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posted on September 13th, 2012

White Papers: How You Can Use Them to Attract New Customers

whitepapersThere are a wide variety of content marketing materials to build your marketing and brand, increase the credibility of your business, and help drive sales, but few have the long-term effectiveness and potency of white papers.

What Is a White Paper?

A white paper is a business material designed to educate prospective customers about a product or service. It outlines every single detail of a product or service a potential client would want to know before making a buying decision.

White papers are an explanation of the technical functions or concepts of a product or service; how it is used, the benefit of using it and how to get the best out of it.

Components of White Papers

Below are the ideal elements of white papers for business marketing.

Educate prospects: The sole aim of a white paper is to educate prospects, not to market to them. The content should be catered to the reader by explaining technical terms or concepts in simple language for easy understanding. Ideally, you should have a marketing goal in mind when producing this type of content. In other words, show them vividly how your product or service can help improve their lives, career, business, relationship, home or whatever it is designed for.

Infographic for clarity and easy understanding: People spend a lot more time on content that is visually appealing to them than written text alone. To help your target audience understand your products or service more easily, incorporate infographics into your white paper. For professional looking images, consider hiring a competent graphic design firm to achieve this goal.

Explain the benefits of your products or service: Prospective clients don’t really care much about the technical functions of your product or service, instead they want to know the benefit of it and how it can help them solve their problems as quickly as possible. For this reason, avoid talking too much about the features of your product or service in your white paper and explain the benefits of those features in more detail, adding images when possible.

If you sell accounting software for example, your target wouldn’t want to know a lot about the features and history behind your software. They want to know how your product can help them solve their accounting problems easier and faster, save them a lot of time and make their jobs a lot more effective. That is what you should aim for in your white papers.

Requirement for using your products or service: Explain to your target audience the upfront requirements they need to have before using your products or service. This could be a form of training they need to undergo or a set of skills they need to master to be able to use your products or service effectively. This will save you lots of time on customer service after the sale, decrease return rate, minimize complaints and improve customer satisfaction.

A call to action: To strategically market your product or service in white papers, you can make a call to action to your prospective clients by asking them to sign up for a free trial, your newsletter for updates about your future offers, or whatever business goal you want to achieve, even when they are not inclined to buy at that instant.

To avoid making your white paper look like a marketing material, place your call to action in the last section of the content. With the quality of information in the white paper, it will be hard for your prospects to detect a marketing message in it.

Your contact information for more inquiries: No matter how much information you think you’ve provided in your white paper, some potential clients will still want to ask you a few questions about things they don’t understand. Adding your contact information, including your web address, will make it easy for them to get in touch with you for anything they would want to discuss about your product or service, and it can help drive more traffic to your website.

Why You Should Include White Papers in Your Content Marketing Initiative

Prospects love to get as much detailed information as possible about a product or service when they are on the verge of buying. You can leverage this by making your white paper’s content helpful and informative for them. Even if they are not ready to buy instantly, your white paper will remain at their disposal in the comfort of their location and will give them ample time to make buying decision.

Additionally, business owners or top decision-makers in big companies count on white papers to help them in their decision-making process when they are in need of a solution to their company’s problem. So, if you stand out from your competitors by producing helpful and informative content in a white paper form, your chances of winning business deals are greatly increased.

How White Papers Can Benefit Your Business

The following are various ways white papers can help improve your business.

  • Some people use white papers to justify their purchase of a product or service.

  • White papers are targeted to a specific group of people including engineers, business executives and other key-decision makers.

  • Because white papers are more valuable than most other marketing materials, they have a higher chance of being retained and read by decision-makers within organizations.

  • A well organized, thoughtfully crafted white paper will not only attract and reach your target audience more effectively, but will also influence them to take the action you want them to take in order to achieve your business goal.

  • A white paper can serve as a compelling and persuasive lead generation, marketing, and sales tool when brought into the limelight of the ideal clients.

  • Besides writing helpful and informative content, the aesthetic feel and look of a professionally designed white paper will persuade your prospects to spend enough time consuming the content to absorb all the information about your product or service, and consequently lead to sales.

  • A well designed white paper with valuable content will make your prospects perceive you as a thought leader in your industry, and help improve your brand’s credibility. Once your potential clients are satisfied with the quality of information in your white paper, it would help establish a relationship and trust with them, and turn them into loyal clients.

  • The information in a white paper can serve as foundational content that can be used for various content marketing projects such as web content, contributed articles and presentations on various marketing platforms where your target audience can easily find them.

Seven Ways to Generate Leads with a White Paper

After developing and designing a helpful and informative white paper, you can use it to attract customers by using a combination of the tips and advice below.

  1. Turn it into a print document. Some people prefer to read white papers in print instead of online. A well designed white paper commands respect and brings out your expertise in your industry. The possibility of your targets audience studying it thoroughly is high. Additionally, a beautifully created graphic in the content gives prospects a pleasant reading experience, prompting them to spend the time necessary to familiarize themselves with your products or service.

  2. Create a special link page for it on your website. Many people prefer to consume content on their computer or other mobile device. With access to the internet via mobile phones and tablets, it will be a lot easier for your potential clients to conveniently access your white papers.

  3. Blog about it. In addition to the above tips, you can write an exclusive article about the white paper on your blog and link to it with an option to print for those who would like to do so. The blog post will be archived and remain on your website for as long as your business remains in existence.
  4. Add it to your services link page. Prospects who want to know the type of services you offer will be exposed to your white paper on the same link.
  5. Issue a press release about it on different outlets. Your target audience has its preferences when it comes to reading news about trends in its industry of choice. Submitting a press release about your white paper on various outlets will help it go viral.
  6. Send it to prospects who call you for inquiries about your products or service. They will be thankful for the information. This will help build your business credibility and provide your potential customers with the valuable information necessary to make a buying decision.
  7. Add it to any sale of your products or service package.

Of all the different content marketing tools available, including blogging, article marketing, social media marketing and others, white papers stand out as one of the most effective and valuable pieces of content one can provide to their audience.

A white paper is designed to educate prospective customers about the technical functions or concepts of a product or service with as much detail as possible using text, images and infographics to convey your message, and strategically leading them to the logical conclusion of following your call to action.

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