In the contest of ideas, you need white papers in your armoury. Historically, white papers were used by government to pilot new ideas and encourage public debate and contributions before legislation. In business they are used to demonstrate depth of knowledge, win respect and often to support a new technical approach over an established alternative.
A white paper is not an overt sales document. The purpose is to educate, demonstrate thought leadership, state a position and present evidence. White papers are for businesses that need to distinguish themselves as serious, credible and reliable partners, offering the best technical solution to a given problem.
A white paper is about building and consolidating a business relationship rather than attracting enquires. At the start of a sales relationship an infographic might attract attention, a brochure will provide more explanation and begin engagement but a white paper is about moving minds, building a platform for dialogue and creating trust. This can be the key that can transform your contact into an advocate for you - giving them the means to open up a discussion with their colleagues, often the hard-to-reach members of the decision making unit.
A white paper is not a blog. It will not necessarily be an easy read. The reader may not be able to absorb the contents at one reading, but will be better informed after re-reading and reflecting on the subject.
White papers are powerful content marketing tools. Search engines like substantial credible content, so showing in-depth authority on a given subject assists in ranking for that subject. Moreover, because a good white paper is not easy to achieve your competitors may not have the capability, time or resources to produce a white paper making this an easy win for you.
There are many ways of exploiting a white paper. It can be the subject of a blog, press release or social media campaign to attract attention. The core material can be reworked in many other ways – as a feature in a technical journal, as the basis for a conference presentation, as the key themes for one or more video scripts. Do remember that each of these media requires a specific tone and style to be effective.
Though white papers are often useful towards the end of the sales funnel in convincing the client that you have the technology and in-depth knowledge to solve their problem, they also have a key role post-sale. Buyer remorse (cognitive dissonance in psycho speak) is common. It is at this stage that the white paper can provide the vital reassurance the anxious buyer needs. The icing on the cake is to create a convert who will become an ambassador for your brand. Telling others how good you are and sharing your knowledge through the white paper.
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