VerticalResponse Blog

White Paper If you are marketing to a business, you’re always looking for creative ways to build your prospect list. You need to constantly keep feeding the funnel with prospects so you can convert them to your best customers. If you are selling technical products, one way to do this is to develop white papers. When you think of a white paper you might think that big corporations are the only businesses that write them. To the contrary, small businesses can grow enormously using white papers and they’re not that difficult to put together.

From Wikipedia: A white paper is an authoritative report. White papers are used to educate customers, collect leads for a company or help people make decisions. 

White papers can be one of the most cost-effective marketing vehicles you have in your arsenal.

So where do you start?

You first need to come up with the subject you want to write about. Is there something hot going on in your industry right now? Become an authority on it. Just remember, you want to temper any sales messages here. You want to be considered an expert on the subject you’re writing about not shoving your product down your prospect’s throat.

Now it’s time to begin writing. There are many templates I found online but this template seemed to be the most pervasive.

Introduction – Here you’d want to briefly write about your subject of choice.

Problem – Here get to the heart of the matter. If it’s a technical issue for your prospects that your company solves, write about the problems you know they face.

Solution – Start writing about the overall solution to your prospect’s problem. How does your product or service (or your competitor’s) address the problem? If you do mention your product or service again, don’t be salesy, it won’t lend to your credibility and it might even take some away.

Benefits – Once your prospect’s problem has been addressed, now write about how easy their day will be or how much more money they’ll make. Whatever the benefit, you need to scream it from the hilltops.

Summary – Sum it up for them and end with a bang.

On every page of your white paper you need to have your company name or logo, your web site address and your phone number at the very least. If you can fit your physical location somewhere on it, even better.

Just like when you create your email marketing campaigns you should make sure not to heavy up on too much text or too many graphics. Your prospects want your white paper for information, so make sure you use a healthy mix of both. You’ll also want to avoid those long paragraphs, so make sure you consolidate your thoughts in smaller, easy to read paragraphs. Then you’ll have a better shot at keeping your prospect’s attention.

Promote it!

Now it’s time to get the word out. Remember, since this is a prospecting tool you’ll want to make sure you put a form on a page of your site to capture your prospect’s information along with a snippet or some bullet points about the great information your white paper will give them. You can use a VerticalResponse opt-in form for this if you’d like, then after they’ve filled out their information you can direct them to the page where they can download the white paper. Here is a checklist of where you might want to promote it:

  1. Send an email campaign to your prospects
  2. Announce it in your newsletter
  3. Put it on your homepage and on every page of your site
  4. Set up a Google Adwords campaign
  5. Put it as a link to download in all of your employee’s email signatures
  6. Blog about it
  7. Put it on your Facebook Group and Fan pages
  8. Tweet about it
  9. Put it on a CD or a thumb drive and give it out at tradeshows

Now it’s time to follow up on those leads that will be flying in the door! Now it’s time to read 5 Ideas for Cultivating Leads.

© 2009 – 2013, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

  • Kim


    Thanks for this easy to understand post about writing and promoting white papers – why do people seem to create so much mystery about white papers anyway?
    I picked up on what you were saying in a post I just wrote about using white papers strategically to support PR and marketing objectives.
    Any comments?

  • Mister Safetytoes

    hey, thanks for this. You’ve inspired me to turn an article I’m writing an article into a white paper.

  • Apryl Parcher

    Great Post! Especially your paragraph on promoting white papers. It’s right on target–a must-read for anyone considering using them to generate more leads and close sales.
    Technical products aren’t the only good candidates for white papers, however. Anything that is perceived by the reading audience to be expensive, complicated, or require a lot of thought before making a decision can also be a candidate.
    And it also takes more expertise than one might think to put together a winning white paper. Here are a few key points to consider:
    Length & Focus: The best white papers are 6-12 pages in length (but can be longer) and are subtley persuasive, while establishing the sponsoring company as a thought leader in the field.
    No Sales Hype: Establishing that credibility means conducting interviews with experts outside the sponsoring company, using third-party statistics, charts, graphs and other proof elements, and discussing general solutions–not just company-specific ones.
    In fact, the sponsoring company shouldn’t even be mentioned at all in the piece until the last page in the call to action.
    Writing should be reader-centric: This means the author must have an intimate knowledge of the reader profile:
    What industry do they work in?
    How big is the target company?
    What’s the title of the person reading this?
    What are their job responsibilities?
    What kind of attitude do they have are they active seekers, busy execs, skeptics)?
    When you know your audience this well, you can write to them in a way that cuts through the clutter and compels them to pick up the piece, read it, and take the action you want them to take at the end.
    Time & Expertise: White papers are often more readable to the target audience when written by a professional writer skilled in white paper construction. Also, it can take an in-house person up to 50 hours to write a white paper, whereas a professional can get it done in half that time…something to consider before spending lots of energy better spent on running your business.
    No doubt about it, white papers are the most consumed form of marketing available today. Surveys have shown that people favor them over just about every other form of media when making decisions–even webcasts, podcasts and other educational online tools.
    That’s because they’re printable, portable, perceived as less biased, and highly focused to the needs of the reader.
    And like Janine said, White Papers can be cross-marketed across your media mix–so word for word, they pack a pretty powerful punch.

  • Lori Ellingson

    This is very timely as we just put together a group to assist each other in writing a white paper for each of us. I will share this with the group.

  • Jack Zufelt

    Great promotion tips. I like that you included Facebook and Twitter. Social networking sites are a great way to advertise.

Welcome to VR Buzz!

Thanks for subscribing. Only one step left!

Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.