6 Reasons You Need a White Paper
White papers help you establish authority and make a case for your business. Here’s when to use them and a couple of examples.
White papers were first introduced as a legislative document, which outlined a political issue. Today, companies of all shapes and sizes use white papers to deliver facts about a problem and how they provide a solution.
They are full of research and statistics to support any claims and to show audiences why a product or service works. They are usually centered around one topic that’s relevant to the brand’s customer base.
Other documents are easily confused with white papers, like case studies that outline how a brand helped a specific customer or fact sheets about a new product. White papers instead discuss an issue, why it’s a problem, research about the issue, and what a solution looks like. They’re not short documents – usually at least six pages long.
Companies may also decide to create eBooks that go in-depth on a topic or product. These are also distinct from the white paper. They are a bit more technical and research-based than a typical blog post, too. Think of them as the “academic papers of marketing content,” as HubSpot puts it.
White paper examples
It’s helpful to see these concepts in action. A basic white paper example may be:
An HR company releases a report on the state of recruitment in the U.S., including statistics, trends, and research. They then outline their unique recruitment solution that targets their client base.
Another white paper example is this recent release from Google: A guide to financial governance in the cloud. The company cites a recent study they conducted that found that IT and finance professionals view lack of predictability as the single greatest cloud cost management concern. They immediately identify the pain point their audience experiences based on data and then provide information on how to use Google Cloud financial governance to control cloud costs.
Why you need a white paper
Knowing when to use a white paper is another matter. Here are six scenarios that may call for this kind of document.
1. Sell a product or service
They help you introduce a product or service by showing audiences why there’s a need for it. You can establish the problem and how to solve it with a white paper, showcasing research that supports your claims.
2. Establish expertise and authority in your field
You want your business to be credible, and you can quickly show your authority and expertise with a white paper. Because they incorporate research and references, they show that you’ve done your homework and know what you’re talking about.
3. Market to investors
Attracting investors means you have to up your sales game, and white papers are a huge help. Showing that you know what’s happening in the market and why your products relieve a pain point for your customers are crucial components of getting backing. They help you make a case for your business.
4. Introduce your company and what it does
Why did you create your business in the first place? You can create a white paper about it. Talk about the industry and where there is a gap or lack that you’re trying to fix. This is where you can focus on your overall solution to a larger problem. Talk about trends and how the market is changing. The big picture helps you show what your company does and where it fits into what’s happening at a given time.
5. Support your lead generation tactics
When you need contact information from leads, white papers help you get it. You can create a form where visitors have to give you their name and email address, for example, before they can access your white paper. If they take that step, you know they’re really interested in the content, and they quickly become higher quality leads.
6. As part of an educational campaign
Don’t underestimate the power of educating your customers. Use a white paper to talk about something useful like how using recycled paper can help save trees. Give people information that’s not strictly associated with your products but is related to your industry as a whole. This helps them understand your purpose and why it matters.
Tips for writing an effective white paper
Writing a white paper can be an exciting yet daunting experience. With so many possibilities when it comes to topics and information to be presented in the document, there are also several pitfalls along the way. These tips will help you stay focused:
- Create a buyer persona: What do your ideal readers care about? Where are they coming from? Why would they care what you have to say? Cater your content to them. Knowing who you’re writing for will help you tailor the content to their needs.
- Include plenty of research: Any claim you make need to be backed by studies and data. The research should also be current. Does something that happened 10 years ago really hold true today?
- Include visuals: White papers can be pretty long, so break up your text with graphs, charts, and infographics that illustrate your points. People are visual creatures by nature, so whenever you can add a visual representation, you should.
- Write from an outline: Just like a college paper, your white paper should have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Following an outline will help you focus on the most important points while creating a better reading experience for customers.
With this guidance at your fingertips, you’re ready to educate and inspire audiences with information that supports your products.
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