A white paper is a document that both educates and persuade. It identifies a problem and then offers a solution. It is a marketing tool exclusively used in the Business-to-Business (B2B) marketplace.
White papers are ideal for introducing new products and new technology innovations. They help key decision-makers or influencers reach a decision about implementing a particular solution.
In addition to creating leads and driving sales, they are also a great way to generate awareness about a company and its products and services. Plus, they are a way for a company to build up its credibility within its marketplace and establish itself as a thought leader.
White papers are usually between 5 and 10 pages in length.
As a White Paper Specialist, your objective is to get prospects thinking about the problem and the solution featured in the white paper and to then introduce one of your client’s products or services as the best choice for that solution.
How big is the demand for white papers?
According to a study by B2B Magazine and Junta42 Match, about a third of a marketer’s budget is spent on custom content and creation — and half of that portion of the budget is spent on white papers.
In the United States alone, there are 240,000 B2B companies with over 50 employees.
I couldn’t find the exact figure of how much money is spent on white papers every year, but I think you can see from the above statistics, it’s in the billions and billions of dollars.
Why is the demand for white papers so huge?
The simple answer is people use them and they work.
According to a study by Eccolo Media, 84% of businesses find white papers either extremely or moderately influential in their purchasing decisions.
The study also found that 77% of business decision-makers said they read one or more white papers last year.
They also found that white papers are the most viral piece of marketing collateral with 89% saying they pass them along to others. One in three said they shared them with three or more people.
Six steps to writing a successful white paper
When writing a white paper, it’s important to back up any claims you make with examples and information from third-party sources. When appropriate, you should include any charts, diagrams, or graphs that will drive home the points you are making.
The following is a breakdown of the six main components of a typical white paper:
- Identify the problem — the first thing you do is identify the problem your reader is facing.
- Offer proof that the problem exists — next, you offer proof that the problem exists and highlight the pain that will result if it’s left unattended.
- Talk about any additional problems that may arise — if there are additional problems and issues that the reader should be aware of, mention them here. The bigger and more numerous problems, the more likely they are to invest in a solution.
- Talk about the solution — explain how the problem can be fixed. Don’t get specific in terms of your client’s products and/or services; offer a general solution to the problem.
- Talk about your client’s solution — describe the benefits of it and why it’s better than the competition’s solution.
- Add a call-to-action — you end by telling the reader about the next step you’d like them to take. Maybe it’s downloading a demo version of a software package, or calling a toll-free number if they have any questions, or going to a website to look at case studies.