- Who Needs White Papers?
- What Are Your White Paper Goals?
- Who Is Your White Paper Audience?
- What are Your White Paper’s Uses?
- What’s Your White Paper ROI?
Who Needs White Papers?
White papers are ideal for those who wish to share their expertise, experience, or research with colleagues, potential partners, or clients — in a respected, credible form that highlights relevant and useful information.
White papers are ideal for those who realize that sharing their content automatically enhances their visibility and credibility in a field, industry, or area of practice.
White papers are ideal, as a result, for a broad range of experts — including, among others, professionals in diverse fields, entrepreneurs, small service business owners, nonprofits, service organizations and, of course, larger entities: educational institutions, national organizations, corporations, institutes, and agencies.
If you can offer useful factual information about your area of expertise, a white paper is often the ideal way to present that content to interested audiences.
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What Are Your White Paper Goals?
Most white paper authors have specific as well as generalized goals. A specific goal might be to provide information about new developments in a particular field that will impact a certain segment of clients, partners, or participants.
A general goal might be to indirectly communicate the availability of your organization as a resource for making the best use of those new developments — or, perhaps, working around them.
In either case, the long-term goal is to attract new referral partners, leads, and clients, while building a reputation for excellent content provision.
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Who Is Your White Paper Audience?
White paper audiences are as varied as white papers are — and as specific to the subject matter, as well. In other words, the best audience for your white paper is an interested audience.
By answering the question, “Who would find this interesting and helpful?” you will find your ideal audience. Think small (specific clients or colleagues), and think big (associations, corporations, the media), then pursue audiences both big and small.
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What Are Your White Paper’s Uses?
White papers are easily distributed through your website as a PDF document — although wide distribution makes it especially important to produce a paper designed to emphasize your key points, while visually attracting your readers’ attention.
With an attractively designed, content-rich white paper, you can also reach out to attendees at national conferences, or colleagues at regional meetings — by offering a printed version of your white paper, perhaps after presenting on the same topic.
If your expertise relates to a timely story in the news (either professional, trade, or general news), you can query the appropriate editor and later forward your white paper as an attachment. And your paper may then be cited in a trade journal or news magazine. At the same time, you might also offer to appear as a subject expert on radio or television programs. Don’t overlook blogs in your field; bloggers are usually looking for experts to provide guest posts, or to quote in an in-house post.
In all these instances, and many others, the ability to instantly email your white paper, or provide a printed version at meetings and conferences, makes it an extremely versatile and welcomed content resource that will help you open new doors.
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What’s Your White Paper ROI?
In the last two decades, we’ve seen an explosion of communication tools, resulting in a professionally hyper-connected world. Expertise authors and business or educational entities know they need to use many of these tools to remain competitive. Every tool, from websites and email lists, to social media and blogs, has become fundamental to viable enterprises.
For increasing numbers of professionals, service firms, and nonprofits, though, there is one more communication tool that is just as useful and fundamental: the white paper. With its ease of distribution and low reader resistance, no other business document has the instant credibility and versatility that a white paper has.
A white paper is synonymous with all that is fact-based, well-researched, and objective, so it is welcomed by those who wish to reference its content in making a point, or in finding the information that will lead to needed solutions.
In fact, the only other communication tool that garners as much respect as the white paper is the nonfiction or expertise book.
But books are not free, and they require far more time to read. (That said, book authors can use white papers to convey their core information — to offer a “condensed” version of their book’s content — and, in this way, entice readers to purchase their book.)
So what’s your ROI with white papers?
Most likely, your return on your investment will be indirect, at first, revealing itself in the form of greater visibility, and greater ease in making good business connections.
Over time, though — if you actively make use of your white paper “passport” by creating mutually beneficial networks and relationships — you will begin to see those new connections yield tangible returns.
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