Top 5 B2B White Paper Mistakes

by Karen

Even in today’s digital marketing world, white papers fill a critical role for B2B companies. They are most often used in the earlier stages of the buying cycle to help educate prospects.

But regardless of the goal you have for a white paper, you’ll fall way short of that business goal unless you avoid these five most common mistakes in B2B white papers:

1 – Lousy title. It’s filled with corporate jargon, marketing terms, or other tongue-twisting phrases and it’s too long.

First and foremost write a title that clearly and succinctly spells out the prime benefit to the reader. What will they get in return for sharing their valuable contact information, and for reading your white paper?

And don’t get too clever or too cute. This often clouds the prime benefit and doesn’t entice as many prospects to download your paper. Titles make or break your white papers. Prospects won’t download your paper if the title doesn’t grab them with promising relevance.

2 – All self-promotion. The white paper doesn’t focus on the reader and what problem of theirs is being solved.

This isn’t a corporate brochure or a sell sheet that features one of your products or services. A white paper falls into the “education” category. Only on the last page or two do you talk about your company’s specific solution to the problem discussed in the rest of the white paper.

3 – Poorly written. For example:

> Someone on your staff may be a whiz with your product and know it inside and out … but he can’t write so anyone else understands it or can weed through the rambling text.

> Poor formatting to include long paragraphs, no white space and tiny print.

> No graphs, charts, illustrations, etc. Nothing to catch the eye and help make it engaging.

> It’s all fluff and not enough useful, valuable, relevant content.

Relatively few B2B companies have the in-house staff with the time, experience, and expertise for writing compelling white papers that get the job done.  Out source this to a professional. Sure I’d like to have you contact John or I about writing your white papers. But whether it’s us or another copywriting pro…out source this critical content marketing piece.

4 – It’s boring. Closely related to #3 is the fact that these days your B2B company benefits by including an aspect of entertainment, engagement … something unique in its content marketing. B2B should not be boring!

Today you can even make white papers interactive. For example: Based on how a prospect answers questions in the sign-up form, you deliver a white paper tailored to their responses.

5 – Not tailored to the right audience. The CMO or CEO seldom has the same focus as the engineer in the trenches or the mid-level manager. They ought to receive different white papers. Plus, where are they in the buying cycle? Making your white paper interactive is one way you can help solve this problem up front.

Don’t lose opportunities by publishing white papers riddled with the five most common mistakes outlined above. White papers play a vital lead generation role and often times also a sales role. Meet and exceed your marketing and business goals with top-notch white papers.

Related posts:

How to address white paper landing page anxiety

Lead gen for the all-too-human B2B buyer

Qualified leads are better then cheap leads


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