You have created a website and you have applied all of the on-page fundamentals for search engine optimization. You are posting blogs at least 2-3 times per week, you are active on all the social media platforms . . . yet still – you are not getting the ROI for your time/efforts. Have you considered using a white paper as part of your social marketing strategy?
What is a white paper?
A whitepaper is a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution. They are aimed to achieve two goals: educating and persuading consumers.
Using a white paper for marketing.
Your business wishes to launch a new product line and you want to increase market exposure and awareness of your new product. Consumers are not just going to buy your product because you tell them they should. Instead, consumers want to be informed when making purchasing decisions. Therefore, you need to write an expanded ‘ad copy’. This would be your white paper. Your white paper can further explain why consumers need your product and how your product is the right choice for them.
What should be included in a white paper?
Define Consumer Need: Make sure your white paper shows how your products or services offer solutions to problems or needs. Your white paper should indicate opportunities to be had, should consumers elect to use your product or service. For example, experience an increase in your online sales revenue by using Invoke-Media Group social media strategies for your small business. The result is an increase in sales, the means is using our strategies. The white paper would then reflect examples of said strategies and offer previous case studies.
Prove the Need Exists: Why should consumers believe they have a problem or a need, merely because you say so? Market research is one great way to support your argument that a problem even exists. Perform some due diligence on your target market. After you have identified the need, be sure to explain to your target market, in your white paper, your methodology for coming to the conclusion that a problem exists. Statistical data and measurable performance metrics are always useful. For example, sites like SEO Moz, Alerta and Alexa that measure website performance are useful for someone in the SEO industry when showing prospects how their websites measure up in their industries.
Indicate Additional Pitfalls: On occasion, the initial proof of need is sufficient. Sometimes, the sense of urgency is not immediate when there is only one known issue. Identify other issues that can arise as a result of the primary problem and the means by which your products and services can ALSO identify and resolve additional problems.
Identify the Initial Solution: Do not just jump into talking about your own products and services. Instead, use this opportunity to further educate your prospects. Describe an overall basic solution that your products and services can offer – in general. The objective is to make an argument in favor of your products and services – overall. Start swaying consumers to better understand your products and services so that they may develop a deeper interest. This portion of your white paper should cover all the benefits offered by your product or service. Do not highlight on the features, keep the focus on benefits.
Explain YOUR Solution: Here is the segment where you want to offer your “elevator pitch”. By now you have hopefully convinced your target market that they like the products and services you offer. At this point, they should understand their need and recognize how your business might be able to offer a solution. This is when you want to showcase your own company. Highlight specific benefits you offer and focus on ways in which your products and services are unique. What sets you apart from the rest?
Include a Call to Action (CTA): When making your closing ‘argument’ you must always include a CTA. Send the reader to your website. Offer a phone number for the reader to call a rep to answer any additional questions they may have. Offer a brief survey for them complete and submit with their email or other contact information. Without a CTA the entire purpose of your white paper is lost.
How do your format a white paper?
There is no set of rules when it comes to structuring a white paper. Some white papers are more technical and may require more charts and graphs. Others might incorporate photos to further emphasize their message. Some may use sidebars to feature certain elements they want to “call out”. Others might prefer a less distracting full-page design. Some include eye-catching title pages while a more technical white paper might feature a supporting abstract.
The following are some consistent rules of thumb:
Always be sure to include a company logo and contact information. If you are not using a title page, be sure to include identifying information on the header of your paper.
- Do not try to be ‘cute’ or ‘catchy’. Your title is to serve as the driving force for capturing your prospects attention.
- Typically white pages should range in 5-10 pages. When adding content always ask yourself, ‘will my target market want to read this?’
- Think of the target market when developing your white paper. Busy business executives want it short, simple and to the point. Technical professionals want more detail.
- Make sure the author of your white paper is intimately familiar with the products and services he/she is writing to.
I highly recommend that you research other white papers that are currently being circulated – especially those relevant to your own industry. Visit http://www.pardot.com/ and check out some great samples of white papers.
How do I distribute my white paper?
White papers are a great source for adding additional content to your website and driving more traffic to your website. Embed a white paper into a landing page or offer one as a downloadable feature within your site. Blog it out and send it as an attachment via social media. Offer a white paper to your subscribers in an email promotion or as an attachment to an electronic newsletter.
Whatever you do, start getting on the white paper bandwagon as part of your marketing strategy.
If you are in need of assistance for writing your white paper, Invoke-Media Group is here to help!