Why are white papers such an effective marketing tool? White papers convey expert status to companies because of their objective approach. Even small businesses and solo entrepreneurs can leverage the white paper’s cousin – a special report – to accomplish the same goals.
White papers are written in a journalistic, investigative style to explain complex products and services. This fact-based, objective approach elevates white papers to a trusted status. Thus, they help position companies as thought leaders in competitive industries.
Here are the reasons why white papers help corporations generate leads and increase sales for their products and services:
- A more in-depth marketing piece is more effective when the sales cycle is longer, as it usually is for high cost, complex products.
- Because of the higher cost of making a wrong decision, decision makers need more in-depth information. White papers provide a convenient way to provide that information.
- White papers can provide the answers to frequently asked questions, making it easier for the sales force to work with prospects.
- White papers establish trust and credibility in the eyes of potential customers because they are not perceived as slick advertising. They often include case studies which further enhances credibility.
- White papers lay out the value proposition in a way that is easier to understand by educating the reader in the pros and cons of other solutions.
- Because of the educational, yet persuasive nature of white papers, they convey thought leadership and help to position the company as a trusted source within its market.
Now let’s look at the list above from the small business perspective. Like white papers, a special report:
- Helps you position your business as the best solution within your market.
- Answers frequently asked questions, removing in advance any objections or worries potential customers might have.
- Helps to pre-sell your product or service with an in-depth explanation of what you offer.
- Provides information about your business in a way that is considered more valuable than a brochure.
- Shows prospective clients and customers what it’s like to work with you with case studies and testimonials.
It’s not hard to see that many of the reasons that large corporations use white papers are very similar to what small businesses need to accomplish in order to stay competitive, viable and profitable. Small businesses may not want to call them white papers if their target audience is not familiar with that term. But whether you call them an in-depth article or a special report, this type of collateral accomplishes many marketing objectives and does the same heavy lifting as a white paper.