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Businesses looking to reach those customers who want all the gory details often turn to whitepaper marketing. Brands use whitepapers to give detailed information to help prospective customers do their research.

What Is a Whitepaper?

A whitepaper is a little like a term paper: it provides in-depth research about a product or service. It usually includes outside sources and aims to be objective despite being a marketing document. They’re most common in the technology industry and help give a corporate buyer of a complicated product the information needed to decide whether or not to place an order. Whitepapers build credibility through information.

Despite their detail and the use of outside sources, whitepapers are marketing products, however. They usually portray the good or service in a positive light and include a call to action. Whitepaper marketing is thus an effective approach when selling complicated products or services. After all, the whitepaper gives you more room to explain fine details and discuss effective use. You can have more detail than on most web pages and more precision and recall than customers will get from a single conversation with a sales rep.

How and Why to Use Whitepapers

The main benefit of using a whitepaper is the ability to explain the product. They give you the space to make your case with facts, figures and specifications. This information can help customers get more use from their investments. In fact, some whitepapers give existing customers information about how to use the solution or product purchased so they can see the value received – and maybe make add-on purchases as well. Other whitepapers offer case studies that may apply to different customer situations, now or after the sale.

A whitepaper is a collection of content that you can distribute in other forms, so a big part of effective whitepaper marketing is putting that information to good use. Send charts and graphs easily using social media. Repackage sections of the report as blog posts or use them in collateral for situations when less-detailed information is required. The investment in content creation can pay off throughout a marketing campaign.

Getting the Whitepaper to Readers

You can market whitepapers in different ways. Sometimes, you’ll see them printed out and distributed to customers at trade shows or on sales calls. More often, though, they are available through a web link. The link takes the customer to a landing page that asks for contact information in exchange for downloading the whitepaper. This incorporates it into the sales funnel; after all, a whitepaper leads to more serious investigation of the product for sale, which indicates higher potential customer interest. You can distribute the link to the landing page to appropriate email lists or to social media followers.

If your product has complicated or controversial aspects and your sales are to enterprise customers, a whitepaper marketing strategy is a way to give customers the information they need to make decisions. The whitepaper itself includes the facts and figures the customer wants, and you can reuse the material in other forms of marketing content. The value of a whitepaper is high enough that many prospects will share their information with you, too. If your organization doesn’t have a whitepaper marketing strategy — maybe it should.