What Is A White Paper in Marketing?
Marketing is all about communication. The role of the marketer is to communicate to clients, the benefits and value that they will get by purchasing a given product. One of the lesser known marketing communication tools is the white paper.
A white paper is a document that adheres to academic standards that outlines an identified problem or challenge and provides a solution via a product that is being marketed. While white papers are marketing tools, they are not out rightly structured as such. They are fact based and should have supporting evidence from experiments as well as past scholarly work.
How to structure a white paper
In addition to the main content, the following elements need to be included in a well-structured white paper.
The white paper should have a title that catches the reader’s attention. As stated, the purpose of the white paper is to show how a company intends to solve an identified problem through their product(s). Therefore, the title needs to communicate, in as few words as possible, the problem that they intend to address and how they will do so.
In addition to being informative, the title should also be catchy enough to attract the attention of potential clients.
ii. Executive Summary
White papers usually have a minimum of 6 pages, with no definite maximum page count.Therefore, it is important for them to have an executive summary that briefly outlines for faster readership.
The main points concerning problem identification and the solution to the identified problem need to be covered in the executive summary.
iii. Citations and a reference list
As an academic document, all the information that has been gathered from third party sources need to be properly cited and included in the reference list. This ensures that the information used is properly credited to the original content creator.
It also allows readers to gauge the quality of the secondary sources of information that the marketer has used.
The Do's and Don’t's of creating a white paper
• Do ensure that the white paper meets academic publication standards. white paper marketing is popular is that it portrays a certain level of professionalism and reliability .
People are generally cynical when interacting with marketing content. The fact that white papers are fact based, adds to the credibility of their content.
• Ensure that your white paper is easily available. Your white paper is only effective if it is read widely. A lot of effort goes into creating white papers; ensure that it is as widely distributed.
One of the best ways of distributing a whitepaper is to give it as a free download in your main site, as well as any landing pages for the product that is covered by the white paper.
• Do not turn it into an advertisement. Maintain the overall professional tone of the white paper to maintain its credibility. While there will be a temptation to include more ‘sales’ content in your whitepaper, you need to fight that urge.
Which clients respond to white papers?
White papers need to be focused towards large scale buyers (such as re-sellers) or businesses that use a certain product in bulk. The more technical approach to creating white papers, and the numerous pages, do not appeal to the 'average’ consumer.
For example, if you are marketing a new laundry bleach that does not fade colored clothes. It might not make sense for a person to read a 10 page whitepaper for purchasing half a liter of bleach per week.
However, if you are dealing with someone that is buying on a large scale for resale, or a boarding school that buys hundreds of liters of bleach on a weekly basis, then it is worth their time to go through the white paper.