On the 5th Day of the 12 Days of Great Content we consider the humble-yet-powerful white paper.
It can be easy to overlook the white paper in favor of more glamorous options like Instagram posts and digital video. But the truth is, a well-written white paper can open doors like no other content.
Now clearly, white papers don’t work for every product or every brand. But, there are circumstances where using a white paper is one of the best things you to do to build an audience.
- You’re a business-to-business brand looking to break into a highly competitive field.
- You’re looking to feed a steady stream of leads to your sales team or website.
- You are looking to build credibility and establish a reputation as a thought leader within your industry or field.
So what exactly goes into a good white paper? Here are 5 golden guidelines for you to consider:
- Identify a topic that is a concern or pain point with your audience, and use the paper to demonstrate that you understand and empathize with how it affects them.
- Your writing should seem more “weighty” then your typical click-through list or slideshow. Of course still be engaging. Just don’t be vapid, pushy or click-baity.
- Make sure your white paper is full of “news you can use” (and insight your audience might want to share with colleagues) and isn’t just a thinly disguised sales brochure.
- Leave your readers with the impression that “this company really understands what I’m going through and has a way to make things easier on me.”
- Think about how your white paper might be repurposed into other content: A series of Tweets or a webinar, for example.
The objective, at the end of the day, is the same as with other types of content. You want to keep your company/product/orgnaization top of mind with key decision-makers. You’re looking for a good “excuse” to communicate … using information as a way to keep your audience engaged.
Still, there a real art and a science to writing a good white paper. Not every writer has the right touch … not just anyone can effectively balance the need to inform with the desire to influence a decision. But, done well, an effective white paper can generate more interest, good will and even advocacy than nearly any other type of communication.