A Workish Guide to white papers

In the world of B2B selling, drumming-up business can be like eating the proverbial spinach: nobody really enjoys it but it’s good for your company’s health.

Enter marketing’s white paper: an authoritative document written to explain the solution to a problem for potential customers. Forbes reports that “79% of B2B buyers identify white papers as material they’re most likely to share with colleagues.” Take that, passing-out business cards at book signings.

But as white papers increase in popularity, anyone can be a thought-leading cold caller. Insightful manuscripts are becoming product flyers, and broadcasting clear research can be trickier than choosing protein shakes at 9Round.

With that in mind, here’s a Workish guide to some white paper basics, with free selections from our own (not actually real) marketing sales toolkit to help position your industry expertise while building pipeline and crushing buzz.

Juxtapose your product with an historical event

Authors often begin classic stories with a memorable protagonist or shared experience. But when writing a white paper, add distinction to your product by comparing the offering to an important milestone in history. Here’s the opening section of our Workish treatise Build a Better Platform, Just Like Steve Jobs:

True story: Alexander the Great first discovered bananas in 327 B.C. Through the years, the banana became the world’s largest herbaceous flowering plant. That got us thinking: maybe there’s a better way to approach end-to-end middleware using smart devices and cloud-based applications…

Double down on buzzwords and numbers

Everyone loves unique research and a point of view, but buzzwords and statistics are more important. Blend the two for a clear, focused, and effective communique for your potential clients. Here’s an excerpt from our Workish essay Put a Lambo in your Garage, Just Like Steve Jobs, which we’ve templated for your outbound efforts:

[Number] % of [C-Suite Demographic] prioritize StratCom, synergy, and transformative group think as the #1 priority in pushing the envelope to build real-time sea change over dedicated swim lanes across the enterprise. Over [Number of Employees] employees report that pivoting to low hanging fruit detracts from the big-picture value adds of tomorrow’s hyperlocal growth hacking wheelhouse. The time is now to set the table with snackable solutions and deliver blue sky mega-trends at scale. Tomorrow’s forecast? Cloudy with a Chance of Robocalls…

Customize your publishing platform

While it’s important to know how to write an authentic thesis, busy marketers often leave the distribution strategy to the last minute. Publish a downloadable PDF on a customer-centric landing page. Workish recommends registering http://www.whitepaper.com/ForDecisionMakersOnly, and encoding Name, Email, and Dollars to Burn by Q3 as required fields on the “Download Now” contact form.

Embrace typos

Congratulations! You’ve written and published a white paper… now it’s time to actually send your work to the unicorn of the biz dev realm: The Stakeholder with Budget. These decision makers are constantly busy, but they appreciate typos, which will make you appear confident and “on the go.” Here’s a sample from a Workish follow-up template:

Dear [Name]: hope your having a great start to April!

Thanks for reading our recent white paper Metadata: The Pomegranate of Data.

We haven’t met, but I’m curiouss: are you a stakeholder with budget? If so, I’ll visit your office to discuss my offerings. How’s next Tuesdaay at 11 am or 1 am?

Use voice for a personal touch

Finally, no outreach strategy is complete without a workable plan for passive aggressive follow-up. Thanks to recent advances in technology, you can avoid personal contact by sending unsolicited voice messages on professional networking sites.

But that’s food for our next whitepaper on white papers: Send Unsolicited Voice Messages, Get a Lambo… Just like Steve Jobs.

Sandy Marshall (@MarshallSandy) is the creator of Workish (@Workishwork) and a Partner at Norman Howard, a Toronto-based comedic content shop. He’s also a producer, television actor, and business speaker.