Getting it White: The Power of the Paper

By Victoria Doxat

As a freelance copywriter who specialises in producing thought leadership communications I know a LOT about white papers and honestly believe that they are the best form of content marketing out there.

For those of you who are not familiar with white papers, read on to find out more about the benefits that these heavy duty lead generators can provide to your business.

What is a white paper?

A white paper is a thorough and authoritative report that aims to investigate a specific complex business issue. White papers are produced by businesses who want to help their customers, clients and any other interested parties better understand their products or services.

Originally the term ‘white paper’ referred to a particular type of policy document that was produced by the Government to set out proposals for future legislation. However, since the 1990’s the term has proliferated and taken on a new meaning. In business a white paper is a form of heavy duty content marketing which aims to promote a product, a service or a viewpoint. White papers are instrumental within thought leadership content marketing in particular and provide content that is well researched, authoritative and focussed.

Unlike brochures, white papers do not put forward a sales pitch- instead they produce research into topics that are relevant to their sponsor. The aim of the paper is to enlighten and inform potential customers about the rationale behind choosing one product over another, or to help them better understand the vendor’s position within the marketplace. The audience of a white paper are the customers, clients and partners of the business and anyone else who has an interest in the sector- for example analysts, consultants and journalists.

What is a white paper not?

A white paper is not a sales pitch and nor are they user manuals or technical documents that provide support to the user after making a purchase. The aim of a white paper is to inform, persuade and advise its readers about a product or service using hard evidence, facts and extensive industry research. If you want to tell the world why people need to buy your products then a white paper is the wrong format for doing this.

What is a white paper for?

White papers are designed to be used as a pre-sales marketing tool and their purpose is to generate leads, make a strong business case and establish the authority and expertise of the company sponsoring the paper. A white paper will promote a particular point of view and influence the decisions of prospective customers.

Generally white papers are used for B2B (Business to Business) marketing purposes and are effective at communicating specific details about an offering.

A white paper serves as an incredibly useful reference for anyone who wants to know more about your sector and/or understand specifics about a particular type of product. If you produce consistently helpful, authoritative and accurate content in the form of white papers then your prospects and channel partners will view you as a trusted adviser and will be inclined to purchase goods and services from you rather than from your competitors because they trust you and believe you are a credible source.

How can a white paper help my business?

A high quality, well researched and authoritative white paper can provide many, and sometimes all, of the following benefits to your business;

  • generate new leads
  • convert prospects into customers
  • improve your SEO ranking
  • increase awareness of your brand
  • position you as a trusted vendor
  • provide you with quality content that can be used for other marketing purposes
  • position you as an authority within your sector
  • support a technical evaluation
  • provide additional information about your products and services
  • provide information ahead of a product launch
  • argue the business case for investing in your business
  • undermine your competitors
  • educate channel partners, journalists, salespeople, distributors, analysts and consultants
  • redefine your marketspace

If you want your business and your brand to be taken seriously, demonstrating your knowledge and expertise with a well crafted and extensively researched white paper is a good place to start. White papers have long been a highly successful form of content marketing within the manufacturing, energy, technology and finance industries but in recent years white papers have also become prevalent within other sectors including, but not restricted to, education, healthcare and agriculture.

When used effectively white papers can generate leads, increase sales, convert prospects into customers, improve brand awareness and even redefine a market space. The power of the white paper can not be underestimated and they play an integral role within the content marketing strategy of progressive businesses.

To find out more about the benefits of white papers and how they can help your business, please read my other articles on Medium.

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Victoria Doxat is a freelance copywriter and lecturer from Petersfield UK and has produced thought leadership communications for a diverse range of businesses. If you have any questions about white papers or would like to learn more about thought leadership, you can contact Victoria at hello@victoriadoxat.com or visit her website at www.victoriadoxat.com.

The information in this article was taken from Victoria’s white paper ‘The White Stuff: Why White Papers are Good for Business’ which can be downloaded for free from her website.