B2B manufacturers rely mostly on traditional methods of marketing like trade show participation and other paid methods of marketing. Yet, it is becoming increasingly clear that the key people in the process of making buying decisions in a company are using the Internet to make informed decisions on products after going through the reviews and opinions of other customers.
It has been reported that 84 percent of industrial professionals use the Internet to find components, equipment and services, 74 percent of them use it to compare products across suppliers, 56 percent of them do not contact a vendor until they compare and evaluate vendors through supplier website content, and 56 percent of engineers are in the second or third stage of the buying cycle before they make contact with the vendor.
Content marketing should be at the core of any successful B2B digital strategy as effective distribution of relevant content will help other businesses with their performance and also position your business as an authority in your field.
For every successful transaction, the first thing that is required is trust. Through regular dissemination of valuable content you are creating credibility that leads to trust. To create credibility and position your business as an expert, white papers are a powerful medium.
A white paper is an “authoritative/informational document that promotes or highlights the features of a solution, product or service. It is meant to help readers understand an issue, solve a problem and make a decision.” Content Marketing Institute’s report found that 95 percent of B2B companies use content marketing and out of those, 78 percent use white papers.
White Paper Marketing Tips
So, How Do You Create the “Perfect” B2B White Paper?
- Start with unique information and point of view. This will differentiate your white paper from somebody else’s on the same topic. Make references to your company’s services, surveys and the research you conducted, and then express your company’s perspective and its implications for the industry as a whole.
- B2B white papers shouldn’t be all technical jargon; they should be transformed into an engaging read. Choosing writers who have knowledge in the field and can convert dull, informational content into something exciting is a great way to produce highly-readable white papers.
- Don’t mention your products. A white paper is your gateway towards thought leadership. Don’t ruin it by pitching your products in it. It is supposed to impress and entice prospective leads and not push them away.
- Use visual elements that break textual monotony. These could be graphs, tables, quotes, photos and images.
- Be concise. Limit your white paper to five pages, as 70 percent of marketers believe this to be the ideal length.
- Make your white paper easy to share by placing social sharing buttons on every page.
- Use a concise opening executive summary and a closing conclusion. The summary should let the reader know what they can expect from the white paper. The conclusion should highlight the major points and key takeaways.
It’s Time to Distribute Your White Paper
Plan a distribution strategy prior to the publication of the white paper. Because you will have used a lot of time and resources in creating the white paper, you should make sure that it reaches a large audience.
- Don’t put your white paper in the ’Resources’ section of your website; no one will care to look for it there. Create a separate landing page for downloading it.
- Promote your white paper through all your social media platforms and your website.
- You can convert your white paper into a presentation and upload it to SlideShare. Embed a lead form in the presentation and allow users to request the white paper directly from SlideShare.
- It is worthwhile to reach out to the references you used in the white paper. Tell them that they have been mentioned in it and ask if they would be kind enough to give a shout-out to their audience.
- Host a social media chat with an expert you have referenced or interviewed in the white paper. Make him/her a featured guest and discuss key points from your white paper with him/her. You can also answer audience questions.
- Engage in forums and social networks specific to your industry and share information through your white paper. Ask questions that will make people talk about topics you have covered in it.
- Use influencer marketing to market your white paper. Get experts in your field to talk about it and ask them to share it with their audience.
- Create an email newsletter series and promote the white paper. You can add bits of the white paper’s content and entice readers to download and share it to their network.
- Distribute an online press release announcing the launch of the white paper.
- Create a small teaser video talking about your white paper. Get a C-level executive from your company to talk about it and upload this video to YouTube, Vimeo and your blog.
The White Paper Approach for Content Creation
Another major benefit of a white paper is that once written, it becomes a comprehensive resource for a topic only an expert in your industry can create. See Figure 1 here for an estimation of how a white paper can create many other types of marketing collaterals.
If your company focuses on white paper development, you are assured of a constant stream of high-quality content that can be converted to various forms, which will attract traffic and eventually drive conversions.
At the same time, the variety of content that you can recreate from white papers will also help diversify your traffic sources — paid search, social updates, press releases, email marketing, webinars and trade show presentations.
White papers are powerful lead-generation pieces of content that benefit B2B enterprises. They are time-and-resource-intensive, but offer many options to diversify the content and produce other types of marketing collaterals. They have to be distributed strategically to reach a larger audience and drive traffic to your company’s website, and ultimately result in conversions.
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Great advice on distribution. Too many companies just designate the white paper for one effort when they should be using it as many places as possible.