Does your B2B business use white papers to attract prospects? If not, you’re missing out. More than six in 10 content marketers use white papers and say they’re valuable. eMedia recently released a report sharing 9 ways businesses can use white papers to generate leads.
- Develop trust and legitimacy. Use white paper sto demonstrate that your company understands your market, industry or a specific solution our technology, and how you can solve problems. The white paper can explain a common problem your prospective customers have and recommend solutions (without giving a hard sell for your products or services). By providing advice that doesn’t come off as “sales-y,” you build trust among prospects.
- Thought leadership for thought leadership’s sake. This type of white paper is typically aimed at high-level decision makers, such as C-level executives. Thought leader white papers “demonstrate forward thinking,” the report says. They are often designed to target existing customers, convincing them to stay with your business by reminding them of the expertise and value that your business offers.
- Overcome commoditization in a saturated marketplace. Today, the report notes, B2B decision-makers typically start the research process on their own before contacting any companies’ salespeople. By putting your white paper online where buyers can find it during their initial research stages, you can make your business stand out from other companies selling similar products and services.
- Fill the sales funnel from the top – lead nurturing with white papers. White papers are a good way to bring decision-makers into the lead nurturing stage, the report says. A well-written white paper will get readers interested in finding out more about the solutions you’ve suggested. Request prospect contact information in return for the white paper, and you’ve got the data you need to start reaching out to them and nurturing them through the sales funnel.
- Expand on sales executive’s pitch. White papers help your sales team by providing a tool they can use to expand on the details of your product or service. Instead of rattling off a lot of technical data, for example, which can be pretty boring in person, they can hand over a white paper that has that information. White papers can even help the sales team quickly learn about your products and services and provide a ready reference for them.
- Clarify frequent prospect questions in writing. You probably get the same questions from prospects over and over. Take advantage of this and use white papers to answer those questions. You’ll not only be creating content that you know will be popular with prospects, but also providing standardized answers your sales team can use when responding to these frequently asked questions.
- Offer criteria for appraisal of competing solutions. With so many options to consider, it’s no wonder B2B buyers are overwhelmed. Use white papers to simplify the process of selecting vendors by providing direct comparisons between your products/services and the competition’s.
- Initiate a diversified series of offers. Creating a range of different white papers targeted at different stages in the purchase process can help you nurture leads until they’re ready to buy. For example, you can do a more general white paper to get prospects interested, and then follow up with white papers that drill down into more specific topics, or offer webinars on related subjects.
- Approach different decision makers with targeted offers. You can also create different white papers for different types of decision makers, the report suggests. For example, if you’re selling an IT product, you could do different white papers for CIO-level executives, database administrators and CFOs, each focusing on the issues that particular buyer is most concerned about.
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Karen Axelton is Chief Content Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at SmallBizDaily.com.