White Papers have become a standard feature in the marketer’s toolbox. However, more often than not, these documents are filled with regurgitated, superficial content that is neither informative nor authoritative and says little about the issuing body’s view on the matter.
White Papers are often considered a necessity, rather than a benefit. This approach has negative implications to both prospective customers and partners. A scrabbled white paper does not define the benefit of the offering nor its technical innovation. Such a lack of focus fails to convey the uniqueness and impact of the product or service.
Yet, for all the poor examples, White Papers can play an important role and are well worth the time and effort used to produce them. Writing is a proven tool for crystalizing thoughts and ideas, and the material generated in a White Paper can inform and streamline parallel marketing efforts. White Papers are also a critical component in the customer engagement cycle….an excellent opportunity to move beyond the hype and buzz in order to explain key features and detail unique benefits of their products and services. Moreover, unrelated to a particular product or service, White Papers give the company an opportunity to establish thought leadership.
In summary, the world does need another White Paper, with the proviso that it is solid, instructive and decisive. But questions remain…how can you get started? Which elements must you include, and which should you absolutely avoid?