If your company wants to get more leads, working with a white paper writer in Indiana may be an excellent strategy. Creating and offering white papers is a common lead-generation approach for companies in many industries in Indiana and elsewhere. While some companies try to write white papers using internal staff, there are many advantages to engaging the help of professional white paper writers.
White papers are serious reports exploring complex issues to educate audiences. In a marketing or policymaking context, white papers are developed to provide enough facts and arguments to convince people that your product, service, or strategy offers the best solution for the situation, educating them while helping them reach the desired decision or action. That’s what makes them a valuable part of a content marketing strategy.
What are white papers?
For example, white papers can explain what it is that makes your digital marketing solution better than competing alternatives. They can summarize key information about a particular issue or problem to help the reader develop a stronger understanding. White paper writing is also used to describe common problems your audience faces and offer detailed evidence your approach provides the best solution.
Why do white papers work today?
White papers work well in today’s business environment because everyone is struggling to do more in less time. Your audiences, such as customers and prospects, are hungry for good information, but they’re also busy. With limited time, they appreciate practical guidance focused on their specific needs. Most are wary of advertising or other sales-focused approaches, and are more inclined to trust white papers that are informational and based on facts.
Your prospective customers read white papers because they need to know something. Maybe they want to better understand a new technology they’ve heard about. Perhaps they’re desperately seeking a solution for a problem that’s hurting their business. They might want support for a digital marketing recommendation they’re making to their bosses. No matter what the reason, white papers provide trustworthy information about business benefits and improve our perception of the company that develops the white paper, making the use of white papers an ideal content marketing strategy.
White papers help prospects make decisions
White papers are a powerful business development tool when the decision-making process involves several individuals. If your company offers a product or service that has a high value or will significantly impact your prospective customer’s organization, your primary contact probably won’t have the authority to make the purchase decision alone. A white paper can help them support their recommendation and make the case that what you offer is the best solution for their needs.
Suppose your company sells an expensive piece of equipment that makes users far more productive and efficient. It’s so efficient every buyer has seen a complete return on their investment within the first year. Because it represents a significant capital expense, the sales cycle is always long and complicated. The process is even more of a challenge because your equipment is built around an innovative approach that’s drastically different from what your competitors have sold for decades. So the decision-makers will need to be convinced to take what they see as a gamble on something brand-new to them.
In answer, you create a white paper comparing the traditional approach to your innovative solution. You include detailed descriptions of the processes for those who will work with it, along with simple diagrams to help non-technical decision-makers like the CFO and CEO see the advantages, as well as tables comparing efficiency of both approaches. When your contact shares their recommendations with all the decision-makers, they can attach the white paper to help them understand it. With your white paper, you’ve provided the information all the decision-makers need, helping them reach the purchase decision far more quickly.
White papers and lead generation
The work you devote to developing your white paper will be meaningless in business development terms unless you’re able to put it in the hands or on the screens of the people who need to read it. Having a white paper gives you many opportunities to promote it and capture the interest of (and information for) potential sales leads.
One way to generate leads with white papers is posting them on your company’s own website. After all, visitors to your site are seeking more information about your company and its products and services. Include an image of the white paper on your home page, and allow visitors to click on the image to either download the paper directly or reach a request form capturing their names, email addresses, and other key information.
If you want to track and compare the success of your marketing channels, consider creating one or more landing pages for your white paper. For example, if you’re promoting your white paper through your trade advertising, email newsletter, a direct mail piece to trade show attendees, and LinkedIn, you’d create a separate landing page for each of those four channels. The pages could be identical, except for their URLs. By tracking the number of unique visitors to each, you’ll see how well each channel works for you.
Lead generation through emails and email newsletters
If you send email newsletters or other promotional emails, you can include an announcement about your white paper, along with a link to a special landing page where the visitor can download it. One particularly effective way to do this is to spotlight an intriguing statement or statistic. Another way is to use the signature sections on our emails that include phone numbers and similar information. You can use a promotional message such as: Download our new white paper, “Cross-cutting and spiral-coring: an engineering comparison”
In addition, many industry websites and trade publications send regular email newsletters and offer the ability to buy promotional messages in those newsletters for a comparatively low cost. You can create an ad spotlighting your white paper and link it to a landing page.
White papers, blogging, and lead generation
White papers and blogs are natural counterparts, and blogging presents several ways to increase awareness of your white paper. A well-organized white paper can become the source of article writing and several posts for your company’s blog, each of which can mention the white paper and include a link for downloading it. You can develop a post that summarizes the key message of your white paper, along with individual posts based on sections of it. Again, a link allows readers to download it.
White papers and conferences
If your organization exhibits at trade shows or industry conferences, you can distribute printed copies of your white paper from your booth. Another option is to encourage attendees to sign up (or swipe their badges) for a free copy in return for an opportunity to win a gift card or some other prize. You can email the white paper and a sales message to them after the show.
Additionally, an informative white paper can form the basis for a presentation at an industry conference. The people who run conferences are in a constant search for timely topics that will be of interest to their attendees. When you contact the organizer, you can send a copy of the white paper along as evidence of your credibility.
Use the white paper as the source for your presentation, but don’t share all of the information it contains. Instead, mention you’ve developed a white paper than explores the topic in greater depth and post a link to a landing page. That way, interested attendees can download a copy and you have the opportunity to capture their email addresses for future marketing activities. (Include a link in your slide deck to reach people who may not have attended your session but looked up your slides on the conference site.)
How are white papers set up?
While a typical website page might contain a couple hundred words, the best white paper writers generally shoot for between 1500 and 5000 words, which typically works out to 6 to 20 printed pages. Instead of choosing an arbitrary length, let the information drive the length, because the quality of information is more important than the quantity. White paper writing doesn’t have rules, but professional writers usually follow this type of structure:
- Serious titles. Writing white paper titles is particularly important. They should be serious and straightforward, instead of clever or promotional. On your blog, you might use a headline such as “Process three times as many radishes with our veeblefetzers” to maximize search engine optimization, but something that promotional won’t appeal to someone looking for objective information. Titles such as “Evaluating processing alternatives for radish production” or “Cross-cutting and spiral-coring: an engineering comparison” will suggest your white paper offers a more balanced approach.
- State the issue. Effective white papers often begin with a short section describing your prospective customers’ problem or challenge. This builds a bond with readers, as they see you have a solid understanding of the situation that’s keeping them up at night.
- Potential solutions. Explore the different types of solutions that have been developed in response to the problem or challenge. After a general discussion, examine the advantages and disadvantages of each of those solutions. Of course, you get to select which facts you’ll present, and your product or service will undoubtedly reflect the most advantageous approach. If white paper writers have included the right information and presented it in the right way, readers will come to the right conclusion on their own — and that’s a far more compelling content marketing strategy than trying to tell them how to think.
- Extra stuff? If you want to highlight a particular concept or include something that’s interesting to the reader but may not fit within the body of the white paper, consider placing it in a “sidebar.” Sidebars involve smaller article writing, text boxes, or lists that are separate from the main copy. They add visual interest, drawing the reader’s eye and helping them increase their knowledge.
- Stay straightforward. You may be tempted to get into detail about what makes your Model SD60M the best product in the universe, but that kind of content will destroy the impression of objectivity you’ve tried to create. Instead, end your white paper with a short section describing your product or service, and an even shorter description of your company.
Designing your white paper
Most effective white papers look like trade magazine articles with fewer pictures. If your product or service lends itself to charts or graphs, they can strengthen your message. It’s okay to include photographs if they support and add value to your message, but simply adding stock images of happy people in business meetings isn’t necessary.
Make it easier for readers to navigate your white paper by breaking into easy-to-read chunks. Use straightforward headlines and paragraph headings to guide them to the information they need.
Who should write white papers?
Assigning responsibility for creating white papers to the members of your staff who know the information the papers will cover is not always the best solution. Even if your team members are skilled writers, they may not be the best white paper writers, lacking the ability to articulate the key messages in the most coherent, convincing way.
People who have significant amounts of technical writing knowledge — such as engineers, attorneys, CPAs, and scientists — are usually not the best white paper writers. They often struggle to escape their professions’ specialized jargon of their professions and find it difficult to explain their subject to someone who hasn’t attained their level of education. They may also have certain biases that reflect your company’s values and beliefs. Your prospective customers may not have a similar level or knowledge or share those assumptions.
White paper writers have specialized expertise
If you consider yourself to be a good writer and handle much of your company’s content creation, you may wonder why it would make sense to work with professional white paper writers. The best white paper writers provide many advantages over your team or ordinary writing services:
- You don’t have the time. If your team members don’t write regularly, it’s probably going to take them more time than you realize to develop your white paper. What’s going to happen to the rest of their workloads while they’re spending hours trying to organize the right words into sentences and paragraphs? Usually, their time is best spent handling their primary job functions.
- They’re neutral. Professional white paper writers will bring more objectivity to the process and be better able to point out how your audience might not come away with the same impression of what you plan to say. As outsiders, white paper writing services approach the process and your company with fewer preconceived notions and internal assumptions about your product or service. They can also challenge your biases and opinions.
- Thinking like customers. Professional white paper writers will approach white papers not from the point of view of your company, but from that of your audience. White paper writers think about what’s important to the audience and what they need to know, so they can make your ideas and arguments more compelling and meaningful. They also use appropriate language to convey information.
- They know less than you. Think white paper writers are at a disadvantage because they don’t have your level of knowledge? Actually, that’s a big advantage. Because a white paper writer has to develop a thorough understanding before presenting your message to the outside world, they’ll have to ask a lot of questions, including questions you and your team may not have considered. Those are likely to be many of the same questions your prospective customers might ask, so the writer can address those issues in the white paper.
- There’s less ego. When you use a professional white paper writer, you can approach the work with greater objectivity. You’ll have the opportunity to review and edit it without having to worry that your comments will reflect negatively on the person in the next office or department. If someone else finds fault with it, you can deflect those criticisms — but if your boss is thrilled with it, guess who gets the credit?
How do you hire white paper writers?
If you’re trying to hire a white paper writer, the first step is finding a professional who specializes in writing white papers. White papers are a unique kind of project that requires specific expertise. Someone whose expertise primarily involves writing college term papers, advertising, article writing, blog posts, technical writing, or who calls themselves a “creative writer” probably won’t have experience with a white paper. As you review potential sources for white paper writing, be sure to keep this advice in mind:
- Seek references. Contact companies who have developed white papers you admire and ask who they used. If they’re satisfied with the work of a professional white paper writer, they’ll usually be happy to give you a name and contact information. References are also important if you’ve found a white paper writer on your own. Don’t just assume that the white paper writer does a good job. Ask for names and contact information of the writer’s clients, and take the time to contact them. Ask for their impressions of the white paper writer and whether they would work with them again.
- View samples. Proof of a freelance white paper writer’s past work is important. A professional white paper writer will be happy to supply samples of their content writing work for other clients. Pay attention to how the writer explains difficult concepts. Even if you know nothing about the industry, you should be able to come away with a good understanding of the issue being discussed and how the company responds. Good white papers are also well-organized and concise. If the copy is well-written and does an excellent job of explaining the issue and the solutions, you can choose that white paper writer with confidence.
- Avoid online services. Some online white paper writing services promise to develop white papers and other materials in less time for a fraction of what other professionals charge. If you’re on a tight budget and timeline, it can seem appealing, but don’t forget you get what you pay for. Many of these services outsource white paper writing to people overseas, who may or may not be native English speakers. Other services may use U.S. writers but don’t vet their experience. Any money or time you save upfront will probably be erased by the time you’ll editing and rewriting their work.
Investing the time to find and evaluate a professional white paper writer assures you’ll receive the quality of work your company needs to accomplish its objectives. The best white paper writers focus exclusively on helping businesses like yours communicate with key audiences. They’re aware of how to present your messages in the most effective and impactful ways, making your messages understandable, compelling enough to hold the reader’s attention, and focused on achieving your business objectives. Most important, they recognize that the ultimate goal of your white paper is to accomplish a business objective.