I’m going to give you the quick and dirty on white papers because I get a lot of blank looks when I tell people that part of Defy the Status Quo’s content marketing services includes writing B2B white papers. Maybe like the one you’re wearing right now.
Here’s the podcast episode:
Or if you’d rather watch the video:
And here’s the transcript:
What is a White Paper?
A white paper is an effect based but persuasive piece of marketing content that’s long-form. It might be 5 to 10 pages and is very research-heavy (or at least it should be).
Sometimes you may be on a website and you download something that says it’s a white paper, but maybe it’s only three to four pages. I would say that that probably qualifies as another type of marketing document. Probably not a full-blown whitepaper.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some of the characteristics, but it seems that in recent years the term white papers gets kind of tossed around a bit loosely.
Who Typically Commissions White Papers?
They are often commissioned from companies that are B2B, but if you’re a B2C company and you’ve got expensive or new or complicated products, then white papers may still be for you too. Any company that’s selling something new, something complicated and something that’s also expensive that needs explaining.
If there’s a B2B company and their product is warehouse robots, their angle would be those warehouse robots are more efficient, more effective and over time they cost less. Those are all great selling points, but they may be selling points that they need to clarify or justify to their potential buyers.
Someone is not just going to purchase one warehouse robot, they’re going to be purchasing a whole fleet of them. That’s a decision that’s going to require some justification. But they like the idea already – maybe they’ve read a blog post you wrote about warehouse robots and the automation they bring to the warehouse.
B2C White Papers?
Let’s say you sell new CBD skincare products. CBD I think is still kind of the wild west of products. And it, from my standpoint, it seems like a lot of people are adding it to products. I’m not completely sold on the effectiveness of it just yet – not to say it’s ineffective, but there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence going around. I would definitely like to see more empirical evidence as to the health benefits of CBD.
If you sell new CBD skincare products and you want to not just sell direct to consumer like we’re accustomed to seeing through Amazon or through websites and other typical e-commerce setups. Say you want to go mainstream and you want to work with wholesalers and retailers to get your product out on the market.
Direct to consumer is a B2C setup, but when you’re working with wholesalers and retailers, that is a B2B relationship because it’s your business and their business. And they’re not just going to buy one bit of your product, the purchase they’re going to make from you is much larger.
This is why people who sell individual small products tend to like to have relationships with wholesalers and retailers because they can move product in bulk. So the purchase cycles for B2B are longer because the purchase orders are bigger, but you can make more. You can spend less on packaging when you’re moving and shipping. You can spend less on shipping when you’re moving a bulk order from your warehouse or your manufacturing facility to the wholesaler’s warehouse or the retailer’s warehouse.
So you might want a white paper that goes into the benefits of CBD oil in skincare. Anything in skincare, you would have a lot of statistics. You would cite relevant modern research. You would want to have a doctor – specifically a dermatologist because you sell skincare – quoting in your white paper.
Let’s say you’re sold on white papers and you want to use them in your business.
What to Expect From The White Paper Process (as a Business Owner)
Depending on the size, the writer and the topic, your white paper may run anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. You should expect to pay that much. It’s a research-heavy document. If you’re paying less, you run the risk of getting someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing or doesn’t understand the actual intent behind a white paper.
If you are in that range somewhere, you should get a high-quality document that was very research-heavy, and includes editing and things like that.
As a writer, I typically provide recommendations for the images, the charts and things like that, that should go inside the white paper. There’s actually a whole process that’s recommended for white papers. It’s not a quick project. You should expect it to take four to six weeks (ideally six to eight weeks), and that’s just because there are a lot of shareholders involved in a white paper project.
It’s not just the writer taking four to six weeks to write it, although they easily could and be comfortable. There’s the time that they have to wait for feedback on the outline – they can’t be writing at that time. Then they write the first draft and they send it out for feedback. Multiple people have to give their feedback, and that takes time.
White papers should include interviews at a minimum. They should include quotes, but interviews are best, which you’ll pull quotes from, but people speak in a more conversational manner. They can be a bit more catchy, a bit more clever when they’re speaking.
Whereas for some people, when they’re writing out quotes, it becomes very rote and robotic and generic. So voice interviews are normally the best.
What Should Be in My White Paper Besides Text?
Your white papers should include charts and small mini infographics to visualize the data that you’ representing and to really drive points home.
A white paper could be good for one to two years before it needs updating. It really is an investment. As long as you promote it properly, it will be fine. You can repurpose it into a lot of different things – repurposing content is important. That means you take a piece of content and transform it. It keeps its essence, but you transform it and use it on a different platform.
You can post little clips of it on social media or repurpose the white paper into a slide deck. Maybe you talk about your white paper in a podcast episode. There’s a lot of different ways that you can take your content and repurpose it into something different.
People make emotional decisions, but with long purchase cycles, with expensive purchases, you typically have to justify those purchases to someone besides yourself. White papers can provide fact-based justification. They can be very persuasive.
53% of marketers say that the most effective piece of content at moving prospects from mid-funnel to the bottom of the funnel are white papers. So consider them as part of your content marketing strategy. They’re often called the king of content.
Wondering if you need a white paper to better illustrate your services’ impact? Send us a message, and we’ll help you out!