Whitepapers have become a successful component of content marketing as a way to offer in-depth content to prospects in return for their contact information. Most companies use whitepapers as marketing tools to generate leads or build their mailing list. As part of the beginning of a sales funnel, a whitepaper gives your prospect a return for providing you with their contact information. You can then follow up with them to move them further down the funnel. It is important to include information in your whitepaper that is detailed and informative, content that your prospect cannot find readily on your website. This detailed information is what makes the whitepaper valuable to the prospect, and in turn, you can begin to qualify the prospect as someone interested in buying. Here are five keys for creating successful whitepapers.
1. Resolve a Problem
The best way to frame a whitepaper is as a solution to a problem. Prospects are searching for products or services to resolve their problems, and you can give them the resolution in your whitepaper. A whitepaper should not be a commercial for your products. Instead, it should be a well-researched and thorough discussion based on facts and evidence with linked references to your sources.
2. Follow Industry Standards
Whitepapers are different from newsletters and blog posts. They should be a minimum of three pages filled with facts, charts, references and information. You can link to your blog posts on this topic or related topics, but you should go beyond what you say there. Otherwise, you are not giving the prospect anything new. Whitepapers on generally presented in PDF format that prospects can download from your site or landing page. They should be professionally written and edited, and a graphic designer should create the layout for an impressive presentation.
3. Give Away a Secret
Your whitepaper is part of the process of establishing a relationship with your prospect, and therefore you are working to gain their trust. By including an industry secret or two in your whitepaper, you are beginning to build that trust relationship. You may feel that you are being cheated out of income by giving away trade secrets, but you will get a better ROI by offering a real value to your prospect.
4. Avoid Promotional Language
A whitepaper is not a product or service pitch. While you can certainly mention a product or service, the focus should be on how to solve the prospect's problem. It is not the place to tell your prospect why they should buy from you or how great your product is.
5. Be Authoritative
One of the compelling reasons that people read whitepapers is that they gain knowledge from an expert in a topic they are interested in. Therefore, providing a so-so whitepaper is not going to give you the response you want. You need to create an authoritative whitepaper that answers all of the questions that a prospect might have on a topic. If you are not the authority on these answers, then interview or collaborate with someone else who is. Once your prospect has reviewed the whitepaper, you can find out what further questions they have to move them further down the funnel.