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Write White Papers, Gain Leads: Content Marketing for Small Business

Looking for a new place to share your powerful direct marketing messages? Put them in a white paper.

White papers are in-depth reports with a specific focus. They’re longer than blog posts, and require more research. As reward for your hard work, white papers provide a platform for you to address readers directly, and encourage them to make the next move. Got a newsletter subscription list to build? White papers can help.

And like other content marketing formats, white papers can be shared through social platforms. A white paper is more than valuable fodder for your fan base; it’s an addition to your brand authority online.

So it better be worth a retweet. A share-worthy white paper is:

Fresh and compelling

Draw readers in with new information relevant to your industry. This could be research results, survey feedback, or in-depth analysis of a component of your business.

The answer to your target market’s question

Check out Twitter and Facebook feeds to discover the holes in your industry that could be filled with a white paper. You can address questions that users have, or expand on a case study that yielded interesting results.

Follow the news and trends around your industry, and watch for opportunities to uncover the information your users seek online.

Industry specific

Write industry-specific white papers. Don’t go researching restaurant trends if you’re a concrete materials supplier. You want to build an authority in your business.

Backed up by the facts

Ever write essays in college? White papers require the same weight in research, analysis, and composition. You need to show that you’ve done your homework, complete with graphs, images, and academic citations. These aren’t created on the fly; white papers can take weeks or months to develop, research, and execute.

Formal in tone

Again, like an academic article. Don’t worry about having your brand “persona” shine through here. Save that for the blog posts.  Maintain a professional tone to bolster authority and information clarity.

Grammatically pristine

If you’re going to sound like an authority, you better look like it too. Edit your white paper thoroughly before it sees an audience. Enlist 2-3 experienced communications specialists or writers review it for spelling, grammar, and accuracy.

Substantial, but not too too long

Give the topic its full scope, with an outline and chapter headings to guide readers through. If you can do this in 6-10 pages, you will have a totally shareable white paper on your hands.  Dense enough to get in-depth, but not so long that busy readers give up part way through.

Ready to take action

Include social media sharing buttons on every page. Include direct marketing messages at the end of chapters or particularly powerful paragraphs. Direct marketing messages can help summarize points while encouraging users to take action.

So much more than just another piece of content

White papers fuel an exchange of information between companies and customers, and actively builds brand authority. An expert contribution to an industry or community can be cited again and again, further spreading brand awareness. And white papers are evergreen; the information never goes stale.  So while it might be more work than blasting out a blog post, white papers are worth it.

Have you downloaded any white papers offered by businesses online? Do you find them helpful? Let’s hear your comments below!

See Also

You Tell Us: What’s Great Content Worth?

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