How complex supply chains and white papers work together

Complex supply chains and white papers are a natural combination, because a single white paper can simultaneously share key messages and advantages with several audiences.

As an example, let’s say your company makes replacement gaskets for auto and truck engines. Your direct customers are parts distributors who stock products from manufacturers and sell them to local and regional parts stores. In turn, those stores sell to the service technicians who install the gaskets during repairs or overhauls.

Your products are among the highest quality in the marketplace, proven to last longer in engines and require less service. But they cost more to make than your competitors’ lower-quality parts, so your price point is higher (as is the profit margin for the parts store and the distributor).

There’s no question your product offers more value for the dollar, so it should be an obvious choice. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. When a technician is working on an engine and needs a replacement gasket, they call their local parts store. The counterperson at the store looks up the engine model and tells them which gaskets are available for that application and how much each of them costs. Most of the time, the technician simply chooses the cheapest alternative, and the counterperson doesn’t make an effort to upsell to a higher-priced choice. 

When you consider the total cost of an engine overhaul, even at its higher price, your gasket represents just one or two percent. In the field, your gasket will continue to perform for tens of thousands of miles after the cheaper products have failed. It’s obvious your product is a better choice, but how can you share that message with the wholesaler, the parts store, and the technicians so they understand why they should choose you?

That’s where a white paper can help. By developing a white paper that provides a simple explanation of how gaskets are made and how yours compare to the ones your competitors produce, you give insight into the superiority of your product. Your white paper also explains how your product’s extra cost is more than offset by its greater reliability and longer life.

You share the white paper with your distributor network and encourage them to share copies with the parts stores they sell to. As the counterpeople learn about the advantages of higher-quality gaskets, they share that knowledge with the service technician who call. “Sure, that brand costs a little more, but that’s because it provides higher performance and should last at least 150,000 miles.” Thanks to your white paper, the service technician gets a better part, the wholesaler and store owners make more money, and the counterperson is proud to be a gasket expert who helps his customers do a better job.