How to Write a Powerful White Paper

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Introduction

Spend your time running your business, not your marketing.

White papers serve as a powerful sales tool used to promote your brand and inspire prospects to become buyers. By adding white papers to your online marketing strategy, you are validating your company's credibility and reinforcing your voice as an industry thought leader.

The Purpose of a White Paper

A white paper is an especially effective marketing tool in the high tech industry where topics tend to be complicated, requiring detailed explanations. In fact, according to MarketingSherpa, 79% of IT sales prospects rely on online white papers before making a critical buying decision and 90% of sales prospects will read white papers prior to ever contacting you.

Sometimes a quality white paper is written by competent technology journalists who will offer to be a "ghost writer" for your company.

Executives with little time or inclination to write provide the topic and have the option to review and edit the white paper while it is in production. Then, the finished product is published with the IT executive's name and company details.

Ghost written white papers provide a seamless and relatively fast alternative to creating the publications in-house and can be easily promoted through company emails, online ad campaigns and social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Influence Purchase Decisions with White Papers

According to an Eccolo Media survey, relevant and informative white papers are the #1 piece of marketing content that IT professionals turn to when making or influencing a buying decision for their company.

White papers are also the most shared piece of marketing content out there with 89% of respondents saying they share white papers with others. In comparison, 85% share case studies while 81% share brochures, and 80% and 79% share podcasts and videos respectively.

Lorie Loe, president of Eccolo Media, discussed the survey results and value of white papers with BtoB Magazine saying, "...white papers really do have a lot of influence. They are definitely the best investment you can make in terms of your collateral budget. That assumes you stick to the good guidelines for creating white papers: not too long; an objective discussion; delivered in a digital format to make them easily shared and looked at."

In addition to being an excellent lead generation tool, if used properly, white papers also serve to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge on a particular subject matter or industry trend that is affecting your industry, customers or partners. For example, "Data Storage and Security Management in the IT Industry," "A Case for Implementing QR Codes into Your Marketing Strategy" or "Managing IT in a Small Law Practice" are sample titles that readers from different industries may find interesting and be compelled to share with peers and colleagues.

Anatomy of an Effective White Paper

An effective IT white paper should include the following five elements:

  • Title. Grab your readers attention immediately with a catchy, engaging title that's hard to ignore and paints a clear benefit to the reader to encourage downloads.
  • Content. Focus on presenting a specific problem or topic instead of offering a sales pitch.
  • Length. Dependent on subject matter — but an ideal white paper is between 4 and 10 pages long.
  • Format. Keep it professional and clean and use illustrations, charts and other visuals to break up long rows of text.
  • Contact. Include a contact us section, allowing prospective clients to reach out to you for more information.

Creating a Powerful IT White Paper

White papers can be an effective tool in online IT marketing when they are created and used properly. Good white papers build your expertise in your industry, while creating sales leads for your company.

We have five tips to help you create powerful white papers that build your customer base and your sales potential.

Focused Titles

When you use longer, focused titles on your white papers, your customers know precisely what type of information they are getting with their download. This approach to IT marketing also helps narrow your target market so the sales leads you receive are high quality.

Length of the Paper

Most experts recommend creating white papers of around four to ten pages for the purpose of online IT marketing. However, if you have a really compelling subject and plenty of good information to share, you might be able to get away with a slightly longer version.

Effective Use of Bullet Points

Bullet points break up large amounts of text for a more inviting read for your audience. They provide the ease of scanning important information quickly. They also encourage the creator of the white paper to make the points as clearly and concisely as possible.

Information + Subtle Sales

While the primary purpose of a white paper is to educate your audience, remember that this process is also about IT marketing. Using subtlety, include the fact that your company is the perfect solution for helping the reader to reach his goals. For example, after describing the importance of a particular service in your white paper, mention that your company provides that service at the end of the content. Remember, subtlety is key in order for the white paper to do its job. Avoid blatant sales pitches.

Polished Design

Keep in mind that many people still print white papers, so give yours a polished design that accurately represents for the most effective IT marketing. Corporate branding is a necessary component in a white paper to build company recognition.

High quality white papers are an effective online IT marketing tool that can generate sales leads while establishing your expertise in your industry. While these papers might take some time and effort to create, the benefits they can provide are far-reaching.

Conclusion

A well-crafted white paper will propose the issue, provide an in-depth analysis on why it's a problem and offer a reasonable solution to the reader. Your white paper should be a resource for customers and prospects who are on the fence about making a purchase for their company.

In many cases, however, IT businesses do not have the time, writing experience or adequate staffing to research, write and distribute a white paper. In addition, creating unique content is found to be the number one hindrance among business professionals according to research conducted by eMarketer. Content curation and third party content marketing firms can help to create rich, compelling white papers that your readers find interesting and help your business close more deals.

Want to provide your customers with rich, relevant content but it sounds like too much work? We can do all of this for you, probably at a fraction of the cost of doing it in-house. We have professional journalists who interview clients and create engaging stories that show readers your thought leadership. For samples or more information, please contact us at 800-475-1415.