A good white paper is a paper that makes you look good.
You look good when your white paper makes sense, when it’s readable, when it concentrates on benefits and examples, and when it’s easy to get. Here’s why:
Reason #1. Many people would rather die than talk to a sales representative right off the bat, but they will read a white paper. When people start researching a product, they are not prepared to talk to a salesperson. They have no idea if the product is for them, or if they even need the technology at all. They’ll also be resistant to new and innovative technologies. Well-written, benefit-laden white papers will qualify your product to the reader, and qualify the reader to you at the next stage in the sales cycle.
Reason #2. White papers build a bridge between the prospect and your organization’s salespeople. When the salesperson does call, it’s not out of the blue. If a user has downloaded a white paper, there is an established connection between user interest and your company. The call can even be welcome if the customer has more questions and is interested in moving forward.
Reason #3. White papers are simple to host on the Web, where people can easily download and read them. In addition to your own company Website, there are numerous sites that host white papers and make it easy for prospects to download the paper. Many companies take this opportunity to capture reader information, including if the reader wants to be contacted. If they do request contact, for heaven’s sake contact them! They are coming highly qualified.
Reason #4. You’re not just reaching prospective customers with white papers, you’re also reaching journalists. Or you should be. This is why you should always include a solid technical section in a white paper: journalists doesn’t want to download a white paper and find a brochure, it makes them cranky. But if you deliver a valuable white paper, the journalist is far more likely to speak well of you and your product. (This, of course, is the essence of media relations.)
Reason #5. And speaking of journalists, what do they do when they pick up or receive expensive press kits? They throw them away, but they do keep valuable information like booklets and white papers. As a senior editor and editor-in-chief for data storage magazines, I can’t tell you how many beautiful and pricey press kits I picked up, then threw away. What did I keep? White papers. Who did I think of when I was writing a story on that technology? The company that wrote the white paper.
The CLEAR Process
All white papers need to combine good writing, good structure, and clear technical explanations -- high level or not, depending on purpose and audience -- and case studies. The process is CLEAR:
Clarify the problem
List your technology's features
Educate your customers on benefits
Add proof points
Restate your case
People like technology white papers if the paper is clear, useful, readable and available. Make sure your white papers fit the bill with the CLEAR process, or call a professional white paper writer for your next project.