How Can a White Paper Boost Sales?
Sales are slumping, market share is waning, and you’re worried the new product launch may be a flop. You can reverse those directions with a white paper in as little as one fiscal quarter.
There are at least ten benefits of a white paper, but first let me explain white papers.
What is a white paper?
White papers identify a technical or business challenge, and then explore a new and innovative, or even a complex solution over five to ten pages. They may come in either a booklet or report format. They can be printed or digital. They often include an executive summary. A white paper may also be called a special report, product review, or competitive brief.
A white paper is not flashy, glossy, or sales-y. It should still be persuasive, but in a more factual and informative tone.
Did you know that four out of five purchasing managers use white papers in their decision-making process before making a purchase? That makes these invaluable tools in the Business-to-Business (B2B) market, especially in the technology sector or in industrial applications. If you don’t already use them, you may be getting left behind.
How can a purchaser learn about your product or service?
All of your competitors are marketing to your prospects and existing customers in one way or another. How is it that a prospect is supposed to know that your product or service can solve their problem? After identifying and confirming the problem at hand, a white paper objectively, yet persuasively, explains why you are the solution that the reader has been looking for. It educates your prospect, and definitively sets you apart from the competition.
Purchasing agents and managers do their research before buying. Your best chance of having your product or service be considered by purchasers is to publish research favorable to your product or service. This is where a white paper can really give you an advantage over the other guys. Don’t let your competition beat you to it.
Need more leads?
Provide a free special report or white paper as a give away item in your marketing campaign. This provides the readers with value, while endearing them toward your company. It provides you with names and contact information for those buyers interested in your product or service.
Want to claim market dominance?
Become a trusted authority in your industry. A white paper can position your company as the leader in the market, establish credibility, and build your brand. You can send your white paper to trade publications or the media, include it in your press kit, or use it to educate your own sales force and affiliates.
It can be quite difficult for you to achieve market share dominance if your competitor has a white paper and you don’t. This presents a problem if you want to be a leader. A white paper of your own is the obvious solution to that problem.
Cost, time, and process
Good white paper copy will cost from $3,000 to $6,500 for writing, depending on a variety of factors including complexity, expert availability, and established competitive positioning.
During the writing phase, you can expect that it may take up to two months to get all the writing pieces in place and approved. To understand why it can take so long, you need to appreciate the many steps involved in this phase of the process. The writer will have to conduct the following tasks:
- internal discussions with your staff and/or customers
- product positional research
- interviews with industry experts
- draft proposals for expert review and analysis
- collation of all the review results
- only then can a first draft can be written
- proofreading of draft
- provide first draft for your review
- apply changes or edits from your review
- sometimes there can be several drafts, each with its own round of changes & edits
- re-proofread the final draft
- delivery of the final draft
That is the writer’s job, to do all the heavy lifting, so your employees aren’t consumed by such a large and unfamiliar project.
After the copy is written and approved, there will still be the matters of graphic design, publishing, and promotion of the white paper. Add two to four weeks to the process for these integral steps. It is not uncommon for the all-in price tag to hit $5,000-$10,000.
As you can see from all of this, a white paper is an expensive and time-consuming marketing project, so you will want to ensure it is done by professionals.
10 Benefits of a White Paper
1. Identification – of a pain or problem in the industry, followed by introduction of a new solution (you)
2. Build awareness – of your company, your brand, and your solution
3. Lead generation – by offering the white paper, report, or briefing to subscribers. Bonus: you know these are qualified leads (or they wouldn’t be interested)
4. Education – of the prospect, of your own sales team, of the media
5. Credibility – enhances the reader’s sense of your authority on the subject, and builds trust
6. Leadership – if you have one published and your competition doesn’t, your perceived status in the marketplace is that of dominance
7. Competitiveness – by virtue of your white paper, your competitors can be left one more step behind you
8. Online Content – provides you with valuable content for your website, or linking in blogs and social media
9. ROI – if you are in an industry where you would even consider commissioning a white paper, then you likely only need to sell a few units to recover your investment and start reaping the rewards
10. The future – once you realize the benefits of one white paper, you can leverage that success into commissioning additional papers on other products, and further enhance your brand recognition, credibility, market dominance, and profitability.
Depending who you talk to, there are even more benefits than listed here, but these ten should suffice.
Hopefully you found this article useful and will share it with your business contacts. If you have questions about white papers, feel free to contact the writer directly.