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White Papers Not Working For You?

White Papers Not Working For You?

Remember the 5 C’S


Whether you’re mailing them directly, or offering them as a free download from your website, white papers continue to be a preferred source of information among B2B prospects.

If your white papers aren’t generating the quality leads you were looking for, it’s time to consider the 5 C’s:


If your white paper is going to stand any chance of moving the sales process beyond generic product literature, then the content must directly aimed at your targeted prospect. It must be written from his or her perspective and include usable information that can help your prospect deliver whatever justification he or she may need for a budget greenlight for the purchase. Cosmetic or ‘puff’ pieces that are more ‘advertorial’ than hard data might make your company look good but will only serve to frustrate your buyer.


Product literature can be broad in scope and generic in approach because you are aiming to reach the widest possible audience. White papers are for targeted prospects and they expect detailed information presented in a context that is relevant to their current situation. First and foremost, they are looking for evidence that you understand their concerns and speak their language. A white paper that is designed to do nothing other than boost sales in advance of a price increase, for example, fails to deliver on context.


If the secret to real estate is ‘location, location, location’, then the secret to an effective white paper is ‘data, data, data.’ Your message must be clear, and free of marketing or sales jargon. Present the relevant information that your prospect needs to move to the next step without embellishment or diversionary tactics. You would be surprised just how refreshing this one point can be for buyers – the simplest choices can often be the most powerful differentiators.


Taking a ‘just the facts’ approach to your white paper should not turn it into an abstract academic article. It may have to contain industry-specific jargon, but it should still be conversational in style. Hopefully, reading the white paper is the last step before your prospect picks up the phone or sets a face-to-face meeting, so the paper should reflect the same professional, low-key, conversational style that he or she will experience when that next step is taken.


Let’ not forget that the white paper is still a sales tool. For that reason, the content must be compelling enough to prompt your prospect into action. Subtle (or not-so-subtle) hints of future price increases or limited availability for your product or service will only serve to aggravate the prospect looking for hard data and usable information.

Don’t underestimate the power of a well-written white paper. Follow the 5 C’s, deliver the right information in the right format, and your prospect will reward you for it.

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