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Developing white papers

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Sunday May 13, 2007 )

White papers are a great marketing and sales tool, but the development of a white paper needs to be approached a little differently to a regular sales blurb.

When I download a white paper, I expect to see referenced industry facts, figures, technical data and other information I can use, not just a spiel about a company’s products. A white paper should be objective, perhaps even mentioning a competitor’s products in order to draw comparisons.

White papers serve to inform and to make a company credible – an authority in their field, and that’s where the value comes in as a marketing strategy. Someone is more likely to purchase your products and services if you can prove yourself to be an authority on the subject and able to solve their problems.

While product branding is important in a white paper, it should be subtle and the use of attractive models holding a software box is definitely out :). A white paper should gently guide a prospective customer to your products and services, not shove it in their face while screaming “buy me!”. It must reward the reader for their time.The type of person who would go to the trouble to download and actually read a white paper is a more discerning buyer.

According to a buying study by Forbes a couple of years ago, 72% of respondents reported contacting a vendor after reading a white paper and 52% stated that a white paper influenced a purchasing decision.

KnowledgeStorm provides a free white paper on… developing white papers. In the 12 page report, they outline eight techniques for creating more effective documents and how to promote a white paper release – it’s a very interesting read and you can see the principles applied in the way this white paper has been structured. Download it here (PDF – free registration)


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