Four Guidelines for Great White Papers and Lead Generation
Ideally, your white paper should be a bit more compelling than the one above.
Tech companies have a lot of communications tools at their disposal. In addition to the usual suspects – media relations, advertising, social media, etc. – there are more content-specific vehicles that can be used to show that organizations know of what they speak (or, in this case, write).
One of the more effective of these vehicles is the white paper. Don’t let the bland nomenclature fool you; today’s white paper does not have be the boring, techno jargon laden document that your daddy put together. And although they can be time-consuming, white papers can also offer a huge payoff by driving valuable leads and establishing you as a trusted expert.
Are there rules to writing a white paper? Not necessarily. Perhaps “general guidelines” might be a better term. But what are they? I’ll summarize some of them in a few simple…well…general guidelines.
1. Determine your subject matter and how it ties into your business.
While this should be a no-brainer, it does bear mentioning. Before embarking on any writing project designed to promote your business you need to determine what the subject will be and how it ties into what you have to offer. The tricky thing with white papers is that you have to do so in a way that’s somewhat indirect. Much like an authored article, white papers show your expertise without necessarily pointing directly to a specific product example. The goal here is to gain a potential customers’ trust without using the white paper for a “hard sell.”
2. Keep the tone conversational and engaging.
No one wants to read a dissertation. The white paper should be written just like any other piece of good writing: it should be interesting, engaging, and informative. Lead with a “grabber,” whether a headline (see my colleague Jonathan’s Your Website is Trying to Kill You) or the lead paragraph. And don’t feel beholden to a certain format (i.e., Introduction, Analysis, Conclusion). Go with the flow, as they say. Most importantly, get your readers’ attention, and hold it by…
3. Including valuable information and insights that readers can’t find anywhere else.
Provide readers with a unique perspective on the topic you’re writing about. If possible, support that perspective with real-world statistics or examples and, if even more possible, make them unique to things that your company has worked on. Use creative, informative visuals whenever possible. All of this can help bring your point home and, more importantly, sets you up as the go-to person for a particular industry.
4. Don’t forget the call to action and ensuing promotion.
As informative as they are, white papers exist to sell your company. As such, make sure you include a way to collect leads they might help generate. Make the white paper accessible through an online form that requires the interested party to provide contact information. Include your company’s information in a boilerplate at the end. Always provide a way for an interested prospect to get in touch with you. And after it’s on your website, don’t forget to promote it – through blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, all of your various outlets.
We have some great examples of white papers that SpeakerBoxers have written, including ones on good website design, the development of B2B websites, and more. Be sure to check them out, as they offer some great examples of what today’s white papers can be.
- Pete Larmey
Image courtesy TheContentCocktail.com