how to generate leads with white paper

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Proven Processes For Copywriting High Impact White Papers

Does your business want to use insightful and persuasive white papers to build authority, establish thought leadership, and generate leads?

In this article, you will learn step-by-step how to write a white paper and some design tips for making your authoritative report persuasive and impactful.

And finally, you will uncover how to promote your white paper to generate leads.

Let's get started.

What Is A White Paper?

A white paper is a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth, and long-form document on a specific topic that presents a problem, along with a solution for handling it.

It combines a deep knowledge of its niche into a document that provides a specific solution or recommendation.

It helps prospects understand a topic, solve a specific problem, and have their questions on niche topics answered. 

The report also helps them make a well-informed decision. 

An authoritative paper can help a brand share a deep knowledge of a specific topic in its niche in a text-heavy business document in a formal tone. 

Its value is in its ability to solve a problem.

A word of caution:

Businesses use white papers as a “soft sell” instead of direct promotion.

What Is The Purpose Of A White Paper?

The purpose is to recommend a specific position or solution as the best for a problem.

It can gently influence decision-makers and prospects into buying a product or service. 

A study by Curata shows that 79% of B2B buyers listed white papers as the material they were most likely to share with colleagues.

DemandGen reports that 82% of B2B buyers rely on whitepapers to guide their purchasing decisions.

Demand Gen, reports that 75% of respondents would share personal and company data in exchange for a marketing automation white paper -more than any other content type.

Businesses use authority reports to position themselves as the purple cow of their niche, establish thought leadership and generate insane leads.

Publishing insightful, valuable, and persuasive content is one of the best ways to achieve consistent results. 

Here are the steps for writing high-impact authoritative papers:

#1. Know The Goal Of Your White Paper

know the goal of the white paper

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Determine the goal or why you want a white paper produced.

It is the first step in the writing process and influences every subsequent step.

Here are the most common goals:

  • Generate new leads and conversions                                         Among the top three goals of content marketing is lead generation. (LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community) White papers are a sure way of acquiring new contacts and growing your visibility.
  • To support sales teams in the intermediate and last stages of the sales funnel.
  • Establish expertise by sharing in-depth, and reliable insights. Provide market information, trends, and creative, and innovative directions. Authority reports can explain a complex concept or new product to an audience. It can also help establish expertise, build a reputation, and gain the trust of prospects.   
  • Create goodwill by sharing knowledge freely.                               It offers free information to customers and prospects about its expertise and helps them to understand complex topics. Brands use it to build trust and cleverly sell their products or services without being blatant.
  • White papers reach decision-makers                                         Being long-form content, it attracts readers who are seriously interested in having a deep understanding of the topic you are covering. For the most part, decision-makers, managers, or experts use the insight to make good decisions for their businesses. A well-written and persuasive whitepaper tips the purchasing decision process in your favor.

After determining why you need a position document in the first place, focus on who you are writing your authoritative paper for.

#2. Understand Your Audience For The White Paper

An important consideration in choosing a topic and preparing the content for an authoritative document is to consider your audience.

Understanding the needs of your white paper readers will help you achieve your goals or objectives. 

That means taking a deep dive into your buyer persona to figure out who will read your report.

Knowing your target audience makes it easy for you to decide what pain points you will offer solutions to in your content.

However, every organization has a wide range of audiences or stakeholders.

Focusing on one segment of your audience and offering persuasive solutions to their questions is more impactful than addressing everyone.

In deciding whom you are writing the report for, consider what influence your prospective target group(s) will have in bringing about the outcome you desire. 

For instance, you may choose to address C-level executives directly to achieve your objectives. 

On the other hand, you may decide to focus on those lower on the business hierarchy (e.g., an IT director, business manager, etc.)

To get a deeper understanding of your target audience, ask yourself questions like:

  • Why should my audience be interested in this topic?
  • How does my audience usually consume information?
  • How much does my audience know about this topic?
  • What does my audience want to know more about?
  • How will my white paper help them?
  • What type of research analysis is more suitable for my audience?

The answers to those questions will help you offer solutions to the pain points of your target audience.

#3. Figure Out The Level Of Expertise Of Your Audience

Knowing the level of expertise of your audience helps you determine the reading level, tone, simplicity, or complexity of your paper should be.

If the level of expertise of the target audience matches or is close to your own, you could include technical jargon.

However, if the white paper is for the general public, it is best to keep the paper as jargon-free as possible. 

And if it is necessary to include specific terminology, use it sparingly and explain it. 

For instance, if you're writing a white paper for CEOs and owners of technology and/or innovation companies, you should include lots of technical details and be lengthy in your descriptions.

  • If the authoritative report is for government officials, focus the content on policy-related implications.
  • And for a corporate audience, the focus should be on cost-effectiveness and growth potential.

No matter the expertise of your target audience, you must understand your audience before you can connect with them.

 In other words:

  • The tone of your writing should show empathy. What keeps your audience awake at night, and how can you address their pain points?
  • Conduct thorough market research and dig deep into the demographics of your white paper readers. Learn everything you can about your target audience.
  • Connect emotionally with your readers by understanding and offering solutions to their pain points. 
  • Remember that your real goal is sales and not just leads. Use your copywriting skill to nudge your audience toward taking your desired action.

#4. Choose An Enticing Headline For Your White Paper

choose a headline that grabs attention for white paper

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Choose a headline that grabs attention. 

It should include the problem the reader wants to be solved and how she would benefit by reading your authoritative paper.

You can grab attention with a headline or topic that describes a new trend/approach/technology.

Another enticing headline could include an explanation of the advantages of your particular approach/system, etc. 

Another format that works may be: “10 Ways to Increase B2B Sales” or “How to Use Marketing Automation to Boost Conversions.” 

However, if you are looking for inspiration on how to generate a relevant and impactful headline, ask yourself:

  • As you look deep inside your niche, is there any aspect with very little content or information available online?
  • What specific comparative advantage of your business do you think would be of value to share with your industry peers?
  • Is there a unique area of your business that you can analyze and share your findings with your audience?
  • What service offerings do you have that the competition does not have but can benefit your audience?

As you can see, the opportunities for choosing a headline or topic that grabs attention are endless. 

White papers are expert documents, so make sure you have deep knowledge about the topic you want to share and reliable sources or proof to back it up.

You also need to pick a topic that interests your audience. 

Above all, white papers are usually a“soft sell.”

Effective ones do not overtly mention the product or service of a brand at all. 

Choose a topic and angle that will allow you to present relevant, objective, authoritative and persuasive information. 

#5. Do A Thorough Research

Now that we know the headline or topic, it is time to collect all relevant information to create insightful and compelling content that delivers actual value.

Since a white paper provides an in-depth examination of a topic, it should showcase brand expertise backed by research. 

The research can include internal and external sources to gather information for your position document.

The advantage of using third-party evidence is that it validates your claims.

The deeper you dive into your research, the more your authoritative document stands out from the competition.

Here are many ways to conduct in-depth research for your white paper:

Find Credible Sources

As you research the content for your white paper, create a file of all the sources you use.

You can use your sources in any of the following ways:

  • As quotes inside the content. Make sure you mention the names of thought leaders and experts in the field if you use their quotes in your paper.
  • Listed as references at the end of the document
  • As footnotes

Read other journals, reports, and position documents on the same topic.

Reading journals, reports, and already published authoritative papers on the same topic is a good source of information.

If you read the information on your topic that is already published, you will come up with unique angles on your content.

Additionally, you will readily see content gaps, which you can address in your in-depth account.

Connect with experts in your industry

Connecting and interviewing subject matter experts in your industry will help you gather insightful information for your official account.

It is not easy to connect with top-level personalities and thought leaders in your niche.

However, if you construct and deliver your unique angle of the topic compellingly, they will answer your call or email.

BuzzSumo is an excellent tool for finding influencers and thought leaders in your niche. 

An effective way to connect with experts is to find the people talking about the topic you’re writing about in the position document online. 

Once you have a list of influencers, Respona is an excellent outreach tool to get in touch with them via email.

After you've reached out to them, conduct your interview with the tool or format they are comfortable with.

You can interview using Zoom, a meeting over coffee, or maybe a written questionnaire.

Fact-check everything

Fact-check everything to be sure that the information is reliable and truthful.

Fact-check the information you used in previously published content and recent interviews you conducted.

Use the same online tools as journalists and thought leaders to help you fact-check your research.

For reference citations, white papers use footnotes or an APA-type style. 

#6. Conduct Interviews With Experts For Your White Paper

conduct interviews with exprts before writing white paper

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Writing an impactful white paper may require conducting two types of interviews.

One is with your internal subject matter experts, and the other is with outside experts, such as analysts or industry thought leaders.

Getting Your Internal Team On the Same Page

Have your internal subject matter experts complete a creative brief.

You can click here for a white paper creative brief (Word document). One of your team members should fill the form out for you.

After you get the creative brief, review it and note any areas where you are missing information or need clarification.

Getting Your External Team On the Same Page

Due to time constraints, it is best to interview external subject matter experts individually.

Find out the issues driving the topic covered in the authoritative paper from your outside experts.

The subject matter experts can also usually provide statistics and research on your position document. 

After the interview, be sure to send the expert a thank-you message. Also, show the experts their quotes in the final approval stages of the report. 

Depending on your industry, here are some initial points to start: 

Gather all the information about everything that aligns with your topic.

Put your research and everything interesting in a folder.

#7. Prepare An Outline 

Create a content outline for your white paper. It helps you work faster and overcome writer’s block. With the research you've done so far, you can build an outline like this: 

  • Headline: Describes your topic and can always be improved later.
  • An executive summary: A single-page summary of what your white paper is about. It aids busy executives in deciding whether or not to read your position document. 
  • The introduction is the hook that draws your readers and provides an overview of what they can expect in the rest of the in-depth analysis. It compels your audience to read more.
  • The challenge is the pain points of your readers.
  • An overview, explains the highlight of the position document and defines the terms that will be used.
  • The body is an in-depth discussion of the topic, its solutions, and quantifiable data/statistics used to back up the argument.
  • Section subheadings: Subheading sections support your overall argument. 
  • Subheading content: List the subpoints that will be in each section. It also provides supporting information from the research.
  • Conclusion: Summarize the key takeaways of the authoritative paper. 
  • A call-to-action is the desired next step that you want the customer to take.

At this stage of the in-depth analysis of copywriting, anybody tasked with reviewing or approving the white paper can provide their perspectives on the points in the outline. 

#8. Design Tips - Use Pull-Quotes And Images In Your White Paper

Most decision-makers will scan a command paper or other marketing content before committing to reading it.

A pull quote is an effective tool for aiding scanners.

pull quote – or a callout, is a short portion of text pulled from the body of a content piece and isolated in an open area, and surrounded by plenty of white space.

Areas to use pull quotes in a white paper include:

  • A sentence that summarizes the problem your white paper addresses
  • A sentence that summarizes the new solution your white paper proposes
  • An important fact driving the market toward your proposed solution
  • relevant quote from a credible source
  • Any other key message that helps make a strong case for your solution

Use illustrations like charts, images, and tables to clarify complex concepts. 

As you use illustrations, make sure that they do not distract readers from your intended message. 

Similar illustrations should have a consistent size and format and include a caption with the image number and title. 

#9. Editing And Approvals Of Your White Paper

After writing your impressive authority paper, run a spelling and grammar check. 

Editing your content helps you pick up all the typos, floating commas, and wandering quotation marks.

While copywriting aims to get people to agree with your point of view, editing makes it easy to see whether the ideas you explained merit discussion.

It helps you uncover where you need to provide evidence to back up your claims.

Just like a well-built structure, your report needs solid foundations as well as supporting walls too.

Editing helps your ideas, analysis, and arguments stand out.

That is why white papers typically go through more than one round of editing and approvals. 

While some people outsource white paper writing to professional editors, copywriting agencies have in-house editors that do just editing.

#10. Market The White Paper

Promote your white paper

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After copywriting the white paper, the final step is to make your targeted readers aware of it. 

While it is a good idea to put it on the website, let people know it is there, by drawing attention to it.

Many brands use a press release to announce their new white paper. Still, others use social media channels to promote their content.

LinkedIn groups have become an especially great place to talk about and offer authoritative papers and reports. 

However, because of the nature of the paper, you should avoid a promotional tone. It is better to come across as one sharing relevant and helpful information. 

Some brands produce a white paper for their sales team to leave behind after an engagement with a prospect or distribute at trade shows. 

Final Thoughts On Proven Processes For Copywriting High-Impact White Papers

Producing an impactful and persuasive white paper is not a simple task. 

However, the investment of time and skill can produce a valuable document that positions you as a thought leader in your niche thereby generating tons of leads and sales.

White papers increase business opportunities, and the investment pays dividends for many years.

Simply provide us with the topic and resources, and we will create that stunning authoritative paper that will generate leads for you.

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About Anaconda Marketing

Our team of professional copywriting experts has always had a way with words and an ability to reel people in with great storytelling. We craft SEO optimized persuasive, authentic, and stimulating copy. And our copy connects with your target audience across all platforms and delivers the results you want.

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