Acquire your target. Take aim. Fire.

by Karen

No; I’m not talking about firing a weapon. I am referring to how you ought to start creating a white paper. If you want your white paper to deliver results, then it’s crucial to begin correctly.

One of the first steps is … Determine what type of white paper you need and for what audience.

Just as you can’t score a bulls-eye unless you’ve sighted the target; you can’t expect a white paper to do its job if you’re not targeting the right audience with the correct information.

Two questions to answer before you talk to a copywriter about writing a white paper for your B2B company:

1. How do you intend to use it?
For lead generation, thought leadership, or to close sales?

2. Who is going to read your white paper?
Engineers? Scientists? Decision-makers in management positions? Government personnel?

Those aren’t the only two questions you’ll need to answer before the project is done! But these two answers identify your target audience so you can start talking to a copywriter on the type of white paper you need.

Generally speaking, there are four basic types of white papers:

Government – Often you’re explaining to government decision makers, policy makers, etc. … the implications of a proposed policy.

Technical – Target audience is usually engineers, scientists or other technically oriented prospects. A process is typically described in precise detail. You’re explaining how things work to prospects. You might include schematics, performance data, diagrams, and other technical illustrations.

Managers ask their technical staff what they think of a solution and you want to influence the response engineers give through your white paper. (Often used in sales process but could also be lead generation.)

Business Benefits – Here the focus is on the business benefits of implementing a solution as opposed to the technical details of how the solution works. The target audience is usually decision-makers in management positions. Your illustrations and data show how implementing the solution reduces costs; saves time; improves the bottom line; or other business related benefits. (Most often used as lead generation.)

Hybrid – This is a blend of the technical and the business benefit white papers. It’s more common to have the business benefits at the beginning, followed by the technical info on the process. You’re targeting both the decision-maker and the engineer. (Could be used for both lead generation and during the sales process.)

The basic type of white paper you need is identified once you know the basics of how you’re going to use the white paper in your marketing, as well as who you want to read it. Figure this out right away because these will be some of the first questions your copywriter asks. So many subsequent questions are based on these first two.

Acquire your target … how and who?

Take aim … copywriter does research, interviews, writing, etc. to present the information in the most effective way.

Fire … you start to use the white paper in your marketing. Yet it can’t deliver your desired results unless you first acquired the right target.

Related posts:

Top 5 B2B White Paper Mistakes

Create Landing Pages for Each Phase of the Lead Buying Cycle

Effective content marketing doesn’t end with the content

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