The Use of White Paper in the Field of Content Marketing in 2019
I have a female friend who was a huge fan of this mobile game called Mystic Messenger. Mystic Messenger is structurally similar to the mobile hit Lifeline but instead of trying to save an astronaut survive in a hostile alien planet, you interact with several outstandingly pretty anime boys to find the virtual love of your life while running a charity organization. Anyway, this friend of mine knew how much of a video game fan I was and she ended up asking me for a recommendation of similar games. I don’t actually have a lot of experience with those kinds of games so I ended up telling her about Steins;Gate, a thematically heavy science-fiction visual novel revolving around time travel.
I warned her that Steins;Gate is some seriously heavy stuff and that among visual novel, it’s pretty notorious for being long but to my surprise and excitement, she actually liked the game. It makes sense I guess, when it comes to things they like, people can be willing to put in the extra effort and commitment to do the things they like. This is also true in the field of content marketing; sometimes you might want to skip the easily digestible short blog posts and jumps straight into something with more meat to it such as white papers.
An overview on white papers
A white paper is a comprehensive and in-depth writing around a topic that covers insights, best practices and other assorted resources that are usually written to promote the products and/or services from a certain company as a marketing tool. In this way, white papers are usually distributed at no-cost but might require a registration and are designed to showcase the authority of the company behind the white paper. White papers are very common among market research groups because of how much they rely on insights gleamed for current data.
Just as with scientific papers, white papers begin with a particular viewpoint, that VR will be the main method of media consumption in a decade for example, and then details the various reasons why that is the case. The reasons can be based on research that particular company has done but could also be pulled from other sources. Because of their more scientific stance, a white paper has a considerably more formal use of language and a more judicious use of statistics and references compared to the standard blog posts.
How white paper is used for content marketing
If Instagram is the ideal medium for fashion brands, cosmetics and other products that rely on key visual aids, white paper is the ideal choice for professional services whose business relies on expertise on their respective industries. One of the key words revolving white paper is authoritative as white paper is one of the most effective way for a business to present themselves as a figure of authority on their respective field. In this way, white paper is a tool businesses could use to build their reputation.
Given their association with professional services, white papers are much more common in B2B marketing than in B2C, which is also partly why the tone used in white papers are nominally more formal. The most common way to use white paper is as a lead generation tool. By asking for data on potential customers, businesses can built on data they already have to identify future content marketing targets. White paper can also be used to generate direct revenues by using a freemium pricing scheme. Businesses can make one available for free while others are locked behind a paywall.
Things to keep in mind with white papers
Because white papers are meant to be authoritative, you have back up your stance with solid arguments, statistics and other references. White papers are also by design required to be comprehensive so while there’s no exact minimum length, more than 5 document pages are expected. What the above means is that proper homework and preparation is necessary in writing a white paper. Do some proper research and if you have a resource to tap into, engage in a survey of your own to see if they’ll match up with your initial assessment.
The second thing to keep in mind revolves around the use of language. In regular blog posts, you’re nominally looking for a writer that isn’t lacking in personality and creative flourish so that they could keep readers engaged with their writing. Usually, those fluent in conversational language or well-versed in pop culture would be in demand as those things are able to break the monotony. In white papers, those particular skills have little use. You’d still want to have a good writer on-hand but the skills required are of a different kind.
There’s less creative liberty you could take when writing a white paper but you still need someone that can present the data you’ve gathered into something meaningful and even pleasant to read. Additionally, because you’re probably going to be dealing with a lot of statistics, someone that can transform those numbers into aesthetically pleasing graphics and charts would be very much welcomed. White papers tend to deal with subjects that aren’t the most interesting so anything you can do to buff up the presentation is actually necessary.
The last thing to keep in mind is that you need to tone down on your marketing speak. White paper in content marketing uses the show, don’t tell philosophy. Instead of continually telling readers why they might want to use your products and/or services, show them why with logical arguments, statistics and other data you’ve complied. I’m getting a bit tired of typing the same word over and over again but white papers are meant to be authoritative and unless you want to present yourself as the figure of authority on sweet-talking, focus less on selling and more on informing.