The White Paper: Content Marketing’s Hard-Working Centenarian

white paper clips and wood backgroundEven though they’ve been around for over a 100 years, 61% of B2B content marketers still use white papers, and 57% of B2B marketers rate white papers as an effective content marketing tactic, as reported in a recent survey. Why do you think they’ve held up for so long and are still being used today?

The reason is simple: the white paper provides information that helps solve a problem that is meaningful to the reader. It justifies why the problem must be solved, objectively explores alternative ways to solve the problem, and logically leads the reader to the  conclusion that your organization has the knowledge, expertise and tools required to solve the problem. That’s what makes white papers so great for capturing leads.

Yet, white papers are one of the most misunderstood, miswritten, misused and unsexy marketing tools available. While many companies think they need a white paper, few manage to write, design or use them to their full potential. This is unfortunate, because when they’re written and applied well, white papers are one of the most powerful tools in the sales and marketing toolkit.

Warning: White papers should be informational documents that inform and persuade, based on facts or evidence. While there are no real white paper standards for length, structure, format, and style, there is one hard-and-fast rule. They should NOT be written to shill (or push) your own products or services.

Why white papers have staying power

In a nutshell, white papers work in content marketing because they help make companies credible by demonstrating thought leadership and an understanding of industry issues and trends.

Well done white papers jettison the smoke, mirrors and fluff to, instead, include:

  • Rich, substantive content that educates, not sells
  • New ideas that prompt and provoke innovative thinking
  • A clearly communicated point of view on issues that are highly relevant and timely
  • Statistically sound data and well-researched findings

The point of view provides the pillar of a good white paper and represents the opportunity to differentiate your company in the eyes of your readers and connect to your audience.

To paraphrase Mark Twain’s famous quote, the reports of the death of the white paper have been greatly exaggerated.

Perfect for many purposes and repurposes

White papers are for businesses of all sizes and types. They may have the longest shelf life of all content, and they can be sliced and diced to meet a variety of marketing purposes and repurposes.

If you want high quality, searchable content that isn’t punished by Google’s never-ending algorithm updates, you must provide value that resonates with your target market. That’s exactly where white papers come into play.

Online consumers and business buyers are increasingly looking for content that offers tips, tools and resources to help them cope with day-to-day life, solve common problems or discover which products or services are best for their needs.

You can help these people by making your white papers available in a variety of ways. Just a few ways you can offer your white papers are:

  • As a free download on your own site
  • Through other partner companies that can offer them on their sites
  • For providing share-worthy content on social media
  • In a related blog post, lead-generation email or direct response ad
  • As part of an industry-related  press release
  • Mailed or emailed directly to your prospects
  • Give-aways at trade shows or meetings

White papers remain highly influential, effective tools for generating leads and helping customers make the decision to buy.

White papers are not a DIY job

Many companies make the mistake of writing their own white papers…or having product managers or engineers write them. Although you and your staff often write great drafts and notes on what the paper should cover, and can assist in identifying what is really “news,” they should not do the actual writing of a white paper that will eventually end up in your prospects’ or customers’ hands.

You should have a professional marketing agency with experienced writers handle the white paper project. They know best how to make white papers:

  • Thorough and well-balanced
  • Interesting and readable
  • Persuasive
  • Subtly branded

Plus, they know how to market white papers to your company’s advantage.

When you want to create effective, successful white papers, simply contact us here at Solamar. We’ll help you write them and turn them into valuable content to help you grow your business.

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