Along with the big shift toward social media and digital marketing, there came a long list of additional adjustments to modern day content marketing strategies: the mad scramble to make all content mobile-friendly, the haphazard Facebook promotions, not to mention the weekly or monthly email campaigns. In the process of chasing after the likes of Instagram and continuous attempts at pushing for viral marketing initiatives, we often overlook the value of the humble whitepaper.
In an age where content is king, whitepapers are essential to establishing a brand in an overpopulated space. But before understanding how whitepapers can aid your content marketing efforts, it is best to understand exactly what a whitepaper is and how to write one better.
Blog vs Whitepaper
While whitepapers are not blog posts, there is often confusion about the differences between the two. For starters, if you are compiling or writing a whitepaper for a particular project, you immediately become aware that you are writing something entirely different than a normal blog post.
No matter the trade or scope of practice, you have to treat it as a well-researched article for an industry journal. So, do your homework thoroughly. The reader expects cold, hard facts and logical arguments, not conjecture. Be prepared to be taken to tsk on your sources or your figures.
Whereas a blog is very much about the individual, their thoughts, their experiences or just their day at the beach, whitepapers are solely about the topic. Think of it as Twitter vs LinkedIn. One would be more informal, while the other would be noticeably more professional. A good white paper is driven by factual content that should be referenced and it should serve as a platform where industry professionals can engage with one another.
Style & Tone
Think about sitting at the big boy table of the industry you are writing about. Better yet, it is a symposium for industry specialists and you are the lead speaker. You are surrounded by experts, leaders and qualified professionals on all sides. You are there to deliver a presentation on the topic you are writing about. What would that presentation look like?
If your answer omits the words concise, clear, to-the-point or brief, then go back and reread the paragraph again. When you are talking to professionals, you should adjust your tone accordingly. Unless you are the sole influencer in your industry and everyone looks to you for guidance, you will probably have someone higher up the ladder reading your white paper. Make sure they don’t find something to fault you on.
Again, think about your presentation to the big boys. There should be a beginning, a middle, and an end. Oh yes, definitely an end. The worst thing you can do is to leave an open-ended presentation without a conclusion or a closing argument.
Usually your beginning will be your introduction, the middle will be the body of the content and the end will be your final point-making paragraph. There are deviations from this format, but they are exceptions to the norm.
If your introduction highlights the problem areas or the core of your topic, then the body of the content should offer solutions to these problems or expand on the topic, while the conclusion will tie both the introduction and the content together as a final clarifying point.
This is probably the defining and most challenging point. It is the one thing that could rob your content of its white paper status in a flash. Never, ever, sell yourself in a white paper. While the aim is to inform and to share insight, it should never be to sell or showcase your brand, or, for that matter, even favour any particular brand to the point of it sounding like paid-for content.
Don’t get me wrong, you have to leave your signature or your credentials after the conclusion. The reader needs to know who you are, but it is best to make them want to know who you are and what you do. A white paper is not a fruit stall with random bits of information, and you are not the street vendor looking for hapless hopefuls who you can peddle your services to.
How Exactly Can White Papers Boost My Content Marketing Strategy?
If you are still unsure how this ties into your content marketing strategy, then try to see it from a digital perspective. Thousands of businesses are looking for high quality content to share through their channels. In so doing, they offer their clients, customers or patrons, effective solutions to their problems or concerns. You have just provided a detailed solution to their problem or an insightful feature about a current matter.
The validity of the post gives you validity. Every hyperlink to your white paper provides a positive effect on your SEO ranking and it brings a new customer from a previously unexplored marketing avenue. With a great distribution plan for your white paper, you will not only expand your reach but you will generate a better online presence.
While your in-depth research material offers other businesses with a tailor-made problem solving kit, your white paper also creates an atmosphere of collaboration and inclusion with other businesses or brands.
The most important point to remember is the power of the content you opted to write about. A moving or informative white paper is often made up of strong factual content, based on extensive research exercises and referencing industry leaders or influential entrepreneurs with the relevant experience. Incorporating that knowledge into your content marketing strategy, will establish you as a reliable source within the industry. And that will give you a powerful advantage over most of your competitors.