Technology has replaced much of how businesses communicate, track leads, and close sales. Information is instant, accessible, and almost entirely digital. No more cold calling or annoying unsolicited mail; when B2B buyers are gathering information for a product, they should have everything they need with the click of a keyboard (which is a huge relief for those of us who despise junk mail).
Content marketing has certainly seen its share of changes over the years, but one thing that has not changed is the need to provide relevant, valuable information to potential customers. Along with the tactics of social media (92 percent), blogs (80 percent), and illustrations/photos (69 percent), 68 percent of B2B content marketers used whitepapers as a marketing tactic in 2015. In the same report, content marketers rank the use of whitepapers as among the top 10 in effective tactics.
Why is writing effective whitepapers for B2B marketing important to an industry marked by long sales cycles, multiple decision-makers, and a unique buying process? Some would say the decline in the use of whitepapers over the past few years merits a new approach to this B2B marketing tactic.
Whitepapers can come in many forms, including:
- Product background information (Highlight a certain product and its benefits)
- Problem and solution (Present the issue, suggest a solution)
- Numbered list (tips, questions/answers, etc.)
No matter how you arrange the quality content you provide, your whitepaper needs to be well-written and provide tangible information for the reader.
So much of the information we pass on to others is intangible-think “likes”, “tweets”, and “pins” in the world of social media. Whitepapers give potential buyers an opportunity to hold onto something real that will motivate, inform, and influence.
B2B whitepapers must be well-balanced, useful, and educational. Give the facts in a logical, quality format that will answer questions and provide resources for solutions. Your job is not to deliver a sales pitch, but usable information via an interesting medium.
- What types of lead do you want to generate? Writing to gain as many contacts as possible will look different than writing to generate well-qualified leads. Choose an interesting topic, such as an issue your audience faces.
- What type of content needs to be created in order to appeal to the potential leads? Use descriptive words and professional writing style. Grab the audiences’ attention right away and presenting a summary of topics.
- Choose a clear, direct title to entice readers. This is not the place for something catchy or cute.
- Teamwork: Marketing and sales work together to form a specific plan in order to accomplish the intended goal.
- Goals: What are the external and internal needs for a whitepaper?
- Quality development: A whitepaper should not be thrown together by just anyone over an hour lunch break.
- Not too lengthy: If the typical whitepaper is more than 10 pages long, no wonder downloads are declining each year.
- No sales pitch: Present the problem and define the solution your B2B company is prepared to deliver. As Contently reminds us, “your whitepaper is not a billboard”. Instead, it is an opportunity to offer useful information to the intended audience.
- Design: Display information with charts, graphs, and images. Breaking up the text with visuals is a way to keep readers engaged and interested.
- Follow up: Who has read your whitepaper? Make a list of possible contacts for future interaction and lead generation.
Putting together a whitepaper may not prove to be the easiest job you have ever done. But if you want to build credibility, offer solutions to a potential buyers’ problem, and create interest in your services, a well-written whitepaper is the route to take.