Customer Experience News & Trends

How to create white papers that attract the best leads

White papers are excellent tools for driving leads and sales. They’re designed to do two primary things: educate and persuade. 

Corporate decision-makers rely on white papers more than almost any other source of information available to them, according to recent studies. They’re more likely to read a high-quality white paper in detail rather than a brochure pitching a product’s features and benefits, or a product data sheet explaining technical details.

Executives feel that white papers offer value by providing unbiased information concerning business problems they may be facing.

The three basic types

There are three types of white papers:

  1. Technical white papers are targeted at engineers. They often describe processes and procedures with precise detail. These types of white papers are usually introduced during the sales process to describe how things work.
  2. Business benefits white papers are targeted at decision-makers in management positions. These types of white papers often describe the business advantages of implementing solutions and are typically used to generate leads. The business application of white papers has grown significantly in recent years.
  3. Hybrid technical/business benefits white papers are targeted at both influencers and decision-makers. They usually lead with business benefits and include technical descriptions of processes. Hybrid papers are also typically used as lead generation documents.

What’s in a white paper?

Here’s what your white paper should say to the prospect: “You have a problem, whether you know it yet or not — a big problem for your business. Here’s what that problem is and proof that it affects businesses like yours.”

The reaction you want from a prospect: “You’re right. That is a problem.”

White paper: “That problem might even be tied to other, smaller problems. You’d better find a solution … and fast.”

Prospect: “I didn’t realize all that. Okay. Give me a solution.”

White paper: “Here’s a solution that will make the problem go away. Let me describe the basic solution so you understand it completely.”

Prospect: “I think I understand and I agree. It sounds like it might work and be good for business.”

What can white papers do?

White papers can:

  • Generate new leads. You can require prospects to provide contact information before they receive the white paper. Companies that use white papers effectively list lead generation as the number one benefit. Most of the executives who respond to white papers are decision-makers you may have otherwise had a difficult time reaching.
  • Warm up cold calls. You know how difficult it is to get in to see a prospect on a cold call. Prospects who sign up to get a white paper are genuine leads. They will also be familiar with your product or service before meeting you for the first time.
  • Make it easy for prospects to understand your products/services. White papers give the reader an opportunity to focus on what’s in it for them. They communicate technical details in a compelling way that helps readers understand how and why your product/service will pay off for them. It’s always easier to close a deal with an educated prospect.
  • Offer what advertising and marketing materials can’t. Unlike traditional marketing channels, white papers can include case histories and third-party endorsements. The same decision-maker who ignores advertising materials may read a well-written white paper in detail.
  • Provide a low-cost, long-term way to promote your products/services. White papers have a long shelf-life.

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