White papers are an integral part of your B2B content marketing strategy. But not every white paper is created equally. There are average B2B white papers, and then there are high-quality B2B white papers.
In this piece, we have compiled 5 tips to help you create high-quality white papers that will help you get a good ROI for your brand.
What is a White Paper?
Before we jump right in and give you the tips, we thought you should have some background information on white papers. It’s important to understand what a white paper is. Essentially a white paper is an authoritative, in-depth report or guide that presents a problem and provides a solution. It’s supposed to help your readers with three aspects: understand an issue, solve an issue, and make a decision.
FACT: White papers educate, persuade, and inform readers without having a sales pitch.
Is a White Paper Boring?
Some people believe that white papers are boring and that hardly anyone reads them. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. At least not if they are done well and are engaging, informative, and enjoyable to read.
If they are all jargon and corporate talk, then they are dry. But white papers have so much potential for being a fantastic form of content for B2B. The time has come to rebrand the white paper and market it better, so it loses its negative image.
FACT: By adding engaging content and visuals, a dull white paper is transformed into something exciting that consumers want to read and share.
Is a White Paper a Standard in B2B?
White papers are a standard in many industries from defense, education, law enforcement, IT, etc. Aside from B2B, you can also find them in B2C and B2D. Before the digital era, they were produced in paper/book format. Now that they’ve gone digital, you can download them. However, some brands also make a paper version of their white paper.
FACT: White papers are a crucial part of a content marketing strategy for B2B. In many instances, they are downloaded just as much as ebooks, so they yield a good ROI for B2B.
Why is it Called a White Paper?
You may wonder how white papers got their name. After all, they could have been called red papers, green papers, etc. The term “white paper” originated when government papers were color-coded to indicated distribution. White was assigned for public access.
Generally, in government, red was and still is assigned for top-secret/private access. Many brands, including in B2B, follow a similar train of thought. They have papers for public access and papers that are only for internal access.
FACT: Amongst B2B buyers, white papers are more likely to be shared than other content: blogs, videos, social media, etc.
What are the Benefits of Writing a White Paper?
There are various benefits to writing a white paper for your B2B brand, consisting of the following:
- Lead generation through their high conversion rate
- Expertise and thought leadership help establish you as a credible voice in your field
- Help with generating backlinks—with credibility and expertise comes a certain degree of respect. This makes it easier to gain backlinks.
- Build your mailing list—readers of your white paper are more likely to subscribe to your emails and blog if you have one.
- Accommodate original research—publishing your original research, thoughts, and ideas elevate your brand and give you a competitive edge in your field.
- Overall better brand awareness and presence
Elevate Your B2B White Paper for Good with Our Tips
At Content Callout, our expert team of B2B content marketers know about white papers and can spot a high-quality B2B white paper from a more inferior one. So, to help you create your white paper, we brainstormed and came up with a list of five tips.
Tip 1 – Use Story Telling in your White Papers
Storytelling is an essential element of good content and marketing for brands. Storytelling is an integral part of how we do business since humans are natural-born storytellers, so we naturally connect with stories.
All B2B brands have a story to tell. When it comes to your white paper, you want to leverage storytelling and use it to your advantage. It will add color and depth to your white paper and make it more readable and engaging. To use storytelling in your white paper, consider:
- Sharing the story behind your B2B. The who, what, when, when, and the how.
- Sharing anecdotes
- Sharing your struggles and triumphs
- Showcasing prototypes of your product at different stages
- Presenting case studies
- Using metaphors and analogies
- Adding nice visuals to complement storytelling: infographics, tables, images, etc.
Tip 2 – Take a Journalistic Approach in White Papers
Taking a journalist approach in your white paper is essentially about thoroughly investigating the issue being discussed and presenting an objective 360-degree view of the issue.
This allows your readers to make an informed decision. Remember, the purpose of any white paper, no matter the industry, is to present a problem and then provide a solution to that problem. There should be no beating around the bush or any second-guessing.
Your white paper must be clear and to the point with what it is you are discussing. To use a journalist approach for your white paper, consider:
- Starting with your target audience in mind—know exactly who you’re writing for
- Having a clear purpose—don’t just write a white paper for the sake of it or because every other B2B is doing it. Your white paper must have a purpose behind it.
- Conducting rigorous research. Without research, you’ll come across as less credible, and this taints your reputation and brand.
- Use the journalist formula of the 5 W’s and one H in writing up your white paper: who, what, when, where, why, and how.
Tip 3 – Drop the Corporate Speak in White Papers
One of the worst things you could do for your white paper is speak “corporate talk” (aka, dry). This turns people away from white papers and gives them a bad name.
It’s okay to have some jargon in there, but if all your white paper is corporate, you’ll turn readers away. Just put yourself in the shoes of your reader. Would you read a 304-page dry B2B report? Probably not! To drop the corporate speak in your white paper, consider:
- Presenting an interesting and unique point of view on an issue
- Being credible in your voice but also being engaging (having personality & flair)
- Having nice visuals to complement the text: graphs, infographics, color, etc.
- Addressing reader’s frustrations and pain points promptly
- Presenting a purposeful story: problem, solution, outcome
Tip 4 – Show but Don’t Sell in White Papers
A white paper shouldn’t be a sales pitch, so you should drop the marketing language and let your brand do the selling for you. Showcase your brand and the solution you have to offer for a problem in a meaningful and engaging way.
Being salesy in a white paper can turn readers off. People hate being sold to, and this especially rings true for white papers. To show but not sell in your white paper, consider:
- Remove any language that hints at selling: best solution, best offer, limited time, etc.
- Have a CTA at the end but one that directs the reader to your brand not to buy your solution or product
Tip 5 – Package Your White Paper Right
The final package (what your readers get) should be well designed. Great design will only help increase its engagement with readers. After all, you could have the best content in the world for your B2B white paper, but if the design is poor, the engagement will too.
Remember to keep the design consistent with your brand for recognition and credibility. To package your white paper well, consider:
- Using charts, graphs, color, and other visuals
- Having an excellent layout that is easy on the eyes
- Having plenty of white space for the background
- Having good structure: beginning, middle, and end with a table of contents
- Impeccable spelling and grammar
Need help with your B2B white paper or other content? Book time with our team of B2B content marketing experts who can help you with it.