No longer are white papers just for technology companies or the government. More and more small businesses are seeing the benefits of writing white papers for lead generation and to build their web lists, promote their businesses, or promote a new product. You can, too.
A white paper gets its name from the highly technical government reports that were bound in white paper. Technology companies quickly realized the benefit of writing a white paper and using it as a marketing tool. Their white papers explained a new product or service and were, generally speaking, written by and for engineers.
Savvy business owners – regardless of whether they own tech companies – began using white papers to connect with and create relationships with their customers. White papers not only provide valuable information for your customers, it establishes you as an expert in your field.
Providing free, expert information to customers and potential customers is an excellent way to build trust. People who trust you are more likely to buy from you. And people who trust you are more likely to remain loyal customers.
Assuming you already have your website in place, authoring and giving away a white paper is a powerful marketing mechanism that costs you nothing.
- If you want to build your opt-in email list, ask folks to provide their email addresses in order to download the PDF white paper.
- Launching a new product? Pre-sell the product by writing a white paper that explains how the product works, its features and (most importantly) the benefits to your customers.
- Offer several different white papers on various topics so you can qualify the lead based on what customers are interested in.
- Promote your business by writing a white paper that explains how your services solved a specific problem.
It’s Your Report, Call It What You Want
White Paper may be too techie a term for your customer base (even notoriously tech savvy WePay users!). Call it whatever you want to call it and what resonates most with your customers. I’ve used the terms: Report, Special Report, Executive Report, Executive Brief, How-To Guide, and Case Study. It really doesn’t matter what you call it as long as the information you provide is useful to your target audience and helps them make the decision to do business with you.
A white paper is nothing more than a long article of roughly 2,000 words (generally six to eight pages long although you’re not bound by these numbers) written in a more unbiased, journalistic style than traditional sales copy you’d find in brochures or landing pages. Use an authoritative tone and only mention the product or service in generic terms until you get to the sales page of your white paper (see below).
When writing your white paper, include …
- a title that captures readers’ attention;
- an overview that succinctly summarizes the entire paper;
- a clear description of the problem;
- the solution to the problem;
- the proof that supports your claims;
- the results your customers can expect;
- a summary that includes your call to action (e.g., sign up for more information, call for more information, click on this link to see product photos, etc.); and
- a sales page where you can promote your specific product, service or business.
You don’t need to be a professional copywriter to write a white paper. This is a no-cost, high performance marketing tool that anyone can use to promote their business … techies and non-techies alike. Just know what the problem is that keeps your customers awake at night and write a white paper that convinces them you know how to solve it.