Despite the growth of videos, podcasts and infographics, white papers remain a cornerstone of B2B marketing. Once a powerful white paper is produced and ready to go, do not just post it to your company site and hope for the best. Get that great paper out in the world. Here are several tips and techniques to get the most out of your white papers. Choose The Right Type According to white paper expert Gordon Graham, there are three types of white papers: - Backgrounder – used to give a technical background to products and services. - Numbered List – a fast and efficient way to cover the highlights of an issue or topic. - Problem/Solution – describe a problem in the marketplace and offer a solution. Each model has advantages. Consider mixing and matching the models for a varied approach. For example, you could combine a backgrounder with either a numbered list or a problem/solution model. Graham says that combining them yields more options in appealing to readers. Headline The headline has one goal: Get readers to open the white paper and read further. Test different headlines to see which one works better. Popular headline formats include: - "Top Ten Reasons…" - "Benefits of…" - "7 Ways To…: - "Secrets to A Successful…" - "5 Mistakes…" Graphic Design Plain white papers are not as appealing as white papers with attractive graphics and formatting. The best option is to hire a professional designer to create a consistent look. If a professional is not available, strive to create a simple design using only one or two fonts and colors. In addition, use flow charts, sidebars and quote boxes. Consider using the logo and color theme of the main website. Brief and To The Point A white paper is an information and marketing vehicle. Technical and business readers are busy and need data quickly. Make sure white paper writing is crisp and efficient. Use terminology pertinent to the subject but avoid jargon and flowery descriptions. Use bullet points, headings and plenty of white space. Readers do not usually take in every word. Each reader will read a white paper differently. They skim through, stopping to read brief sections they find interesting. Construct the format to accommodate them. Launch Strategy White papers serve you best when they have wide distribution. A series of white papers is even more powerful. They can be "launched" on a regular basis to white paper sharing sites, pdf sharing sites like Scribd.com, and offered to key vertical sites as a free giveaway. Considers these tactics in a white paper launch strategy: - Home site landing pages. On the company site, create landing pages with engaging copy that entices visitors to download the white paper. You can gather email addresses for follow-up marketing. Consider giving away the first page or two on the landing page in order to give them a taste of the complete white paper. - Look for guest blogging opportunities. High profile blogs in appropriate verticals are a great opportunity to create brand awareness and promote white papers. In the guest post, discuss issues found in the white paper and link back to it so readers can get more information. - Get social. Social media is a excellent way to let people know about white papers. Use Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and others to tease the white paper and drive targeted traffic back to the landing page. - Leave-behinds. White papers, or relevant sections, are great leave-behinds after client meetings. - Trade show giveaways. Hand out white papers to trade show prospects and existing clients. Corporate needs are constantly shifting to meet market demand. White papers can help them stay on top of the latest technology, software and marketing strategies. - PPC advertising. Organic SEO will bring in many prospects. A focused PPC campaign will bring in many more. PPC is ideal for keeping a steady stream of possible clients coming to the landing page. They can be targeted by keyword and region, and tracked for conversion rate performance. Google Adwords is the biggest vendor, but there are many other alternatives. - Married to direct mail. Sending out a direct mail campaign or newsletter? Drive traffic back to the website using the white paper as incentive. - Sales folders. Include the white paper in all sales folders and information packets. Video marketing, social media and informational graphics are all important new developments in lead generation and lead nurturing. However, white papers will always offer a tremendous amount of value in a compact, efficient format. Use these white paper tips and techniques to help gain more prospects, convert more prospects to customers and build long-term revenue.
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