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How to use white papers to drive business

White papers are one of the most effective lead generators. In this post we explain why and teach you how to structure one for maximum impact.
Mar 10, 2020 • 5 minute read
Updated on Jul 3, 2020 by Ruchi B.
Cover Photo

Learn how to use white papers as lead magnets

Offering white papers is a great way to grow your leads list and establish your business as an authority in your industry. But, unfortunately, due to their complex nature, most businesses do not know how to craft a compelling white paper.
In this post we will teach you how to write a white paper that will actually provide value to your leads.

What are white papers?

A white paper is an authoritative document that describes a particular problem in-depth and then works towards a solution. They are persuasive pieces of literature, similar to a political document or a technological report. 
For marketers, the purpose of creating a white paper is to inform and educate their audience on particular issues related to the business vertical that is relevant to them. In short, white papers are high-level guides that enable problem-solving in the industrial context.
In the parlance of marketing, white papers are gated content, which means that they require some information (usually an email address) to be downloaded. This makes them perfect lead magnets (more on that later).
Be advised, however, that a white paper is not a sales pitch. In fact, white papers that try to sell their solutions overtly may end up driving more customers away. The end goal of a white paper is to provide a cogent solution to an industry problem, not to promote a business. In the process, however, you are free to demonstrate that you are the best at solving this particular problem.
White papers do sound a bit like ebooks, don’t they? The two are rather different if you think about it. White papers are authoritative documents that are academic. Ebooks, on the other hand, are marketing instruments that are essentially extensions of blogs. 
So, now that you know what white papers are, let’s take a look at how you can use them as lead magnets.

How to use white papers as lead magnets

White papers are great leads magnets because they appeal to leads that have a clear understanding of the problem they need to solve. Such educated leads are the easiest to sell to.
The following are some tips that can allow you to create a white paper that cultivates this invaluable leads list.

Know what the audience wants

To make sure that the white paper topic resonates with your audience, you need to put in serious effort to unearth the biggest problems your target demographic is struggling to solve.
To know this, you can make use of market research tools, monitor social media channels, and even ask them directly via an email newsletter. 

Keep it targeted

For any white paper, its  depth is more important than its length. Because you are writing for a specific audience, you need to make sure that you explain all the fine-grained aspects of the topic.
Never try to answer every possible question that comes to mind regarding your topic. Instead, keep the discussion focused on a select few that are most relevant for your audience. And take care to curate every aspect of the white paper to appeal to the readers..

Make it professional

A white paper should reflect the professionalism of your brand so it needs to be edited and formatted impeccably. If you aren't skilled in curating a white paper, you can hire professional freelance writers, and graphic designers to help you.
Business owners are living in very fortuitous times, now, within just a few clicks, you can outsource just about any task to experts and devote your precious time to strategy and growing your business.

Promote your white paper

Finally, promote like anything. Promoting your content is most vital to ensure it’s a success. For this, leverage social media, use email marketing and create a wide awareness of your white paper.
You can even reference the white paper in your social media posts and blogs as a teaser. But be advised, don’t give away too much of it. After all, you want the leads to actually download it and read it.

The anatomy of a white paper

White papers usually follow a fixed format. While there are similarities between a white paper and a business report, the former is a technical document focused on solving a specific problem. 
A white paper is comprised of the following components:

The title

This is the first and most important part of a white paper, and naturally, you need to take special care in drafting the title. The title needs to be succinct and clearly identify the purpose of the white paper. It also needs to be enticing enough to encourage the reader to continue further down the document.

The abstract

The abstract is the essence of the white paper. It acquaints the readers with the white paper’s essential points. By reading the abstract, readers decide whether they should invest their time to read the document and whether it will provide them with value.

The problem statement

The problem statement specifies the actual problem which the white paper aims to solve. In this section, the particular problem should be discussed in detail. This is meant to give the reader a sense of what is to come and to make sure that they clearly understand the purpose of the solution that is detailed in the white paper.

The problem background

This section is meant to provide the readers with the background context in which the problem is discussed. The background information is meant to provide the reader with the understanding that is required to grasp the particular problem. Efforts should also be made to allow them to understand the solution.
The content in this section can either be detailed, with a lot of technical contexts. Or it can be discussed at a high-level, keeping in mind the broad picture. Whichever route you choose to go with depends ultimately upon the reader’s level of expertise. Also, research methodologies that were used for the white paper can be discussed in this section.

The solution

This is the most important section of the white paper, where the author presents the solution to the problem that has been built up in the preceding sections. The solution is meant to provide a sense of revelation to the audience and should be reflective of the author’s (and the business’s) expertise in the field.

The conclusion

This section needs to summarize the principal findings of the white paper and should be designed to wrap up the discussion in a meaningful way for the audience. Also to be included are recommendations and suggestions based on the solutions that have been provided.

The references 

The references section is meant to include all the sources that have been utilized to develop the white paper. Citations and quotes must be attributed here to the original sources. This section lends authenticity to the document, and also provides the reader with further scope for research on the topic.

Final thoughts

Crafting that perfect white paper is not an easy task, and requires significant research to achieve the desired results. For this reason, businesses often shy away from putting in time and effort.
However, by employing freelancers to get the job done for you, you stand to gain in terms of time as well as expertise. Freelancers can craft that perfect white paper for you, minus the headache and effort required. 
Simply provide them with the topic and resources you want to be included, and they can create that stunning white paper that is bound to give you the desired results.
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