Overcoming recessionary mentality and a rocky economy takes extraordinary optimism and a commitment to not just survive, but thrive.
It’s a time when you have to get out in front of people more and yet less and less notice is taken of advertising. But you can’t stop advertising otherwise you run the risk of quickly fading into obscurity as your clients and prospects minds are consumed with frantic survival tactics.
So what do you do?
In this article we explore using white papers as a promotional tool. This is a powerful low / no cost marketing tactic which I’ve used very successfully with clients who’ve found themselves with less cash than ambition.
Why white papers are so effective:
Every business can create a white paper of one or other description. Whether you’re in retail or engineering, white papers can be your salvation in troubled economic times, and here’s why:
- white papers are low key, under the radar, educational ‘advertising’
- white papers are useful to their target audience
- they carry more credibility than an advert or other overt promotion
- they cost little or nothing to produce
- they empower the target audience to buy your product or service by providing all kinds of direct and peripheral information pertinent to it.
What kinds of information should be in a white paper?
Traditionally, white papers have been the prerogative of B2B organizations, and as such, tend to be very technical, detailed and all too often, boring. They’ll include elements such as:
- case histories
- typical applications
- documented results
When it comes to white papers for non-technical organizations, similar principles apply, with the content tailored specifically to the target audience.
Even the most technical of white papers need not be boring, nor so technical that it requires a specialist degree in order to decipher it.
I’ve helped technical experts produce white papers that have garnered rave reviews and peer commendations from organizations such as the I.E.E.E. using my own ‘tweaked’ approach to this powerful technique. Invariably, these white paper ‘authors’ are invited to present again and again – because people enjoy both reading the white paper and attending presentations to hear the story live.
Making any kind of white paper interesting to it’s target audience requires avoiding an overly technical approach and adopting a more conversational tone while maintaining a professional image. Instead of simply using the traditional white paper format, interest can be peaked by featuring results more prominently and with greater emphasis on how these affect the reader.
The right kind of white paper can be extremely good advertising. To ensure that it’s powerful, technically competent and enjoyable to read, a partnership between the ‘technical’ expert and an ‘articulation’ expert is usually called for. Teaming these skill sets ensures that the information included is technically correct and weighty enough, while being easy to read, easy to understand and compelling enough to make the reader want to take action.
This sounds easier than it may be in practice. Technical experts tend to enjoy demonstrating their expertise through complex technical jargon and explanations. Writers often have little technical expertise and can find it difficult to grasp the essence of technical issues quickly unless they are explained very clearly. If they do have technical expertise, it usually means that they came from a technical field, such as engineering, before they became a writer. The trouble with that? In most instances, they still write like engineers.
Unless your technical expert is highly skilled in both disciplines, your best bet is to look for a writer who can grasp the ‘broad strokes’ and a technical expert who’s willing to educate and share their expertise and to work with the writer to produce a paper that’s interesting to read. This may require good people skills to manage the partnership successfully. Many technical people feel that if they simplify the process enough for a layman to understand, the perception will be that either the process is not that complex after all and / or they are not quite as ‘expert’ as they really are.
However, if you follow these suggestions, the world of ‘white paper’ nirvana will open to you.
This versatile tool can be used in a variety of situations such as: a white paper, an e-book, an article in a trade journal or a report, It can also be sliced and diced to suit an even greater variety of applications from press releases to presentations, to advertorials, to newsletters. The applications can be adjusted for different target audiences making the investment in it pay off handsomely.
Best of all, there are usually a good variety of subjects on which a white paper can be written, creating a veritable arsenal of marketing ammunition.
If you have questions or comments, please post them or email me: