Do you have something new, complex or expensive in your hands and don’t know how to persuade your potential customers?
Quiet that you’re not the only one. There are many people in that situation. But you know what? There is a solution.
Let me tell you something first. The internet changed everything. Including marketing techniques.
A few years ago it was effective to place a notice in a magazine or radio or to put a banner on a website.
Today is not enough.
Now customers want to know everything before acquiring anything. They look for information on the Internet. They visit forums to read comments. They are behind qualifications or comparisons. That’s, they understand and check, and only then buy.
But unless your company is a leader in the industry in which you work, you’re going to have to compete to be among your first alternatives.
How can you “fight” that market space for which you have sacrificed so much and in which you know can compete?
Offering the best information to your customers
But not in the usual way.
Forget the old formula of “my service offers …”, “my product can improve …”, “the technology we develop will help …”, “if you apply our methodology, you’ll increase …”.
Customers no longer “´buy that story.”
In other words:
- Without telling them about the service, technology, product or method, show them the benefits
- Without naming what you provide, convince them that you have what they need
- Without giving any name, differentiate from your competitors and show to your customers that your company has the best of the market
“Sell” in this way is what is currently called Content Marketing.
Imagine you have to hang a picture on the wall and you have never done it before. Would you search for “hammer with magnetic nail holder with rubber handle and ergonomic design”? Or simply for “hammer and nails.” Rather than focus on the different options, you must understand first that what you need are a hammer and nails!
White paper: the art of educating and persuading
The use of the white paper in marketing is new (15-20 years) but the tool has existed since the beginning of the twentieth century. The Government of the United Kingdom used white papers to cross information among its officials. The white color differentiated them from other types of reports.
The white paper is today the most popular marketing content among technology buyers (Business to business) in Australia, the United States, France, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom, and the second in Germany and India. In Hispano-America it begins to use with much success.
What’s a white paper?
A white paper is a persuasive essay that uses statistics and logical arguments to help you understand a topic, solve a problem, or make a decision.
Companies use white papers to persuade their potential customers to buy or use something new, complex or costly (product, service, technology or method).
A white paper placed on a website can attract customers 24 hours a day, for a long time and with no effort!
When should it be used?
When a company wants to:
- Persuade users to use or buy something new, complex or expensive (product, service, technology or method)
- Start building their recognition
- Support the launch of a product, service, technology or method
- Educate analysts, bloggers, and journalists covering the related sector
Differentiate itself from your competitors
- Go with the technical evaluation of a product, service, technology or method
What characteristics should you have?
A document is a white paper when it’s:
- written in a narrative form
- have at least five vertical orientation sheets
- offer useful, practical and educational information, and not be a sales proposal
- contain statistics, not opinions
- used for a sale, not later than this
- include an introduction and an executive summary
See below the white paper I wrote about the Participatory Approach to Productive Chains (EPCP). It is a kind of white paper called Numbered List. There are others whose samples I’ll place in this blog (Problem-solution and product backgrounder). Notice how only to the end I mention the name of the method.
How to write a white paper?
If your organization needs a white paper, but you’ve never written one, several books can teach you how to do it.
In case you only have time to read one of them, I recommend White Papers for Dummies (Gordon Graham). And if you can read two books, go to Writing White Papers: How to capture readers and Keep them Engaged by Michael A. Stelzner.
Once you had read anyone of those books:
- you’ll be able to offer your clients documents that will be going to solve their problems and respond to their concerns
- you’ll have the opportunity to educate them and inform them about the issues they are most concerned about, and
- you’ll avoid publishing white papers Inclined to sell (information not useful), very superficial (no evidence or statistics), or very focused on the seller (not the customer)
Now, if you don’t dare to write it or between your colleagues no one does, consider the option of to hire a writer. But not any writer. He must have written white papers. Only he knows how to help customers “understand” your product or service.
And don’t waste resources to hire him. Remember that the white paper is a document to share. And nothing destroys more the credibility of a company than a poorly written document in the hands of your potential customers and contacts!
An effective white paper helps to understand an issue, solve a problem or make a decision. It’s a document that helps customers win or save money, excel among competitors, or encourages them to serve their users better. They are clients who start to trust the company that wrote it and see it now as a referent in the sector. And the best, they are willing to consider a possible purchase!
Do you like that situation?
I return to my original questions:
Have you developed a service, technology, product or methodology and are not selling it? Do you have something relatively new, complex or expensive in your hands and don’t know how to persuade your potential customers?
The solution is in your hands: write a white paper.
So, ¿are you ready to write the first one?
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Imagen cortesía de Pixabay
Jorge Luis Alonso G. is a freelance writer and blogger based in Argentina. He specializes in writing white papers (English and Spanish) and reuses its content in blog posts and articles to newsletters, magazines or newspapers. Also, he writes content for websites.