position your company as the solution. A white paper is not an overt sales tool, but one of your goals in publishing a white paper is to encourage prospects to consider your business as a solution provider on this subject. At the end of the white paper, include a section of content describing your company and your expertise as it relates to the white paper’s topic, with an offer for a complimentary consultation or evaluation.
Next post: Part 3 – Ideas for using white papers in your marketing campaigns