If you’re using white papers to nurture or generate leads, getting your white paper right has never been more important. As white papers proliferate, it’s important to be aware of how to get your white papers to cut through the clutter and position your solution as the best choice.
Unfortunately, many white papers miss the mark when it comes to satisfying reader expectations. According to “Technology Buying and Media Consumption Survey, Report 2” by TechTarget and CMO Council, there are two things that drive white paper readers nuts. If you avoid these two hazards, you’re well on your way to a winning white paper.
#1: It’s a product brochure disguised as a white paper
According to the TechTarget report, if your white paper reads like a product brochure, you’re driving readers nuts.
While marketers live in a world of products and features, readers seek out white papers to find solutions to their business problems. A white paper that doesn’t propose a solution can be a big turn-off. Even more so if the paper is stuffed with fluff, jargon or marketing-speak.
Remedy: Focus on a solution, not a product or feature
Meet your readers’ expectations for a fact-based case for a solution. When prospects download your white paper, they expect reasonably unbiased insights and reliable, vendor-neutral information. Focus the white paper on your innovation and how it solves a specific business problem.
- Product brochure = products and features
- White paper = a solution to a business problem
In clear language, state an unambiguous benefit to the reader like lowered cost, saved time, improved margins or better safety. Readers are busy. They won’t mine your white paper for insights. State the problem and solution clearly. By meeting readers’ expectations in this way, you can better capture and nurture leads with your white paper.
#2: No clear focus on a problem or solution
The second of the top two complaints from white paper readers, according to the TechTarget report, is white papers that focus on something other than a solution.
It’s possible to write a white paper without marketing jargon or product and feature descriptions and still not focus on a solution. Unfortunately, it happens a lot, and it drives readers nuts.
One common problem is the “kitchen sink syndrome” where you have a lot to say and want to be sure the reader knows it all. Keep your goal in mind. You’re capturing or nurturing a lead. The white paper should take the reader to the next step, such as contacting your sales team for more information. It’s better to tease them into the next step than to make them wade through copious amounts of information. You’re likely to lose the reader, and perhaps, a very qualified lead.
Remedy: Give the reader what they want
To get the lead and keep it active, feed the reader something tasty. Pull them into your sphere of influence with a white paper that focuses on a solution. Knowing what to leave out of your white paper is as important as knowing what to leave in. If the content wanders, so will the reader’s attention.
Stress benefits. Use the paper to build a bridge from the reader’s pain point to the benefits of your solution. Focus on a specific problem and a clear solution. Make the white paper about how your idea, innovation or technology benefits the reader.