There are many reasons organizations and individuals use white papers, but the most common is that white papers are one of the most effective ways to convince people that your solution or position is the best one. That’s especially true if your product or service is complicated, innovative, or significantly different from the competition, or if the sales cycle involves many steps and many people or departments.
Let’s consider the example of a service your company offers that makes customers significantly more productive and efficient. Once prospective customers understand what your service can do for them, they’re eager to buy. The problem is that the solution is complex, different from what other companies do, and requires a significant expense. Your direct contact lacks the power to make the decision on their own. Instead, they also have to convince their department manager and the IT team of the value of the solution … and then lobby the CEO and CFO to approve the investments.
This is a situation in which you can use white papers to explain how your solution works, point out its advantages over what competitors offer, and anticipate and respond to common questions about it. You develop one or more white papers to go into detail about each of these areas, and you incorporate information that’s important to each audience. For example, you may include technical specifications to appeal to process engineers and tables that compare the efficiency of your approach to those of your competitors so people like the CEO can get the message quickly.
Most of all, instead of presenting sales messages such as advertising hype, the information you share when you use white papers tends to be focused on facts and details. It creates the impression that your company is focused on helping its customers understand and take advantage of your innovations.
Plus, white papers tend to get passed around internally. For example, your main contact may share it with the process engineer, who sends it along to the engineering director, who shares it with the CEO. Because your white paper makes a solid case, you make it easier for everyone to recommend your solution, and that can shorten the sales cycle.