White Paper Marketing
With so many different types of content possibilities, we are often asked by clients, “What else can I write?” By now, most companies are blogging, updating their website with current events and specials, and utilizing social media to its fullest. So, what else is there? Another impactful and in-depth media choice is a white paper. Why on Earth would you write a paper that is white?! Read on.
You are the expert in what you do. So why not spread that expertise? I am not suggesting you share proprietary material; I would lose your attention instantly, no doubt. What I am suggesting you share are facts, methodologies, and figures to entice readers into learning more. Your product or service satisfies a need. Your job is to communicate (market) that solution. Your white paper should be constructed so that it informs, builds trust, and contributes to that final buying decision. The idea is to educate while being genuine and unbiased; save yourself the bounce and skip the salesy business!
What’s In It For Me
My first job out of college came complete with a great sales mentor. This mentor used the acronym WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) because that is what a prospective customer might ask himself or herself after a typical sales pitch. In sales, you must always think from the customer’s perspective if you want to be successful. If you are not helping to solve their problem, you are not helping at all. This was rule #1. Most of us are accustomed to talking about things from our own perspectives. So talking and thinking about things from another’s perspective takes some rewiring and lots of practice. We are all in sales, no matter what title we are assigned, so be sure your white paper clearly illustrates what's in it for them.
Think of your white paper as one more tool in your sales arsenal… incognito style. Not to be confused with something that is deceptive, a good white paper brings true value to your readers while acting to set you apart from the competition. One more “touch” to get your potential buyers in the e-door. This masterpiece is meant to be informative, and again, not salesy. I strongly recommend avoiding phrases such as “buy now”, but then again, I struggle to think of an instance where that phrase is truly needed these days. Instead, it should be so good that your reader is naturally enticed to want to know more. Don't forget to include a sign-up to access this great resource - it might be free but it's not free of a little bit of effort!
The Art of Writing
Copywriting is an art and there are near limitless venues for it. Whether a novelist, a food blogger, or a technical writer, you must find your balance and know your audience. A white paper should come across as conversational as possible. Not unlike social media but slightly less casual and a little more formal. It should be written as though you are addressing an individual and perhaps you met up for a business lunch. The #2 and #3 useful insights my sales mentor taught me were that people like to buy (not be sold), and people buy from people they like. Come across as likable in your writing and your readers will feel more in tune with you, and ultimately, more likely to interact and eventually do business with you.
As with many of our previous writing tips, your content marketing method should rarely, if ever, be a single barreled approach. Standing out to a customer when you’re swimming in a sea of other potential business opportunities is never easy. It takes constant finessing, near constant output, and a voice that is just a little louder (i.e. consistent and more informative) than the rest. Just keep in mind that this is not a sales brochure (yes, it bears repeating, in my opinion!); it is your unbiased, fact-sharing, rapport-building business tool that may or may not be printed on white paper.