The Right Way to Sell Your Product or Service in a White Paper

In a recent survey, 52% of B2B tech buyers consumed a white paper before evaluating a technology purchase. It remains an important B2B marketing content format for both buyers and sellers.   

But can you actually sell your product in a white paper? Not overtly. Mentioning your product upfront in a white paper violates the unwritten rule of sales-neutrality. Even though a white paper is a marketing document, the tone of the text is editorial rather than the more subjective tone of sales copy. 

That said, using copywriting techniques can assist this content format. Even with its editorial style, a white paper still implements words and concepts that copywriters often apply in sales-oriented B2B communications, such as the benefits of saving money, boosting revenue, and increasing efficiency.

Of course subtly is vital, as B2B prospects are generally more suspect of the often slick, hyperbole heavy B2C copy.  A good way to implement low-key copy in a white paper is to create curiosity and credibility among your target audience with questions, statistics, and industry concerns.

 How One Business Launched this Approach into Action

 Marketing services company Ion Interactive published a white paper called Beyond the Landing Page: An Introduction to Post-Click Marketing. On page one it proposes this challenge:

“The real question is: what happens after the click? Far too often, the answer is nothing. Even with the best of intentions, what happens after the click is seldom a consideration—  and even less frequently a priority.”

The topic content addresses some of the issues marketers face in understanding more about the prospects that click, how to boost the quality of leads, and improve ad buys. 

As it continues, the white paper reveals linear conversion paths are not always the best choice and suggests marketers: “Put up multiple versions of your path and see which ones convert the best.”  

“Easier said than done,” is probably what many readers would be thinking at this point. Again, the paper cues up a likely problem for the prospect: He or she simply doesn’t have the time, resources, or skill set to take advantage of post-click marketing. 

The answer to the problem comes next. In the final paragraph of the white paper, Ion positions its services as an easy way to take advantage of post click strategies:

Structure of White Paper

Exact placement of company information in a white paper plays more importance than any other type of marketing communications. Ion has wisely placed its corporate information in the final paragraph, as it answers questions raised in the topic text.

As well as describing its services, Ion backs the copy with a case study on post-click marketing and conveniently includes it at the end of the white paper rather than as a separate pdf.

 

B2B Case Study

White papers and case studies don’t have to be separate documents. Ion supports its white paper by adding a case study at the end of the PDF. 

Don’t Paste Your Boilerplate Corporate Bio into Your White Paper

If you’re planning to produce or add more white papers to your content marketing mix, look to current industry concerns and trends to spark topic ideas. But also evaluate how you will specifically address the challenges mentioned in the topic section. Customize the copy in the corporate bio area so you clearly demonstrate how you can solve these problems.

David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

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David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

2 thoughts on “The Right Way to Sell Your Product or Service in a White Paper”

  1. David, Would you kindly post a citation for the survey result mentioned in the first sentence? (...52% of B2B tech buyers consumed a white paper before making a technology purchase.) Many thanks!

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