Defined as persuasive, authoritative and in-depth reports on specific topics, white papers are for many small and mid-sized businesses an excellent tactic in content marketing – primarily for business-to-business enterprises.
Executed properly, they’re an ideal way to deliver compelling and relevant information targeted to a specific audience with the goal of changing or maintaining a behavior. Beyond short-format content marketing such as blogs or social media posts, they offer you the opportunity to more fully engage your audience, display your expertise . . . and gain their trust.
Today’s business buyers often actively seek out the kind of detailed information that white papers can provide, and rely on them to help research a product or service before committing to a purchase.
So, how best to make the most of this content marketing tactic? Here are four tips for winning with white papers:
- Consider the interests of your audience. Most people, of course, don’t read white papers for entertainment. Rather, they’re seeking help with a challenge, solutions to a problem, or expert advice on how to do something better. So before putting pen to paper, give some consideration what would make your audience read your white paper and, ideally, pass it along to an associate with similar interests. When in doubt, ask your customers about the problems they confront or the advice they’d most like to receive.
- Share some “secrets” or other exclusive content. Include information in your white papers that’s not readily available in your other content marketing such as blogs, videos or newsletters. Or, perhaps make them the only forum for an expert spokesperson. By adding an element of exclusivity, you’ll increase your offering’s perceived value.
- Keep your white papers short. Some content marketing experts recommend a minimum of three and a maximum of 14 pages. After all, many in your audience will be pressed for time and be more inclined to squeeze minutes for a shorter white paper between other commitments. Have a lot to communicate? Here’s your opportunity to divide your content into a series of two, three or more white papers!
- Decide on the format. Some within your target audience will prefer printed copies while other will opt for electronic downloads. To satisfy both groups, consider offering white papers in both formats.
Like to incorporate white papers in your mix of content marketing tactics? Let us know; we can assist you with topic selection and writing content, among other aspects of a successful campaign.