White papers are an often overlooked component of a strong business content marketing plan. That’s unfortunate because a killer white paper can be the difference in a prospect engaging with you or not.
Some people call them executive briefs, special reports, or white papers. Whatever you call them, they should be an authoritative report or guide that helps your audience understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.
Here are 4 essentials elements to creating compelling and engaging white papers:
1. Focus on a single prospect
You should build your white paper around one type of prospect or follower. This allows you to focus the content towards solving a very specific issue.
The goal of any good white paper is to build authority and position your company as an expert that can provide solutions. You should strive to keep the length to 6-10 pages of focused content. If you want to focus on more than one type of prospect, you might need another white paper.
2. Use visuals and images
Obviously visuals and images are great for breaking up text, and white papers are the perfect place to use things like charts, quotes, diagrams, infographics, pictures, etc.
Good white papers keep audience attention by providing strong visuals along with strong text content. The last thing you want is your white paper to look like this (love Tom Fishburne by the way):
3. Use client case studies
Prospects want to read about other people like them that have used your product or service. Client case studies add credibility, and provide proof that you know what you’re talking about.
Tell your story using case studies, and you will hook more prospects than not. What if you don’t have a good case study, or one that fits the particulars of the white paper you are creating? You could always create a hypothetical situation, and clearly articulate the before and after results. Just be sure to clearly state it’s a hypothetical story.
4. Don’t forget the call to action
Great content creation includes a strong call to action, and white papers are no exception. What do you want your audience to do once they’ve read the white paper? The call can be as simple and easy as “Please share this white paper with your colleagues”, or more direct such as “Contact Joe Blow, Senior Sales Executive now”. Here are some other examples:
- Sign up for a demo
- Fill out a needs assessment
- Attend our upcoming webinar
- Visit our microsite to learn more
- Contact us for a free analysis
You get the picture. White papers are great “evergreen” pieces, but can also fit very nicely into a bigger sales and marketing plan. They should be part of well rounded content marketing strategy, and can be very effective at creating credibility, and making prospects feel good about your products/services.
Does your company utilize white papers to build authority? If not do you think you should?
Please share this with your colleagues, or anyone else you think might benefit from it. Thank you!