B2B white papers (or position papers) are an essential pillar of a sound B2B content marketing strategy for businesses. White papers are proof of your expertise. It demonstrates your ability to analyse a problem and provide a down-to-earth solution.
White Papers for Business to Business
Good white papers should support decision makers, or groups of decision makers, in reaching a decision. A white paper should always be aimed at a specific audience. A white paper is a marketing document but, above all, it should be a good read.
B2B white papers should not be too “salesy”. In other words, the less you sell your products in your white papers, the more they become desirable.
What matters most to your customers, is your ability to reassure them that you have the necessary credibility to fulfil your marketing promise. Hence, a good B2B white paper is a document in which you simply demonstrate your or your Subject Matter Experts’ capabilities.
It’s as simple as that.
A word of caution about B2B position papers
Good B2B white papers require proper human and financial investment.
The uniqueness of your content is what will make professionals want to download your B2B white paper
A quantitative or qualitative study (read our definition of B2B questionnaire methodology) is often a good catch that will make your white paper appealing. You should also avoid any sales language or, worse, any empty language.
A white paper needs to be impactful. To that end, you must provide a unique angle in your analysis
To attract more leads think about user/reader benefit first before you focus on collecting e-mail addresses (RE our B2B lead generation glossary entry).
Trends and innovations
A good white paper aims to establish a relationship of trust with its readers. It must tackle all business issues clinically and take into account all your business readers’ pain points. Your content should be straightforward and convincing. A bit like journalism one might say.
Anecdotes from the field are what makes B2B white papers compelling, and are at the core of what business readers are expecting from them
Business readers will look at your anecdotes and real-life stories and as they peruse them, your white paper will relate to their own experiences.
Quality B2B white papers often consist of a dozen testimonials from various professionals. That being said, white papers cannot be composed of only feedback. Beware of collaborative white papers made up solely of external contributions stitched together.
All testimonials must be analysed and put into perspective in relation to the topic being discussed.
A white paper is a proper book, one that readers want to delve in
White papers’ outlines must be structured, their layout must be qualitative, and the spelling and grammar spotless. Your diagrams must be professional too. … In short, there is no room for amateurs in this area. Your white papers are your signature, they help convince prospective customers how professional and skilful you or your business are.
Most white papers are made available in PDF format. Yet, many readers favour the paper format. White papers make for nice gifts during sales meetings and are the ideal starting point for conversations. They are also very instrumental in making appointments with target prospective customers.
Off-the-beaten-track ideas are also a good means of generating top-of-the-mind awareness. For example, Visionary Marketing created a white paper in comic book format entitled Super Content Man (available in French). Comic books make white papers look less formal, and are ideal for best-practice storytelling.
Promotion and Tools
White papers are traditionally promoted on one’s website, blog(s) and, of course, on social profiles. Do circulate your white papers internally too, as a business’s employees are often unparalleled brand ambassadors.
Customers and prospective customers are also ideal recipients of your content, via your newsletters mainly.
Releasing a new B2B white paper is more often than not a golden opportunity to get in touch with a prospect and organise a meeting. Especially if it includes a quantitative or qualitative study.
A white paper release can also serve as an opportunity to organise an event with your ecosystem or the press. You can also contact a few bloggers/influencers and offer to write a guest post on their blog. If the content of your white paper, and blog post, is unique, there is a fair chance that they will agree to your proposal.
A flurry of alternative solutions for the promotion of your B2B white papers are available to you too. Paid search (SEA) and social media campaigns, retargeting, rental of e-mailing bases, as well as display ads may complement your toolbox.
Avoid writing transparent white papers, your content must stand out from the crowd and shine.