March 23, 2014  by Amy Campbell

What is a White Paper and What is it Intended to Accomplish?

Tip: When drafwhitepaper icon imageting a whitepaper, you must get specific about WHAT, WHY and WHAT. *Seldom should you ever tell the HOW.

A whitepaper is a knowledge transfer content piece. Basically, it delivers information about a subject/topic which is a factual, and typically uses data and in-house or third-party research to communicate the direct benefits of a product, service. White papers are can be delivered several ways, downloaded from a website, delivered by an automation program, accessed by a link “in the cloud”, or as a response to an email for example.

Typically you’ll find a white paper beginning with “What” the reader should care about, and “Why” they should care about it, and “What” will happen if they don’t. The “How” portion of the paper, which is usually absent from the paper, is the reason the reader should engage with a company directly.

Excluding the “How” portion isn’t to be cagy or hide anything, it is primarily because it would be impossible for every scenario to be covered within a brief white paper, knowledge transfer content piece.  By its very inclusion, the “How” could be a major road-block to gaining the client’s project because they cannot see their need or point of pain addressed within the content contained within.

If the content is compelling, you have likely established a thought leadership position in the reader’s mind.  It is probable, they will return to your website for further information gathering and possibly action the links (if there are any) within the paper itself.  Once they have gathered enough detail or have reached a point where the HOW is the nagging question left unanswered, they will contact you for more technical information and engage in the early stages of scoping conversations. Then you can talk about how to address the issue with your solution or a combination of possible solutions. You have already established your thought leadership position on the subject, now you will reinforce the perception by having the right person for the right stage of conversations engaging in dialogue with the prospect/potential customer.

At the end of the day, sharing knowledge, is really about connection. Sharing your knowledge creates the opportunity for you to begin developing a relationship. Your prospects are likely experts in their respective field, too. They’ve worked very hard at developing a product or service and they simply don’t want to risk hard-earned, big capital on a rookie with limited knowledge of the field. They want to know they’re dealing with an expert. Communicating your expertise in the field through thought leadership positioning is critical to success in moving a prospect into the sales cycle.

Your prospect/potential customer thinks, “Now, here is someone I can talk shop with and not have to explain what I mean all the time.” They get to know you. They learn to trust your expertise.

And, people hire people they trust.

For more on creating and promoting a whitepaper, click here.

One comment on “What is a White Paper and What is it Intended to Accomplish?”

  1. Matt Reply

    Always good stuff, Amy!

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