Thought leadership is all about authority. It is having an understanding of your vision of the future. This vision should fall in line with the current facts of your industry and motivate others to trust you. This developed trust then provides more opportunities for making profits.
The way that we think can open doors and capture the attention of our audience. These same thoughts can then start a new relationship with the focus of meeting business goals. What we think is one of the most important aspects of our lives. Next, how we communicate these ideas makes them clear and persuasive or non-effective.
If you are in the B2B industry than you know about white papers and how effective they can be. The white paper is a great option for becoming thought leaders by giving your knowledge and experience on a complex subject. Here are some examples of B2B industry sectors that use white papers:
- Enterprise software
- Computer hardware
- Medical equipment
- Technical or scientific services
White papers let leads come to you. By providing information in this format, your company can use its expertise to better position itself in the market. This is inbound marketing or content marketing. By using these mentors, your leads should come into the relationship with you positioned as a thought leader in their mind.
Types of White Papers
In general, white papers inform readers about one complex topic. The reason the company wants to inform the reader is so they can take action. The action may include solving a specific problem or making a decision about a service or product.
There are three different types of white papers:
Problem/solution: offers a new or better solution to a business problem. These kinds of white papers should provide leads at the top of the sales funnel.
Backgrounder: this gives the background information on technical or business benefits to the offering. The backgrounder is great to use when launching a product or building a business case.
Numbered list: this style of white paper presents tips, Q and A, and argues points for a business case. It raises questions and sometimes cast doubt on other options and competition.
Is a White Paper for your Company?
A white paper may not be the right direction. For example, if your competitors don’t have them this could be something. If your service or product is very simple, there would be no reason to develop a white paper. Last but not least, don’t cut the budget for this project short because it can reflect on the quality and communication of your white paper. So, if budget is a problem, wait till the time is right. On the other hand, if what you offer is cutting edge, complex, and expensive there should probably be some explanation in a white paper.
How Much Does a White Paper Cost?
A quality white paper can cost $1,500 to $3,000. This is how much you would at least want to pay to get quality work. Some white papers cost much more ($7,000-$15,000) but it is relative to the needs of the project and skill of the writer. It can take 24 to 48 hours to write the white paper.
Who Should Write It?
A professional copy writer should write your white paper. Your company may have all the experience and knowledge about this issue, but communicating it in a clear, persuasive, and winsome manner is another thing.
Research is also important. Different types of research should be conducted before the writing even begins. This research may include internal meetings with sales, SEO, and financial review. There should be meetings for planning the topic, steps in content development, direction, and call to action. All of these should be mapped out before you work with begin written development.
SEO research is a good place to start before you do any planning. This kind of research can give you answers on what people are searching for that may relate to your goal. If people do not find your white paper online, the whole thing was a waste of time, effort, and money.
I would suggest developing an SEO strategy around the white paper, so that people find it online. Also, have a dedicated landing page that explains the benefits of downloading and reading your white paper. Have a form that they have to fill out before they can download it. This is a great way to see who is actually downloading it and if it is reaching the audience that you are targeting. SEO should not be underestimated for developing your white paper. The tile and subject matter should fit an area that people are searching for.
Work with a graphic designer. The white paper should have your logo, other graphics, or images. The main goal of the white paper is to build authority in your brand through thought leadership. Don’t skip on the visuals and leave them unimpressed. It is common that white papers have quality graphic design.
White papers are great for building authority for your company. By becoming though leaders your company is in position for leads to come its way. If you are going to do a white paper make sure that it is excellent. Make sure it is better than the competition. Get the right team for the project and surpass the expectations of your readers!