You’ve probably heard about white papers if you work in a technology-intensive industry. But these selling powerhouses shouldn’t be ignored in other industries as well. No matter what you’re selling, if you need to sell it to high level executives or it’s a very high ticket item, white papers can be a highly effective marketing tool.
Let’s take a look at some of the basics about white papers for those who aren’t as familiar with them and how they might help your business.
What Are White Papers?
A white paper is a type of report often used to market a product or service to executive-level buyers. Because this kind of buyer might need to make a case for the purchase to a board or other supervisor who has the final say, a report makes the most sense. It lays out all of the information people would need to make an educated purchasing decision without spending the whole report on a hard sell approach.
Why White Papers Work
White papers are effective because they focus on education and problem-solving. The basic idea is this: you identify a problem or opportunity your target market has, you present them with a general solution or strategy and educate readers about that solution, and then you close the white paper with a more specific pitch for your own company’s product or service as the solution to their needs.
How to Use White Papers Effectively
After you figure out how to write a white paper, you have to get that white paper into the hands of prospects. Here are three common ways you can do that to start the sales rolling in:
- Distribute your white papers through your own website. While you can use them to build an email list, remember that the main idea is to get your white paper into as many targeted hands as possible — not making people jump through hoops to get it.
- Distribute them through white paper directories online.
- Present hard copy versions of your white paper to prospects at meetings, conferences, or other in-person events.
While white papers are best known as technology marketing tools (because they can cover complex ideas and product specs with an organized presentation), you can use them to market just about anything. For example, you could use a white paper to sell your Internet marketing consulting services or just about any product targeting B2B customers. So go ahead. Search your competitors’ sites to look for examples of industry-specific white papers in action, and then give white paper writing a try.