'Inbound & Down'
Question of the Day

Published February 18, 2020

What is a whitepaper?

  1. A formal marketing plan proposal, to be developed collaboratively by the marketing, sales, and customer service teams.
  2. An authoritative industry report that generally argues for a specific solution to a particular problem.
  3. A list of white-listed marketing strategies.

The Answer is B.

Developing late-stage buyer’s journey content that doesn't come across as an overt sales pitch can be tricky. You need to balance educating your prospect on possible solutions and advocating for your own brand without becoming too pushy. That’s where white papers are useful.

White papers are authoritative reports that present industry-specific problems and argue for particular solutions, using data to back up their arguments.

Think of them as the business world’s version of academic papers, minus the peer review: extremely detailed, carefully crafted, long-form arguments. As marketing assets, they’re great for consideration-stage prospects who have already named their problem and are now looking for possible solutions.

Another way to understand how white papers function: HubSpot calls them “advanced problem-solving guides.”

When you put together a white paper, you want to ask yourself: What is the problem my prospect is facing? What data bears this out? Or, more simply: Are there statistics that reflect how common this problem is?

When you propose a solution, go through the same process: What solution will best serve my prospect? What is easiest, most cost-effective, most accurate, etc.? What statistics, case studies, and other data can I find to back up my argument? 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, white papers are not pitches, and so shouldn’t contain product descriptions or price sheets. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and ask: What you would want to read if you were still looking for the right solution and weren’t even thinking about brands yet?

Generally speaking, white papers are around 6-8 pages long, though this varies depending upon the industry and the specific needs of your prospects.

Bonus: They’re great for lead generation, and can easily be converted into a downloadable content offer. In exchange for a bit of personal contact information, your prospects will then be able to download an asset which might just help move them from the consideration to decision stage.

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